We are pleased to present our latest annual report to members and supporters. This report summarises the actions taken and topics explored by APTNSW during the twelve months to September 2014.
The most important influence on our work has been the absolute breakdown of coherent planning within the NSW government, despite pre-election promises and a long history of criticising previous governments while in opposition. There was, for example, a promise by the present transport minister that all transport projects would be submitted to Infrastructure NSW to ensure that they were good value for the cost.
But that's not happening (fortunately for public transport, as Infrastructure NSW quickly fixated on motorways). There was a much-vaunted Long Term Transport Master Plan which should have put the project assessment procedure onto a firm basis yet projects continue to be chosen on the basis of appeal to ministers and their friends. The clearest example is the Cotter bridge across Anzac Parade. Costing $25 million and some parkland, the project is devoid of benefits to its alleged users (cyclists and pedestrians) yet was rushed through the approval process. Construction began even sooner, just before approval was announced! Public transport passengers remain a bad last in the race for transport improvements.
A worrying trend for public transport projects has continued through the 2011 change in government. Just as the Rees/Campbell metro system was clearly not the best use of money, so much so that premier Keneally cancelled it, some recent projects appear to put other issues ahead of the passengers. They also discount construction inconvenience.
Questionable projects including permanently closing the Newcastle railway so that the old CBD can be made "vibrant". The modernisation of Sydney's suburban railways, which might seem worthwhile, is being done with scant regard to compatibility or continuity of service - the Epping to Chatswood railway is to be closed for an estimated seven months of "upgrading". Again, passengers on the CBD and south-east light rail line will find far fewer seats on the "modern" light rail vehicles than on the buses which they are to replace. A recent letter to a newspaper described such projects as Trojan horses, carrying development or other undesirable payloads.
Discounting the lack of official attention given to passengers, we made about a dozen submissions to various authorities. The topics included fares, the anachronistic multi-headed Westconnex and its utterly unwarranted cousin Northconnex, a Senate inquiry into public transport, airport ground access, and the Productivity Commission inquiry into infrastructure. We also achieved many appearances in conventional media plus a few in social media.
Several seats are expected to be closely fought; there will be opportunities to raise public transport issues.
There is an urgent need for more people to help in the production of quality submissions and to appear before authorities and/or in the media. All of the above submissions took considerable time and skill. But the most valuable quality is determination - if you're happy with what bad leadership is doing to Sydney transport, we don't need you.
It may soon become necessary to hold committee meetings electronically. But face-to-face meetings at 5:30 on Fridays are likely to continue for some time. Please attend if you can.
7th November 2014