State Treasurer asleep at the wheel on light rail
As you can see from the Hansard transcript below, the treasurer wasn’t sure.
They’re also pursuing the immature tactic of extracting money from the hard-up local councils before they’ll put in a cent. A strange tactic given the state government is meant to fund public transport.
NSW LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL – QUESTION TIME
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Ms LEE RHIANNON: I direct my question to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer explain why no specific additional funding has been made available in yesterday’s budget for a study into the extension of light rail from its current terminus in Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill? Is the Treasurer aware of the funding source or mechanism alluded to by the transport Minister, David Campbell, in his media statement yesterday in which he said the Government will fund its own study from the existing budget? Will the Treasurer assure local councils that have agreed to make $60,000 available for planning the extension that the State Government will provide its own contribution for the feasibility study in the coming financial year? Is he aware that the proposal for light rail in this corridor included substantial commitments to cycling and pedestrian facilities, and will the Government ensure that this much-needed active transport infrastructure is fully funded?
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: The honourable member’s question is in relation to light rail and the viability study. From memory, I believe we said if the councils make their contributions available we would match that contribution. I will get some further information on the present position.
UPDATE: The treasurer came back the next day with a more detailed response:
18 June 2009
LIGHT RAIL STUDY
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: Yesterday I was asked a question by Ms Lee Rhiannon relating to a study for the proposed extension of the light rail system in Sydney. As many would be aware, there has been community interest in a proposal to extend the current light rail operation to Summer Hill and possibly Dulwich Hill.
The Government will be undertaking an assessment of extending the existing light rail system. The study will look into a range of issues involved in the proposal to expand the light rail, including the costs, the infrastructure requirements and the likely patronage it would attract.
The Minister for Transport advises that many other possible uses will be considered as part of the study, such as cycleway and walking trail options. I understand the Minister has written to the mayors of Leichhardt, Ashfield and Marrickville in this regard. With a firm commitment from those councils the Government will be able to proceed with this study. The Minister advises me he has not received formal responses from the councils at this stage. I am advised the study will take approximately six months to complete.
It’s still not clear if there is any money assigned in the budget for the feasibility study. However, it is good news that cycling and walking paths will be considered as part of the study.
See Eco Transit’s website for more detail about the proposed light rail campaign.