2003 can be summarised as a year of change. Major events included-

  • A State election, resulting in new ministerial structures and appointments. Roads and public transport, previously under one minister, Carl Scully, were split. The newly created Ministry of Transport Services was awarded to Michael Costa. Transport planning is now spread over three portfolios, Transport Services, Roads, and Infrastructure Planning. Railway operating and infrastructure authorities were amalgamated, and the Department of Transport was abolished.
  • The opening of Sydney's first "Bus Transitway", between Liverpool and Parramatta, via Smithfield.
  • The arrival of the new "Millenium" trains. Technical problems saw their almost immediate withdrawal from service.
  • Commencement of construction of the new Epping to Chatswood railway,
  • Commencement of construction of the Cross City road tunnel,
  • Letting of a $320M 10-year contract to design build and operate NSW's integrated smartcard ticketing system, for phased introduction commencing in the second half of 2004. The new Transport Minister immediately announced a major review of the project.

The bad news included the final collapse of the government's 1999 "Action for Transport 2010" transport plan, the "deferment" of any further work on the Parramatta to Epping section of the Parramatta-Chatswood railway, failing railway infrastructure culminating in the Menangle Bridge debacle, running problems with the Millenium trains, the failure of the federal government to show any interest in public transport in its Auslink Green Paper, and the tragic Waterfall train crash. The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils condemned Mr Costa's move to abandon the Parramatta link, saying residents were being short-changed. Much of the restructuring of the transport agenda was detailed in the Sydney Morning Herald of 22 August 2003.

On the buses, a complete restructure of State Transit services in Sydney's eastern suburbs failed to convince passengers that there was any improvement. However, probing by the local MP revealed that State Transit's operating costs had been significantly reduced. The "Spit" tunnel / bridge controversy came and went, but it will return.


The mass media, seeking light entertainment, focussed on the controversial announcements of the new minister, Mr. Costa. The more important issues surrounding urban planning, now in the hands of planning minister Craig Knowles, did not seem to generate the same interest.

Two outspoken newspaper articles are worth recording. In the Sydney Morning Herald of 16 January 2003, the Directors of the University of Western Sydney's Urban Frontiers Program said "Hubris, corruption and greed have left the nation's premier city in desperate need of a strategic plan for growth". "We have been well aware of our worsening car dependency . for at least two decades, but are no nearer a solution. The road building lobby..has continued prosecute its plans for the mass asphalting of the city for at least three decades. The road machine seems unstoppable, and unchallenged in its implicit claim to be the real planning agency for Sydney". Then, on 8 February, the Australian Financial Review carried a rare expose on motorway funding.

A strong media presence greatly assists APT's advocacy work. We maintained a satisfactory profile in Sydney's newspapers. The year's media highlight was an extended appearance on ABC TV's "Stateline". "Gets" to our website - - increased gradually, from 2300 in December 2002 to 4000 in October 2003.


Our weekly Friday evening meetings continued to attract a small group for stimulating discussion. Visitors are always welcome.

This year we have only dealt with a few of the many transport and access issues which we would like to have tackled. Peripheral issues like pedestrian safety, car parking, etc. could not be addressed because of a lack of resources. This may correctly be construed as an invitation for readers to assist APT in some of the many facets of transport advocacy which need greater public exposure.

We made a record number of submissions to various Inquiries, including Auslink (Federal Government), Cash-In-Transit (Workcover), IPART (on fares - 3 submissions), "Southern Sector Vision Statement" (Sutherland area), North-West Transitway, City "Gateway" road upgradings, "Parry" (funding options - 2 submissions), and "Unsworth" (bus review). We continue to be disappointed by the poor quality of some of the submissions to these Inquiries from the transport agencies and operators .

During the year we met regularly with the state's transport providers, and benefited from occasional meetings with ministerial staff, the Opposition transport spokesman, Michael Gallacher, and kindred transport and environmental organisations. The financial contributions and advice from members and supporters during the year is gratefully acknowledged. Members will receive a copy of the financial statement with this report.


APT predicts that the Carr Government's willingness to let the Roads & Traffic Authority and its shadowy backers, multi-national road builders and infrastructure investment companies, drive the transport funding agenda will, sooner rather than later, be its downfall. A weak government resolve to act in the public interest is easily over-ridden by a cashed-up infrastructure investment industry that will promote those projects which it knows will generate the highest profits.

Public opinion surveys increasingly find that the public, including motorists, think better public transport is the best response to Sydney's growing traffic congestion. The NRMA / Nielsen poll of November 2002 found that the public's four leading priorities all focussed on the need to improve public transport (NRMA, July, 2003). The government did nothing to redress this imbalance in its June 2003 budget.

Kevin Eadie,