I recently went to Hobart as part of my AILA National Council duties and presented to the local chapter at the University of Tasmania on the current debate regarding light rail in the Apple Isle’s capital.
It’s not all about MONA, but let’s put things in perspective.
For years Tasmania has hidden from Australia – partly for self-sufficiency, partly for self-preservation. Yet the injection of attention from quarters not usually aroused by Tasmania has put it back on the map.
Let’s look at one aspect of Hobart that could benefit from this renewed interest – its public transport network.
So many of us in Australia are obsessed with our mobility. We love driving cars and, until recently, were drunk on their affordability, buying record numbers of new vehicles.
The Federal Government has decided to invest in roads, and left the states to fund public transport infrastructure. For the foreseeable future there will be little to dissuade us from using our cars for almost everything as most state budgets have little room for significant investment in public transport infrastructure.
As a mainlander, I have a passion for Tasmania, borne of almost 20 years visiting to enjoy its natural beauty (bushwalking mainly). My recent visit impressed on me that Hobart is fast becoming more bohemian than my home city of Adelaide.
I’m not saying there is no future for the private car, as undoubtedly there will always be a need. However, there are personal, environmental and economic benefits from moving away from private cars to low-emission public transport, such as light rail.
Article as featured in Tasmania’s daily newspaper, the Mercury, 18 May 2015.