16 July 2013

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Australia has applauded the National Infrastructure Plan presented to the Council of Australian Governments and suggested ways ITS may benefit the plan.

ITS Australia chief executive officer Susan Harris said this plan recognises some realities that challenge infrastructure management in Australia and recommends a clear set of actions to force reform in policies and processes.

“This document puts actions on the infrastructure agenda that were ignored previously because they are politically taboo,” said Susan Harris. “Some of the issues confronted by the plan have plagued infrastructure planning in Australia for too many years without resolution”.

Among the key actions recommended in the National Infrastructure Plan are:

  • Reform of current infrastructure funding methods.
  • Wider application of user-pays funding arrangements, especially but not only in the freight sector, but on the proviso that users get a say in scoping new projects.
  • Driving better use of urban networks by re-pricing transport to manage demand by location and time of day.
  • Investment in public transport with more intensive service provision.
  • Improvements to project governance and procurement to reduce the cost of developing new infrastructure.

“ITS Australia agrees with the need to invest in additional road and public transport infrastructure and endorses the proposal to explore new funding models. To maximise returns on that investment, it is critical that ITS technologies are integrated at the outset of planning and in the delivery of new projects to ensure the best solutions are delivered,” said Susan Harris.

ITS technologies add value

“ITS technologies now available can facilitate many of the projects proposed in the plan. The ITS elements of infrastructure projects can be rolled out quickly and can be deployed easily to make existing infrastructure more productive,” said Susan Harris.

“The cost of ITS technologies is modest compared to the heavy construction components of transport projects. More importantly, ITS technologies add value to projects by making them safer, more efficient and more user friendly. The implementation of managed motorways is a convincing example of ITS technology delivering significant increases in traffic volumes, without the need to build more roads.

“Advanced Australian-developed tolling technologies provide other examples. These tools can be used to reform infrastructure funding models. We have systems that can support user pays policies, as well as manage special purpose charging. This enables charging according to vehicle type or vehicle use, and time of use.

“Thus a mini bus used by a charity can be charged at a different rate to the same vehicle used by a commercial operator. If the travel is done in peak times, the charges could be higher.

“The plan quotes the outcomes of London’s City congestion charge – traffic reduced by 21%, travel speed increased by 37% and road emissions reduced. The revenue raised is invested in public transport initiatives, which contributes to increased bus and passenger rail patronage.

“Australia’s existing transport infrastructure will not cope when the freight task almost doubles in the next 20 years and the population doubles in 50 years. ITS Australia knows that sophisticated technologies will be required to meet these challenges in an affordable manner.

“As the peak industry body, we will respond eagerly to requests from Governments and industry for assistance with intelligent transport systems technologies. We look forward to helping to identify opportunities to demonstrate technologies appropriate to different infrastructure projects,” said Susan Harris.

Academics, executives and public officials engaged in the infrastructure industry can update their knowledge on ITS technologies at the Australian Intelligent Transport Systems Summit 2013 to be held 18 to 20 September in Sydney. Visit

 The National Infrastructure Plan is available here.