MACROC welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan released in September by Transport for NSW.
The MACROC councils, Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly, acknowledge the importance of long-term transport planning within the State Government’s overall vision for the future growth of NSW and the regions within it. The MACROC councils have made individual submissions to Transport for NSW identifying particular concerns or omissions in the Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan that apply to their local government areas.
The objectives of the Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan are supported however MACROC would like to offer the following comments.
Sydney CBD Bias
Better cross regional connections are essential to support the economic growth of Greater Western Sydney. While the Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan does acknowledge this, there still seems to be an underlying assumption that a large proportion of the population will continue to travel to the CBD for employment and the government should plan transport solutions accordingly. The NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan, as a long term strategic document, should be proactive in addressing this issue. As the Draft Master Plan acknowledges in the graphs on page 147, car travel times along Sydney’s six most constrained corridors, even with the initiatives outlined in the Draft Master Plan, will be worse in 2031 than they are now. Without an efficient cross regional public transport system Greater Sydney will continue to remain gridlocked on routes to the CBD.
The Government needs to manage the demand on a CBD focus for jobs and look at planning and employment solutions which will assist in this change of focus. A solution to Sydney’s long term transport problem (congestion on CBD routes) can only be achieved by looking at the bigger picture of planning for residential and employment growth outside of the CBD being matched by transport planning and appropriate expenditure.
It is disappointing that this assumption of a radial transport system continuing into the future is echoed in the recently released Infrastructure NSW document ‘The State Infrastructure Strategy 2012-2032’which states that “While the travel flows into Global Sydney from across Greater Sydney are significant, intra-suburban and cross-suburban commuting flows are even greater. Private vehicles are better suited to this diffuse orbital travel than public transport…” And again, “cars will remain, for most people, the only practical option for their daily travel needs.”
MACROC would also like to highlight that the Master Plan mapping finishes at Camden LGA and so does not take into account the current and future growth in Wollondilly LGA. The transport needs of the whole Macarthur region need to be adequately addressed.
Increased Use of Public Transport
Investment in road infrastructure is undoubtedly an essential part of a long term transport plan for NSW and is critical for the 75% of Greater Western Sydney residents who have to travel to work by car. Improved road infrastructure is also essential to reduce the economic cost of road congestion.
However investment in road infrastructure alone is not the solution. There is no doubt that in the absence of substantial investment in an integrated public transport system that meets the needs of its users there will be a continued and increased dependence on the car as the primary mode of travel. The challenge for the Master Plan is to provide real long term solutions to actively promote and increase the use of public transport.
Better public transport is critical for the sustainable growth of Greater Sydney and of South West Sydney in particular and given that the South West region is targeted to accommodate the majority of Sydney’s population growth in the period to 2036 provision of infrastructure needs to continue to be a major government priority.
Transport will need to be planned for the future as well as current needs and it will need to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Public transport is particularly important to the Growth Centres and it needs to be available for the first residents.
There needs to be a genuine ‘whole of government’ approach to transport. Transport needs to be integrated with regional planning for residential development and employment opportunities. Good transport planning can assist in generating employment: improved transport links provide business with better access to markets, as well as giving residents’ access to a wider range of jobs.
The Government needs to actively manage public transport growth concurrent with population growth; and population growth needs to be accompanied by growth in local employment opportunities to reduce the flow into the CBD, which in turn will reduce travel times and pressure on the road transport network. Public transport subsidies, as well as the other public transport improvements outlined in the Draft Master Plan, need to be considered to encourage use of public transport.
The Master Plan needs to support a focus on encouraging development along public transport corridors and reinforce the planning principle that no greenfield developments proceed without infrastructure needs being identified and adequately resourced. Haphazard spot rezoning for residential development should not be endorsed.
Second Sydney Airport and High Speed Train
The Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan does not take a position on either the issue of a second airport in the Sydney Basin or the proposal for a high speed train that could connect the major cities, as well as connecting to an international airport outside the Sydney Basin. Both these are key infrastructure issues which at the very least require the Master Plan to identify required corridors to preserve linkage options for the future.
MACROC recognises that there is a need for improving the capacity of Sydney Airport and to addressing the issue of freight flow from Port Botany. However MACROC does not support the development of a second international airport in the Sydney Basin as the solution. The final resolution of this question is essential for long term transport and land use
planning and the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan needs to adopt a position on this issue.
The WestConnex project (the M4 and M5 East expansion) is welcomed, particularly given the projected increased volume of traffic from Port Botany. Together with this though there needs to be an increase in the amount of freight being shipped by rail rather than road.
The South Sydney and Northern Freight Corridors are essential pieces of infrastructure to develop freight capacity and the completion of the Maldon Dombarton Line would also assist in reducing freight pressure on road networks. The Master Plan needs to identify and protect strategic rail corridors for future development.
Additional strategically placed intermodal terminals, for example at Glenlee in the South West, as well as at Eastern Creek, would also assist in reducing freight pressure on the network.
The Master Plan needs to address the issue of how to encourage active transport such as walking and cycling. The existing NSW Bike Plan is not mentioned in the Draft Master Plan, which is perhaps an oversight.
The provision of dedicated, safe, well lit cycle lanes with direct routes to major transport nodes will encourage more people to cycle as part of their commute to work. There will also need to be provision of cycle facilities where bikes can be left safely. Safe cycle and pedestrian crossing points will also encourage active transport. The Macarthur region has a number of walking and cycling paths but there needs to be additional funding for these paths to be linked.
Active consideration of the use of open space networks including stormwater management systems, to provide for cycle and pathway systems should be undertaken. In addition major rail and road systems need further consideration for inclusion of cycle facilities.
While the Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan advocates a renewed approach to resourcing community transport it does not detail what this approach would be. At present community transport is inadequate and more needs to be done to improve availability of services. In addition to increasing community services all transport interchanges and stations need to ensure access to all users particularly those with mobility issues.
There also needs to be a review of State Government departmental boundaries for health and community services to ensure that services and community transport arrangements are optimised to reduce travel and cost for the local community.
Funding and Implementing Infrastructure
MACROC understands that the aim of the Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan is to
Identify strategies and actions that will integrate, modernise, grow and manage our transport system for the short, medium and longer term. As such it is a strategic document that paints with a broad brush rather than drilling down to how the solutions are to be achieved to meet the State’s transport needs over the next 20 years. However without information on implementation, delivery and financing, the document could be seen as merely a wish list.
The Draft Transport Plan identifies the transport issues that affect Sydney however there is no detail in the document about an implementation strategy and a delivery timetable. There is also no detail provided on funding and financing infrastructure.
Distanced based charging on the motorway network would need to be carefully considered and MACROC would not support a system that would be inequitable for its residents. Where suburbs are poorly serviced by public transport, a situation that exists in many areas in Greater Western Sydney (Wollondilly Shire is a prime example), then a user pays system would unfairly disadvantage our commuters.
Public Private Partnerships need to be explored as opportunities to finance infrastructure however any proposed PPPs must be scrutinised by Treasury and must demonstrate value for money for taxpayers.
The Government may also need to reconsider its position on borrowing to fund infrastructure. The cost alone of road congestion to the economy should justify that debt financed infrastructure at least be explored as an option.
MACROC would also like the Master Plan to include details of how the objectives outlined in the Plan are going to be translated into strategic plans with measurable outcomes. How does the government propose to measure success? What KPIs will be used to and what measures put in place to ensure success? Any identified outcomes should be benchmarked against best practice in comparable regions overseas and include a measure of natural areas preserved. KPIs should include modal share, congestion, air quality and average journey times.
The provision of better public transport and improved inter regional connectivity are essential for the sustainable development of Greater Sydney and of South West Sydney in particular given that the South West is targeted to accommodate the major proportion of Sydney’s population growth. Provision of better public transport has beneficial environmental effects, benefits for family and community, and provides the community with better access to health, education and employment.
In addition to provision of better public transport the State Government needs to provide clear direction on how the employment targets for Greater Western Sydney, and South West Sydney in particular, are to be met and what assistance will be provided by Government to support Local Government in meeting these targets.
In consultation with Local Government a ‘whole of government’ integrated approach needs to be adopted on a coordinated sub regional level to identify suitable sites for the future employment needs of the region and the transport infrastructure to support these needs.
On the issue of population growth in the Macarthur region in particular it is suggested that the Master Plan include a recommendation that a regional transport plan be prepared that considers the future transport needs of the region as a whole.
On-going consultation between State Government and Local Government is welcomed. The briefing session held in early October for MACROC councils by representatives of Transport for NSW was extremely helpful in addressing some concerns about the Draft Master Plan and MACROC would be pleased to facilitate future meetings to provide an opportunity for the government to take advantage of local knowledge as well as to update our councils on the progress of the Master Plan. Additional consultation may be required directly with councils in Growth Centres given the scale of the developments and resulting issues in those areas.
MACROC thanks you for the opportunity to provide input into the Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan. It is hoped that the comments made in this submission will be considered by Transport for NSW in conjunction with the individual submissions made by the MACROC councils.