NSW Greens policy impractical: Hensher

With the NSW election looming, the Greens will start promoting their public transport policy over the next few months, but already there appears to be cracks in their arsenal.

NSW Greens policy impractical: Hensher
NSW Greens policy impractical: Hensher

By David Goeldner | October 6, 2010

The Greens will take a public transport policy to NSW’s March election that appears to be more ideological than practical, according to Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) Director David Hensher.

The policy document calls for a range of measures, including placing all private bus ownership in the hands of Government which Hensher says is ridiculous and naïve.

"In terms of replacing private bus services with publicly owned bus and light rail services I find this is absolute madness," he says.

"At the end of the day the issue is not ‘who owns what’ but making sure we offer a value for money, efficient and effective service."

Hensher says there is overwhelming evidence that as long government does its planning job effectively, there is sense in leaving private operators to run services.

"If there has been any failure in the past it’s been regulatory failure rather than abuse from the private operators," he says.

Hensher says the Greens need only look at the cost of running the NSW State Transit Authority’s Sydney buses to realise that putting buses back into the public sector would be a cost escalation for little benefit.

The NSW Greens have also called for an abandonment of Public-Private Partnerships as the method of building Sydney’s much needed infrastructure.

Hensher says recent perceived failures, such as the Clem 7 tunnel in Brisbane, built under a PPP arrangement, have scared private investment away from similar projects.

"We’ve got to recognise that some of these Public-Private Partnerships, including the Clem 7 tunnel, have been a bit of a dog in terms of getting people to use it," he says.

"But I have to say it’s a fine piece of infrastructure and it might not have happened if we hadn’t relied on a PPP."

He adds that had PPPs not been used to build Sydney’s toll road network, traffic congestion would be worse.

"The private sector has been willing to carry the risk but it’s turned out to be a failure in some cases and success in others," Hensher says.

"Unfortunately the failures have meant the private sector is rather reticent about getting involved."

Hensher says he is a believer in the PPP concept, and there was no reason for the Greens to abandon it completely.

"It seems like the Greens are saying it only takes one to be a failure and the whole thing should be dumped," he says.

"If the Greens are saying we shouldn’t have PPPs for public transport, I might agree with them, but just to dump the concept totally I disagree."

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