The new Liberal government recently announced that they would be reviewing the state transport plan. It’s probably worth quickly going over the existing transport plan and those that preceded it. The previous Labor government produced transport plans in 1998 (Action for Transport 2010), 2005 (City of Cities: A Plan for Sydney’s Future) and 2010 (Connecting the City of Cities). The first was a 12 year plan (with proposals for 3 train lines post-2010), while the next two were 25 year plans.
The plans themselves were actually quite good, particularly the first in 1998. The problem was implementing them. For example, the first plan in 1998 had 16 proposals for public transport and 5 for new freeways. Of those 21 goals, it achieved 2.5/7 busways (the Parramatta to Liverpool T-Way, theParramatta to Rouse Hill T-Way, and half the Blacktown to Castle Hill T-Way), 1.5/8 rail lines (the Airport Line and half the Parramatta to Chatswood Line), 1/1 light rail lines (the extension to Lilyfield) but 5/5 new freeways (the Eastern Distributor, M2, Cross City Tunnel, Lane Cove Tunnel, and M7). In other words, it built as many road projects as public transport ones, despite proposing over 3 times as many public transport projects as road ones.
As I mentioned in my post on the Dulwich Hill Light Rail update, the RTA and NSW Treasury have jointly worked to torpedo many of these projects in the past. They have done this by over-inflating the price and focusing on roads at the expense of public transport.
Going back to the new transport plan. The key thing here is not how many or even how good the government’s transport plan is. The 1998 plan was a good one, and even the plan to build an independent network of metros which the Iemma and Rees governments briefly considered would be better than what we have now. As long as something is actually delivered at the end of it all, not just a plan. The new Liberal government has eliminated the RTA, which will hopefully get rid of one road block to improved public transport (no pun intended). But I’m still not holding my breath on this.