APTNSW policy on Buses-versus-Light Rail Transit (LRT).

Since about 1995, debate between the light rail lobby and the bus lobby in Sydney seems to have been escalating. While individual members of APTNSW have always had strong views, APTNSW has refrained from taking sides. APTNSW is aware of the relative merits of each mode. Those merits are listed in a separate paper. The escalating public debate, particularly in the Sydney Morning Herald during January 2006, and a public misconception that APTNSW is "anti light rail", has prompted APTNSW to develop the following policy statement.

On LRT generally-
  1. APTNSW policies are derived from the Objectives incorporated in the APTNSW Constitution. Those Objectives include "the promotion of public transport for the overall benefit of the community, having regard to the environmental and social consequences and the efficient use of resources".
  2. Within the above Objectives, APTNSW will always aim to represent the views of public transport users.
  3. APTNSW asserts that a thorough and unbiased analysis of the transport needs and urban amenity considerations of a given corridor, anywhere, would produce data which would point to the preferred mode. That is, the preferred mode should be the result of a transport study, not the starting point for it. Nevertheless, we recognise the institutional biases and political influences which affect transport decision-making.
  4. APTNSW supports the highest practicable "level of service" from any transport service. "Level of service" is determined by a combination of factors, including frequency, travel time (especially compared with the alternatives), comfort, punctuality, connections, waiting facilities, fares, tickets, hours of operation, and convenience, among others. The relative importance of each factor will vary for any given corridor and market to be served.
On any new LRT for Sydney-
  1. As public transport users, we believe any new LRT should serve one or more medium-demand suburban corridors, possibly combined with a CBD loop. We are opposed to a stand-alone CBD loop, which might necessitate large scale bus/LRT interchange on the periphery of the CBD. Note that the capacity of any transit service is degraded if it has to mix with and/or cross road traffic.
  2. APTNSW does not accept the popular view that any new LRT line should logically be connected to the existing Central-Lilyfield line. That view places an artificial constraint on optimizing any new route, ownership, rollingstock design, and other issues. Compatibility with the existing LRT is a separate issue, and should be encouraged, in view of the possibility of a future integrated LRT network.
  3. APTNSW deplores the lack of public debate about the funding model. To achieve the best outcome, the funding model (PPP, debt, etc) needs to receive at least as much public scrutiny and debate as does the proposed route.
Action for Public Transport (NSW) Inc.
February 2006.