Transport

New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance should note the observation by Victor Hugo, the French novelist, that the worst thing a minister can do is have policies that upset people so much that they protest publicly and loudly about them.

Karl Fitzgerald, 3CR’s Renegade Economist, spoke to independent investigative journalist Michael West (Michaelwest.com.au) about Transurban and its control of Australia’s toll roads.

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Let’s start with some numbers: traffic was up just 1.4% on Transurban toll roads over the past six months, but toll revenues were up 9.6% and the earnings before tax trickery by 11.6%. But its net profit was up a staggering 280% in just six months. What does that mean?

Any one of the 1000 people who attended a rally at Belmont on February 19 could have told their own horror story of bus privatisation.

Speaking on behalf of many, several community members exposed the lie that privatised bus services make it easier for people to get around.

New mother Kimberley Anderson described how she and her three-month-old baby, on the way to a medical appointment, waited in the rain for a bus that never showed.

For another parent, Bec Cassidy, the new timetable and service cuts meant she had to change her daughter’s primary school.

On February 17, several thousand people from more than 30 community groups and unions marched through Sydney to demand the NSW state government fix the public transport system.

Andew Chuter, one of the organisers, told Green Left Weekly it was a “big achievement” to unite so many groups across NSW around this important issue.

“These sorts of campaigns tend to be quite localised, so getting people to see them as connected is quite significant. Some of those who took an active role in this rally had never been to a protest before.”

Several thousand people from about 30 community groups and trade unions joined forces in the first mass Fix NSW Transport march and rally through Sydney on February 17.

United in anger at the state Coalition government's private tollway frenzy, privatisation of public transport and developer scams parading as infrastructure plans, they called on the government to fix NSW roads and public transport.

In this episode I join dozens of community groups from across NSW at the "Fix NSW Transport" rally. The battle between WestConnex and public transport is explored.

To get involved in the campaign: www.facebook.com/NoWestconnex

We can fix the public transport crisis

Community groups from across NSW came out to rally against Westconnex and attacks on public transport on February 17.

An “Act of God”, or lightning, was a key reason for the recent meltdown of Sydney’s rail network, according to transport minister Andrew Constance. He also claimed that the “dark arts of unionism” — presumably some sort of devilry — inspired rail unionists to vote to strike over pay and rosters on January 29.

Politicians may blame God and the Devil for recent transport chaos, but when the dots are joined between different aspects of the government’s transport policy the reality becomes clearer.

The transport system in Australia is in crisis. The push by governments and the private roads lobby to build more tollways, sell off our public transport to the big corporations is worsening services, raising costs and creating a transport impasse for the public.

At the centre of this is the current transport disaster in Australia’s biggest city, Sydney.

Community groups opposed to the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway project have criticised the recent decision by NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to dismiss the 13,000 objections lodged against the WestConnex M4-M5 Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 

RMS responses, published by the NSW Department of Planning on February 5, effectively disregarded or rejected serious environmental, health and probity problems with the project.

As the NSW Coalition government continues to lurch between a growing number of transport-related crises, a number of pro-public transport groups and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) are busy organising a “Fix NSW Transport” rally on February 17 in Sydney’s CBD.

The rally is a bold attempt to unite many transport-related campaigns across NSW and ensure that public transport remains a major election issue.

A coalition of anti-tollway groups has called for a mass rally early next year to bring together communities fighting against the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway and other disastrous road projects being pushed by the NSW Coalition government. The rally is planned for February 17 at 2pm.

A rally outside NSW Parliament on November 22 delivered more than 5000 letters to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, calling her to halt the controversial WestConnex tollway and initiate a thorough review of the wasteful $18 billion project.

Greens MPs Jenny Leong and Jamie Parker, City of Sydney Deputy Mayor Jess Miller, independent MP Alex Greenwich and Inner West councillor Pauline Lockie called on the NSW government to listen to the growing opposition.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is set to reap $16.5 million in NSW taxpayers' funds for a mere 11 months work as financial advisor to the state government on privatisation of the controversial $16.8 billion WestConnex tollway. The money will be paid for work between August this year and next July, in flogging off 51% of the Sydney Motor Corporation (SMC) which is building WestConnex.

The corporate vampires are circling as the sell-off process advances, with Transurban the favorite to buy WestConnex. Transurban already owns most of the toll roads in Sydney.

In an astounding display of bureaucratic arrogance, the chief of the company building the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway complex described the reintroduction of tolls on the widened M4 motorway as "exciting", while dismissing concerns about the health impacts of exhaust ventilation stacks planned for the route of the WestConnex tunnels.

In some sort of sick joke, residents of the inner west suburbs of St Peters and Haberfield have been sent earplugs by WestConnex after complaints to it about the incessant and loud noise caused by the construction of this controversial $17 billion tollway.

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