Like many of Australia's major cities, Sydney is undergoing a big re-adjustment to its public transport infrastructure, to make sure it is fit for the future.
A new report from transport experts at RMIT University, Creating Liveable Cities found that Sydney's public transport system is a major downside for anyone residing in Australia's largest city.
According to the report, just two per-cent of Sydney suburbs and 38 per cent of homes meet state government targets for access to public transport. The target was to have more than half of residences being within 400 metres of a bus stop or failing that, within 800 metres of a train station.
The city is falling well behind these targets and it's apparent that there's an urgent need to explore new ways of commuting.
The cost of using – and not using – a car
Maintaining a car can be expensive. According to RACV figures, a Toyota Yaris driving 15,000 kilometres a year will cost $7,000 and a Ford Territory will cost $12,500.
A possible way to reduce this expense is car-sharing schemes, which can allow people to split the cost of a ride with other commuters. Some options include shareurride.com.au and GoGet, while Uber has recently launched its UberPool service in Sydney.
The not-for-profit Community Carpooling Association has set up ride-sharing arrangements for 4000 members in NSW. It has two pools in Sydney - Sydney Car Pool and Western Sydney Car Pool - pools in Brisbane, Adelaide and in western Melbourne. It is free to join.
Renting out your barely used car is another possible option. Telematics expert Ian Davidson at GOFAR says the company has analysed its drivers and found that even despite some having long commutes, on average their cars were unused for more than 96 per cent of the time.
“If the cost of keeping the car is between $7,000 and $12,000 a year, why not rent it out?” says Davidson. “Put your car on a car-sharing network that other people can rent. Instead of it sitting there and doing nothing, let it pay you back. If you see your car as an asset, then make it a liquid one."
The future of commuting
On a business level, many employees now have more say on how they commute, says Scarlett Vespa, a personal branding specialist and human resources futurist who has founded The Mrs V Society.
“Employees are really getting some power in organisations, with demands for flexible hours, better leadership and rights at work” Vespa says. “So, with offices looking more and more modern, CFOs need to include in their business and marketing strategy the way people commute and travel for business."
According to Vespa, an organisation's culture is just as important as its external brand. “Your strategy needs to include something that will better the lifestyle and culture of the workplace – plus help your bottom dollar," she says.
The Uberpool service, which began in Sydney during April, claims riders can save up to 50 per cent on a trip compared to a regular UberX solo voyage. The app may request travellers to wait a few minutes as it constructs the best ride match. It may even be possible for a person to walk somewhere to a pickup point to link with the driver, so the driver avoids taking a detour.
Another option is the app CityMapper. This innovation may be described as a multi-modal trip planning app. It integrates departure and arrival times in real-time for multiple forms of transport.
The would-be traveller requests the fastest route combining bus, train, ferry, light rail, taxi, car share, bike share and even walking. Commuters can decide which transport option they prefer to use, based on the current time, the number of calories burned, and they may also receive alerts for route disruptions.
Taking the jump
Vespa says the growth in transport technology is exponential and believes more forms of transport will be impacted in the future. At the same time, many people's lifestyles at home and at work are undergoing dramatic changes whereby sustainable and environmental choices are impacting us in all kinds of areas, including less-obvious ones: witness the growth of bike-share options, for example.
This is an opportunity for CFOs to rethink travel options for their employees.
“Car sharing is growing in popularity, we have more push bikes on the road and Uber has given us a more cost-effective way of getting around – not to mention it has also given many people the opportunity to work.
“The community has won here, because it's opened up another way to get to know other 'people' who are also doing other work while Ubering. You may say other people have held down other jobs while being a taxi driver, but not so, I love when I get into an Uber and I speak to a retired barrister, a start-up tech genius or a woman who just wants time away from thinking in a high-powered job," she says.
New forms of travel are also being mooted. For instance, UberAir involves self-driving drones.
CFOs may need to think about innovations such as these and how they can help their employees. Examples include carpooling and ride sharing whereby people pay for miles instead of renting vehicles or even scooters.
It may be some way off but Vespa points to the approach of UberAir which she believes is just the beginning of a future that holds a huge range of inventive transport options.
“I love it and I can't believe it's not been done until now. I can see that it's taken a business that is not afraid to stretch their wings in the face of controversy and negative feedback to take the jump," she says.
While it might be some time before UberAir and other futuristic conveyances are in wide operation, smart CFOs will even now be factoring in ways to help their staff have access to all the new transport options out there, as they come along, and working out how these options can assist their business' bottom line.
- Public transport systems in big Australian cities are often inadequate and there is a proliferation of cars.
- Carpooling and sharing offer some possible fixes, but there are also new apps which could minimise costs and maximise travelling efficiency.
- Being aware of what is really going on now may help CFOs understand how their employees might be assisted.