The Strategic Week (no. 17, Friday 15 April 2016) – the week in governance, planning, infrastructure and transport

Top of the Week

Lagging jobs growth in Western Sydney could result in transport chaos for the whole of Sydney

By 2036 Sydney’s economy “will be strangled by the daily congestion and expense involved in moving people to their places of work” if nothing is done to address employment generation and the location of jobs in Western Sydney according to a report released by Western Sydney University’s Centre of Western Sydney.

The report claims that employment generation is lagging well behind the region’s high population growth, which means that the region’s jobs intensity “is poor for an urban region of this size in an advanced global city”. To compound the issue jobs in the region are increasingly dispersed making the region’s workers heavily car-dependent.

“… if journey-to-work patterns continue to mimic 2011 behaviours and jobs intensity holds at 0.84 then the number of people who live in Greater Western Sydney but work outside the region will grow from 318,086 in 2016 to 416,264 by 2036,” the report claims.

“This will increase congestion in every mode of transport, put enormous pressure on economic productivity across the GMR, and generate unsustainable fiscal stress on state and local government balance sheets in the struggle to provide, maintain and fund adequate transport infrastructure and services.”

To make matters worse the report claims that the region is failing to maintain even a 0.84 jobs intensity ratio. If region’s employment performance is not improved then “the daily worker outflow from GWS will be 492,521, which is a little short of half a million journeys in the AM peak, and another half a million in the PM peak.”

While the report supports efforts to increase jobs intensity it finds little evidence that the 0.94 ratio implicit in several government projections of jobs growth is possible, noting that this would require “an annual net jobs generation rate for Western Sydney 137% higher than the rate achieved over the last ten years.” This discrepancy is further demonstrated in the graph of historical and projected annual employment change for each Western Sydney local government area.

Employment change per year: historical v. projected (source: NIEIR, id., Centre for Western Sydney)

Employment change per year: historical v. projected (source: NIEIR, id., Centre for Western Sydney)

The paper also examines a number of other factors that have contributed to the growing employment and congestion crisis. It concludes that “two inter-connected policy objectives need to have exceptional status:

  • “Raise Western Sydney’s jobs intensity so that distances travelled are dramatically reduced.
  • “Engineer a city where the location of dwellings and jobs produces a transport problem that can be solved”

The report concludes with a dire warning of the consequences of a business-as-usual approach but also sounds a note of hope:

“Grind-to-a-halt congestion on roads, trains and buses, and debilitated state government fiscal health will follow. The scary thing is that this scenario is likely.

“The good thing is that we have time to create something better.”

Federal government confirms innovative infrastructure funding interest but no commitment to high speed rail – for now

The federal government has confirmed it is considering  innovative funding arrangements such as value capture to “deliver essential infrastructure and increase investment in high quality projects” but has stepped back from committing to high speed rail (HSR) – at least for now.

media statement by Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor has indicated that the government was interested in approaches to “tap into increased land value from major transport infrastructure” and  looking for opportunities to “apply these principles” as it engaged with state and territory governments.

“As the Prime Minister outlined last week, in relation to Victoria, smart investment in road and rail will help us transition from the mining construction boom to a more diverse economy,” Mr Taylor said.

However the Assistant Minister was at pains to make it clear that the government was not making any specific commitment to high speed rail at least for the time being – and that any such funding would be dependent on the implementation of some form of value capture.

“In reference to media speculation surrounding a high speed rail connection from Melbourne to Brisbane, there is no commitment from the Federal Government to fund this project as it stands. The only way that major projects can be progressed is through transforming the ways proposals are planned, financed and delivered,” Mr Taylor said

“To invest more, the Commonwealth needs to start capturing some of the value our public infrastructure investments create and this requires all stakeholders to consider urban renewal and development opportunities at the onset, rather than just the transport objectives.”

Mr Taylor also hinted that a number of urban infrastructure projects were being assessed and that the government would also consider a parliamentary report on HSR before making any decision.

“There are a number of projects which may have the potential to be partly funded through value capture, such as Melbourne Metro and Brisbane Cross River Rail. This will be the priority for the Turnbull Government,” he said.

“There is a parliamentary committee looking at high speed rail, chaired by John Alexander, and the government looks forward to receiving its report in due course.”

Governance

Planned dismissal of Geelong council reduced to 18 months by Vic parliament

Negotiations between the Victorian government and the Greens in the upper house are likely to reduce the period of the dismissal of the Greater Geelong City Council from four years to 18 months.

On 12 April the Victorian Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins introduced a bill which would have dismissed the council until 2020 following a  three month investigation into its governance, administration and culture.

The Commission of Inquiry concluded that the council was “substantially dysfunctional, [its] governance and performance are well below standard and there has been a failure to provide good government to Geelong”.

It also found that the council was “riven with conflict [and] unable to provide a long term vision for the city”, its leadership was dysfunctional and divided and that there was a “deep-seated culture of bullying within the Council and its administration”.

Government also intended to legislate for a directly elected Deputy Mayor and the removal of single councillor wards as recommended by the Commission.

“The issues contained in the Commission of Inquiry’s report are of such a serious nature that the Government has no choice but to dismiss Geelong Council,” the Minister said.

The proposal and in particular the length of time the council would be under administration received strong criticism, however – and not just from the incumbent mayor and council.

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) expressed disappointment at the proposal. Its President Cr Bill McArthur conceded the findings relating to bullying were “damning” but questioned whether these and the other findings represented grounds for dismissal.

“As a matter of principle the dismantling of a democratically elected government until 2020 will never be the preferred solution,” Cr McArthur said, also expressing concerns about some of the government’s other proposals.

“We are also concerned that the government wants to rush through changes to provide for a directly elected deputy mayor without an appropriate review of Geelong’s current mayoral and electoral structure,” he said.

While the government has succeeded in getting legislation through both houses of parliament to sack the council it had to agree to a compromise which will see fresh elections held in 2017 instead of 2020, with the opposition, Greens and the about-to-be-dismissed mayor describing the 2020 date as “undemocratic.”

More Tas councils sign up to reform MoUs, as new statewide code of conduct panel appointed

The Tasmanian Minister for Planning and Local Government Peter Gutwein has announced the signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the nine Cradle Coast Councils to investigate local government reform, the third such agreement to be signed.

Mr Gutwein said the signing of the MOU would begin a “new era of cooperation by councils” across the North West while Cradle Coast Authority Chief Representative Mayor Daryl Quilliam said the MOU was a “big step in the right direction” to helping the councils operate more efficiently in the future

The study will review the current delivery of local government services in the Cradle Coast region and identify opportunities for the nine councils “to work more collaboratively through enhanced shared services or strategic resource sharing arrangements”. It will also examine the current status of resource sharing in the region and whether a “broader and more effective model” can be developed and implemented

The MoU follows similar agreements involving the Greater Hobart Councils and South East Councils. 16 councils across the State are now participating in feasibility studies. and the Minister indicated he expected to sign a MOU with Northern councils in the near future

In a separate announcement Mr Gutwein said that the state’s new conduct framework for local government and local councillors has come into force, claiming the amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 would introduce “a streamlined, practical and enforceable local government code of conduct framework”.

“Anyone can now lodge a code of conduct complaint against a councillor within six months of the alleged contravention and have it heard under the new framework,” the minister said.

A new Local Government Code of Conduct Panel has also been appointed with membership drawn from across the State. Each complaint will be investigated by three members of the Panel. In addition a new Model Code of Conduct will prescribe “a clear standard of behaviour that all Tasmanian councillors are required to meet when performing their role”. Councillors can be fined, or even sacked if they receive “a suspension sanction for three code of conduct breaches”.

Strategic Planning and Policy

Planning reforms pass SA parliament while ACT planning processes streamlined

The South Australian Premier John Rau has announced that new laws reforming the state’s planning system which passed through parliament will reform the state’s planning system and “unlock investment potential that will create jobs”.

The premier conceded that two key aspects of the legislation were amended by the Legislative Council. The first was the formation of an “Environmental and Food Protection Area” (see TSW15). The second was the appointment of an elected council member on Development Assessment Panels.

The premier said that “two new Infrastructure Schemes” will also form part of the legislation, together with “an entirely new planning system oriented to deliver certainty and clearer and faster planning assessment pathways”. Another reform will be “a new planning system, oriented to provide any developer with an early ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to their proposed development, and not an infinite and costly ‘maybe'”.

Despite wanting elected representatives removed entirely from the Development Assessment Panels, the Property Council of Australia welcomed the legislation.

“Parliament eventually declared that there will be up to one elected representative sitting on DAPs, which means an overall reduction in the number of elected officials as part of the assessment process,” SA Executive Director Daniel Gannon said.

“This means Parliament accepted the argument that we had to change the current lethargic local government-based planning system, which must be seen as a victory for commonsense.

“The property sector is now 100% focused on the Government fully funding the proposed e-planning system so that it can be truly modernized,” he said.

The ACT has also adopted “important planning reforms which achieve planning efficiencies and allow development applications to be considered concurrently with Territory Plan variations and environmental impact studies”, the Minister for Planning and Land Management, Mick Gentleman announced.

“… the community will now be able to see and comment on a draft territory plan variation and the proposed DA at the one time. This significantly increases the transparency of the process and project proposal,” Mr Gentleman said.

“The advantage for the community of a concurrent process is that it consolidates all the relevant consultation for a development proposal into one package, allowing people to view the entire project holistically rather than having to consider each process in isolation of the other, often in an extended timeline.

“The new concurrent process encourages developers to undertake the necessary groundwork prior to lodging a DA, offer proposals that are not environmentally damaging, and to consult adequately with the community about a project” he said.

Development, Transport and Infrastructure Projects/Services

Development Projects and Plans

Riverbank carpark to become Powerhouse Museum’s new Parramatta home

The  NSW Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant have confirmed widespread speculation that the former David Jones carpark on banks of the Parramatta River is the preferred location for Parramatta’s new Powerhouse Museum when it is moved from Ultimo.

“Locating the Powerhouse at Parramatta will ensure Western Sydney has a new, world-class cultural institution that will be a major drawcard for local and international visitors,” Mr Baird said.

“The site on the banks of the Parramatta River is the ideal location for the new Powerhouse Museum, which will serve as an anchor for a new arts and cultural precinct.”

Mr Grant said the site will deliver a “vibrant, exciting community hub by the beautiful Parramatta River”.

“The new museum will showcase more of the Powerhouse’s exhibits – the size of the collection on display is set to increase by at least 40 per cent”, he said.

New Director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Dolla Merrillees said Powerhouse Parramatta will change the way people think about museums.

“People travel across the world to visit great museums and we look forward to profiling one of the world’s great collections and delivering a dynamic experience for our visitors,” she said.

Although the decision has attracted strong opposition from several community groups in Ultimo and Parramatta (see TSW15), it has also been welcomed by representatives from other Western Sydney institutions, including Western Sydney University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover.

“Western Sydney University applauds the decision to transfer the Powerhouse Museum to a landmark site in the heart of the Parramatta CBD. This will be a truly world-class facility that will draw visitors from across Sydney, and indeed, from around the world,” Professor Glover said.

He said the Museum’s close proximity to the University’s own high-rise CBD campus which is currently under construction in Parramatta would also offer exciting opportunities for collaboration.

“The new purpose-built Museum will help drive the creation of more high-tech jobs for our knowledge economy,” he said.

NSW Planning Minister to consider Hunter planning commission in response to criticism of draft regional plan

According to media reports NSW Planning Minister has responded to criticism of the draft Regional Hunter Plan by stating he will consider establishing a regional Hunter body similar to the Greater Sydney Commission.

The Department of Planning received over 200 responses to the draft plan, including criticism from the Property Council that the plan did not “lock in timelines on enabling infrastructure or make any singular body responsible for delivering on the plan’s goals”, the report claimed.

The report said that the Minister had indicated that he would “certainly” look at establishing such a body.

“We can see how the Greater Sydney Commission is working and can certainly apply the lessons from that to get the best possible fit for the Hunter,” Mr Stokes said.

He said the need for “clear governance coordination” in the Hunter had been heard by the government, which was also “alive to the criticism” regarding the lack of certainty over infrastructure provision.

NSW Premier sidelines minister over Sydney football stadium refurb

The NSW Premier Mike Baird has moved to end the battle between the state’s Sports Minister Stuart Ayres and the major football codes by scrapping plans to demolish and rebuild the Allianz Stadium, which will be refurbished instead.

The Premier also confirmed that work to convert the ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park into a 70,000-seat rectangular arena will begin within the next three years. The stadium refurbishments will be managed by Infrastructure NSW, while construction of a new Parramatta Stadium has already been approved and will begin later this year.

“We have secured a great win for the people of NSW through content agreements with the sporting codes,” Mr Baird said.

“It means the country’s premium sports content and major events will be showcased in Australia’s global city for decades to come, as a result of our investment in world-class venues.”

Although the announcement of the decision was made jointly by the Premier and the Minister, it effectively sidelined plans by Mr Ayres to pull down Allianz Stadium at Moore Park and replace it with a new arena next to the Sydney Cricket Ground.

This plan was strongly opposed by the three football clubs based at the stadium which would have been left without a home for three years and ultimately by the Premier because it would have encroached on nearby green space in Centennial and Moore Parks.

Albanese calls for secondary CBDs in Melbourne

The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and for Cities Anthony Albanese, who is also federal MP for Grayndler, has claimed that “Melbourne’s enviable status as a wonderful place to live is under serious threat from traffic congestion” and has called for the development of “second and third central business districts”, starting with Box Hill.

In an opinion piece for the Herald Sun Mr Albanese notes the city’s population is predicted to reach more than seven million by 2050. Therefore the time had come to “think hard about ways to prevent the traffic congestion that is seriously undermining our quality of life, not to mention our economic productivity”, he said.

One approach Mr Albanese identified was facilitating the construction of secondary CBDs, starting with Box Hill which is already “undergoing a serious property boom, with 20 buildings of more than 20 storeys on the drawing board”, the promise of “thousands of new residents” and more employment.

Mr Albanese claimed however that despite the fact that Box Hill has two rail lines, a tram route and 22 bus routes its current transport infrastructure is inadequate, citing the poor layout of the current shopping centre as an example.

“The train station is in the basement of the main shopping centre, while the bus station is on the roof. People wanting to move from one to another have to follow a maze of escalators, when the facilities should be integrated,” he said.

Noting that local community groups, universities and businesses had called for a new transit centre at Box Hill to “cement the community’s status as Melbourne’s second CBD”, Mr Albanese urged the federal government to support the proposal. He also expressed concern about the drift in jobs to the CBD as employment in service industries replaces manufacturing.

“We need better roads and public transport, better city planning, and greater housing densities along established public transport corridors,” he said.

Just as importantly, we need to ignite jobs growth in the suburbs — closer to where average Australians live. One way to do that is the development of second and third CBDs,” Mr Albanese concluded.

Approval for UTAS arts hub in Hobart consolidates uni’s CBD presence

The application by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) to develop a $90 million Academy for Creative Industries and Performing Arts has received unanimous approval from the city council, according to a report in The Mercury

The Academy will be located on the corner of Collins and Campbell streets. The university claims it will attract between 3000 and 8000 new students and generate more than $660 million in direct and indirect economic benefits over the next seven years. It will also help consolidate the university’s presence in the city, with a number of other CBD-based projects either planned by UTAS or under construction.

“We are delighted to have secured the community’s support — through the unanimous council decision — for our vision for this project,” UTAS acting vice-chancellor Mike Calford said.

“The cultural and performing arts precinct embodies the power of partnership — the result of alignment between the university, the government and Theatre Royal.

“It is the next important step in our goal to be a university deeply embedded in its community and, along with other projects such as the NRAS Melville St student apartments, will dramatically lift the life and dynamism of our city heart.”

Light Rail/Tram/BRT

More doubts cast on ACT light rail financial modelling…

A number of transport experts have joined the Grattan Institute in questioning the business case (see TSW16) for Canberra’s light rail project and in particular the extent to which wider economic benefits and land use impacts have factored in the analysis.

The Canberra Times reported that Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies director Professor David Hensher claimed that the reliance on those factors which took the benefit to cost ratio up from 0.5 to 1.2 were questionable.

“There’s then a huge amount of land use benefits being justified, I’ve never seen them that high before, and I doubt if [they] are going to make up such a big difference,” Prof. Hensher said.

In an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald Professor Jenny Stewart, a Visiting Fellow in the School of Business, University of NSW, Canberra, acknowledged that the argument for the light rail “is not primarily to be understood in financial, or even transport terms” but instead, as ACT Minister for Capital Metro Simon Corbell claims, in the context that it is about “building the city”.

Prof. Stewart however questioned the underlying rationale of the association between light rail and density.

“The main problem with this argument is that it is difficult to distinguish which way the causal arrows flow. Is the tram needed because of the planned densification, or is the densification needed because of the tram? If the former (and this is surely the only logical possibility) then we are really talking about planning, rather than tramming [sic]”, she said.

Outlining Canberra’s history of low-density development and the way in which the city continues to evolve, she claimed that “…once we start thinking about the evolution of the city, the case for a fixed-line form of transport such as a tram becomes difficult to sustain. Even if we focus on the Gungahlin to City route alone, it is difficult to see the project meeting its passenger targets.”

… while Newcastle light rail proposal criticised…

The NSW government’s plans for light rail in Newcastle (see TSW16) have attracted further criticism from across the political spectrum after the release of the Review of Environmental Factors and options for the line’s expansion. According to the Newcastle Herald former Liberal candidate for the seat of Newcastle Karen Howard has “broken rank” with her party and called on the government to scrap plans for segregated light rail lines in Hunter Street in favour of a “mixed running” system.

“In my opinion, mixed running is the best option to ensure public amenity is maintained, car parking on Hunter Street is maintained and we have a city where people can move around as seamlessly as possible on foot, cycling, via the tram or via motor vehicles,” Ms Howard said.

Greens NSW MP and Transport spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi has gone a lot further in criticising the light rail plans, claiming they have “revealed the futility of scrapping the heavy rail [line] and the government’s lack of vision for Newcastle.”

“The REF really backs up what we’ve known all along: that the short stretch of light rail is a colossal waste of money that just offers a poor substitute for the previous heavy rail service,” Dr Faruqi said.

She also claimed that the “predicted patronage of 300 to 430 passengers per hour for this new ‘world class’ service is both vague and disappointing” when compared to the combined patronage of the former heavy rail service and the current Hunter St buses.

While Dr Faruqi conceded that “a properly planned and delivered light rail network can be useful” but expressed concerns that the proposed extensions would just connect areas already serviced by heavy rail.

“If the light rail network doesn’t venture out into under-served residential areas to benefit ordinary commuters, then what’s the point, really?” she said.

… but claims that the Gold Coast light rail has started property boom

While the viability of planned light rail lines in Canberra and Newcastle has been criticised (see previous items) the Gold Coast Bulletin claims that the success of the Gold Coast Light Rail line has led to a property boom.

The paper quotes local property developers who claim that property along the line’s first stage had increased by up to $80,000 since it opened in 2014 and that prospective buyers should look at real estate along the route of the second stage where work is about to commence.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland Gold Coast Zone chair John Newlands claimed that “mid-range properties” on the northern corridor would be in high demand when the extension is finished.

“The light rail is connecting suburbs and any property around it will be worth a lot more,” he said.

“It is important to factor in a range of facts when looking to buy and that includes future infrastructure.”

Albanese commits to Adelaide tram system and Gawler line electrification

The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and for Cities Anthony Albanese, has committed to working with the South Australian government to ensure that “key public transport projects including the Gawler line electrification and the AdeLINK tram network become a reality”, should Labor win the next federal election.

According to Mr Albanese the Coalition federal government “… cancelled every dollar of public transport funding for South Australia including $76 million federal funding from the Gawler line electrification project and $31.5 million for the Tonsley Park Public Transport Project.”

He contrasted this with the record of the previous Labor government which had “almost tripled annual infrastructure spending from $109 to $272 per South Australian, including the construction of South Australia’s first electrified rail line to Seaford, which created 2000 jobs and is now used each weekday by over 15,000 people”.

Metro

NSW government calls for expressions of interest on metro project while 150 properties to be acquired …

The NSW Government has announced the start of the tender process to build the metro tunnels under Sydney Harbour and through the CBD for Stage 2 of Sydney Metro at an industry briefing for 250 Australian and international companies.

“We’ve now taken the next step and opened expressions of interest for tunnelling, asking industry to partner with us in delivering this city-shaping project,” NSW Transport Minister Mr Constance said.

He said that the first of five tunnel boring machines will be in the ground before the end of 2018 to provide new twin railway tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham. Services on the second stage of the project are planned to commence in 2024, five years after stage one.

Metro under Sydney Harbour (artist impression - source: Transport for NSW)

Metro under Sydney Harbour (artist impression – source: Transport for NSW)

“We finished tunnelling on Sydney Metro Northwest in January this year, with services on track to start in the first half of 2019 with a new metro train every four minutes in the peak,” he said

According to an ABC report the Minister also revealed that 150 properties will be acquired as part of the project but he declined to provide any details.

“There are always going to be some sensitivities for business and for home owners and apartment owners,” Mr Constance said.

“That’s why we get a professional team in place to be able to go and do that work.”

… but Bankstown line metro conversion will close the line for months

In announcing the commencement of tendering for state 2 of the Sydney Metro project (see previous item), NSW Transport Minister Mr Constance has also confirmed that the Bankstown line will be closed for over six months while it is converted and integrated into the new metro line.

The Minister said the government would try to minimise the length of time the 13.5-kilometre stretch of track would closed but according to the report he conceded that it would “pose a challenge”.

“It is going to be a disruptive time – I won’t sugar-coat that,” Mr Constance said.

“There will be a period of time where that rail line will be decommissioned and as a result we are going to have to manage the commuter needs through that period.”

The report notes that 25,000 people travel on the Bankstown Line during the morning peak between 6am and 9.30am. This compares to 8,000 on the line between Epping and Chatswood which will also have to be closed for six months in late 2018 for a similar conversion.

The Bankstown Line conversion will be a bigger challenge however because the existing infrastructure is much older and also because station platforms will have to be straightened to accommodate the driverless metro system which relies on platform doors.

The Minister conceded that as a result the conversion was likely to take longer than six months and would result in major changes for commuters.

“We are working through that … but at the end of the day those commuters are going to get a brand new metro service,” Mr Constance said.

The government is yet to release either a final business case or a review of environmental factors for the second stage. Greens NSW MP and Transport spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi said that the closure was “shocking” given the government’s “continual failure to provide evidence” for the project.

“To this point, the government has never given any detailed evidence of why shutting down and privatising the Bankstown line is the way to fix the train network, rather than actually expanding it to new areas or putting higher frequency trains on other lines”, she said.

“No business case or EIS has been forthcoming, but the government is going full steam ahead to flog our train lines off to a private operator.”

Urban Heavy Rail

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail sparks funding debate

The announcement of the preferred route and a strategy for the delivery of Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project (see TSW16) has sparked a parliamentary debate regarding the project’s funding.

According to media reports the business case is not due until later this year but in the interim the government has not ruled in or out any specific funding models.

The options under consideration include value capture which Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, Jackie Trad recently studied on a trade mission. According to the report the LNP opposition has questioned the applicability of the model to the Cross River Rail project, despite the enthusiasm of the Prime Minister for the model and the LNP’s support for private sector engagement.

“The LNP does support public-private partnerships,” shadow Transport Minister Scott Emerson said.

“Let’s not forget we are not London, we are not Hong Kong.

“We have to make sure it works for a city like Brisbane, or for a state like Queensland.

“We support public-private partnerships, but you have to make sure it functions, it works, and it stacks up. What, clearly, we see from the government is it making something new up each day.”

While the government has not committed to the use of the value capture model, Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe noted the PM’s support for it and the potential that would be provided for the “redevelopment and resurgence and renewal of significant precincts” in the city.

“That provides plenty of opportunity for private investment and plenty of opportunities for development that supports the activation of those precincts of our city,” Mr Hinchcliffe said.

Auckland rail patronage hits 16m annually

Auckland Council has announced that on the 2nd anniversary of the electrification of the Auckland rail network in April 2014, the system’s new trains have travelled four million kilometres and that annual passenger numbers have reached 16 million.

Auckland Transport chair Dr Lester Levy said that with annual growth in passenger numbers of 20 per cent, “Aucklanders have clearly taken to the new trains”.

“The growth in numbers using the trains has exceeded all expectations, we now have a rail system which has advanced and progressed and is set to get better,” he said

“Using the trains is now part of everyday life for thousands of us.”

Numbers are expected to grow with service levels on the Western Line increasing to six trains per hour during the peak period to cope with demand. In the longer term the network will also receive a major boost with the construction of the City Rail Link but according to Dr Levy the improvements are already having a financial spin-off.

“The CRL and the upgrades of suburban stations are already having an impact, with major capital development starting to occur along the rail corridor which will result in new businesses, homes and jobs,” he said.

—————–

Due to overseas travel commitments the next few editions of TSW will appear in truncated form and will include some opinion pieces.

This entry was posted in Governance, Infrastructure, Local Government, Planning, Public Transport, Regions, Sydney metro area, The Strategic Week, Transport, Western Sydney and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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