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The number of people using Perth's public transport has dropped for the fifth year in a row and experts say the Government needs to look to the private sector for help.
With the budget tight, the Government is in talks with land developers who can potentially help pay for new train stations and other infrastructure experts say the state desperately needs.
The Public Transport Authority reported five million fewer trips on trains and buses were made this year due to a downturn in the economy that had meant there were fewer people travelling to work in the city.
The problem is made worse as many Western Australians choose to drive because it is simply more convenient.
Former South Perth Mayor James Best sold his car 12 months ago and has since relied solely on public transport and the occasional Uber.
Mr Best is CEO of Future Plexus, a not-for-profit organisation looking to improve transport options in Perth.
'All about convenience'He said in the past, public transport in WA was seen as a welfare service for those who could not drive, but this was far from the case today.
"I don't look like the sort of person that can't afford a car — it's about choice and it's about convenience and for me," he said.
"I'm able to do all of my emails and all of my admin while I'm being chauffeur-driven in a fantastic green 'limousine' — it just happens to be a big Renault bus."
Mr Best said he had slashed his monthly transport bill from $400 to $160 by using Transperth and Uber.
But this only works because he is fortunate enough to live close to public transport.
"The point is for a lot of people, they can't afford to move into the town centre at the moment because we don't have the housing choice and diversity," he said.
"Providing for more accommodation in the town centre means people are going to spend less time travelling and more time living."
Suburbs 'poorly provided for'Curtin University lecturer Giles Thomson said to make his daily commute from Maylands on public transport was just not feasible, which was why he chose to cycle instead.
"To take public transport would be around an hour and 15 [minutes], to drive is about 20 minutes," Mr Thomson said.
"There is no direct link to Curtin from Maylands because of the way this city is designed as a 'hub-and-spoke' city. You need to travel into the city to then travel out of the city."
Transport expert Professor Peter Newman said Mr Thomson's predicament was common in Perth's urban sprawl.
"The network is not big enough to provide both the close links for people near where they live, or the close destinations where they want to reach.
"The Metronet network is doing that, but it's not enough for the middle and outer suburbs, which are very poorly provided in many respects."
Professor Newman said creating links between train lines and building higher density accommodation near stations would be crucial in the future.
"It's essentially catching up after 50 years of building just around the car," he said.
"We need to be reassured that we are going to have a plan that can provide for the next 20 years that can provide us with an alternative to the car.
"It's a process of bringing together planning and transport agencies along with financing through the private sector, because you can't do this with government funding anymore."
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the Government was in talks with the private sector on the issue.
"We've shown in the past that if you make it convenient, affordable and accessible people will use public transport," she said.
She said creating housing density around train stations was a priority.
"We want to encourage more people onto the network so we don't have to subsidise the system more," Ms Saffioti said.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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