Imagine you have a specialist’s appointment in the centre of Sydney. Do you take the train? Or do you you drive? If the toll structure flagged for the F6 extension is to be believed, the train will be the way to go.
Ten bucks each way, then add parking, fuel and frustration once you come off the F6 extension and enter the fray of Sydney traffic – you’re better off on the train.
And if the toll doubles, as it’s suggested it will? You’d be a mug to drive.
This scenario is based on a single return trip to the big smoke. Imagine the hip-pocket damage if you’re one of the commuters who lives on the South Coast but works in the big smoke. If the rail system didn’t get you to work on time, you’d be looking for a gig closer to home.
When NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was in the region recently, she said public transport was an essential ingredient in the infrastructure mix.
We agree and while thankful for the great improvements to the Princes Highway north of Nowra and eagerly awaiting the Albion Park bypass, we feel more needs to done to ensure rail is improved all the way from Bomaderry to Central.
In recent weeks we have seen a number of documents flushed out by Fairfax Media that suggest improving rail links is a sound strategy. We’ve also seen the enormous cost involved in concentrating on roads alone – a cost now shown will be borne largely by motorists.
The lack of reliable public transport will always hold a region back. If our children are to have access to decent education and the opportunity that follows, improved public transport is a must. If we are take full advantage of cheaper housing on the South Coast, and ease the demands on Sydney, travel times between here and the city must be vastly reduced. And they must be affordable.
Crippling tolls to pay for yet another motorway will not serve anyone in the long term if there is no alternative. A 21st century rail connection would provide that alternative. So while we are heartened to hear opposition spokesperson on the Illawarra Ryan Park say Labor will prioritise rail, we’d like to hear it from the government as well. After all, it controls the purse strings and, as it keeps telling us, is flush with cash.
The sooner we get on with it, the better. Just as we’re weaning ourselves off fossil fuels, we need to be balancing our addiction to massive tollways with better public transport.
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