Thursday, May 01, 2008

Yes, it can happen here.

Transport crisis turns west into wasteland
Article from: The Daily Telegraph
By Vikki Campion
May 01, 2008 12:00am
IT MAY be home to a booming population, but lack of public transport means Sydney's west is in danger of becoming a Mad Max-style urban wasteland.

Its dependence on cars could prove its death knell, with rising petrol prices forcing many families to abandon their vehicles and become locked in their local communities.

Curtin University Professor Peter Newman yesterday warned delegates at a conference examining western Sydney's future that, unless other transport options were available, vast areas were in danger of "dying from the outside in".

He said, just like some parts of the US, suburbs in western Sydney faced being "boarded up and abandoned".

"Already in the US, car-dependent cities are dying from the outside in," Professor Newman said.

"Whole suburbs are boarded up and abandoned; the residents could not afford the mortgage or afford to sell the place. The dreams of people have gone and it's not just the subprime mortgage meltdown - it is peak oil prices."

He said financially-stretched residents face at least another three years of spiralling petrol prices before getting any relief and this would be the beginning of the end for many car-dependent suburbs.

"The wealthy will move to a place where they don't have to drive, where they can walk to work and to the gym, it is the 'white flight' phenomenon and it is reversing rapidly," Professor Newman said.

"It will mean a new residential abandonment in car-dependent suburbs. There will be wealthy eco-claves surrounded by Mad Max suburbs."

Sydney, Australia, is a modern metropolis - not some backwater somewhere you've never heard of. If it can happen there, it can, and probably will, happen here. Do what you can now, class, to be near transit lines or near your place of employment. The window of opportunity is closing fast.

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