A lot has happened since the SMH Transport Inquiry released its preliminary report in February. Shortly after its release the State Government announced that it was dumping the CBD and West Metros, aspects of which were criticised in the Inquiry – though the Metro’s demise was probably due to increasingly widespread criticism which predated the Inquiry. This has left a considerable bill of about $500 million for the early stages of constructing the CBD metro and for compensation to contractors and businesses.
The Government has also released the draft Metropolitan Transport Plan and a review of the Metropolitan Strategy for public comment (a process which itself was the subject of some controversy) and indicated that it intends to integrate the two plans in some way. While the Transport Plan proposes some projects which were also advocated in the Inquiry’s preliminary report, it falls well short of the latter’s detailed analysis and ignores many of its proposals for new infrastructure and improved services. The closing date for comment on the Government’s plans has been extended until 28 May.
The Government has also launched MyZone, a partial reform of Sydney’s arcane and complex fare structure, ahead of the introduction of electronic ticketing which is now scheduled to occur in 2012. MyZone reduces the number of train and bus fare bands and introduces a limited zone arrangement, but only a weekly or daily basis. Unfortunately it fails to address one of the key failings of the current fares structure – the transfer penalty public transport users face in Sydney when they change modes (I’ll make further comments on MyZone in a future post).
Meanwhile the Transport Public Inquiry is working to complete the final version of its report which will update the preliminary report and also consider the issues raised in submissions and discussions in response to the release of the preliminary report. The Inquiry, in which I have played a small part, hopes to have this work finished within a few weeks.