PARRAMATTA Lord Mayor, Lorraine Wearne, last week said she is encouraged by the State Government's positive response to the development of a light-rail network in Sydney and called for it to be expanded as part of a solution to Western Sydney's transport problems.
Early last week, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell expressed his desire to expand Sydney's tram network, saying work should commence on a light rail project in the city or eastern suburbs before the next election.
The government is investigating the feasibility of extending light rail through the CBD, to the University of NSW and the University of Sydney through the development of the Sydney Light Rail Strategic Plan.
Work on the Plan, which aims to provide transport solutions and identify a preferred route, is already underway and is expected to be completed in mid-2012. This is in addition to building the Inner West Light Rail Extension from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill.
Councillor Wearne said that Parramatta City Council had met with Infrastructure NSW late last year to discuss its own light-rail proposal, which aims to alleviate traffic congestion and support population growth in the region.
"When you consider that within the next 20 years, the majority of Sydney's population will be in the west, we need solutions that recognise the growth of labour markets outside of the City CBD," Cr Wearne said.
Cr Wearne said a light rail system is a viable option for Western Sydney, stating that it is more reliable than buses, cheaper and quicker to implement than heavy rail and can facilitate faster, more regular services.
Parramatta Council has already developed a concept for a Western Sydney light rail/metro network and has applied to the Federal Government's Liveable Cities Program for funding to undertake a two-part feasibility study.
The first stage of the concept involves the extension of the Carlingford Line to connect to Rydalmere, Parramatta North and Westmead.
"An efficient public transport system such as the proposed light rail network would connect the rapidly expanding Western Sydney population to employment and education opportunities closer to their homes," Cr Wearne said.