NSW transport ‘hiring freeze’

Millions of dollars will be stripped from the operating budgets of NSW’s government-owned transport agencies, Fairfax Media is reporting.

Quoting ‘a briefing note to staff obtained by Fairfax Media’ from Transport for NSW secretary Tim Reardon, the department’s deputy secretaries have been told that operating budgets for all the state’s transport divisions have been cut by 15 percent for this financial year.

“Over the last six years in Transport for NSW we have made savings to meet our requirements, however our [operating expenditure] costs have increased,” the note is quoted as saying. One result of this is an immediate freeze on hiring casual staff or creating any new permanent positions.

Transport for NSW would seem to be a victim of its own success. Sydney Trains have reported a 15 percent increase in patronage over the last 12 months, leading to severe overcrowding on some lines. Buses and ferries also have more passengers.

The state’s transport budget is under strain with the cost of Sydney’s new Metro line and upgrades to existing train and bus services.

Predictably, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) is not happy. The union’s NSW Secretary, Alex Claassens, issued an immediate statement that said the cuts will result in a serious decline in services.

“Revelations today that the NSW Government is stripping hundreds of millions from transport agencies prove the NSW Government has no interest at all in improving public transport in the state,” Claassens said.

“This is just another example of Transport Minister, Andrew Constance’s complete incompetence. On top of all of the horrendous transport decisions he’s made lately, now he’s shown that he can’t manage his budget either.

“The people of NSW deserve a world-class transport system. They’re not going to get it while this Minister is in charge. How the Minister thinks you can strip millions of dollars out of an operation and expect it to continue working as usual is beyond me.”

There has been no official announcement of the cuts from the NSW Government.

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