Some experts warned that the climate change phenomenon would subsume all other theories, policies and decisions affecting the world's economy. World oil prices plummeted unexpectedly. The world financial crisis continued downward. Australian governments reacted by moving in opposite directions; Rudd in Canberra toward massive spending on infrastructure, and Rees in Sydney cancelling rail projects in his mini-budget, bringing state Labor's abandoned rail projects to ten -
The ousting of Liberal prime minister Howard and the election of the Rudd Labor government in Canberra renewed the possibility of federal funding of urban public transport.
Long standing Labor premier Bob Carr resigned, to be replaced with Morris Iemma, self-titled the public transport premier. He lasted only a few months, as did his North West Metro proposal, linking the CBD to Epping. Labor continued appointing non-popularly-elected MLCs like Michael Costa and Eric Roozendaal to powerful ministerial portfolios. Political spin reached new lows with the likes of inconsequential TV traffic reporters praising the state government in expensive taxpayer-funded press advertising. Key state public servants resigned. Tcard, the electronic smart card project which was supposed to be implemented for the 2000 Olympics was finally cancelled amid legal wrangles. Still nobody in government would acknowledge that it was the fares system, not the tickets, which needed reform.
Sydney City Council developed its "Sustainable Sydney 2030" plan, with the assistance of Danish guru Prof. Jan Gehl. Council maintained its commitment to light rail expansion.
RailCorp, burdened with corruption, with suppressed safety issues, with bungled maintenance and Epping-Chatswood Rail Link design disputes, with a demoralised workforce and arguments with TIDC, reverted from a government-owned corporation to a statutory authority. A proposal for a North-West Metro railway came and went and the ECRL didnt open as promised.
State Transit proceeded somewhat hastily with the introduction of Pre-Pay, requiring intending passengers to purchase a ticket from a retail outlet before boarding the bus. It also implemented its first red-liveried Metrobus service, route 10, introducing through-CBD-routing between the suburbs of Kensington and Leichhardt, higher standing-to-seated ratios, improved on-board information, and frequencies high enough to dispense with published timetables. STA buses returned to Druitt Street in the CBD but other demands for improved bus priority went unanswered. Government buses celebrated 75 years of service. A free loop bus service was started in Parramatta. Other suburbs benefited from ongoing improvements under the Unsworth reforms.
Little progress was made in implementing the wide-ranging recommendations of the 2007 Walker Review.
Sydney's toll-funded privately owned motorways faced increasing financial problems caused by actual patronage falling well short of predicted figures. The Roads and Traffic Authority cranked up the rhetoric regarding the need for a second bridge across Iron Cove on Victoria Road.
APT continued a trusting relationship with most media, on whom the whole community is dependent. We are grateful for the media's revelations of transport matters which deserved our attention. Nevertheless, unreliable media reports continue to be a concern. The Opposition's personal attacks on government ministers, rather than their policies, has not helped.
We had many meetings with all the Sydney transport providers during the year. We also met with a number of government agencies, principally IPART, on the matter of fares. The IPART meetings were useful but the outcomes were unsatisfactory from the transport consumers' point of view. IPART is constrained by its own Act, restrictive government directives, and an accounting culture as distinct from a transport planning or transport economics base. We also met at least once with most of the non-government organisations concerned with transport matters. We acknowledge here our grateful appreciation of the assistance provided by all those bodies with whom we have had contact.
We produced a number of submissions, reports, press releases, and letters, the more important ones appearing on our website. In our spare time (!) we have added part of the archive of 25 years of newsletters to the site. Our membership and finances remained stable but the lack of younger people in our leadership positions is of growing concern.
Our weekly meetings provided a useful forum for policy development. They were attended this year by a number of students and other individuals seeking assistance with private projects.
We look forward to the opening of the Epping Chatswood railway.
We also hope that we can adapt to the way the internet is changing the very nature of advocacy, in all fields. Of growing concern is the manner in which powerful vested interests can disrupt the planning process in NSW, the proposal for a City to Parramatta Fast Rail being just one example.
|Action for Public Transport (NSW) Inc.|
|PO Box K606, Haymarket, NSW, 1240.|
|8 November 2009.|