New South Wales

Sydney requires integrated transport body to make plans and take charge: SMH

"AN integrated body is needed to make plans and take charge. No matter how visionary a transport plan may be, it will succeed only if it is supported by a strong management structure committed to its long-term implementation."

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) this week advocated for an integrated and strong governance structure for transport, in order to secure appropriate funding and resources, resist short-term political considerations and to effectively manage the whole public transport system.

The article states that without such a governance structure, it is likely that any plan will fail. As evidence of such failures, the article cites the fact that since the 1940s, at least six major public transport plans have been announced for Sydney, while only "a fraction of the promises were honoured."

It states that this failure has been particularly evident in western Sydney, "where only 20 kilometres of rail line and three railway stations have been added over the past 70 years, despite very substantial population growth."

Further failures it mentions include increased rail travel times and no integrated ticketing, which is common in many other cities. 

According to the SMH, a significant contributor to these failures is the "inconsistent and fragmented nature of public transport governance" with Sydney's transport management having been "divided into separate 'silos' representing different transport modes and operators, each working under separate legislation and different corporate models."

The Department for Planning has remained "almost entirely separate" from transport planning and development, resulting in major residential areas and employment centres being developed without public transport infrastructure provision, and the extension or enhancement of major roads without consideration of the effects on public transport services or land-use impacts.

The SMH states that overseas experience provides guidance for successful transport governance, which includes a single network where multiple transport modes work together, a commitment to consultation, engagement with all levels of government, appropriate and secure resourcing and strong accountability and transparency mechanisms.

The SMH writes that Sydney's failures "points to the need for a new, single public transport authority."

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 'One ruler over all modes of travel', 15 February 2010, <>.

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