Morris Iemma decision this week the North West Rail link into a 38km Metro line is yet another painful re-announcement of a much delayed project that is desperately needed now and not in 2015 (as if) with a slight twist. And it was a bad day to be announcing driverless trains when a driverless bus crashed into an existing railway line causing massive delays right near an interchanged for the Metro link.
While the bus was not meant to be driverless, it was the second occurrence this year alone when the driver parks the bus to go shopping or the bathroom and then the bus races down a hill into something. The first time it was a house, this time it may have possibility a crowded peak hour train which would have caused a major rail accident.
The link will be longer and add more suburbs on the way to the City in the inner city. However, what is missing is the interim solution to the crisis engulfing the Northwest with gridlock during peak hour in all directions with commutes less than 30km in distance taking up to 2 hours, 15/km an hour! There are not enough buses and far too many cars with outrageous fares that don’t integrate with any other mode of transport.
The limited bus services also have limited destinations leaving many of the companies flocking to the region for cheaper rent forced to provide it own bus services to fill the gaps.
What is lost in the $12 billion metro project which while long overdue is a worthy addition to the expansion of public transport in Sydney when it does open are the simple solutions that can happen today.
The Government should be investing in buying more buses to increase hopeless service frequency which can be as useless as half hourly during peak hour and every two hours on weekend depending on your geographic location. Useless for anyone to depend on in public transport in order to get around, you need a schedule with military precision in order to coordinate your life around it. If they were serious is making a difference they would double the bus fleet and double and in some cases they need three or four times the frequency.
On weekends and off-peak they could almost solve the problem even quicker by hiring some more drivers to get the buses out of the depots on weekends and during the off-peak to improve the woeful service frequencies, about 80 per cent of the buses seem to be mothballed during weekends as commuters abandon the helpless service to battle it out on the roads.
Appears Iemma can only deliver service cuts and fare increases on time actual improvements take years longer than promised. We are still waiting for the opening of the Parramatta – Chatswood rail link, cut in half and ten years late. Smartcard ticketing, almost a decade late and another decade of waiting at least until it is in commuters pockets. The state’s treasury is thinking short term gain for a long term loss as the real costs of congestion are becoming more apparent. Unhappy voters are one longer term cost which for NSW Labor is only the beginning of their woes.