Public transport: Labor has a bet each way

February 27, 2015
John Coleman is a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the Legislative Council in the NSW election.

“Labor’s public transport policy lacks vision. It’s just more of the same — and follows the Liberals’ privatisation agenda”, John Coleman, Socialist Alliance candidate for the Legislative Council said.

“Labor promised $1 billion for a small-scale light rail project to run from Parramatta to Homebush, matching the Liberals’ promise. But while any money spent on public transport rather than roads is money well spent, Labor’s policy doesn’t address the real problems.

“A light rail line from Parramatta to Homebush would be fine if it were part of an integrated solution to the transport crisis in western Sydney”, Coleman, a retired CityRail employee told Green Left Weekly.

“However, Labor’s infrastructure package is an isolated project that won’t do much for the growing crisis of transport for western Sydney residents.”

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald on February 16 pointed out a range of Sydney train lines that would exceed capacity at peak hour in the next five years. What’s needed, Coleman said, is a huge increase in public investment in the existing heavy rail system in Sydney to expand its reach and take pressure off a crowded system.

Labor has only committed to completing the flawed North West Rail Link, which will divert public funds into a privatised single-deck train system at the expense of fixing the system.

“The $1 billion Labor promises for light rail is itself part of a Public Private Partnership that would leave all the risk to the public and guarantee profits to a private operator at taxpayers’ expense.

“This is privatisation by stealth, and shows that we should not take the ALP at face value when it claims to stand against sell-offs.”

Labor is trying to make out that it doesn’t support WestConnex, when in fact it supports a version of it. Inner city communities made their opposition to the project very clear at a 1000-strong meeting on February 23 in Enmore. A report by SGS Economics & Planning, commissioned by the City of Sydney, found that WestConnex would not reduce traffic on local roads, exposed taxpayers to financial risk and would not benefit western Sydney commuters.

“Labor’s policy on WestConnex is a bet each way and that’s not good enough,” Coleman said.

[John Coleman is a member of Socialist Alliance in Western Sydney and is standing as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the NSW Legislative Council in the NSW election.]

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