Buses snubbed in costly Parramatta transport proposal

A $1.7 billion light rail proposal for western Sydney has marginalized the bus industry and slighted Bus Rapid Transit options

Buses snubbed in costly Parramatta transport proposal
Buses snubbed in costly Parramatta public transport proposal
By Sean Muir | May 14, 2012

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has been overlooked and the New South Wales bus industry has been snubbed in a $1.7 billion light rail network proposal for western Sydney.

Parramatta City Council on Friday unveiled its first report
on a proposed 24-kilometre light rail network with up to 25 stations to service the growing western Sydney population.

The first stage is proposed to link Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Eastwood and a line connecting Parramatta to Castle Hill.

Council estimates constructing the network's first stage will cost about $1.7 billion,
a cost of about
$800 million for the Castle Hill
line and a cost of about $900 million for the Macquarie Park line.

The network is also expected to cost $32 million a year to operate, but about $20 million in funding
is needed
for detailed planning work before construction can begin

Council has appealed to the state and federal governments for assistance.

NSW's peak bus industry body head, BusNSW Executive Director Darryl Mellish
says he is
disappointed the bus industry was left out of the loop regarding the costly transport proposal, and he doubts its funding will be granted.

"The estimated cost was astronomical and is unlikely to get any approval," Mellish says.

"Seemed very optimistic by the Parramatta council considering they weren't offering to pay for it."

Mellish says consultation with the bus industry would have allowed a more accurate assessment of BRT as an alternative with proven cost-benefit advantages.

"Rather than looking at all the options, the study appears focussed only on light rail, and as you know from other projects, light rail is seen as sexy and hence politically attractive,"
he says.

Mellish says there is brief mention of BRT in the feasibility report, but it is not consistent with expert advice
BusNSW receives.

BusNSW hopes to be engaged more in future regarding
such major public transport proposals.

"We think they haven’t really understood the benefits of BRT and we welcome the opportunity
of discussing it with them," Mellish says.

A 2012 University of Sydney, Business School Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies report says BRT combines some advantages of both conventional bus and rail modes, such as the flexibility and lower cost of bus, and the speed and reliability of rail.

Council’s feasibility report is available at http://www.parracity.nsw.gov.au/light_rail_for_western_sydney

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