By Charles Jago, the Greens candidate for Reid.
I have received a lot of letters raising issues about transport in an email campaign from many individuals through a campaign organised by the Australian Automobile Association. These are important issues.
Transport is a critical concern for many people living in Sydney. Key issues listed by people who have written to me about this include:
- increasing transport costs
- traffic congestion
- a lack of public transport
- vehicle emissions and pollution that affect their environment
- removing barriers to the uptake of electric vehicles
- more (and better targeted) investment in all aspects of the transport network.
The Greens support changes in four key areas to address these issues:
1. Improved and extended public transport
The NSW Coalition Government has spent many billions of dollars building expressways. However, experts say that only public transport has sufficient capacity to reduce congestion. Motorways have a role to play, but will always be congested without sufficient public transport.
In the electorate of Reid, the NSW Coalition Government has proposed and backed down on or delayed two major public transport projects:
- a “Rapid Transit System” along Parramatta Road from the CBD to Burwood station – promised in 2016 and later as part of the Parramatta Road Corridor Urban Transformation Strategy (PRCUTS), and
- the Parramatta light rail project stage 2 connecting Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park to Parramatta.
These projects are essential to supporting people living in the high density development – either existing or planned – in these areas. The Greens support re-prioritising these projects, to help connect the missing links in Sydney’s transport network. Commonwealth funds could make a huge difference to the liveability of the connected suburbs. Note that Sydney Metro West, while welcome, is an entirely different type of transport to light rail. Only a rapid transit system (preferably using light rail) can reduce congestion along Parramatta Road.
In addition, the T9 Northern Line the most congested railway line in Sydney. Even before COVID, it was a matter of observable fact that on many mornings a significant number of residents would be unable to board a packed train in Rhodes (or Concord West or North Strathfield) on its way to Strathfield and the CBD. This still continues. It needs a substantial increase in train throughput (not just work on stations and platforms), most likely by increasing its capacity from currently one train line in each direction to two in each direction.
See more from the Greens on public transport.
The Greens also support more safe cycling infrastructure which will enable local trips such as shopping and taking kids to school on bike paths which are physically separated from roadways.
All transport infrastructure to be built based on need, with decisions at “arms length” from politicians and special interests. Compare this to the car parks promised by the Liberal Party in multiple states across Australia starting in 2019, but which were not well placed to meet actual needs and were primarily in Liberal Party electorates. The Auditor General found that 47 of these car parks had no criteria for judging the merit of their selection.
2. Vehicle emission standards
One of the key strategies that other countries have used to reduce vehicle costs has been to introduce vehicle emissions standards. These would ensure that all new vehicles on sale in Australia would have more efficient engines which require about 25% less fuel to run and would also produce less pollution. A study has shown that introducing vehicle emission standards in Australia would create annual savings of over $1.1bn over three years. These standards would also create cleaner air and promote the future use of electric vehicles – they must be introduced as soon as possible.
3. Greater support for the transition to electric vehicles
Experts estimate that current EV prices will reduce to parity with petrol and diesel vehicles by around 2025. (Of course, fuel and maintenance costs for EVs are already much lower.) EVs sales will then rapidly grow, with an eventual flow-on to the cars most of us drive. We can expect to see a dramatic fall in costs and pollution in the long term. Electric vehicles are already taking off in Europe with much higher purchase rates.
The transition to EVs in Australia would occur more quickly and easily with more incentives. Vehicle emission standards would also help a lot. See the Greens policy on EVs.
4. Higher wages to keep up with rising costs
Research by the Australian Automobile Association shows that the costs of fuel, finance, registration and insurance have been risen faster than most people’s wages. Average wages have stagnated since 2013 when the Coalition was elected to government in Canberra – because their policies have kept wages low and insecure.
The current temporary handouts in the latest federal budget cannot make up for the underlying weakness in the Australian economy. During COVID we have heard of health and aged care workers who could not pay basic expenses because of low wages. In response, the Greens support economic strategies to support wage rises which are higher than inflation and more secure.