NSW Transport plan lacks action

Please Premier, no more reviews, no more committees, just give us some action on transport.

Sydney's congestion is costing us $4 billion dollars a year and that will rise to $8 billion by 2020 if nothing is done. We've seen decades go past without the substantial investment in transport that NSW needs, we can't afford to wait any longer.

There are 600,000 people in the CBD every day and we are working to accommodate 60 per cent more residents and 31 per cent more jobs over the next 25 years. It's blindingly obvious that if big, bold changes aren't implemented now Sydney will come to a standstill.

(Image: see how the City's plans for light rail would transform George Street)

The answer is in giving people more options and I am pleased to see that the Government's long awaited draft transport master plan recognises that.

It outlines plans to encourage more public transport, walking and cycling in the city centre and looks at long-awaited improvements to ticketing systems, commitments to more rail services into the city from the south-west and north-west and even the prospect of shorter commutes from the northern beaches.

The prospect of light rail through the city centre is raised again and is something the City strongly supports. Its been said we have once in a lifetime consensus for light rail on George Street with business, retailers, residents and other stakeholders on board.

Light rail will immediately kick-start a major rejuvenation of George Street and will greatly benefit both business and tourism in the global city.

The problem with this Master Plan is that it doesn't make any commitments to deliver any of these projects. It flags that decisions need to be made, but not when they will be made or when we will start to see action on the ground.

One of the things I am most proud of at the City is that we get things done. We do the consultation, the research, we make the hard decisions and then we get on and do it.

Government should be about delivering for the greater good of the community. Under my leadership the City has started a bike network and improved pedestrian connectivity, both things the Master Plan flags as critical to modern city centres.

Even though the network is not yet complete we've seen an 82 per cent increase in riders - the fastest growth of any comparable city in the world. We want to see the network complete and we want greater priority for pedestrians.

So I'm calling on the Premier to work with us - we can help deliver the transport commitments needed for the city centre outlined in his plan. The City is ready to go and we have committed the funding.

The fact is there is enough knowledge and research to start work immediately on critical projects including light rail.

It's time for the Government to get on with what we all know is urgently needed while more detailed planning occurs around those things that need more investigation.

(A version of this piece was published in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday 5 September 2012)

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