Driving dependence must end: council

THE City of Greater Bendigo will look at international transport models in its bid to get cars off the road and increase public transport usage.

Consultants will start work with the council next month to review ways of promoting Bendigo's buses and trains, as part of the Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy.

The council's manager of strategy Trevor Budge said the aim was to discourage people driving their cars and encourage other transport options.

"One objective is to slow the growth in the use of cars," he said.

"We've got to reduce our reliance on cars and increase cycling, walking, public transport. We can't keep building more and more road capacity."

Mr Budge said consultants would help explore the most efficient alternatives to driving. 

He said consultant firms from around Australia were being considered for the $100,000 project.

"It's an important step," he said.

"We'll be looking at the most cost-effective ways to reduce the number of motorists  and promote behavioural change. 

"Many firms we're speaking with have past experience with strategies in Australia and international examples.

"They'll help us realise what works and what doesn't work and what have been the most effective strategies elsewhere."

Mr Budge said there were limitations with Bendigo's existing transport network.

He said the frequency and availability of public transport needed to improve to attract more passengers.

"Clearly we have to do something different. I don't think using the current (public transport) model will get us there."

He said any decrease in road use meant finances would be freed up for investment in other areas.

"As a city I don't think we can afford to keep building roads to keep up with the growth.

"Our projections show that our traffic will be about 50 per cent more congested over the next 20 years, if we don't change driver behaviour."

The consultants' report is due in November and will shape the final transport strategy to go before council.

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