Today I welcomed Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian to Town Hall to brief Council on one of Sydney's most important projects - transforming George Street.
The Minister asked the City to commit another $40 million towards light rail on George Street. This will increase our financial commitment for the transformation of George Street from $180M to $220M.
I have spoken with our CEO about implications for the City's budget and have let the Minister know that I support her request. The final decision however will need to be made by all Councillors and that will happen at our next Council meeting.
Extending light rail down George Street and creating more public space is one of the most important projects in the CBD's history.
Congestion costs Sydney businesses and residents an estimated $5.1 billion a year, and that's projected to more than double to $8.8 billion by 2021.
At a time when global retail is facing challenges, it's critical we do what we can to transform our CBD's main street into an inviting place for visitors to spend more time in the city.
We have 600,000 people in the CBD each day but we need to entice them to walk around and slow the daily dash from train to office and office to train.
With laneways, wayfinding, public art and great lighting, George Street can become a magnet pulling people from across the city easily, thanks to light rail.
But light rail is not just a transport solution. With a large area of the street pedestrianised as part of this project, we can expect that George Street will become a prime driver of the Australian economy - the country's most appealing destination to work, shop, study, holiday and even party!
It is incredibly important that staff in Transport NSW and the City work closely on plans for the CBD's light rail extension down George Street, collaborating on the design, project management and traffic operations.
A Memorandum of Understanding will also come to our next Council meeting detailing just how the City and Transport NSW will work together to make light rail down George Street a success.