Friday, June 19, 2009

NSW Budget Has Huge Increase in Transport Infrastructure Spending

Click here to see the Budget described by the Minister.

The NSW budget brought into the parliament this week has a huge 68% increase in infrastructure spending on transport projects. It includes commitments for replacement and new buses for the STA and the private bus service operators including for Western Sydney; especially the North West. It also includes new train carriages and the maintainence facilities for them, some work on Glenfield Station as "Stage 1" of the South West Rail Link and the, previously announced, additional car parks; again largely in Western Sydney. While this spending has mostly been announced already it is still a huge spend on lots of important infrastructure which will improve transport outcomes for people in Western Sydney.

Unfortunately the CBD Metro is a huge part of the budget this year ($580m) and is projected for $4.9b over the next few years to build the project. As mentioned in previous blog entries, this isn't a great outcome for Western Sydney. The $91m study for the West Metro is also included and would be a good start to the Sydney Metro. This is part of the Stimulus Package money provided by the Commonwealth.

The other big ticket item, announced in the weeks before the budget, is the creation of the new transport 'Super Department" which will take in Roads, Trains, Buses, Taxis, Ferrys, Ticketing, Planning and Regulation. This plan has great potential to help create an integrated transport system by facilitating the creation of an integrated ticket and coordinated ticket pricing. It also has the potential to help create a better land-use planning and transport system which can aim to create more sustainable outcomes for the city and better liveability outcomes for the people. A lot depends however, on the implementation of this idea and the leadship provided.

The main disapointments was the lack of funding for the proposed light rail projects in the inner west, because, from a Western Sydney perspective, this has the potential to reduce the need for the CBD Metro and is something people in the city want. The other disappointment was the lack of support for Community Transport. We would like to see more money in the Community Transport Program which is designed to reduce transport disadvantage. This program has not increased for many years and needs to be doubled to help ameliorate the problems created by the Bus Network Review. We would also like to see more money in the Easy Access rail station upgrade program to double the number of stations made accessible each year. The current program upgrades five stations per year.

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