Opportunities and challenges
Population growth and managing transport demand
Queensland’s population is estimated to be around 5.2 million1 and is predicted to increase to around 6.7 million by 2036 and around 7.2 million by 20412. Most of this increase is likely to continue to be in South East Queensland, coastal communities and regional centres with industry growth. An acceleration of growth in regional centres has occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic3, with more Australian households moving away from capital cities to regional areas.
Queensland has seen substantial investment in infrastructure and public transport services over the past decade to cater for this growth. However, Transport and Main Roads continues to face significant challenges to manage the ongoing impact of this growth, harness opportunities and mitigate associated risks, such as increased congestion.
New technology provides significant opportunities for managing a growing and increasingly diverse population, helping to address the challenges of congestion, accessibility, sustainability and reduced emissions, service reliability, safety and network resilience. Transport and Main Roads will continue to anticipate and assess emerging technologies and business models and understand how they can be used to support economic growth and benefit all transport users.
Transport and Main Roads can use new technologies to position the transport system to meet future needs—creating a single integrated transport system that anticipates, rather than just responds to, customers’ needs. Smart and connected technologies, and access to real time information, enables customers to make more informed transport choices and helps optimise transport network operations, leading to improved transport reliability. These technologies also enable improved management of transport infrastructure by providing the department with greater awareness of asset use, performance and condition. Technologies will be used to optimise freight journey times and keep costs low, particularly by improving first and last mile access.
The transport system will provide improved and affordable transport access options, including for people with disabilities, older people and people who do not have a driver’s licence. These improvements will be made possible by emerging automated vehicle technologies and service models such as Mobility as a Service, incorporating demand responsive and shared transport services.
Significant progress has been made over many decades to reduce road trauma on Queensland’s roads through the introduction of a variety of road safety initiatives. However, in 2021, 274 people lost their lives as a result of crashes on Queensland roads. While this is 4 less people than in 2020, it still illustrates the magnitude of road fatalities in Queensland, along with the socio-economic impacts of road trauma upon our community.
Transport and Main Roads is steadfast in its commitment to reduce the incidence of road trauma through ongoing safety upgrades to the state-controlled road network. The department continues to deliver a program of targeted road safety infrastructure improvement programs delivering high-benefit treatments to reduce crashes. Transport and Main Roads continues to deliver the additional funding of up to $783 million that has been committed by the Australian Government for road safety improvements over the 3-year period of 2020–21 to 2022–23. This funding is delivering significant safety improvements, including shoulder sealing, audio tactile line marking, intersection improvements and barriers to prevent run-off road crashes.
In addition, the department continues to implement the Road Safety Policy and the Transport and Main Roads Strategic Plan 2019–23 (revised for 2021–22) ensuring road safety standards are actively applied in the planning, design and construction of all road projects undertaken.
Importantly, Transport and Main Roads Road Safety Policy and 4-year strategic plan further embeds the Safe System approach to road safety, articulated in the Queensland Road Safety Strategy 2022–31.
This means that the department has applied the principles, processes and practices of the 4 pillars of the Safe System approach: Safer Roads and Roadsides, Safer Speeds, Safer Road Users and Safer Vehicles. This Safe System approach to road safety is represented in Figure 3.
Figure 3: The Safe System approach
Queensland’s freight system is a key enabler for the vital components of our economy and efficient freight movement is integral to Queensland’s global competitiveness and economic performance. The state’s wide variety of industries presents diverse transport demands, including light goods movement driven by eCommerce, containerised general freight, bulk minerals and agricultural commodities, and over-size and over-mass transport supporting the mining sector. The challenge is to maintain an integrated transport network that meets the growing freight needs of the industry and the community while remaining safe, efficient and dependable, as well as environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
The Queensland Freight Strategy - Advancing Freight in Queensland (QFS), developed in partnership with the Queensland Ministerial Freight Council, sets a 10-year vision for the state’s freight system through a series of shared commitments to: Build Effective Partnerships; Unlock Economic Opportunity; Smarter Connectivity and Access; Resilient Freight System; and Safer Freight Movements. The Queensland Freight Strategy vision aims to create an integrated, resilient and safe freight system integral to supporting Queensland’s economic prosperity.
The Queensland Freight Strategy is implemented through the rolling 2-year Queensland Freight Action Plan (QFAP). The inaugural Queensland Freight Action Plan, released in 2020, outlines a range of activities that the industry, the community and all levels of government will undertake to ensure logistics movements throughout the agricultural, mining, industrial and retail sectors provides the best outcomes for Queensland. The Queensland Freight Action Plan is the implementation mechanism for the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and National Action Plan.
A significant portion of the road and rail networks in Queensland forms part of the nationally accredited Key Freight Route network that connects Australia’s freight system, including sea and airports and intermodal terminals.
Works on the Queensland transport network are primarily funded by the Queensland Government and Australian Government. The Australian Government has primary responsibility for funding and maintaining the National Land Transport Network and contributes funding to projects off the National Land Transport Network through programs like the Roads of Strategic Importance and the Urban Congestion Fund. The state funded component includes revenue from motor vehicle registration and proceeds from infringements (such as camera detected offences). Some projects are partly funded by local government and developer contributions. Transport agencies worldwide are all facing significant challenges in providing financially sustainable transport solutions.
New transport technologies like electric vehicles will impact on traditional revenue sources, such as fuel taxes, as they are expected to account for an increasingly larger share of the overall vehicle fleet. Moreover, the growth of shared mobility services may reduce car ownership in the future, impacting on vehicle registration revenue. At the same time, population growth is increasing the demand for transport services.
Consequently, there remains a high expectation from the community that government will continue to address transport costs and accessibility through the integration of land-use planning and transport infrastructure. Transport and Main Roads will continue to work on this integration, ensuring that the department delivers the right projects at the right time for the right cost.
The Queensland Government recognises that the best way to achieve strong jobs growth and sustainable economic development is to support and encourage private sector investment. Investment facilitation and partnerships are available for major investment ideas and business propositions that demonstrate a strong potential for being delivered and that align with the Queensland Government’s priorities.
Rural, remote and Indigenous communities
Queensland’s regional prosperity, and associated transport network, is heavily influenced by the vast distances between regions and cities, the concentration of the population in South East Queensland, isolated resource production areas and export driven markets. To address these challenges, the Queensland Government continues to explore funding options for transport infrastructure improvements within rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
Transport and Main Roads works closely with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, the state’s stand-alone disaster resilience and recovery agency, to restore road and rail networks following events and to improve the resilience of the state’s road network to natural disasters.
Several initiatives expand on prior years’ efforts to enhance road surfaces, improve flood immunity to reduce disruptions during the wet seasons and maintain or upgrade maritime infrastructure.
QTRIP serves local communities through a project delivery approach that, where possible, engages Indigenous and local businesses, and creates employment and training opportunities for residents.
Consistent with these objectives, Transport and Main Roads will comply with the Indigenous participation policies and frameworks and agrees to Indigenous employment and supplier use targets for road projects committed by the Australian Government and Queensland Government, where applicable.
Environment, climate change and heritage management
Queensland’s environment is under increasing pressure as a result of the state’s growing population, climate change, land use changes, habitat fragmentation and invasive species. The state transport network exists to provide community benefits and economic development in an environmentally sustainable manner for current and future generations to continue to experience Queensland, while supporting tourism and regional development.
Queensland is the most at-risk state in Australia from the impacts of extreme weather and climate change. The climate is already warming and Queensland’s transport system can be severely disrupted from these events, cutting off access to people and goods. Improving the network’s resilience and ensuring the transport system adapts to the impacts of climate change will need to be considered in all planning, design and delivery decisions.
The transport system also has a significant role in achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. This includes encouraging the adoption of zero emission vehicles and transport (including riding bicycles and walking), facilitating the use of more efficient modes through transport infrastructure and using low emission materials and energy to build and maintain the transport system.
A sustainable transport system that integrates environmental considerations will not only improve the environment but lead to cleaner, healthier and more liveable communities.
Transport and Main Roads is committed to Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and historic heritage management and environmental sustainability. This commitment is realised through delivery of an integrated transport network that contributes to a cleaner, healthier, more liveable environment.
Working with local governments
Transport and Main Roads works with local governments through the Roads and Transport Alliance—a 20-year partnership with the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), for the stewardship of Queensland’s regional road and transport network.
Under the Roads and Transport Alliance, local governments voluntarily collaborate with Transport and Main Roads districts to form 17 Regional Roads and Transport Groups (RRTGs) that make local transport infrastructure investment decisions based on regional priorities.
Regional Roads and Transport Groups receive an annual allocation determined by the Roads and Transport Alliance Board from the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS), to fund projects in accordance with regional priorities regardless of transport network ownership.
Projects must be prioritised using a robust program development process to determine future investments for nominated transport infrastructure assets.
The Roads and Transport Alliance has led to increased collaboration, capability building and engagement in Transport and Main Roads districts. Collaboration based on transport priorities for community outcomes, rather than asset ownership, will continue as the key driver of the Roads and Transport Alliance.