NSW govt commits to 1,000 new buses

By: Graham Gardiner

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally today announced the NSW Government will provide 1,000 new buses for extra services in Sydney, Wollongong,

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally today announced the NSW Government will provide 1,000 new buses for extra services in Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle and the Central Coast –starting immediately.

The total expenditure on buses and related activity would be $2.9 billion.

The new buses are part of the Premier’s Metropolitan Transport Plan: Connecting the City of Cities, released today.

The improvements to bus services include:
  • Roll out of 1,000 new buses in strategic bus corridors in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Central Coast
  • Bus priority measures such as GPS traffic light priority
  • New State Transit Authority (STA) and private bus depots.

The 1,000 new buses are in addition to the 450 announced by the Transport Minister in late 2008.

"This is a massive investment that will create extra services for commuters," Keneally says.

It will also create jobs for drivers, maintenance personnel and support staff as well as jobs in the manufacturing sector.

State Transit has advised that on Sydney Buses for 2008/09, it recorded 192.8 million passenger boardings – including school student travel – which is up by 1.5 million over the previous year.

"Commuters will clearly notice the new buses, with additional services and new routes – particularly to growth areas such as south-west and north-west Sydney," Keneally says.

"Each bus takes up to 40 cars off the road, which significantly eases congestion.

"The State Government has already implemented or implementing 34 strategic bus corridors, including busways, bus only lanes, T-ways and bus priority traffic lights.

"We will complete the remaining nine corridors and identify new bus lanes.

The State Government will invite submissions on where these extra buses can be best utilised.

"We will also use data on passenger demand to identify additional routes," Keneally adds.

"These operators have day-to-day, frontline experience, which qualifies them well to identify the areas of most need."

Western Express CityRail Service
Under the 10-year plan unveiled today, a $4.53 billion Western Express CityRail Service will see the main west tracks, which currently terminate at Central, extended into new underground platforms at Redfern, Central, Town Hall and Wynyard.

This will eliminate the need for western trains to merge with suburban trains before reaching the CBD. This will also address the fundamental capacity bottleneck of the Illawarra Junction.

It achieves full separation of express, suburban and local lines through:
  • Separating a dedicated track from all other traffic
  • Construction of a new 5-kilometre priority tunnel – City Relief Line – will be built from 2015 in the city to separate western services from inner-city trains to provide shorter journey times
  • Construction eight new platforms to increase capacity at Redfern, Central, Town Hall and Wynyard to relieve congestion
  • New express train services introduced for the Blue Mountains, Richmond, Penrith, Blacktown and Parramatta
  • Increased CityRail capacity on all lines and the introduction of express rail services to western Sydney.

Light rail expansion
Keneally also unveiled a $500 million expansion of light rail in Sydney with up to 20 new stations and almost 10 kilometres of new track.

This is more than double the distance of the existing light rail in Sydney – making the route from Dulwich Hill to Circular Quay.

Work will begin immediately and NSW Transport and Infrastructure will go to "market" as soon as possible, she says.

This will see new light rail stretching from Circular Quay to Dulwich Hill through the Sydney CBD, Chinatown to the inner-west.

The light rail will go through the disused rail corridor at Rozelle.

The $500 million expansion of the current light rail system brings the total length to almost 17 kilometres (16.9 kilometres).

Keneally says the expansion will see six tram services each hour along line the network.

"During peak times, light rail in Sydney could move up to 10,000 people a hour based on comparable networks in cities like San Francisco," she says.

North-west rail link
Keneally today recommitted the State Government to construction of the north-west rail link – a 23-kilometre heavy rail link with an estimated cost of $6.7 billion.

It will run from Epping to Rouse Hill with six stations would be constructed at Franklin Road (Cherrybrook), Castle Hill, Hills Centre, Norwest Business Park, Burns Road and Rouse Hill.

It is anticipated that the link will be completed by 2024 and will alleviate congestion predicted on Richmond and Main West in the longer term by providing rail services in the north west.

The rail link would be supported by the quadruplication of the line from St Leonards to Chatswood allowing a seamless connection into the existing rail network.

"This will provide the missing link in public transport for the people living in Sydney’s north west," she says.

"Land has already been purchased along the corridor of the new rail line and I’m pleased work would begin in 2017 - well ahead of previously flagged dates."

South-west rail link
Keneally today also reaffirmed the NSW Government’s commitment and funding to the construction of the south-west rail link – by 2016.

The entire project is worth $2.1 billion and involves the construction of more than 11 kilometres of new twin track from Glenfield to Leppington. It includes:
  • 11.4 kilometres of a new twin track from Glenfield to Leppington
  • New stations and commuter car parks at Leppington and Edmondson Park and a new train stabling facility
  • A major upgrade to Glenfield Station including a new platform, a new pedestrian footbridge and easy access lift facilities
  • A rail flyover to the north of Glenfield station
  • An upgrade of the bus/rail interchange in Railway Parade
  • An additional 570 commuter car parking spaces.

New rolling stock
Under the plan the State Government will provide $3.1 billion over the next 10 years to purchase rolling stock. This is in addition to the 626 carriages on order.

An investment of this size in rolling stock will allow CityRail to increase services by 50 per cent – adding six more trains an hour on most suburban rail lines.

Many of the Waratah trains will be used on the new western express CityRail service, which will provide an express link between the city and Sydney’s western suburbs, Keneally says.

Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority
Additionally, the State Government plans to establish a Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority – to drive future transit-oriented development and urban renewal.

The authority will be similar to the highly-successful Redfern Waterloo Authority and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority.

It will be responsible for implementing the integrated metropolitan land use strategy – and will report to the Minister for Roads and Transport and the Minister for Planning and have its own board.

The authority complements the Federal Government’s renewed focus on cities, building on the Prime Minister’s vision for productive, affordable and sustainable and liveable cities.

The Federal Government – through the Federal Infrastructure Minister – will play a key role in the new authority including a position held by the Commonwealth on the development authority’s board.

The authority will:
  • Be responsible for delivering against the actions of the consolidated Metropolitan Plan
  • Define and recommend areas that will benefit from renewal
  • Where appropriate act as a development proponent on State-owned land (identified and vested in the development authority) to expedite development and provide local economic benefits
  • Apply new transport-oriented development and rapid re-zoning tools recently approved by government to drive urban renewal, new housing, employment land and transport infrastructure
  • Consider options for funding, including value uplift and private sector investment in urban renewal areas
  • Attract private sector investment in urban renewal areas
  • Be answerable to the Ministers for Planning and Transport and Roads and work across agencies to deliver infrastructure to support urban renewal.

The Metropolitan Transport Plan: Connecting the City of Cities comprises $50.2 billion in spending over the next 10 years.

The Government claims it is fully funded through:
  • Changes to the weight tax for motor vehicles – to favour the use of lighter and more environmentally responsible vehicles. This is expected to generate about $500 million over the next 10 years
  • Reallocation of the balance of funding from the cancelled $5 billion CBD Metro
  • Additional Budget funding for transport over the next 10 years.

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