By FRANK WALKER
Burning question: How can Sydney ease the gridlock on its increasingly congested roads?
SYDNEY commuters are being encouraged to leave their cars at home and use public transport to get to work next week on Walk to Work Day.
The Pedestrian Council hopes the day – Friday, October 1 – will open motorist’s eyes to the joys of using trains, buses and ferries to get to work.
The car is by far the preferred way of getting to work in Sydney and all signs are the traffic jams will get worse, despite the extra hundreds of millions of dollars the Carr Government pledges to pump into trains and buses.
The Bureau of Transport Economics said last week traffic would increase by up to 45 per cent by 2015 – and the cost to the economy of Sydney’s traffic jams would rise to $8.8 billion.
Since 1950, the number of trips on public transport in Sydney has fallen from 800 million to 600 million a year.
Every day, 70 pc of people in Sydney use their car to get to work. Just 15 pc commute by train, 6pc use buses and 9pc use a ferry, walk or bicycle.
That hasn’t stopped the city’s daily traffic jam. There are 100,000 more cars per day crawling through the CBD than there were ten years ago.
There are 3.3 million cars in Sydney for its 3.9 million people – and 120 extra vehicles hit the roads every day. The result is gridlock.
Sydney’s main artery roads such as Military Road and Spit Bridge in the north, Victoria and Parramatta roads in the west and General Holmes Drive in the south are choked in rush hour.
Official figures show average speeds on these roads is 37km/h.
The State Government has a blueprint to help resolve Sydney’s huge traffic problems: Action For Transport 2010. But Transport Minister Carl Scully admits he faces an enormous challenge in getting people out of their cars.
“Public transport has not kept pace with Sydney’s growth,” the report said. “Many parts of western Sydney still lack an effective and reliable integrated public transport system.”
The train network will reach capacity in 2006. More trains and buses are on their way, but the main commitment is an average $300 million extra a year to fund new rail projects.
In Sydney’s west, the Government is relying on new bus-only transit ways.
- The Airport line opens in 2000, Bondi Beach in 2002, the Parramatta to Epping and Chatswood line in 2006, Epping to Castle Hill in 2010 and Hurstville to Strathfield in 2014.
- High speed rail improvements from Hornsby to Warnervale will be ready in 2007. The Sutherland to Wollongong high speed track opens in 2014.
- The tram will be extended from the city to Lilyfield in 2001, and possibly later to Ashfield.
- Rapid bus-only transitways will link up Sydney’s west. The Liverpool to Parramatta road opens in 2003, Parramatta to Strathfield by 2002, Parramatta to Blacktown in 2004, St Marys to Penrith by 2008, Blacktown to Castle Hill in 2009, Blacktown to Wetherill Park in 2006 and Parramatta to Mungerie Park in 2010.