Light rail is the future of public transport in Sydney, but proper community consultation is always a prerequisite.
I am pleased to say that the NSW Transport Minister has agreed to my request to meet with Surry Hills residents on April 15 at Sydney Boys High School to discuss how the NSW Government's plans will affect them.
The NSW Government's Draft Long Term Transport Master Plan, released last September, nominated an underground tunnel with no stop in Surry Hills as their preferred route.
Then in December, when the announcement was made about the whole light rail project, the preferred route for Surry Hills had changed to a surface route along Devonshire Street.
Transport NSW has undertaken extensive work on an underground route (including costings) but none of their work has been released to the public.
I believe their work should be released so we can be properly informed.
Last week I met with resident group PUSH - People Unite Surry Hills. The lack of information about the route through Surry Hills is causing serious concern and PUSH are collecting signatures on a petition to Parliament.
I will continue to work to get the best possible solution for the Surry Hills part of this historic project.
The City is committed to working with the NSW Government on light rail as it is a great opportunity to improve transport and reduce congestion. The NSW Government are investing $1.6 billion in the project, which should also be receiving strong investment from the Federal Government.
On Monday, Council voted unanimously to commit $220 million to the light rail project. This money will help ensure George Street becomes a beautiful and lively public space including more trees and more space for people.
The project will turn the traffic-snarled street into an inviting place for shoppers, tourists and visitors to spend more time in the city.
Currently a conga line of 6,000 slow moving buses edge their way along George Street each day. They clog York and Elizabeth streets and leave pedestrians, bus users and motorists frustrated.
The congestion is a major cost to our economy. Congestion costs Sydney businesses and residents around $5 billion each year and that is projected to double by 2021.
The City has developed a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Government on how we will work together to make light rail in George Street a success.
From 4 April to 3 May you'll be able to see what the future of George Street looks like by visiting Customs House in Circular Quay (Monday to Friday, 8am - midnight. Saturday, 10am - midnight. Sunday and public holidays, 11am - 5pm).
The City will be showing images, videos and detailed plans of the project and asking everyone to tell us what they think. If you want to help shape the future of our CBD, this is a great opportunity.