TTF/UTIP Australian Transport Summit

(9.30am 20 July 2012, Four Season Hotel 199 George St)

I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land and pay my respects to the Elders. I also acknowledge the people of the 200 nationalities that live in our City.

It is a great pleasure and privilege to welcome you to Sydney.

Amidst all the discussion of the mining boom and the patchwork economy, it is easy to forget that Sydney is not only Australia's largest City; it is the economic engine room of the nation.

Central Sydney contributes a quarter of NSW Gross Domestic Product and eight per cent of the Australian economy.

This is equivalent to the contribution of the mining industry.

Sydney has recently been ranked the world's fifth most liveable city (behind Hong Kong Amsterdam, Osaka and Paris) by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Sydney continues to grow.

The latest Census figures show that the population of Greater Sydney has now reached 4.4 million people (4,391,674), an increase of 6.6 per cent since the 2006 Census.

In the City of Sydney our population has grown by just over 8 per cent over the same period to reach 169,505 people.

At Green Square, the nation's largest urban renewal project is underway transforming a 278 hectare area into an attractive and sustainable urban place, with a diverse mix of housing, open spaces, offices, shops and facilities.

By 2030, Green Square is projected to house about 40,000 residents and attract about 22,000 workers.

Combined with our other urban renewal sites the population of the City of Sydney is set to grow by 60 per cent between now and 2036.

The number of jobs is projected to grow by 31 per cent over the same period.

Clearly this presents challenges for our City.

Trains are slower than they were a decade ago and our rail system will probably reach capacity within eight years.

The City estimates that, by 2030, we will have around 7,800 buses arriving in the City each day with an estimated 1,300 buses an hour arriving during peak hour.

Business as usual is no longer an option.

We must take the kind of bold action that the City has outlined in our Sustainability 2030 agenda to make Sydney "Green, Global and Connected".

We are meeting today on George Street … Sydney's spine.

It runs the length of the CBD from the Harbour to Railway Square.

It connects unique precincts such as Chinatown and the Entertainment Precinct to the Financial District and the historic Rocks.

There is a terrific piece of footage on the City of Sydney website which shows a tram ride on George Street in 1906.

Watching the footage, it is hard to recognise it as the same street.

George Street today is a traffic sewer clogged with traffic including over 400 buses per hour in peak periods.

This footage is not only of immense historical importance, it is a signpost to the future.

We are determined to bring the trams back to George Street … this will utterly transform George Street.

Running every two minutes, trams will make connections to buses and CityRail trains fast and hassle-free.

Light rail will halve travel times between Central and the Quay - a bus journey that more often than not takes more than half an hour.

Light rail will significantly reduce noise and emissions and will help streamline bus services in Central Sydney reducing bus-kilometres travelled on city streets by 20 per cent.

Light rail along George Street will need to be delivered by the NSW Government.

The City of Sydney has set aside $180 million to support street improvements to George Street.

The City will fund new pedestrian spaces, new information signage, upgraded public squares, new street trees and innovative public art.

We aim to create a major new pedestrian boulevard covering the section between Liverpool and Hunter Street.

Our plans are backed by Sydney's most senior leaders including the Australian National Retailers Association, the Committee for Sydney and the Tourism and Transport Forum.

They know that transforming George Street will revitalise the retail, business and civic core of Sydney.

Our plans for George Street are set out in Connecting our City which sets out our vision for a world-class transport system for Sydney.

Connecting our City addresses the key challenges confronting our city including:

  • encouraging active transport,
  • integrating land use and transport,
  • managing streets, parking and vehicles and
  • enhancing public transport.

The actions outlined in Connecting our City requires co-operation between all levels of Government, particularly between the City and the NSW Government.

I am optimistic that the NSW Government will deliver on key initiatives such as light rail on George Street … but there is much more to be done if we are to deliver a truly connected city.