The use of public transport has been linked to improved long-term health outcomes. Significant benefits are derived from encouraging a mode shift away from private vehicle use. TravelSmart is a State Government initiative that promotes alternative forms of transport by providing information to households and individuals regarding their transport options. By overcoming information and infrastructure barriers, this initiative further supports the business community and other institutions, such as schools, hospitals, universities and local governments, to reduce reliance on cars for transport.
The TravelSmart programs conducted in various local areas around Perth are designed to encourage not only the use of public transport, but also cycling and walking instead of using a car. The program’s ultimate aim is to reduce private vehicle use, resulting in many health benefits for the local community (a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, noise pollution and traffic congestion).
TravelSmart programs are typically initiated by local government and in many cases are partnered by other institutions such as businesses, schools and universities. Local governments provide seed funding to employ TravelSmart Officers to work across council portfolios and with the local community to promote active and public transport. The officers support a change in behaviour that becomes entrenched in the organisational culture of the council and the local community. This behaviour is then further promoted at partnering institutions by encouraging them to develop sustainable travel plans designed to influence the travel behaviour of the institution’s staff. The programs do not ask people to stop using their cars; rather it encourages people to consider their travel choices and to try alternatives for short periods.
The initiatives that make up a TravelSmart program are diverse and vary from area to area in order to best suit the needs of that area. Some of the initiatives include:
- Addressing information barriers by localising and simplifying information to make it relevant to people’s needs
- Providing motivation through dialogue and personalised communication
- Assisting with system experience, particularly for new users of public transport or bicycles
- Company travel plans
- Small scale infrastructure such as bicycle parking, paths and end-of-trip facilities
- Local Government bike plans
- Department of Transport
- Various Educational Institutions
- Various Health and Community Services Institutions
- Various Local Governments
- Various Private Sector Companies
- Various State Government Departments
Variable, but the estimated cost of the eight combined TravelSmart programs over the ten years between 2001 and 2011 (also used for determining values) amounts to approximately $12 million.
Encouraging the mode shift to other forms of public transport results in a number of health, economic, environmental, social and use benefits.