This document records, for archival and reference purposes, the major events in NSW public transport for the 12 months up to the APT annual general meeting in November 2009.
Transport, and particularly public transport in Sydney, was a subject of increasing community concern during the year. Patronage increased on all modes, resulting in serious overcrowding, particularly on trains. Lack of adequate long term planning by government appeared to be the underlying cause of community frustration with services.
Nationally, climate change and the impact of the global financial crisis remained foremost in people's minds. The Rudd Government became seriously involved in urban issues, in particular the funding of urban public transport by Infrastructure Australia. Sydney fared badly, due to poor quality submissions revealing a lack of integrated planning, yet Hunter Valley coal transport infrastructure benefited, despite its likely contribution to global warming. IA did however agree to fund further planning for Metro West, the proposed new railway between the City and Westmead.
A Senate Inquiry into Passenger Transport Funding reported on 20 August, recommending improved transport research, reduced tax concessions for cars, and the investigation of public transport tax incentives.
A mini-budget by the new party-appointed premier Nathan Rees saw the proposed North-West Metro (Central to Epping) replaced by a CBD Metro (Central to Rozelle). The change of premier had been precipitated by internal Labor Party conflict over the sale of electricity assets. That sale had been intended to fund one-off capital works for public transport, itself a wholly unsustainable process, and another example of poor planning. The number of influential cabinet positions held by appointed-rather-than-elected Legislative Councillors now stands at five.
The government sought public input into the preparation of a new transport plan, referred to as its Blueprint. APT declined to participate, preferring to contribute to the concurrent independent inquiry established by the Sydney Morning Herald.
A new super ministry, NSW Transport and Infrastructure, was created, effective 1 July.
CityRail's Epping to Chatswood railway opened, first as an isolated shuttle, and later as an integral part of the network, yielding immediate relief to dangerous overcrowding on Town Hall station platforms, but creating an irritating change-of-train gap in most Strathfield Hornsby services. Inter-agency bickering plagued the completion of the new railway and ICAC released a scathing criticism of RailCorp corruption in December 2008.
The Sydney Metro Authority was created, with wide powers including property development. Its CBD Metro plans attracted severe public criticism, much of it parochial. Public confusion reigned as to the roles of the proposed Metro and the existing light rail service in the same corridor. Light rail's Metro trading name didn't help. The state opposition pledged to stop the Metro construction if elected in 2011, diverting resources to reinvigorate rail projects in the north western and south western suburbs which had been cancelled in the Rees mini-budget.
State Transit's conversion to Pre-Pay tickets proceeded rapidly, speeding buses, but adding inconvenience for occasional users. The whole of the Sydney CBD became pre-pay during weekday daylight hours. The route 555 free CBD loop service was introduced, as was the second high-frequency, no-timetable, Metrobus service, route 20.
The long running, high speed Manly Jetcat ceased operating on 31 December, another casualty of the November mini-budget. It was replaced with a privately operated vessel in February. There was little further action on the 2007 Walker report.
Variable time-of-day tolls were implemented on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a form of congestion charge. A nervous government shied away from any expansion of the principle. Parking space levies in the city and suburban centres were increased, the proceeds directed to public transport improvements. Sydney's most recent private tollways, the Cross City and Lane Cove tunnels, faced increasing financial difficulties, but the government remained committed to building an as yet undefined M4-East motorway, connecting Concord to the city and the airport/Port Botany.
Construction commenced on the RTA's controversial second Iron Cove Bridge, labeled as an Inner West Busway but reckoned by some to be a facilitator for the above-mentioned M4-East motorway.
Freedom of the press and an expanding internet enabled a sceptical public to dig for the truth behind ever increasing government spin. Some media almost revelled in exposing political faction fighting, shown to be present in both major parties. The Sydney Morning Herald demonstrated a commendable public conscience in setting up an independent inquiry into transport, chaired by former transport and planning CEO Ron Christie.
Our activities were again constrained by a lack of human resources. Continued low-profile recruitment of suitable talent brought negligible results. In contrast, all media outlets continuously sought our opinion, and visits to our website are encouraging, reflecting daily, events on the public's agenda. We continue to develop the website, for ease of access, relevance, as a recruiting tool, and for facilitating and measuring feedback from the community. Our web address is http://www.aptnsw.org.au/
During the year, APT met frequently with all of the service providers, most of them at regular intervals. We also liaised with kindred non-government transport and social-equity groups, and government bodies including IPART, the Audit Office, ministerial staff, and federal senators.
A number of formal submissions were prepared. Recipients included IPART, Sydney Metro, various transport inquiries and the Federal Senate. Most of the submissions appear on our website, as do the reports of our weekly meetings.
One of our longest running campaigns finally reached a conclusion when State Transit decided to sell bus tickets from its kiosk at Railway Square.
|Action for Public Transport (NSW) Inc.|
|PO Box K606, Haymarket, NSW, 1240.|
|9 November 2009.|