Like most arguments for WestConnex, the claim that nearly half of Western Sydney commutes to inner Sydney for work each day (published in today's Daily Telegraph) is just wrong.
The article stated that 46% of people from west and southwest Sydney commute to the city and the east each day, but the research by SGS Economics & Planning, misinterpreted by the Telegraph, shows the true figure is about 15%.
This is important, given the State Government is arguing the $15 billion roadway is necessary to connect people with work.
The SGS report also shows that the vast majority of people who travel to the CBD for work, 89%, use public transport. Given our trains and buses are increasingly congested, investing in public transport would be a wiser decision.
These are not my personal "claims" as the Telegraph suggests but facts reported by experts.
The City of Sydney commissioned SGS to conduct their research in response to growing community concern and because of government silence about traffic data, environmental impacts and the business case. To many, the WestConnex project sounds a lot better than it actually is because the Government has failed to provide detail about the project. The Daily Telegraph misleading its audience with a misinterpretation of what information is available is a great shame.
The piece also criticised a City-hosted public meeting for being "one-sided". Our public meeting last month encouraged discussion on the facts and we invited the leaders of all major parties. The Premier declined to attend or send a representative. When he finally replied, after the meeting, he said he hoped everyone had a wonderful evening.
The meeting strongly endorsed concerns that the project would not achieve the NSW Government's stated objectives, which are to:
- Support Western Sydney's population and economic growth;
- Connect Sydney Airport and Port Botany with Western Sydney, especially for freight;
- Create opportunities for urban renewal on Parramatta Road; and
- Relieve road congestion.
The project does not take into account significantly changed freight needs following completion of the Badgerys Creek airport, and vital linking roads to Sydney Airport and Port Botany are unfunded. The current WestConnex route won't contribute to urban renewal along Parramatta Road and will increase vehicle congestion in central Sydney.
Importantly, WestConnex does not align with the multi-centre strategy in the State Government's "Plan for Growing Sydney" released last December. This plan encourages commitment to job opportunities in Western Sydney with transport links to alternate commercial centres near where people live, such as Parramatta, Liverpool and the Campbelltown/Macarthur area. WestConnex seeks only to funnel people into and out of the city.
I have written to the Premier asking him to address these concerns. He is yet to respond.
Driving will always be a big part of how our city operates, but this $15 billion roadway is not the transport infrastructure Sydney desperately needs. Giving people a serious alternative means less traffic on our roads and an easier time for people when they do need to drive.