Sydney residents want the government to invest more heavily in public transport, according to a survey commissioned by the newly-formed group 10,000 Friends of Greater Sydney.
The survey, commissioned in March 2006, examines community attitudes to transport and related planning issues. It follows a similar survey undertaken by The Warren Centre at the University of Sydney in 2000. The survey covered people across Greater Sydney area and in all age groups.”
The survey finds that community transport concerns have deepened over the past six years, with transport now rated below all other major government services.
“The Sydney community’s priorities are clear,” said Mike Dureau, chairman of 10,000 Friends. “They want the government to invest more heavily in public transport. They also prefer that the government borrow money to fund any transport improvements, rather than engaging in public private partnerships.
Key findings of the Community Values Survey include:
- Over three-quarters of respondents rated transport problems as either ‘significant’ or ‘major’. Only 4% felt there were no major problems.
- The proportion of people describing transport problems as “major and something needs to be done” has almost doubled over the last six years, from 20% to 37%.
- 72% of respondents said the best solution for addressing Sydney’s transport problems is to “Provide more public transport”.
- 75% of respondents either “inclined to agree” or “agree strongly” that transport improvements should be funded by State Government borrowing.
- Transport received the lowest average rating for essential MenuTextmanaged by the State government. Electricity received the highest rating, followed by Police, Education, Water and Health.
The complete survey, along with other issues surrounding a sustainable Sydney, was discussed at the 10,000 Friends of Greater Sydney Sustainable Transport Summit on May 16.
10,000 Friends was established by The Warren Centre in 2005 to promote a sustainable future for Greater Sydney. 10,000 Friends engages the community and researches the critical areas of access, water, energy, waste and biodiversity leading to equitable access to services and jobs across the greater metropolitan area. People can join the 10,000 Friends group at www.10000friends.org.au.
The summary of the speeches at the forum below was provided by the convenors of the forum.
Clr Clover Moore MP, Lord Mayor
Recently met with the Premier to outline priorities. Main one was an integrated traffic and transport blueprint to secure the future for Greater Sydney.
Recent government decisions have not been accompanied by transport plans. These include: the movement of freight away from Sydney Harbour; the development of Darling Harbour East; and the Green Square developments.
The Federal government has kept out of the development of major Australian cities. The House of Representatives Sustainable Cities report gave us hope but this was not reflected in the 2006 Budget.
This is strange in that this is where most people live and most of Australia’s wealth is created.
The press is playing an important role in this debate, raising the awareness of the community about sustainable cities issues. She has a strong belief in people power.
State and Federal governments should concentrate on solutions such as:
- Establish a single state transport authority.
- Use technology such as etolling to better manage peak hour transportation
- Introduce integrated ticketing. This process has been very slow in Sydney.
- Transport authorities are living in the past assuming that the working day is 9 am to 5 pm and only providing services to meet that time slot. Reality is somewhat different.
Locally, there needs to be expanded light rail and a freight movement /storage plan.
We should look at the approaches of other cities such as Perth.
We should introduce very fast trains to Central Coast, Illawarra, Blue Mountains.
We need to plan a sustainable public transport system.
In the recent Council Budget, provision has been made for cycling activities, streetscape upgrade, pedestrian action plan and local area traffic management plans.
Gary Moore, NCOSS
Five key points:
- Government should look at wellbeing, not just GDP, as a measure of the success of its policies.
- There is a need for an infrastructure strategy in established areas if they are to take 70% of the growth resulting from government planning policy.
- An affordable simple daily fare e.g. a single $10.00 fare to go anywhere on the transport system and a reduced figure for pensioners and other disadvantaged people. This would ensure maximum use and reduce road use whilst giving access to all.
- Slow progress on the implementation of the Unsworth report bus plan.
- This is one of the few countries with a significant retirement savings policy (ie our SGL), that does not mandate a percentage of the funds to go into infrastructure and affordable housing
There are estimated to be 600,000 people in Sydney below the poverty line out of about 800,000 in NSW. Garry supports the concept of Centres and Corridors and the fact the State government has accepted that policy.
Three most significant social problems of disadvantaged areas:
- domestic violence
- lack of affordable and accessible transport. Transport strategy was not embedded in the Metro Strategy,
- young people leaving school with no further education or training
He supports debt financing of major infrastructure and regional development outside of Sydney.
Jeff Angel, Total Environment Centre
The problems of excessive car dependence are unchanged – it continues to increase. Even though there has been some improvement in emissions, it is a major cause of congestion and health problems. Car travel costs $23 billion a year in fuel, road construction and maintenance, accidents, health etc and the benefit is $15 billion a year. The difference of $8 billion a year is pure deficit to the economy.
The cost of air pollution to health is somewhere between $1 and $1.8 billion a year.
The equity issues are significant. Two cities have developed in Sydney. Sydney East, South East and North areas have an 80/20 mode share in favour of public transport, walking or cycling in peak hours. The others, Sydney, West, South West and North West are in reverse 20/80 against public transport walking and cycling in favour of the car, because of the lack of effective public transport.
Contracts for motorways, tunnels etc do not allow competing free roads or public transport corridors
He quoted the good examples of integrated planning in the case of Subiaco in WA with use of rail increasing by 100% after the mixed use development around the station.He suggests the Federal Government cut GST on public transport and that the State borrows to builds infrastructure.
The 1976 Wran Government started with some good ideas and dropped or disposed of the road corridors for motor ways but failed to follow through and save them for public transport.
We need both parties to adopt a program of institutional reform, long term government borrowing and a targeted program of infrastructure projects.
Andrew Stoeckel, Institute of International Economics
What do you want from your transport system?
- Right amount of transport for people and freight
- Right type of transport, in the right places, at the right time
- Getting it right is not any easy process
- There are political constraints
- Can spend too much on infrastructure – there is an optimum.
- What is it costing Sydney?
- Road transport is clearly not properly charged and is used beyond the economic level.
- Road congestion is costing $12 billion a year, and accidents about $ billion a year. (He had a very good cost table here covering about six items including these two.)
- In the end this inefficiency will drive down economic activity, employment, wage levels etc.
- Increasing reliance on road transport expected – even though people, say they want “public”
- This will see worsening congestion
- Congestion imposes an economic cost – lower GRP
- It is estimated that between 2005 and 2020 Sydney’s lost GRP is estimated at $11 billion.
- Why do we have this problem?
- It is not simple. It involves lack of coordination; vested interests;
- Perverse incentives; aversion to debt; Federal/State relations.
How do we fix it?
Address all the issues concurrently; be transparent; involve independent analysis; Government does not know how to do it, the markets can help but we need high leverage targeted projects as we cannot justifiably spend more than the $8 billion deficit per year between cost and benefit.