Friday, August 03, 2007

NSW Public Transport

Today's and recent headlines about public transport in Sydney include:

  • one of the contractors building new Millenium trains for Sydney (Downer EDI) had a profit downgrade, and its Managing Director resigned. Deputy Premier & Minister for Transport tried to reassure voters that Downer EDI was only one part of the consortium that has the contract.

  • criticism of Minister Joe Tripodi for being slow to ensure that Cremorne Wharf was repaired quickly after July Storms.

  • "kite-flying" by the government about privatising the ferry service, which might lead to a doubling of ferry fares. At least Treasurer Michael Costa would be happy to receive a bucket-full of money, and with the passing of responsibility for services.

  • there is still no single ticketing system for Sydney's public transport, and nor are services linked. People can leave one service (train, ferry, bus) only see a connecting service disappear. (SMH)

The contract to the consortium for Sydney trains, which also includes AMP Capital, ABN AMRO and Babcock & Brown is a significant shift in government spending policy, because it is the largest public-private partnership contract ever. That included the more than $2 Billion contract for the "western orbital" for Sydney. (info from SMH)

A profit downgrade, even the third one this year, doesn't mean the contract won't be fulfilled. But it IS cause for concern. Voters would be keen to know what safeguards have been built into the contract.

The Project for electronic tickets on public transport has been running for 10 years, but there seem to be no results. How much has been spent? Who oversees the project (there has been a procession of Ministers)? Victoria and Tasmania seem to have them operating - what's wrong with NSW?

Furthermore, there have been significant problems with maintenance, track maintenance, safety and timetables.

All in all, public transport in NSW is in a mess. Furthermore, successive governments, from the time of former (Liberal) Premier Nick Greiner, through former Labor Premier Bob Carr to the current Labor Government have had policies of developing private toll roads with public money, but nothing for public transport. They need a re-think.