Bring public transport under one authority: Livingstone

City Talk
Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese; Lord Mayor Clover Moore; and former Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, at the City of Sydney's City Talk.




By Angela Dorizas

Sydney needs an integrated metropolitan transport plan to reduce carbon emissions and prevent gridlock, according to the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

During his eight years as mayor, from 2000 to 2008, Livingstone was responsible for a number of controversial initiatives designed to tackle congestion and a growing carbon footprint.

On a visit to Australia, hosted by the City of Sydney, Livingstone said the best measure Sydney could take was to bring all metropolitan transport into one organisation accountable to the mayor.

“I know everyone is always obsessed with the congestion charge, but that is a relatively small part of what turned London around,” Livingstone said in a press conference ahead of his public talk.

“When Tony Blair’s government reformed the transport system it brought about 90 per cent of all the transport operations into one organisation.

“In 2000, 48 per cent of journeys were by car and today it’s down to 44 per cent.”

He said the integrated transport system should remain in public hands under the authority of “one high profile person”.

“You therefore have someone the public can identify, who is responsible for it working.”

Livingstone said it was “unbelievable” that Sydney did not have an integrated ticketing system, like London’s successful Oyster card.

“The card will automatically charge you the cheapest fare for every journey and you never have to queue again,” he said.

“I just can’t tell you how much it’s changed people’s lives.”

He also recommended that local and state governments encourage cycling and walking throughout the Sydney.

“Make it a city where it’s a pleasure to walk and cycle – that’s the key issue,” he said.

“I’ve always loved being in Sydney – the people, the style, the food and the views – but crossing the bloody road is a disgrace.

“I haven’t found another city where I was forced to wait so long to cross the road.”

Livingstone said he was not in a position to comment on whether Sydney should also introduce a congestion tax, but explained why it was necessary for London.

“London had the worst congestion of any city in Western Europe,” he said.

“The business community was warning me that we were two to three years away from gridlock and firms leaving the city. We had to do it.

“This isn’t revolutionary. This is sensible reform for making a pleasant city.”

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, said government needed to address the city’s transport system before congestion tax could be introduced.

“We need one body responsible for transport, we need plan for Sydney that everyone understands and is consulted about, we need a commitment to funding for that, we need to take immediate action and then make some long term commitments to solve our problems,” she said.

“I think there’s a degree of dissolution in the Sydney community now because of the lack of transport planning and policy.”

A podcast of Ken Livingstone's public address is available on the City of Sydney website.

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