Monday, 06 May 2024 13:28

NSW Parliament upper house hops aboard Western Sydney councils’ transport plan Featured

Commuter Train in Western Sydney Commuter Train in Western Sydney WSROC

The NSW Legislative Council has taken on board a swathe of recommendations from local councils on how to radically improve public transport services in Western Sydney, including building at least 30 new railway stations in Sydney’s west to boost investment, create local jobs, reduce car dependency, and improve access to services and leisure facilities.

The sprawling Western Sydney region includes 13 local council areas covering 8,982 square kilometres, and is home to 2.7 million people, who together power the third largest economy in Australia.

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), the peak body representing councils in Western Sydney, submitted wide-ranging proposals to the Legislative Council’s inquiry into 'Current and future public transport needs in Western Sydney’ (Portfolio Committee No. 6 - Transport and the Arts), chaired by Cate Faehrmann MLC.

The inquiry was set up to examine:

  • the availability and accessibility of public transport services across Western Sydney,
  • current and anticipated levels of demand for public transport services,
  • the changing nature of public transport needs due to shifting demographics,
  • the social, economic and planning impacts of motor vehicle dependency,
  • the affordability of public transport compared with other areas of Greater Sydney and New South Wales, and
  • the role of public transport and future transport technologies in reducing car dependency,

- among other matters impacting transport in Western Sydney.

The cross-party Committee report, released on 29 April 2024, contains 20 recommendations to improve public transport services in Western Sydney in line with WSROCs proposals, including:

  • delivering two further stations west of Sydney Olympic Park on the Metro West line to help boost housing and economic revitalisation,
  • the government assess the feasibility of additional stations on the Metro Western Sydney Airport line,
  • the government create business cases for the extensions of the Metro Western Sydney Airport line from Leppington to Western Sydney Airport via Oran Park to include 30 new stations,
  • completing a north-south rail link and connection to Leppington by 2032,
  • extending Stage 2 of the Parramatta Light Rail Project to Lidcombe railway station
  • increase the frequency of bus services,
  • prioritise the delivery of a rapid bus network across Western Sydney, and
  • the Government provide local councils with a legislated role in the planning and delivery of Transport-Oriented Development precincts in their local government area,

— among other proposals.

In its testimony before the Committee, WSROC stressed that “there is an inequitable provision of transport options and infrastructure in Western Sydney.Mind The Gap SMALL

“In particular, we emphasised the inequitable distribution of public transport services between the east and west of Sydney," said WSROC President, Clr Barry Calvert.

“In response to our submission, the parliamentary committee acknowledged that the residents of Western Sydney 'deserve' an equitable approach to the provision of transport infrastructure and services and that anything less discriminates against them.

“The committee’s report noted that ‘The people of Western Sydney deserve a public transport network which, adjusted for density, is the same as that in the east’ and that it is not that in its current form.

 “They also acknowledged that our citizens deserve the same density of heavy rail and metro railway lines and stations, the same density of bus routes and bus stops with the same regularity of services.

"In fact, they noted anything less would discriminate against the residents of Western Sydney who, on average, have lesser educational, employment and recreational opportunities than the wealthier residents of the east.

“For example, in February this year the NSW Government announced that Sydney Metro would investigate two potential additional stations to the west of Olympic Park, including one at Rosehill Gardens which could support a significant increase in housing.

“WSROC was keen to point out, however, that the benefits of the Metro for Western Sydney residents and businesses would be severely limited if it did not include enough stations.

“The number of stations proposed by the government was based on short-term budgetary considerations rather than a proper assessment of the number that are needed.

“Local connectivity is just as important as quick travel between major centres. Otherwise, the utility of that line is greatly diminished from the Western Sydney residents' and business' perspective.

"The planned section of the Metro Western Sydney Airport line north to Tallawong and south to Macarthur has capacity to have stations at two-kilometre spacings, resulting in 30 new stations supporting communities that could actually accommodate the growth of Western Sydney."

"In addition, WSROC questioned why a commitment had been made to connect the airport and Aerotropolis by rapid bus with Liverpool, Penrith and Campbelltown while the metropolitan centre of Blacktown – one of the largest local government areas in the nation - had been left out."

“The current transport plans developed for Western Sydney lack both vision and sufficient detail'.

“In our submission to the inquiry, we made it clear that Western Sydney needs a transport plan that ties in land use, projected population growth, aspirations for investment and job creation outcomes.

“Only when such a plan is in place would it allow for the identification of transport priorities and facilitate greater levels of investment.

"Once this end-state plan is developed, it would allow the identification of regional transport infrastructure priorities and their optimum times for delivery and establish the appropriate funding mechanisms to make it happen.

"More importantly it would facilitate the attraction of greater levels of investment and allow an orderly development of new higher density communities around transport nodes."

WSROC stressed that better interconnectivity across Western Sydney would encourage investment, create local jobs, reduce car dependency and facilitate the needs of local people to access nearby services and leisure facilities.

“This will be a key issue for Western Sydney, particularly in view of rapid growth that will see the region’s population nearly double by 2041.

“I was heartened by the fact that the committee’s report recognised that local councils are experts in the public transport needs of their communities and must be included as key stakeholders in the planning for housing, services and infrastructure in the local government area.

“There has been an unacceptable delay between infrastructure planning and provision and the development of new suburbs, particularly in the southwest of Sydney,

“It is unacceptable that new suburbs in Western Sydney, such as Wilton and Appin, could be left without public transport despite prior commitments and that development on the outer fringes of Western Sydney continues apace with limited, if any, plans for public transport provision.

"This inquiry comes at a pivotal moment for Western Sydney, a region that is undergoing rapid development, population growth and changing public transport travel patterns."

" WSROC made clear from the outset of this inquiry that many Western Sydney residents are sick and tired of having extremely limited choices when it comes to being able to get to their destination of choice by bus, train or bicycle.”

“About a third of our resident workers must commute outside the region daily.

"It is clear from this inquiry that many areas of Western Sydney are grossly underserved by public transport."

"Investment in public transport has largely prioritised moving people from Western Sydney into the Sydney CBD.

"While the construction of the Metro Western Sydney Airport line to St Marys is a positive step, the committee sees enormous benefits in extending the line to Tallawong and Macarthur and across to Leppington, ultimately completing this important north-south rail link.

"This connection is critical to Western Sydney's economic and employment growth and recommendations to ensure the extensions occur have been made.

"But without the additional stations WSROC has proposed, the benefits of these projects may not be fully realised."

"The Government has got to stop approving housing development on the outer fringes of Western Sydney without commitment to or investment in public transport infrastructure and services."

“To its great credit, the committee has therefore recommended that the Government prioritise the immediate public transport needs of existing and approved, but not yet built, areas of Western Sydney's outer fringes prior to approving more housing development in those precincts.

WSROC’s submission to the inquiry can be seen in full here ➡️

The Legislative Council’s Report No. 21 - PC 6 - Current and future public transport needs in Western Sydney can be seen in full here ➡️

Last modified on Monday, 06 May 2024 14:14

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