Sustainable Transport

​Within the sphere of influence of road-based transport, improve the overall outcomes of the transport system

Image: Sustainablity transport objective.PNG 


The issue

The transport system is an integral part of the everyday lives of all Western Australians.  In a State that is as large and diverse as ours, it is a critical component that makes it all work.  Beyond connecting people and places, effectively designed road infrastructure and road reserves make a significant contribution to the urban form and function, liveability, amenity and heritage of our cities, towns and settlements.  The travel experience enjoyed by road users and visitors depends in part on the:

  • creation of community amenity through urban design features and condition of road reserves;
  • the ease of mobility across all modes of transport; and
  • the ability to choose how to access transport.

In facilitating the provision of sustainable transport, we are seeking to do our bit to tackle a number of these issues. However, the way the road network is currently provided presents challenges in tackling these issues directly.  The use of the road space is largely uncontrolled as road users are able to take their vehicle onto the road at any time with limited direct costs in doing this.  As a consequence, there are limited constraints on the environment footprint from the use of the road network.

Compounding this pressure in WA's growth, with Perth expected to hit a population of 5.5 million people by 2061.  We have a responsibility to ensure that we minimise our direct environmental impacts but also those of the user.  It is our interest to seek to reduce these indirect environmental impacts as from a global perspective there is a trend for transport agencies to be delegated to do so.

Access and mobility in transport are vital for people, including those with disabilities, to live independently and to be able to participate in all aspects of life.  It is important to offer all people the opportunity to reach all places within their environment for a high standard of living.

It is the aspiration to shape Western Australian cities and towns to develop and maintain a '30 minute city'.  Perth's average commuting distance is 14-15 km, while a peak time commute time is now 31 minutes for private vehicle travels.  It continues to be a key consideration and challenge for us to facilitate through road based transport and enable travel choices that create value, improve community amenity and improve equity for commuters across a variety of modes.  Data from PTA suggests that the average peak hour trip for its passengers is 25 minutes and covers an average distance of 16 km, which supports the notion of a '30 minute city' no matter what the mode of transport.

The report 'Energy Poverty in Western Australia: A Comparative Assessment of Drivers and Effects' published by Curtin University's Bankwest Curtin Economics centre also show the impacts of energy poverty on low-income households in WA.  Low-income households are spending approximately 12 per cent of their income on utility bills and fuel each week, compared with 2.9 per cent for high-income households.  WA's average fuel spend is $63 per week which is higher than all other states, except NT.  The report suggests a need for more accessible and affordable transport options.

The way our communities currently use the road network has adverse impacts on human health.  For example, it is recognised that globally, every year more people die from vehicle emissions that from road accidents.  Improving transport mode choice has implications for improved health and more active life styles.  With 60 per cent of Australian adults getting less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day.  Providing facilities for active transport can be one way of addressing the issue.


What we're doing

Some of our key policy commitments in this area include:


The speed at which Perth is growing means congestion is a reality faced by everyone in the city, prompting us to establish the Traffic Congestion Management Program.  The aim of the program is to ensure congestion does not impact on liveability, ensuring Perth remains an attractive and sustainable place to live, however fast the population and road infrastructure is growing.

Facilitating Public Transport Infrastructure

We have adopted a partnership approach with PTA to ensure the smooth delivery of infrastructure (eg. dedicated bus lanes) on local and state roads.  This has seen a significant expansion of the bus lane network.  In most instances, the dedicated lanes are also shared with other road users such as cyclists and taxi's, further adding to the benefit of reduced single passenger vehicle trips.

In partnership with PTA, we plan to introduce several new bus lanes on an increasing wider network in the near future.  It is anticipated that this will further improve the public transport network and encourage more motorists to make the mode switch from vehicular travel to more sustainable types of transport.

Cycling and pedestrians

We aim to achieve a safe, accessible and efficient road network as part of an integrated transport system for all road users. This includes pedestrians, people with disabilities and cyclists.  Some of the specific initiatives that relate to sustainability that are targeted at improving pedestrian and cycling network access include:

  • Linking rail and bus station access using pedestrian signals.  The current proposed sites include Guildford Station, North Fremantle Station and Maylands Station.
  • Conducting a trial of reduced speed limits
    • 30 km/h bike boulevards
    • 40 km/h residential areas

Visit our Pedestrian and Cyclists page for more information, including our Disability Access and Inclusion Plan.

Urban Design

Urban design  applied to roads involves thinking beyond the provision of solely functional infrastructure, to consider the surrounding context and to include design objectives for people and places of the road management process.

All state road authorities include urban design considerations in the planning and design of road infrastructure.  Road design solutions that are sensitive to the surrounding context (natural and built, social and visual) contribute to building better cities and communities, enhance local environment and add community value.

We are developing internal guidance on the urban design of roads.  Examples of guidance prepared by other state road authorities are provided in RMS Beyond the Pavement and NZTA Briding the Gap .

Major road projects take an urban design approach to help provide ‘infrastructure that considers social amenity, urban form and connects communities’ in keeping with state and commonwealth government initiatives such as:

Urban design shapes aspects of the built infrastructure elements (design and treatments), the redevelopment of the road reserve and adjoining land as part of the road planning and design process.

Collaboration across road planning and design disciplines helps to achieve the urban design objectives set for each project. Project urban design objectives are applied across infrastructure elements;


  • ​bridges
  • underpasses
  • retaining walls
  • noise walls
  • screens
  • fencing
  • ​barriers
  • lighting
  • signs
  • public art
  • clearing and earthworks
  • revegetation and landscaping.

Gateway WA provides an example of a recent major project in Perth.

We are committed to ‘improve sustainability and community amenity’ and have adopted the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) best practice framework for infrastructure projects. Urban design is one of the ISCA rating categories for evaluating sustainability.
Public art is one visible urban design component that also provides opportunities for local artists and community involvement in road projects. This video on public art in Western Australia includes a segment on public art in road reserves.

Our guideline assists in the procurement of public art items in major projects.

Aboriginal Heritage

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of Western Australia’s lands and aim to protect Aboriginal cultural values wherever possible. We seek to achieve full compliance with statutory requirements and have developed an Aboriginal heritage process that ensures compliance with Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. We also work closely with other state government agencies including the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) and the Department of Premier and Cabinet to ensure robust Aboriginal heritage processes are established and followed.

We aim to avoid and minimise impacts to Aboriginal sites wherever practicable. Our internal Aboriginal Heritage Risk Assessments aim to identify potential impacts to Aboriginal heritage sites during the planning stages of projects in compliance with the DAA Due Diligence Guidelines. We value the input and contribution of traditional owners and seek their advice and opinions regarding potential impacts via Aboriginal heritage surveys and other consultation processes. In our endeavour to protect Aboriginal cultural values we also liaise with other stakeholders including:

  • Prescribed Body Corporates;
  • Native Title Representative Bodies;
  • other Aboriginal Corporations; and
  • direct engagement with relevant community groups and Traditional Owners informants.

Where it is not possible to avoid an impact an Aboriginal site, we seek consent to undertake works from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.

Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure

Electric Vehicles fit in well with our broad notion of promoting more sustainable travel as they reduce carbon, tail-pipe emissions and reliance on transport fuels, are energy efficient and produce low noise.

In our continued support for electric vehicles, plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles, we will endeavour to promote and encourage their use within our industry (hybrid plant) and community in general while we investigate opportunities to provide charging infrastructure. We have implemented a reporting regime within our major projects to understand the level of penetration these vehicles have had with our contract partners.


Case Study

Noongar Standard Heritage Agreement – Preserving Aboriginal Heritage

The South West Native Title Settlement (SWNTS) is an agreement between the State and the six registered Native Title Claimants within the South West area and will provide final resolution of Native Title within the Agreement area. The SWNTS area covers approximately 200, 000 square kilometres, including the South West and metropolitan regions and sections of the Wheatbelt, Great Southern and Midwest - Gascoyne regions.

In exchange for a suite of benefits and recognition, the six Native Title groups which involves around 30,000 Noongar people, will surrender all Native Title rights and release the state from any further compensation liability under the Native Title Act 1993. The Noongar claim groups include:

  • Yued (Jurien, Moora, Lancelin, Gingin)
  • Gnaala Karla Boodja (Mandurah, Bunbury, Donnybrook)
  • South West Boojarah (Busselton, Dunsborough, Margaret River, Pemberton, Nannup)
  • Wagyl Kaip (Katanning, Gnowangerup, Albany)
  • Ballardong (York, Northam, Hyden, Kondinin)
  • Whadjuk (Perth metropolitan area)

The SWNTS obliges state government agencies to enter into Noongar Standard Heritage Agreements (NSHAs) with the relevant Native Title groups. The NSHA establishes a detailed process and deliverables for consultation, timeframes for each party to provide information and arbitration processes if parties fail to provide information within specified timeframes. The NSHA provides a formal processes for heritage consultations and surveys that must be followed in the south-western part of the state.

In October 2015, we led Western Australia’s government agencies and became the first government agency to sign the agreement with each of the six Native Title Claimants. Over the past eight months we have been enjoying the benefits of executing the agreement including:

  • Enhancing our strategic relationships with the Noongar people of the South West Area.
  • Adopting a collaborative process that ensures Aboriginal heritage sites are identified and protected in accordance with state law.
  • Ensuring a consistent and predictable processes, timeframes and budgets for undertaking Aboriginal heritage assessments and gaining regulatory consents for our projects.


Modified: 19 Feb 2020