By Lilia Guan
The New South Wales has announced it will legislate for a joint State-City of Sydney committee to take control of transport and traffic planning in Sydney’s central business district.
Mr O’Farrell said the NSW Government, on behalf of CBD workers, businesses, residents and visitors the government will establish a Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee, to be responsible for coordinating plans and policies for public transport and traffic within central Sydney.
“Transport issues in the Sydney CBD have a far broader impact on the state’s economic activity – we need to ensure both levels of Government are working together to deliver the best results for the state’s economy,” he said.
“Currently the NSW Government and Council share transport and roads responsibilities and there is ad hoc coordination between the two levels of Government.
“The Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee will, for the first time, bring all traffic and transport decision-making under the one umbrella.
Mr O’Farrell said the NSW Government was in disagreement with the Council on a number of transport issues including; speed limits and car
access to the CBD; the provision of layover space for buses; the extension of the network of bikeways; and the extension of low-speed shared zones.
“[Sydney City] mayor’s vision of the CBD is at odds with Sydney’s position as a global city,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“The majority of people coming to the CBD for work or to dine, shop or attend shows, do not live in the CBD – they rely on public transport and car parking to access it, they can’t ride a bike.
“Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee will be chaired by the Director General of Transport for NSW, Les Wielinga, and include an additional three members nominated by the state government and three by the council.”
However City of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore said she was surprised about the Premier’s announcement.
“I am interested in finding out how it will differ from current working arrangements, given the City has limited powers and the NSW Government already has to approve all of the City’s transport projects – including all bike routes,” she said.
“The City has neither stopped anything the state has sought to improve transport, nor has the City done anything without state approval.
“This Committee has more State representatives than City representatives and is open and accountable to the public. We hope the Premier isn’t planning to take this behind closed doors.”
She said unless this new panel has any authority or funding to take action, it will be in danger of becoming just another level of bureaucracy.
Urban Taskforce Australia (a property development industry group) believes the joint state/local government transport committee announced by Premier O’Farrell is a model that can be replicated in urban areas across the state.
The non-profit organisation’s chief executive officer, Chris Johnson said the Urban Taskforce suggested a series of joint regional panels to ensure state leadership with local involvement, in its submission to the local government review, Destination 2036.
“The Central Sydney Planning Committee has been a successful model for combining state and local interests and it can be replicated in other areas,” he said.
“The prosperity of the state cannot be delegated to local governments who are focussed mainly on their local voters.
“It is essential that a bigger picture and long term approach is taken in planning and managing the growth of the state and joint governance led by the state and involving local government is a good model.”
Can state governments and councils work together in fixing congested roads, without being bogged down by bureacracy?
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