SSEC logo Sutherland Shire Environment Centre  



Transport is one of the most intractable problems facing urban areas. The Sutherland Shire is no exception. Inadequate public transport, a lack of 04.02.08c congestion and air and noise pollution from cars are just some of the elements that need to be addressed.

The link between road building and increased private vehicle use is well established, as is the link between increased private vehicle use and air pollution, greenhouse gases and utilisation of finite oil resources. In many modern cities (particularly in western Europe), private vehicle transport is being discouraged, while preference is given to public transport, cycleway and pedestrian network development.
In Australia, average passenger vehicle fleet fuel consumption has not changed significantly from 1976 to 1996, yet there are now 70% more vehicles on Australia roads. New passenger car fuel efficiency has improved from 13 litres per 100 kms to 9 litres per 100 kms in the 20-year period, the number of four wheel drives consuming nearly twice as much fuel has doubled, keeping the per capital average petrol consumption the same.
In Sydney the recent trend has been to build more freeways and tollways. At the same time, funding for public transport, cycleways and pedestrian facilities has been reduced. However, Sydneysiders protest often against freeway and tollways. These protests are made known through the media, while court cases against the environmental and economic impost of freeway developments are now frequent.

The highest priority for Sydney must be development of an efficient public transport system. The prerequisites of such a system are a high level of coverage, with travel times competitive with private transport, adequate capacity loading during peak times, fully integrated ticketing, high service frequency, and coordinated timetables for interchanges.

The rail system has been neglected by governments from both sides of the political divide. The network's track capacity and signalling systems are unable to run the number of trains the city now requires. Focusing on Sutherland Shire routes alone reveals that several points along the Cronulla line are only single-track. This limits the number of services.
In the Netherlands, with urban densities approximating those of Sydney, there is high emphasis on safe cycle networks. There are 14 times as many person trips by bicycle and 81% more bicycle kms ridden than in Australia. Deaths of bicycle rides per 100,000 population, however, is a third of that in Australia
Use of bicycles and walking are alternative to use of the private motor vehicle. Yet, while bicycle ownership in Sydney is high and recreational cycling is popular, use of bicycles for short journeys is low. This is because Sydney does not have a comprehensive network of safe cycleways that connect commercial centres, public transport terminals, schools and civic areas. There is also a lack of facilities to park and secure bicycles.

Similarly, footpaths are often poorly maintained and lighted, and in many cases made uncomfortable because of proximity to fast flows of car traffic.

Recognising the integrated nature of transport issues, the Centre's policies on transport are:
  • An increase in cycleways to public nodes and bike storage areas at those nodes to encourage greater use of the bicycle for short trips. Facilities for bikes on trains and stations to store bicycles also needs to be encouraged.
  • Penalties for use of high fuel consumption vehicles commensurate with their load of pollution, together with education programs which increase awareness of the effects of vehicle pollution on the environment and health of people.
  • Programs to encourage car pooling and car-shared-ownership schemes.
  • A direct transfer of funding from road and car parking development to public transport infrastructures. Signalling systems and track infrastructures for the rail network should be improved and options for transport such as light rail and feeder bus services should be given priority over new road construction. In particular, the Centre is lobbying for CityRail and the Rail Access Corporation to improve the Illawarra Line and increase frequency on the Cronulla line. The Centre is also promoting the Bay Light Express light rail proposal as a way of increasing coverage of the public transport network for short and medium distance trips.
Top of Page

The Vision

We, the people of the southern sector of the Sydney-Wollongong region have a vision of:

An access and transport system that is ecologically sustainable, equitable, maintains the aesthetic characteristics of neighbourhoods and encourages a healthy life style.

We urge federal, state and local governments to work together with private transport providers and community representatives to design a comprehensive transport and access strategy that delivers the policy.This strategy should be formulated over the next twelve months with the aim to deliver within two decades.

We believe that such a strategy is essential in the face of Sydney's continued population growth, the state government's urban consolidation policy, the health impacts and reduced urban amenity caused by the current dominance of car-based life styles, the economic dangers of continued reliance on high fossil fuel consumption, and the inequities built into current access modes.

The strategy should contain the following elements:
  • Upgrade of existing heavy rail infrastructure, and Plans for construction of new rail lines on major trunk routes.
  • Increased frequency of public transport availability.
  • Integrated fares, ticketing and information systems for the whole public transport network.
  • Design of roads and intersections to give priority access to buses.
  • Provision of an integrated network of safe bicycle and pedestrian routes.
  • Increased facilities for bicycles at major centres and on public transport.
  • Integrated urban planning.
  • Secure funding for the continued upgrading and maintenance of public transport systems.
  • Action to end built-in subsidies for road transport.
This document contains a brief discussion of the factors causing access and transport problems in the sector. They range from infrastructure to systemic issues that currently encourage continued growth of road based transport rather than other forms of transport.

It is not our intention to dictate the details of the strategy that should be formulated to provide the people's vision, or to provide an in-depth analysis of the issues. Details will depend on the innovative nature of solutions, technology and resources. We are aware that a multi-modal system must be part of a comprehensive transport infrastructure.

We urge all levels of government, and private transport providers to work together with the community to formulate the strategy. As is clearly recognised in Agenda 21, producing sustainable outcomes occurs best when partnerships between government, business and the community are strong and transparent.

This vision highlights that the underlying motivation for developing transport systems should be to improve access rather than simply providing transport for its own sake.

The community believes that Federal, State and Local Governments should resource this vision in a sustained way, and work towards reviewing those urban and social development factors that continue to give preference to road-based transport.

If you would like a copy of A People's vision for transport and access - the Southern Sydney Sector, please click here here.
Top of Page