NSW election: Group miffed on Sydney transport apathy

A group of north-western Sydney public transport activists will release a party policy report card next week, leading up to next month’s NSW election

NSW election: Group miffed on Sydney transport apathy
NSW election: Group miffed on Sydney transport apathy

By David Goeldner | February 17, 2011

An emerging group of NSW public transport activists will release a report card next week, rating each party’s policies on the how transport is being addressed in Sydney’s northwest.

Hills Transport Working Group chairman James Fiander says there has been growing apathy about public transport service delivery in Sydney’s northwest, particularly with rail.

"There was quite a bit of apathy across the community in the northwest of Sydney due to the number of public transport proposals dropped over the last few years," he says.

Fiander recently cancelled a pre-election public transport forum due to a perceived ‘snub’ from one of the major parties.

He says his group has decided not to comment on which political party had declined the offer of speaking at the proposed forum, but he did say the decision was disappointing.

"We made the decision early on that we wouldn’t go ahead if we didn’t get at least the Greens, Labor and Liberal parties to the event," Fiander says.

"We want to educate the community about each party’s policies and make decisions on what these policies are."

Instead the Hills Group, representing 700 members and potentially a million commuters, will put together a Hills District public transport ‘report card’.

"Indeed, over the next week or two we will be putting together a report card on trains, buses, cars, motorways, bicycle tracks and what we are calling ‘active transport’ – cycling and walking," says Fiander.

"The report card will initially contain a series of topics – the northwest rail link is definitely one of the topics on the report card."

Fiander and his team have approached each major party for information which will feed into the report card.

"We’ve requested that information from the parties and we will publish this information," he says.

"We’ve asked the government, the opposition and the Greens on how they would improve services in this region and we will be working very hard to get information from each of the parties."

Fiander says the Greens supported the group’s agenda with supplying information, but insists the Hills Transport Working Group is bipartisan.

"We don’t want to influence the election in a partisan fashion," he says.

Bus transport in the northwest district of Sydney will feature in the report card.

"We have been interacting quite heavily with Hillsbus and Busways and we’ve requested additional information from politicians about what they plan to do with bus services in the northwest of Sydney," says Fiander.

"I can’t comment at the moment until the report card comes out next week on how we have rated bus services, but where bus services do exist I personally find them very good."

Fiander says public transport in the Hills District’s outskirts to Richmond in the west and the Hawkesbury in the north is still in its ‘infancy’.

"In the northwest of Sydney, including the Richmond area, there are just on a million travellers, but far fewer public transport users because it’s still in its infancy in the area," he says.

After establishing the group 12 months ago Fiander was surprised to find there were no other transport-oriented action groups actively lobbying state MPs leading up to the 2011 election.

"There seems to be a space for our group and we’ve stumbled on this space," he says.

"NSW has experienced a great deal of apathy towards public transport, and that may speak to why there is a large space for community groups in this area."

Fiander has no immediate plan to take the group outside of the Hills district.

"But that’s not to say that if we were to affect change in our area we wouldn’t help others."

The report card will be available next week
at www.myhillstransport.com.

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