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Our vision for the future

RACT Group Chief Executive Harvey Lennon explains the motivation behind our Greater Hobart Mobility Vision.

Tasmania's mobility sector is changing. Our population is growing, and in some centres this is putting increased pressure on our ageing infrastructure. In addition, the advent of new vehicle technologies and a growing focus on environmental sustainability are changing how we travel.

As the state's peak mobility body, RACT will continue to advocate for safer roads and lower vehicle running costs, but will have an increasing focus on future technology and sustainability.

A key part of our involvement will be forming a vision for the future of travel in the Greater Hobart area – from 2020 to 2050. For some time we have been contacted by concerned motorists raising the issue of congestion, particularly on the main arterial routes into and out of Hobart city.

The current infrastructure and public transport options are not meeting our needs and with predicted increases in the Greater Hobart population, we expect this will continue to worsen until changes are made.

During the past 50 years a lot has been done to improve vehicle movements on the arterial routes into the city, but little has changed in terms of mobility within the Hobart CBD.

In addition, during that same time period, a lot has changed in terms of the social fabric of our community. This includes an increase in the number of vehicles per household, higher population and housing density in the Greater Hobart area, a change in expectations and flexibility around work and lifestyle, and more extracurricular opportunities for children – all of which influence the transport needs of our community.

Infrastructure Tasmania has listed several long-term upgrades in its Project Pipeline that address certain areas, such as a fifth lane on the Southern Outlet between Hobart city and Kingston, the Hobart Airport interchange revamp and upgrades to roads east of this location, an intelligent transport system for the main arterial routes into the city, and improved clearways in Macquarie Street.

However, while there have been a lot of smaller proposals put forward, to date we have not seen a single, comprehensive and cohesive plan for the future of mobility in Greater Hobart.

Southern Tasmania needs a long-term vision that takes into account social, economic, infrastructure, urban planning and public and active transport opportunities and impacts. We also need to consider electric and autonomous vehicle technology, and the growing call for more sustainability through tighter controls on vehicle emissions.

We need the local councils in Greater Hobart to work together with the State Government to address the issue as a whole. While the Hobart City Deal is mooted to take this a step forward, there are other council areas in Greater Hobart that need to form part of the overall plan. In addition, there is a range of private stakeholders whose future developments will impact on travel to, from and around the city, and they also need to be engaged in the planning phase.

Completing individual projects without an overarching plan is not going to address the problem in the long term. The final vision should ensure that not only congestion, but the safety of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists is considered.

In the lead-up to us opening submissions this week for a Greater Hobart Mobility Vision, we have met with many of the local councils as well as stakeholders from State Government and private enterprise. What we are uncovering is that a lot of individual good ideas exist, but they need to be brought together and assessed to ensure they work together as part of an overall plan.

We see our role in this area to bring these ideas together, assess their viability, and fit them together into a holistic solution. Without a cohesive plan, we will continue to have piecemeal, short-term fixes that just move congestion from one location to another and bring no overall benefit for the community of Greater Hobart into the future.

For more information on the guidelines for submissions to the Greater Hobart Mobility Vision, visit hobartvision.ract.com.au