Committee for Sydney luncheon - Minister Duncan Gay

(12pm 2 December 2011, Lord Mayor's Reception Room Sydney Town Hall)

Hello, everyone, and welcome to this Committee for Sydney luncheon. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of this land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who live in our City.

I know we are all looking forward to hearing today's guest, the Hon Duncan Gay, MLC, Minister for Roads and Ports, speak to us about the Integrated Transport Authority.

We are all only too aware of the damage done to Sydney through the lack of integrated, long-term transport planning. It's harming our businesses, our environment and our standing as a global city.

As Infrastructure Australia noted in its annual report released earlier this year, Australia's productivity has slowed "as a direct result of infrastructure shortfalls".

Already, traffic congestion is $4.8 billion dollars. The projection for Sydney in 2020 is closer to $8 billion if we do nothing.

The 26 square kilometres of the Sydney Local Government Area drive the NSW economy. Its gross domestic product is approximately $85 billion—up there with the mining industry. That's 8 per cent of the national GDP and 25 per cent of the NSW economy.

Around 600,000 people are in our CBD each day to work, shop, play, study or see the sights.

75 per cent of those people come by public transport.

A further 10 per cent currently walk or ride.

Yet up till now, priority has been given to vehicles — at just 15 per cent of trips currently.

So, we all welcome this week's announcement that the NSW government will consult extensively and cooperative over the coming year to complete a long-term transport master plan.

The City has earmarked $180 million in our long-term financial plan to support light-rail through the City and on to Barangaroo.

This would allow us to pedestrianise part of George Street, create wider footpaths and upgrade the squares and laneways running of George Street, providing new café and retail opportunities.

Research projects in the UK, Germany and Melbourne have shown that pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users tend to spend more than car users in city centres.

Research for Melbourne's Lygon Street has found that each square metre of space allocated to cars contributed $6 an hour in expenditure, whereas each square metre of space allocated to bicycles contributed $31 per hour - five times as much.

Other studies in Germany and the UK have shown that pedestrianised areas stimulate an increase in footfall for retail of between 20 and 40 per cent, which is then reflected in increased property rental values.

The City is building a $76 million, 200 kilometre bike network. With just 10 kilometres of separated cycleways complete, with 60 per cent increase in cyclists.

However to maximise the benefits, we need a regional network that connects beyond the city to major residential and retail areas, and educational institutions.

In 2010, together with neighbouring councils and the former NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, we commissioned an independent cost-benefit analysis for a bike network spanning 15 council areas, and sought Federal funding.

Our work shows that just $179 million would create a 284 km network covering 164 suburbs and a population of 1.2 million people—and increasing cycling by 66 per cent by 2016.

That's a big reduction in emissions, congestion and health costs! The study found the network would generate $4 benefit for every one dollar spent. Motorways return less than $2.

While we are funding our city network, other council's don't have the same resources and they need State and Federal support.

So once again, I'm pleased to welcome Minister Gay and thank him for his time today. I look forward to hearing more about the Integrated Transport Authority.