I thought it might be interesting to write about one of our neighbours who this Saturday will be having an election with transport being one of the major battlegrounds. The neighbour is New South Wales and polls have the race 50% – 50%, neck and neck with a high chance of a minority government so it should be fun to watch.
So you would think the battle would be Coalition and roads vs Labor and public transport but such a conclusion would be wrong. Both agree that public transport must be a priority, the difference is the Coalition believes in spending on roads on top of public transport, while Labor would use the savings from not building as many roads to fund health and education instead.
This graph shows that:
- Both parties support public transport and that conservative parties can support public transport;
- That a major rebalance of public transport vs roads spending, as has happened here, show NZ isn’t alone in its thinking.
The roads that Labor don’t intend to build are mostly tolled motorways, mostly underground, including the $14b Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link which makes our AWHC look like small change, as well as the F6 stage one tunnel extension in the south. Sydney already has the worlds most amount of tolled roads per km in an urban area.
Pros of a Labor Government on Transport
- Labor like the Coalition has promised to fund Sydney Metro West between Sydney and Parramatta/Westmead creating a relief line for the crowded and reaching capacity western line tracks. It has promised to deliver quicker than the Coalition but I’m not sure how considering the Coalition want to start building in 2020;
- Will build the city part of Sydney Metro including the second harbour rail crossing;
- Not wasting billions on unnecessary toll roads that which will induce demand and be bad for the environment;
- Will upgrade $3b worth signalling on existing lines massively increasing both capacity and safety; (Though signalling will not be a catch-all solution due to double-decker dwell times and platform congestion on the City Circle stations.)
- Instead of F6 extension Labor will invest T4 and South Coast Line upgrades drastically slashing travel times;
- Free Transport for all school students;
- Have committed to rail to future Western Sydney (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport.
Cons of a Labor Government on Transport
- Bad record on transport. Under the previous Labor government, public transport project after project would be announced only to be cancelled then re-announced in a slightly different form usually after leadership change of which there were many after Carr left.
- M4 Cashback scheme, a populist policy of Labors going back to the Carr era which would cost 100s of millions of dollars reimbursing drivers using the M4.
Labor also intend to cancel the conversion of the Bankstown line to metro. I have not put this in either pro or con because its a little controversial with points on both sides. On the one hand, it would deliver high-frequency services with level boarding and fully accessible stations as well as free multiple slots on the City Circle for more western services as well as decongesting crowded platforms in the City Circle for other lines like at Town Hall. On the other hand, it only converts the line to Bankstown which means people further out to Liverpool and Lidcombe would have to catch a train and transfer. The other issue is you’re less likely to get a seat on metro rather than on an existing double-decker.
Pros of a Coalition Government on Transport
- Have a solid record of delivering projects. While many are controversial such as Southeast Light Rail and WestConnex and others less so such as Northwest Metro the Coalition, unlike the previous Labor government you can’t argue get on with the job of building infrastructure;
- Like Labor have committed funding to Sydney Metro West to Parramatta/Westmead;
- Have funded the building of Sydney Metro – City;
- Have promised to investigate a regional rail package though no high-level details were released to go with this policy;
- Have committed to rail to future Western Sydney (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport starting with a metro from Western Sydney Airport to St Marys station on the western line with planned extensions to Rouse Hill via Schofields and to Macarthur.
Cons of a Coalition Government on Transport
- Not fiscally prudent spending billions of dollars on very expensive tolled motorways such as WestConnex which are also environmentally damaging;
- Memos released to the Sydney Morning Herald show that the Coalition Cabinet has directed agencies to not consider public transport alternatives to certain toll road proposals.
So both parties have some strong proposals for transport which do you think is stronger?