The recent NSW state election that saw Labor come to power promises a fresh start in tackling the many challenges facing the state. One of the biggest challenges in the state of Transport for NSW, and its addiction to toll roads. Better Streets, is focused on sustainable and equitable transport solutions, with a focus on equal access to streets for all people, by a wider range of modes including walking, cycling, and public transport.
Better Streets supports the idea of using motorways more fairly, particularly if they achieve their intended purpose of reclaiming space on local roads. By removing motor vehicles from local streets communities can benefit with slower-paced streets that are safer to cross and give room for children to walk and cycle comfortably to school.
Better Streets suggests two ways that the toll-holiday promise of the new government could be built upon to strengthen equity of access for Western Sydneysiders, as well as mitigate the risk of induced traffic.
Firstly, free up the surface streets that the motorways decongest. This can be achieved by:
Secondly, reallocate road space on these streets to other uses, such as bus priority, cycleways, extend the walking space and businesses. This can be be used to improve the streets scape, provide space for local street art, trees in pots, local businesses to spill out on the spare space.
Note: Councils have just been given this temporary delegation under the Roads Act, giving them more control of minor works on their streets.
Thirdly, reduce the financial burden equally across modes, to encourage and sustain more sustainable (equitable, and environmental) travel patterns. This can be done by offering a discount on parallel bus and train lines for trips over 10km, reducing the number of fare bands and reviewing all rates, and offering a discount on bus fares in Regions 1 to 3 (Western Sydney).
In London, a flat fee bus ticket resulted in a 16% rise in bus patronage even as fare revenue (i.e., costs to passengers) dropped about 9%. A single fare also speeds up buses since people don’t need to tap off.
Consider increasing bus services in Western Sydney public transport on key routes to at least 4 services per hour, ideally 6 per hour, can speed up buses through bus priority lanes and flat fares.
In conclusion, the Better Streets suggests that the new NSW government focus on creating sustainable, equitable, and environmental transport solutions as a priority focus for Transport for NSW. By building upon the toll-holiday promise and reallocating road space to other uses, reducing speeds, as well as reducing the financial burden of buses and increasing bus services, we can create a better transport system for all NSW residents. It's time to prioritise people over cars and make our streets more accessible, safe, and enjoyable for everyone.