Media Release

North Western commuters will be slugged Opal transfer fee, but Eastern Suburbs commuters wont be.

It has been revealed that passengers travelling in the Eastern Suburbs will not pay the Opal transfer penalty when changing from their truncated bus routes to the new CBD & South East Light Rail.

However passengers in the North Western Suburbs will pay the Opal transfer penalty when the Government cuts bus routes to force passengers on to the new privately operated single deck North West Rail Link.

“In every other modern city that has introduced smart-card ticketing they have taken the opportunity to integrate fares and remove the transfer penalty. However the NSW Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian has shown that the government intends to use the Opal card to silently increase fares.” said Mathew Hounsell the co-convenor of Ecotransit Sydney.

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Inner West Locals get organised to stop the WestConnex toll road.

On Wednesday 12 February 2014 at Herb Greedy Hall in Marrickville the community hosted a meeting to hear about the WestConnex from noted transport planner Michelle Zeibots and public transport advocate Gavin Gatenby.

Gavin Gatenby is the co-convenor of Ecotransit Sydney, a community-based transport advocacy group. Ecotransit Sydney grew out the city resident’s long running fight for sensible modern transport planning, and was instrumental in ensuring the construction of the Airport Rail Link and the Inner West Light Rail. Mr Gatenby delivered a detailed presentation on the proposal and its impacts on the Inner West.

“An unholy convergence of interests has gathered around WestConnex. The big construction companies want a multi-billion contract that’ll run for years, the developers want the government to resume whole slabs of the inner west and sell it to them for high-rise, and the tollway companies are trying to salvage a failed business model by generating another round of traffic growth with car-based redevelopment. It’s all backed by new planning laws stack the deck against local government, residents and small business. Sydney ‘s road traffic has been almost flatlining for a decade. The tragedy is that if we were to spend a fraction of the funds earmarked for WestConnex on public transport solutions it would fall dramatically.” EcoTransit Co-Convenor Gavin Gatenby said.

Dr Michelle Zeibots is a transport planner and research principle in transport at the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney . Her research into road capacity, traffic speeds and volumes is widely respected and cited.

Dr Zeibots talked about her experience as an expert adviser on the transport panel during the drafting of the NSW Transport Masterplan. Working with the department and minister, the experts believed the state was ready to build the vital second harbour rail crossing, which would increase the Sydney rail network’s capacity by 50 per cent. Then just weeks before the master plan was released, WestConnex and other motorways motorways appeared in the plan and were given priority by the government.

Dr Zeibots refuted the argument that the motorway will reduce traffic and congestion, by citing the many examples of induced traffic; especially her research into the significant induced traffic caused last time the M4 was extended.

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Inner West Local’s get organised to stop the WestConnex toll road.

The fight to stop the WestConnex toll road is gaining momentum across the Inner West. This week a public meeting will be held in Marrickville by the community.

NoWestconnex (NoW Public Transport), is an umbrella group of resident’s action groups and environmental groups from across the Inner West, it is hosting a meeting on Wednesday 12th February, at 7pm at Herb Greedy Hall, 79 Petersham Road Marrickville.

“The aim of this public meeting is to let the public know what the State Government is planning for WestConnex and what impact this will have on our communities and neighbourhoods. The public consultation for WestConnex has been a sham and the State Government refuses to tell the community the real impact of WestConnex” said NoW Public Transport President Mathew Hounsell.

“The Westconnex is a 33klm toll road that will rip through the communities of the Inner West including Summer Hill, Petersham, St Peters and Tempe ”

“Already the first stage of the toll road is seeing homes and public space taken by the Westconnex Authority so their tollway can enclose and pollute areas of the Inner West, especially around Strathfield and Concord ”

“Compulsory property acquisitions, smoke stacks, more pollution and a massive $14 toll for the motorway are all aspects of Westconnex that the government is trying to keep under wraps. It will suck money out of public transport for decades to come. We are trying to get all the information on the project and the alternatives out to the public”. said Mr Hounsell

Speakers at the Marrickville meeting will include highly regarded transport planner Dr Michelle Zeibots from the University of Technology, Sydney and Mr Gavin Gatenby from Eco-transit Sydney .

The Marrickville meeting follows a series of well attended public meetings in Leichardt, Haberfield and Ashfield before Christmas and a successful pubic rally at Ashfield on Sunday.

“During the election, the Minister for Transport promised during that she would not raise fares unless they improved public transport. Yet in October she cut services on the Inner West Line, in December announced the removal of bus stops, and in January increased fares.

“We all know how much better traffic flows on school holidays. The Light Rail extension will service many of the Inner West’s schools. Yet the Minister for Transport simply refuses to give student fares on the Light Rail like on Sydney’s buses and trains; and continues to delay the Opal roll-out on the simple single-line single-operator Inner West Light Rail by another year.

The reason for an integrated ticketing system was to remove the cost of changing modes so that passengers can mix and match. For example, even running at slow NSW speeds the light rail to Marion St, Haberfield will be faster than the bus. However rather than making an efficient interchange the Minister added an unnecessary 500m walk and another fare just to please the departments of Treasury and Roads and so she dissuade customers.”

Within weeks of rolling out Opal card services to North Shore stations the Minister announced staffing cuts. If she is happy to leave stations in her own electorate unmanned and unsafe, what hope does the Inner West have?

The Minister has shown that she is willing to use the Opal system as a way of cutting staff and increasing revenue, but she needs to deliver what she promised the people of NSW, better public transport.”

Said Mathew Hounsell Co-convenor of Ecotransit Sydney

Questions on the Westconnex

1. What are the transport alternatives along Parramatta Road ?
2. How will the WestConnex affect surrounding communities environmentally?
3. Will the WestConnex go the way of other failed road projects and fall into receivership or lack of use?

“Like most tollway the Westconnex is a big financial risk. After a string of multi-billion dollar failures, investors are demanding certainty. So the NSW Liberal government has promised to guarantee profits by methods like availability payments; which disguise state debt as operational payments. The government plans to fund this debt by introducing a distance based toll on the busiest road in the state: the M4 between Parramatta and Homebush. This toll will take millions of dollars out of the pockets of NSW families to pay well connected companies like Transurban, Leightons, & Macquarie Bank. These three multinational companies have been advising the RMS on how to assure good profits from the Westconnex; a project they are likely to win the tenders for.” Said Mathew Hounsell president of the No Westconnex action group called NoW Public Transport Inc.

“The government is also preparing to use its planning powers, its new compulsory acquisition powers, and its taxpayer funded property developer (UrbanGrowth NSW) to replace the houses in the Inner West with apartment towers. We have seen the first of these with a large eight storey complex being planned for the Kolotex site in the middle of single storey Leichhardt. The government has announced their intention to force 25,000 units into the already dense Inner West. From experience we know they will force in even more; we expect apartment towers for at least 100,000 units using land obtained by compulsory acquisition.” said Mr Hounsell.

“The Westconnex plan has clearly been designed to use induced traffic from new apartment towers to fund the tollway. This is clear from the RMS plan to provide only a low capacity peak hour bus lane to Burwood. The Westconnex plan clearly aims to prevent public transport extending along all of Parramatta Rd. With 50,000 new residents moved into the suburbs around Homebush and deliberately limited public transport, they will have no choice but to use the Westconnex tollway. Ka-ching!”

“The residents of Sydney are demanding better public transport. It is time to restore Light Rail to Parramatta Rd. Sydney’s trams carried more people then CityRail does today, and at a profit. State governments have been promising Light Rail along Parramatta Rd for decades; it is time for Barry O’Farrell to deliver.”

“The NSW Government knows and is ignoring the massive increasing demand for trains across the city and especially on the Western Lines which are already at capacity. Ron Christie, Ecotransit, and other public transport experts state that a simple cost-effective program of capacity improvements could unlock an extra 60% on the city’s rail network. Combined with connection to the Parramatta Rd light rail at Granville, Lidcombe, Strathfield and Petersham this would unlock the cities transport, reduce congestion, and for a fraction of the $15 billion cost of the Westconnex.” Said Mathew Hounsell, President of the No Westconnex action group called NoW Public Transport Inc.

“The roll out of integrated ticket is one of the greatest debacles in the state’s history. Bureaucratic intransigence & incompetence combined with ministerial ineptitude to drain the state’s tax payer of over a billion dollars.” Said Mathew Hounsell co convenor of Ecotransit.

“A simple universal fare structure would have allowed integrated ticketing to be rolled out across the state quickly and at a reasonable price. Instead the previous Labor government was bullied by the bureaucracy, especially treasury, into wasting taxpayers funds in a pointless expensive exercise of fiddling fares to give the appearance of maximising revenue.”

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Media Release 2013-05-09

Ecotransit is a member based, not-for-profit public and active transport community advocacy group.

“An integrated, consistent and reasonably priced ticketing system has already proved a winner for public transport users and reducing Sydney’s traffic problems. In the year after the Government removed Westpac’s gate fee on Green Square Station, the patronage doubled by over 1,600 people a day. “ Mathew Hounsell Co-Convenor of Ecotransit said.

“The Inner West Light Rail had a jump in passengers when the Government allowed them to use MyMulti weekly tickets. Ecotransit expects the integrated ticketing to make the Inner West Light Rail very popular once the new Leichardt and Haberfield stops are open to the public.”

“It is a shame that the government and bureaucracy have continued to pursue a bespoke, overpriced, outdated payment processing system creating another government mandated monopoly. Other cities have already rolled out next generation systems using contact less credit cards and near field communication from mobile phones.”

“While the type of payment technology determines the overall cost to tax payers, it alone can not make a good ticketing system; although it can make a bad one. “

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CityRail disruption: deferred maintenance to blame

This morning, Tuesday the 12th March 2013, the city’s railway network was brought down by a regime of underinvestment and deferred maintenance. Over the past decade Sydney ’s railway network has experienced repeated major incidents that have disrupted the lives of city’s residents and the centre of the state’s economy.

Some incidents like Strathfield’s dodgy air-conditioning fan-belt have shown that chronic underinvestment has left the city without redundant systems to ensure the continued operation of what should be a high availability network.

However, the repeated tangling of pantographs in the overhead wiring is an inexcusable example of maladministration by the NSW State Government.

“These incidents are usually very rare on the world’s railways. However, the state’s insistence on deferring essential maintenance to free funds for building motorways have left Sydney ’s most important asset in a troubled state.”

During the morning, commuters received confused and conflicting information about not only the nature of the incident but also the simple fact of its location. Ecotransit has since been told that this morning’s incident was caused when the pantograph at fault tangled in the catenary on the Northern Line.

“This morning I was standing at Chatswood, Minister Berejiklian’s local station, with hundreds of other passengers waiting for a shuttle to Macquarie Park . We were the lucky ones; others are reported to have been trapped on a train for two hours waiting for the state to respond” said EcoTransit Sydney Co-Convenor, Mat Hounsell.

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