Carmageddon looms for Perth
Carmageddon looms for Perth

Perth faces the very real risk of driving itself into the ground, with an extraordinary increase in the number of cars on our roads in the past year.

New figures from the Department of Transport show an additional 143,739 cars were licensed in WA last year - blowing all growth forecasts off the radar.

It represents a 10.5 per cent increase on 2011 and is the biggest single-year jump on record.

At the same time, the number of licensed motorcycles jumped 14.3 per cent to 120,008.

The increases have prompted fears of worsening congestion and a road network that will be unable to cope.

Curtin University's sustainability professor Peter Newman said the only way to avoid "Carmageddon" was to provide good public transport and cycling options.

He said that building more road capacity would never be able to keep up.

"The reality of our city is that we all mostly need a car and we use them for trips that can't be done any other way," Professor Newman said.

"And if all these cars are on the road as often as they have been, we will have a very sorry road congestion outcome.

"We all know how quickly we already fill every main road at peak times."

Professor Newman said the new data also reflected the amount of wealth in the State.

But there was a glimmer of hope, with signs younger people were using their cars less and opting to use buses, trains and bikes a lot more.

"Increasingly, we want to have the ability to use other modes of transport," he said.

"If governments provide us with other options, we will use them to the full, just as we are using roads to the full."

Professor Newman said providing these options would be an important part of this year's State election campaign, a view shared by the RAC.

Early last year - using Federal Government population forecasts - the RAC estimated there would be an extra 400,000 cars on WA roads by 2020.

"For more than two years the RAC has been sounding the alarm about the expected surge in the number of vehicles on West Australian roads being driven by strong growth in our population and economy," RAC head of advocacy Matt Brown said.

"As the State election draws near, these latest figures confirm that major improvements to our road network and public transport system must be delivered in the next term of government."

The West Australian

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