Major considerations for public transport systems and policies are accessibility (geographical, cost-wise, and for people with disabilities), efficiency (shorter travel times), and resilience (the ability to recover from unplanned disruptions).
The Science Party broadly supports Transport for NSW's Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2018-2022
1. Urban and suburban rail
Aim: Facilitate public transport use by providing high-standard services.
1.1. Policy: The Science Party supports the creation of additional train lines, particularly underground rail, through suburban areas currently devoid of any train stations. We support the creation of an Epping-Rouse Hill line in particular.
1.2. Discussion: Many outer suburbs of Sydney rely on buses that need to travel up to 40 minutes to the nearest rail line. Even fewer services are available outside of Sydney. This situation discourages public transport use and encourages the use of private vehicles. Building train lines assures ongoing public transport services to an area, allowing local services and town centres to build up around them.
1.3. Policy: The Science Party opposes privatisation of existing publicly-owned rail lines; and the replacement of the existing Epping-Chatswood and Sydenham-Bankstown heavy rail line with "Metro" trains, at this point in time.
1.4. Discussion: The NSW government is planning to replace several existing rail lines with "Metro" lines, and in the process convert ownership and operation to private companies. This is privatisation by stealth. We do not oppose privatisation or private-public partnerships wholesale; however, privatisating lines is substantially different from using a public-private partnership to build new infrastructure. Sufficient justification of the value of privatising the lines—in terms of the ongoing costs and revenue of the lines, the cost to users and the impact of competition—has not been presented to the public.
The replacement of heavy rail is being presented as an upgrade to newer standards which include automation and safety gates. While the Science Party supports these aims, the Sydney Metro project will replace functioning rail services instead of extending into areas which have no rail services. Closures during the changeover period will also heavily impact users. For example, the bus replacement service between Epping and Chatswood is expected to last for 7 months.
1.5. Policy: The Science Party opposes the closure of the Carlingford line to be replaced with light rail.
1.6. Discussion: The Carlingford line is due to be closed and replaced with a light rail service. This conversion prevents the completion of a long-planned train line from Chatswood to Parramatta via Epping and Carlingford. The light rail service is billed by the government as "connecting Parramatta" but does the opposite. The newly installed North-West rail line will be extraordinarily hard to access by rail from Parramatta, whereas a rail connection from Parramatta to Epping using the existing Carlingford line would allow North West metro users to quickly change trains to go to Parramatta.
2. Cycling infrastructure
Aim: Encourage cycling as a mode of transport, due to its health and environmental benefits.
2.1. Policy: Improvement and expansion of bicycle infrastructure in NSW.
2.2. Discussion: Driving accounted for well over half of all travel in NSW in 2014/2015, and the length of car trips was on average about 10 km ('How far do people travel by mode?'). Meanwhile, less than one quarter (PDF, 742 KB, via www.cycle-helmets.com) of NSW residents cycle monthly.
Cycling reduces road congestion, improves the environment and improves health. It is an excellent way for most people to make trips that are just a little too time-consuming to walk, and which might not be well-serviced by buses, e.g. from home to the nearest train station. Cutting down on driving for short trips has the potential to significantly reduce road congestion.
To encourage increased bicycle use, facilities must be in place to ensure that cyclists can travel safely. While bicycle networks in NSW are improving, many routes within cities are not properly connected, which forces cyclists to choose between using dangerous roads, using footpaths inappropriately, or not cycling at all. Attempts to 'retrofit' bicycle infrastructure to existing roads can put cyclists at risk. For example, many streets have bicycle markings in the door spaces of parked cars, which puts an expectation on cyclists to travel in an unsafe space on the road. The Science Party will conduct a review to determine dangerous road infrastructure that should be removed or upgraded to improve cyclist safety.
The development of bicycle infrastructure should be considered during the construction of new major transport projects.
3. Badgerys Creek airport area development
Aim: Make use of the forthcoming second Sydney airport to build a business and residential hub in Western Sydney.
3.1. Policy: Build heavy rail to the Badgery's Creek Airport.
3.2. Discussion: The Science Party strongly supports the NSW and Australian governments' commitment to build a train line to the second Sydney airport site. This rail line must be operational by the time the airport opens (estimated mid-2020s), to minimise the impact of increased road traffic on local residents and to ensure that the airport development achieves the greatest return on investment.
3.3. Policy: Create a high-density business and residential zone close to (but outside the flight paths of) the airport.
3.4. Discussion: Areas that are close to airports but not under the flight path experience relatively little noise pollution. These areas have great potential for residential and commercial development. The Science Party proposes the development of a high-density Badgerys Creek residential and business hub.
Aim: Encourage competition in the ride-for-hire industry and to decrease costs for operators and customers.
4.1. Policy: Deregulate the taxi industry. Instead of the current system, Transport for NSW should maintain a hire car driver authority registration system, to ensure the safety of passengers and providers by requiring that:
- Providers are properly qualified to provide these services; Vehicles comply with minimum standards; and
- Providers are properly insured.
This system should be open to any suitably qualified driver, for only the cost of maintaining the register, and be valid for driving across taxis, hire cars, and app-based rideshare systems.
4.2. Discussion: The the current structure of the taxi industry is inefficient, with exorbitant taxi licence fees serving as a barrier to entry for drivers. Taxi customers face high prices and inconveniences (e.g. taxis refusing short trips), while many drivers make less than the minimum wage after deducting the costs of leasing the taxi and fuel, for a job that is often difficult and sometimes dangerous. Meanwhile, efficient ride-sharing services, which promote passenger and driver safety by tracking trips, spent a long time under a legal cloud in most states and territories. Currently, the NSW charges taxi and Uber drivers a $1 surcharge per trip to compensate taxi licence plate holders, as is the case in most states.
5. Trams and Buses
Aim: Increase bus use as a way to remove cars from congested major roads.
5.1. Policy: Develop of dedicated public transport corridors to accommodate high-frequency, high-speed services between the CBD area of Sydney and junctions in the inner suburbs that connect to local bus services. We wish to thoroughly consider the issue of redundancy when implementing the tram system. In particular, current projects roll major bus routes from both the eastern and western suburbs into a single tram line along George St. This exposes transport across the entire CBD to failure in the case of breakdown.
5.2. Policy: Purchase additional larger buses, such as double-decker and articulated (bendy) buses, to increase capacity on long range and popular routes with limited investment. These buses may also help with the connections between the tram junctions in the inner east and inner west suburbs. For the sake of safety, efficiency amd accessibility, these larger buses should have larger doors, allow entry through all doors, and have cameras and alarms to inform passengers that the doors are closing.
5.3. Policy: Create bus stations at popular stops, with ticket readers that will allow passengers to swipe their tickets on the platform, allowing passengers to board and alight more quickly.
6. Driverless vehicles
Aim: Make travel on NSW roads as safe and efficient as technology allows.
6.1. Policy: Legalise testing of driverless vehicles in NSW with an aim to introduce driverless cars to NSW roads as soon as is practical and safe.
6.2. Discussion: Driverless cars have show reduced collision rates compared to human drivers, can drive more efficiently, and find quicker routes. They may also increase the efficiency of car share schemes, meaning few cars per capita. Driverless cars can prevent intoxicated driving and increase the mobility of people who cannot drive, as well as allowing people who would otherwise drive to use their travel time for work or recreation.
7. Transport Modelling Transparency
Aim: Make data availble in the interest of open government, and to allow any member of the public to perform their own analysis and modelling.
7.1. Policy: Release all transport modelling and data, to inform the public about expected costs, minimum operating viability, transportation times and maximal capacity.
7.2. Discussion: The release of transport modelling will allow residents of NSW to understand the implications of transport decisions, which will aid them in making decisions such as where to live, what mode of transport to use, and which transport infrastructure plans are the best.
8. High Speed Rail
Aim: Provide an alternative mode of travel to Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane flights; and provide opportunities for the growth of regional centres along the corridor.
8.1. Policy: Create a high-speed rail link from Brisbane to Melbourne, via Sydney and Canberra.
8.2. Discussion: The Sydney-Melbourne route is one of the world's busiest air routes, with Sydney-Brisbane often in the top 10. Pressure on these airports has been eased by building more terminals (which is associated with increased road congestion), but resilience (see Appendix B) in the transport network can be increased through adding another mode of transport.
The creation of a high speed rail-link will occur in several stages, as distance and population size will determine feasibility. The feasibility of incorporating unutilised and under-utilised tracks, such as that between Redfern and Bankstown, should be investigated as a part of the high speed rail corridor.
The priority for this policy is to secure the corridor. The best technology for the job, as determined by a rigorous review, should of course be used at the time of building.
Duration of travel: The distance between Sydney and Melbourne is similar to that between Tokyo and Hiroshima in Japan. The Toyko-Hiroshima Shinkansen trip takes a little over 5 hours (half the duration of the current XPT Sydney-Melbourne train trip). Train travel can deliver travellers from one city centre to another. In contrast, domestic air travel requires time to transfer from the CBD to the airport (plus time to navigate the airport). Thus it takes at minimum 3 hours to travel from Sydney CBD to Melbourne CBD on a "90-minute" flight.
Cost: One possible criticism of the high-speed rail plan is that it is unable to compete on cost with low-cost flights. It should be noted that the budget flights are much cheaper than the average ticket price (prices range from $50 to over $800 for a midweek SYD-MEL flight); and that both Sydney and Melbourne airports were originally government-built infrastructure.