Numbers count

If there is a problem with congestion on the roads, overcrowding on the trains or late-running buses, the community response appears to be to draw lines on maps and fill the lines in with railways or light rail networks.

The logo for Metronet looked great, in fact, it looked as if Perth was at last going to get a rail network similar the London Underground.

But when I drew in the proposed route on an RAC road map of Perth, it did not seem to go anywhere where there were population centres, or even where there is congestion on the roads or overcrowding problem on the trains.

Proponents point to places such as London, which has the Underground providing a network of routes covering the city and with an extension to Heathrow.

The heavy-rail link from Paddington to Heathrow is also held up as a prime example of how a busy airport can easily be accessed from the centre of a large city.

What the proponents do not take into consideration is the difference in population density between Perth and Greater London. Using rough figures that I Googled for convenience it can be seen that the Perth Metropolitan area has a population of around 1.9 million in an area of 5386 square kilometres.

This works out at a little under 350 residents per square kilometre. Compare this with the population of Greater London, which is about 13 million. These 13 million people are crammed into an area of 1570 square kilometres. Therefore, in every square kilometre of Greater London, more than 8000 people live.

No wonder then, that public transport in Perth is so hard to provide and that the cost, except in a few corridors, would be prohibitively expensive and under-used.