Greetings to our members and friends, supporters and sources, readers and surfers, students and journalists, departments and authorities, and others attentive to the state of public transport in our city, state and country. This report summarises the actions taken and topics explored by APT during the past year, including the internal affairs of the organisation.
Under-investment in infrastructure was the big issue of the year. Engineers Australia said "$100 billion a year is needed". Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. Public transport was an issue in the Federal election campaign, where the Labor government retained power in August 2010 with the help of minor parties and independents.
Poor public transport is still a political issue. The opposition is keeping a low profile, with popular opinion being that the Labor government will lose in March 2011. There is scathing criticism from all directions. The frequent changes of premier are indicative of the general malaise at lower levels. Politicians are abandoning Labor. Ministerial responses to queries come after long delays, and are often unsatisfactory, being little more than press releases. The government needs to confront matters such as population growth, carbon taxes, and smartcard problems throughout the world.
Events included: the Christie Final Report on CityRail, May 2010, MyZone tickets introduced April 2010, Metropolitan Transport Plan (MTP) released February 2010, comment closed 30 April, the Metropolitan Strategy Review (MSR), sub-titled Sydney Towards 2036 released March 2010, report due December 2010, and the $1.2B Tcard II contract that was let in April 2010.
The government finally compiled its submission to Infrastructure Australia (IA) in August 2010, including the M4E motorway Parramatta-Epping rail, West Expresss rail, Barangaroo CBD development, Automatic Train Operation (ATO), and a Wynyard station upgrade.
The 'silos mentality' in state planning has been challenged, with all major projects now in the Infrastructure Division of Transport NSW (TNSW).
The Metro proposal was dropped in February 2010, the inner west light rail was approved in February 2010, the proposal for federal funding for the Parramatta-Epping line backfired, the Greens revived the Very Fast Train (VFT) concept. The $300m Cronulla duplication was completed in April 2010 with additional services but the trains are no faster. The $2.4B contract for delivery of the Waratah trains was in jeopardy because the Reliance Rail consortium is in financial trouble.
APT meets monthly with the State Transit Authority (STA). A further series of new Metrobus routes began, but the distinctive features of the original 2008 concept have been compromised. The prepay scheme is being done on the cheap. There should be vending machines on the bus or at stops. Forcing people to find a shop that sells tickets is counterproductive to government policies aimed at luring more people onto public transport.
We questioned the rationales for franchising or privatising Sydney Ferries, rather than retaining government ownership or control. Ferry service cuts due in October 2010 have been disguised as improvements.
This was a big year for ticketing, including the consolidation of the bus PrePay system, a second attempt at a smartcard ticket, and the radical but welcome reforms brought in with MyZone in April 2010. These included a reduced number of fare bands (zones or sections), fares mostly cheaper or the same, and the spread of a common bus ticket through nearly all bus companies in the Greater Sydney area. Defects included the lack of a local area all-day all-modes ticket, and the limitations of a Sydney-centric system
Controversy continued over widening of the M2 and M5 motorways, and plans for the M4. Congestion pricing remains on the agenda - it's only a matter of time.
APT had a continued presence in the media - radio, television, metropolitan and suburban newspapers.
APT continued to hold weekly meetings, and a list of the topics discussed is available on the web site.
Our thanks to members for internal contributions and independent letters to editors, campaigns, inquiries, etc. We have a scarcity of human resources, and more offers of help would be welcomed.
Although our membership numbers are in decline, our finances are healthy.
Other groups (including NCOSS, FROGS, WSCF) regularly liaise with us, and we offer mutual assistance.
We also thank many individuals in the state government, local councils, and various transport providers, operators, regulators, consultants, etc. who assist us with our enquiries.
The relevance of APT as a small group of members gathering every week to 'talk shop' has been questioned in this age of twitter, blogs and the next-big-thing. However, we value the importance of a constituted, respected and credible body to deal face-to-face with officialdom, and to respond to media enquiries.
We have the revised Metropolitan Strategy due in December 2010, the state election in March 2011, and the challenges of population growth, a second harbour rail crossing, Tcard II (an improved smartcard ticket), the NSW Public Works Committee Inquiry into Graffiti on Public Infrastructure, and no doubt a few surprises.
To close we offer one of the many pearls of wisdom from that well-known transport activist, Lewis Carroll:
"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
2nd November 2010