Each day across the Transport cluster, we are busy delivering incredible things for all the people of NSW. Take a moment to let this sink in. There are 25,000 of us, and we touch the lives of more than seven million people daily. Every year, we deliver 365 million train journeys, 275 million bus trips, 15 million ferry trips and 9 million light rail trips. We also service 5.4 million drivers and 6.5 million vehicles across 18,000 km of state roads.
We’re also in the midst of the biggest infrastructure boom NSW, and Australia, has ever seen. And to the tune of $51.2 billion, we’re delivering game changing roads and public transport projects that will benefit generations to come in both Sydney and regional NSW.
The numbers are huge and with so much to deliver, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Following the recent unveiling of our 40-year Future Transport Strategy, Transport Mode takes a look at what we’re delivering for NSW as a whole, how our services and projects connect and what the future holds for roads and public transport.
The people of NSW have told us that improving transport is important — that means addressing congestion, safety and having more choice in how we all travel. Improving transport is also essential to businesses and the NSW economy as we grow, so that’s why the NSW government has made tackling this issue a priority.
But it wasn’t a priority for a long time and the public feel that transport has been neglected. You’ve probably heard friends and family sharing their frustrations with how things are now — with old and outdated trains, with longer and longer travel times to work or when they find themselves constantly stuck in traffic.
They’re right to be frustrated but that’s why we’re investing $51.2 billion in long overdue improvements in roads and public transport. It’s the most we’ve ever spent. And as employees, it’s an exciting time for us all to be working in Transport and to be part of this amazing change.
We have a transport plan for NSW called Future Transport, which is all about making trips faster, easier and safer.
Our vision for cities and regional NSW is of a connected roads and public transport network that has higher capacity and gives you the freedom to choose how and when you get around, no matter where you live and work.
NSW’s population will increase by more than 4 million over the next few decades and our plan addresses that growth and keeps pace with our customers’ needs.
In Sydney, we are right now completing the missing links in the motorway network to improve traffic flow. We’re also creating easier connections to a better, more integrated and modern public transport system with more services to meet the increasing demand. But to meet the huge amount of growth expected, we are shifting the focus away from a single Sydney CBD. We want people to have a better quality of life, have jobs closer to where they live and to be more active so instead the plan is to connect people to three cities — the Central River City (Parramatta), a Western Parkland City (Badgerys Creek) and an Eastern Harbour City (the current CBD). We want people to reach their nearest centre within 30 minutes, seven days a week using public transport or active transport like walking or cycling.
In regional NSW
In regional areas, we are upgrading roads, bridges and rail to increase connections between towns and regional centres, between regional centres, and regional centres with cities. It’s a ‘hub and spoke’ network model for NSW and it’s all about supporting regional centres to provide jobs and services like retail, health, education and cultural activities for local towns and communities. We’ll do this by improving the connections between towns and regional centres, rather than the current focus on connecting them to Sydney. We’ve also spent a lot of time and money improving the north-south highway connections across NSW (Pacific, Hume, Princes and Newell Highways). This has created major benefits in terms of safety, travel times and productivity for businesses. We’ll now be focusing on providing stronger east-west and cross border connections to support the growth of primary industry in inland regions and its need to service a growing population on the coast.
So that’s the plan but how do we deliver it?
To get us to where we need to be — now and in the future — we have identified the priorities to focus on. We’ve brought together regional and city transport, development and housing plans from across government so they work together to meet the growth in our State over the decades to come. And we’re using customer feedback and the latest technology to take data from Opal journeys and road tracking systems across NSW to make informed decisions on roads, timetables and services.
You could definitely say we’re playing catch up, but we’re also building for the future.
We’ve delivered a lot already
We have already begun. Across NSW, we have been upgrading Pacific and Princes Highways as a priority so that journeys are easier and safer. Trucks have been removed from local roads and the number of fatal crashes has halved on the Pacific Highway alone since the upgrading began. Half a million timber sleepers have also been replaced with long-life steel sleepers so that our rail system is ready to take faster services and more freight off local roads. And we’ve been upgrading level crossings to make them safer for locals.
In Sydney, we’ve also introduced Opal Cards, 27,000 extra weekly public transport services, more peak-time express trains and real-time travel apps so that customers can plan, have more options and more convenient journeys. And we’re making better use of what we have by widening the M4 and introducing intelligent traffic management systems on existing routes to make journeys faster and smoother.
But there’s much more to do for the future
Right now we’re giving funding to local councils to fix country roads and bridges, including repairing and upgrading freight routes to make them faster for businesses and safer for locals.
The aging regional and intercity train fleets are being replaced from next year, along with upgrading interchanges and introducing new timetables and connections to make trains a safe, comfortable and realistic choice for people in regional NSW.
Also, on-demand and flexible local minibus services are being trialled to meet the unique public transport needs of regional towns.
In Sydney, we’re completing a modern, more integrated train system in stages from next year, including adding new Metro and light rail services to our existing rail network. This will increase capacity from around 120 services an hour to 200. Customers won’t need timetables — they’ll just turn up and go every four minutes during peak times on Metro and light rail, and every two minutes when Metro starts operating under the Sydney CBD, providing a fast, easy and reliable journey.
We’re also progressively connecting up our orbital motorway system around Sydney with eight-lane underground tunnels by 2023 that will bypass the city and over 70 traffic lights. This will reduce travel times and take heavy vehicles off our roads, returning local streets to local communities.
But it’s not just about building stuff. We’re also embracing new ways of doing things through innovative service models and
We’re undertaking a range of connected and automated vehicle trials right now and exploring drones for freight delivery that will take more trucks off roads.
We’re also investigating ways to make roads safer and more efficient through initiatives like smart motorways. These roads of the future will use sensors to automatically update electronic road signage to respond to traffic conditions, incidents and manage congestion in real time.
More and more we’re looking at transport’s role in supporting functional, vibrant and beautiful places for the community to live, shop, visit and play. It’s about unlocking the potential for new commercial and housing developments and renewing existing neighborhoods and spaces.
This means that instead of planning mode by mode or delivering a single project across the Transport cluster, we need to focus on places, our customers’ needs in those places, and identify how to get the best outcomes for them and for the generations to come.
We encourage you to find out what’s happening in your area
The future is bright, there’s a lot happening and you are doing your part. There’s a lot to take in. We think the best way to tell you about the big picture is by showing you. Take a look at our maps to explore our vision for greater Sydney and NSW and all of the projects we are delivering. See how it all fits together as we build and service a smarter, more modern and connected roads and public transport network for the people of NSW.