WA Excerpt from the 2011 November Market Report

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The big news coming out of Perth is the announcement of its much-awaited 20-year transport plan: Public Transport Plan for Perth 2031.

With public transport being a major factor in the minds of both tenants and buyers, the Perth property investing community will be keenly eyeing up the plan’s progress in search of tomorrow’s hot spots.

According to WA’s minister for transport, Troy Buswell, Perth’s population is expected to reach 2.2 million by 2031. With Perth’s current population being estimated at just over 1.65 million at last count by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2009, this would represent a population increase of approximately 33% in just over two decades.

Add to this the state’s Department of Transport’s stunning claim that public transport use in the city has risen by 67% over the past 10 years, and it would seem that property investors can’t afford to ignore the value of a local train station or convenient bus route.

Looking at the numbers, providing these facilities certainly seems to be a job that the state’s transport bigwigs are taking seriously. In terms of infrastructure alone, their latest plan would see the state spending $1.2bn on expanding the city’s rail system; $1bn on light rail; $343m on bus rapid transit and bus priority infrastructure; and $135m on transit interchanges, including park and ride facilities.

So, backed up by this impressive proposed level of public transport spending, the big question is: if all goes to plan, which areas will be the big winners from the City of Light’s much-heralded public transport strategy? Buswell points to three priority projects:

Northern railway

The coastal community of Yanchep, which lies just under 60km north of the CBD next to the Yanchep National Park, will be worth closer inspection. Not only will this area become a new railway line terminus (the north-bound line currently terminates around 20km further south at Clarkson), it’s also part of a wider plan to stimulate housing development in the city.

“The extension of the rail line north to Yanchep will support the development of the Yanchep City Centre, with a station at its centre, and the fast-tracking of this line will provide developers with the certainty they need to proceed with higher density development,” says Buswell.

Other suburbs earmarked to receive new stations along this route are Butler, Alkimos and Eglington.

Integrated development

Secondly, public transport demand in the central northern corridor – between Perth, Mirrabooka and the northern suburbs – is expected to equal that of Fremantle by 2031; and there are big plans to service this region with a new light rail network. This project has been labelled by Perth’s transport bigwigs as a ‘transformational project’ that can be implemented by 2020.

A significant advantage of such a network, says the Public Transport Plan for Perth 2031 report, is that it will encourage housing development along the route: “The sense of permanence of light rail provides certainty and encouragement for developers to move towards more consolidated, higher density development along the route.”

Eyeing up Ellenbrook

Thirdly, the government plans to implement what it calls “rapid transit services” within the existing streetscape of areas that have a large workforce, education or health facilities, or a big (and growing) demand for public transport services.

In short, faster and better bus services are needed in Perth’s busy transport corridors, and the Ellenbrook area has been earmarked as being on top of the list for an upgrade.

“Projected passenger numbers show a bus rapid transit service between Ellenbrook and Bassendean, and across to Morley, is feasible,” says Buswell.

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