Free public transport key to the CBD

Landlords, tenants and industry representatives have used Channel 7’s Flashpoint to highlight the importance of returning staff to city offices, while also suggesting ideas that can help the city to recover from COVID-19.

Property Council WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer joined Ian Campbell, Brookfield Group Executive, Bradley Woods from the Australian Hotels Association and The West Australian’s Jenna Clarke to bring attention to the plight of landlords, tenants and retailers across Perth’s CBD as businesses adjust to the new reality COVID-19 has created.

Although the City has endured a difficult period with a drop in office occupancy, Ms Brewer said the CBD had a lot to offer to workers and visitors alike, which would only improve with the gradual delivery of the Perth City Deal.

“Reports of the city’s demise are greatly exaggerated,” Ms Brewer said.

“The city is a fantastic place to visit, just catching a ferry up to Elizabeth Quay and wandering through the city to the Cultural Centre is absolutely terrific.”

“People need to give the city another chance – get in there, see it for yourself.”

Ms Brewer highlighted some of the levers available to the State Government and City of Perth to bring people back into the CBD, saying “we’d like to ask all levels of government to support… relieving the Perth Parking Levy for a period, offering free public transport to get people back in the habit of going to work, and for big city bosses to ask people to come back to the office.”

The call for a trial of free public transport was backed by Mr Campbell, who had previously called for public transport incentives as a way of attracting people back to the CBD.

“Some people who can come to work aren’t coming because of public transport concerns,” Mr Campbell said.

“I think cost is an issue, I think parking is an issue. So I would be taking some bold decisions to get people back. Let’s make public transport into Perth free, (until) Australia Day.

“Let’s make parking free, get rid of parking costs,” he went onto say.

Property Council data showed that Perth office occupancy was at 63% of pre-COVID levels, which was a gradual improvement but still not reflective of Perth’s position as a safe and healthy place to do business.

The data coincided with the release of a report by Investa, whose analysis of ABS statistics showed that Working From Home over the pandemic period had seen a 3% decline in staff productivity across Australia.