CONSTITUTION AND OFFICEBEARERS
After about two years of informal activities, a meeting of the Save Public Transport Committee on 2 October 1975 adopted a formal constitution for the organization. It has not since been amended. The first Annual General Meeting was held on November 3, 1975. The following officebearers were elected:
Allan Sorrensen* (Convener), Alison White (Treasurer), Don Morison (Secretary), Bob Cummings* (Publicity Officer), Geoff Lacey (Research Officer), Brian Dunnett, Kevin Eadie, Roger Jowett, Bernie Willingale.
(Those marked * resigned before completing full term)
The following were elected to vacancies arising during the year: Don Morison (Convener,) Ron Best (Secretary), Sheila Swain (Commuter Council Representative), Monica Petry* (Management Committee. The positions of Publicity and Research Officers have been vacant for want of nominations for part of the year.
Information on finance will be contained in separate Treasurer's Report presented at the Annual General Meeting and available for inspection by members on request thereafter.
Deputations from the SPTC met with the late Mr Max Ruddock, while he was Minister for Transport; Mr Peter Cox (both before and after he assumed the ministry) and Mr Neville Wran (while he was Leader Of The Opposition) as well as Mr Allan Reiher (shortly after he became Chief Transport Commissioner). We offered suggestions as to how public transport services could be improved. Our efforts to arrange meeting with Mr James Bruxner while he held the portfolio were unsuccessful.
Federal Election (Dec 13, '75)
Prior to this election, the SPTC organized placement of newspaper advertisement comparing the transport policies of the two major parties. The advertisement appeared in the names of the SPTC and several trade unions who contributed to the Cost.
State Election (May 1, '76)
The SPTC organized lunchtime debate in Sydney between Mr Peter Cox (Labor Spokesman) and Mr Ross Wollett, representing the Liberal Party. A questionnaire on transport policy was sent to all political parties and returned by all except the Country Party. Additionally, a number of candidates were interviewed on issues specifically concerning the electorates they were contesting. The material obtained was summarized in leaflets distributed in the electorates of Ashfield, Blue Mountains, Burrendong, Drummoyne, Earlwood, Fuller, George's River, Gosford, Goulburn, Hurstville, Monaro and Wollondilly.
Liaison with Trade Unions
we cooperated with bus workers at Waverley Depot in their campaign against cuts to Eastern Suburbs services, by helping them to produce leaflets and addressing their meeting. We distributed leaflets at general stop-work meetings of bus and rail unions expressing sympathy for workers' grievances but urging them to avoid action which would disrupt services to the public. The trade union office-bearers and employees on our management committee have helped us maintain liaison with transport unions. Unfortunately this contact has not been so frequent in recent months. Of course much of what we have achieve would have been impossible without the access to office space and equipment kindly provided to us by the Australian Federated Union Of Locomotive Enginemen.
Cycle rallies were organized on Feb 26 and June 5 (World Environment Day) in support of carfree zones in the inner city for the benefit of buses, cyclists and pedestrians. We assisted Greenacre-Chullora Heights residents in organizing protest rally on Feb 29 against the Container Terminal proposed for their area.
Allan Sorrensen presented paper to a seminar entitled "Future Transport Strategies for Metropolitan Sydney" held at the University of New South Wales on June 15 and 16. Delegates from the SPTC attended the Marketing Urban Transport Conference in April and the National Meeting of Public Transport Action Groups in May (both in Melbourne) as well as meetings and seminars of the New South Wales Environment Protection Alliance.
National Public Transport Week
During the first week of August, at our request, the Minister and the Public Transport Commission organized a free demonstration service on Route 417 by the M.A.N. Articulated Bus and historical display at Central Station. Mr Roy Leembrugen of Elroy Engineering kindly put his electric bus, the "Townobile" on static display in Hyde Park.
Submissions To Enquiries
We made written and oral submissions to the Eastern Suburbs Railway Board of Review and the Botany Bay Port Enquiry set up by the new state government.
Private Bus Map
We are attempting to produce a map of private bus routes in the Sydney area for public distribution.
We are looking for suitable transport research project for Social Work students from Sydney University to be engaged on during their "community work" placements. While few members have been reading widely, we have not progressed very far in the research area since Geoff Lacey's resignation as Research Officer.
Campaign Against Urban Radial Expressways
We have affiliated with the Coalition Against Radial Expressways, who are seeking meetings with Mr Peter Cox and the Minister For Planning and Environment, Mr Paul Landa to discuss the future of land zoned for expressways.
Public Trensgort Record Album
Earlier in the year we began gathering materiel for an LP-record of public transport songs, some of which was broadcast in a "Topical Song Concert" on 2JJ. This project has at present been allowed to lapse.
A barbecue in January was a success despite rain. At a picnic at the Loftus Tram Museum in August, the small number who attended enjoyed themselves. The get-togethers currently being held every Tuesday at 5.30 in the lounge of the Greet Southern Hotel, George St, are proving useful.
A newsletter was published every month except December '75 and May '76. Many members contributed articles and participated in production but it is to be hope that more still will do so in the future.
Our many press releases and newsletters were distributed widely. We have made some helpful contacts in the media end obtained some good coverage but not nearly as much as would be desirable.
We currently have financial members. Considerable work was
put into producing membership drive leaflet but this project has
currently lapsed. A high proportion of members became actively
involved in one or more projects during the year but this too could
be improved on.
The Aims and OBJECTIVES of the Save Public Transport Committee are:
Public transport services in New South Wales had seen steady decline in patronage since World War II, accompanied by increases in fares too great to be justified by the general rate of inflation, and in recent years, a snowballing deficit. With the reduction of fares following the election of Labor State Government and the appointment as Chief Commissioner of Mr Allan Reiher, who seems to be injecting greater concern for the needs of the user into the Commission, there are at last some signs that the first of these trends may be arrested. (The PTC's deficit cannot be measure of its efficiency and social usefulness for number of reasons including the complex pattern of subsidies to particular classes of users through the fare and freight rate scales.)
Review OF Labor State Governments Performance
The Labor Party put up more attractive set of policies and promises than the Coalition prior to the State Election, while both parties showed lack of concern for the co-ordination of transport and land-use planning, the application of new transport technologies in New South Wales and the special needs of youth and retired people. During its first six months in office, the Labor Government has fulfilled number of its promises. While it might be understandable that some would take longer, it appears that certain promises have been left unfulfilled for political convenience, including the promises to abandon certain proposed urban freeways and to set up Commuter Council.
While we welcome the announcement of two new transit lanes, after the Balgowlah-Cremorne transit lane has operated with great benefits to bus users for over two years, the rate of establishing new transit lanes remains lamentably slow. The State Government could and should assist councils (such as Sydney City and Lane Cove Councils) who are trying to set up car-free zones in certain streets, but are having difficulties because the matter comes under State jurisdiction. So far it has conspicuously neglected this matter.
At time of writing, it is still not clear when the findings of the Cabinet sub-committee on Freeway proposals, the Botany Bay Port Enquiry and the Eastern Suburbs Railway Board Of Review will be made public, although this last has already been received by the Minister
Some classes of freight users had been unjustifiably subsidised for long periods and this necessitated an increase in freight rates. However there was unfortunately no effort to exempt struggling rural producers from the increases. The new government has indeed done very little to improve rural public transport services as distinct from suburban and interurban services.
Overall, the first six months of the new State Government's term have been encouraging, but many of the decisions which will prove whether or not it genuinely intends to win the public back to public transport remain unmade.
Review of Coalition Australian Government's Performance
The Australian Government has allocated ten times as much for roads as for public transport. There is no possible justification for this blatant discrimination between modes. Few dispute that the National Government should be responsible for the National Highway system and certainly we don't. But there is no reason then why it should not be equally responsible for the National Railway System. Yet it has resisted honouring the Whitlam Government's agreement to take over the Tasmanian and South Australian rural rail systems. It has also retreated from the Whitlam Government's initiatives, inadequate as they were, in grants to the states for urban public transport. This contrasts with the practices of many other Federal Governments, for example, the United States Government. This is of course, only part of the Australian Government's general withdrawal from urban affairs, against the advice of the United Nations Habitat Conference.