The Mobility Challenge for Regional Communities: approaches to delivering sustainable public transport in sparse populations

Lauran R Huefner, Bus SA

South Australia is a geographically large state of Australia that is facing modern world challenges as its low-density ageing population heads towards retirement. Although the State has high agricultural production and export market derived from regional SA, the past few decades have seen fewer people choosing to live in regional towns and villages. There have been changes to mobility options and services, often replaced with piecemeal solutions that are effective for some of the people some of the time – which, given the scarcity of funds highlights the needs for more innovative and productive solutions.

Research indicates that as baby boomers retire, these regional communities will come under pressure as these retirees swap the city for the country. The traditional service of the country bus operator – the school service – has likewise experienced many changes as well, but it may still provide the backbone of a mobility solution if the right policy settings are in place.

This paper will look at the nature of regional South Australia and the likely changes it is facing, what the current service arrangements are, and propose what outcomes might be achieved with the application of a different approach to mobility that underpins regional community prosperity and liveability.

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