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Time for congestion tax
'Time for congestion tax'

A public transport lobby group has called for funding initiatives such as congestion charges and a higher goods and services tax rate to help clear Australia's multibillion-dollar infrastructure backlog.

Australasian Railway Association chief executive Bryan Nye said it was time for all levels of government to get smarter about funding public transport investment.

Bus route axed |

"Without long-term planning and alternative revenue sources to fund or finance public transport and infrastructure investment, our cities and their transport systems will come to a standstill," Mr Nye said.

The national infrastructure backlog is reportedly between $300 billion and $800 billion.

In WA, funding pressures have already forced the Barnett Government to postpone its key transport infrastructure projects - the rail link to Perth Airport and light-rail network from Mirrabooka to the city.

A report released by the ARA found it was important for governments to utilise innovative mechanisms to fund public transport projects. "Governments cannot afford to continue relying on an allocation from general government funds for public transport improvements and infrastructure investments," it said.

"The approach to transport funding and financing must broaden nationally. Continued investment and expansion of public transport is crucial for the success of the nation."

The report said a number of new funding mechanisms should be considered, including:

·Using value capture - where the increased value of properties near a new transport development is recouped - to help fund public transport projects.

·Reintroduce CPI increases to Australia's fuel tax and spend all the extra revenue on public transport and road investment.

·A small increase to the GST rate, with all the extra revenue spent on public transport and road investment.

·The introduction of a small payroll tax, with all the extra revenue spent on public transport and road investment.

·The introduction of congestion charging.