Action for Public Transport (N.S.W.) Inc.
|P O Box K606|
|Greater Sydney Commission||Haymarket NSW 1240|
|10 Valentine St||15 December 2017|
Action for Public Transport (NSW) Inc has been campaigning for public transport in the Sydney region since 1974. We make this general submission on the draft Greater Sydney Region Plan and all the associated district plans.
We have also made a submission on the draft Future Transport Strategy, which should be read in conjunction with this submission. See http://aptnsw.org.au/documents/future_transp_strat_2056_submission.html.
We are pleased that the GSC has a sophisticated understanding of the importance of connectivity to the way cities feel and function. We are doubly pleased that there is a recognition that in a city the size of Sydney, a step change in connectivity by public transport is essential. Planning a major city that depends on and gives preference to private car journeys is completely impractical.
Parramatta has been mooted as a second city in the Sydney region for many years, and it is a logical choice. These plans have all come to naught because the high level of access to the existing CBD (the “Eastern Harbour City”) has not been replicated at Parramatta.
The decision not to complete the Parramatta to Chatswood rail link (made by State governments of both major political complexions) was an astounding error of judgment. In our submission on the draft Future Transport Strategy, we argue that this error should be corrected as a matter of urgency. A rail link between Parramatta and Epping would open up the major employment area of Macquarie to residents of the south-west, whose employment and educational prospects are hampered by convoluted transport links.
We argue in our submission for the short rail link between Bankstown and Parramatta to be completed as a matter of priority, rather than awaiting construction of a link between Parramatta and Kogarah (excellent though that would be). We also support the proposed West Metro.
We are concerned that too few of the public transport initiatives that would support the GSC’s “30 minute cities” are committed, and too many are “for investigation” for possible delivery in 10-20 years.
We are also concerned that the Future Transport Strategy puts a cost recovery proviso on public transport initiatives that threatens their delivery. Meanwhile, motorway proposals that are at odds with the GSC’s vision continue to make their way to the head of the funding queue, for reasons that remain opaque.
We are acutely aware that the Greater Sydney Commission has been instructed by government to plan for a very high rate of population growth, and to accommodate the bulk of that growth within the Greater Sydney region. It is not within its remit to plan for a better balance of population across NSW, and it would be unreasonable to criticise the GSC for not doing so.
It is, however, what we believe needs to happen. The pressure of population growth is such that the Greater Sydney Plan proposes to settle large numbers of people in “greenfield” areas that already suffer temperatures greater than 35°C on more than 20 days a year. Users of public transport are badly affected by such conditions because almost all public transport journeys involve some walking (or cycling).
There are regional cities with existing services that could provide an attractive alternative, if fast (or even just faster) rail links were provided. Fast rail links shape patterns of settlement.
There are proposals for improved rail links to Newcastle, Gosford, Wollongong and Canberra within the draft Future Transport Strategy and the associated Services and Infrastructure Plans. Too few, however, are “committed”.
It seems from the draft Future Transport Strategy that the percentage of the NSW population living in regional NSW is expected to fall from the current 40% to 32%. This is not inevitable, and it is not sensible.
We would certainly like to see Sydney remain a liveable city, and so we welcome the proposed increase in tree cover. As noted above, public transport journeys almost always involve some walking, and shade is a critical factor for pedestrians.
We believe the Greater Sydney Commission should use its powers of advocacy to bring an end to the savage pruning of street trees, by brokering an agreement to rid Sydney of “poles and wires”. Utility services should be underground. A small dedication of money from council rates and/or from land tax receipts could create a pool of funds to be used for this purpose, as and when the opportunity arises. This pool could be added to by a small levy on every new development.
We thank the GSC for the opportunity to comment.