Business and community confidence in the New South Wales economy – which accounts for almost one third of national economic activity – should be boosted with the release of the Draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan, Business Council of Australia President Tony Shepherd said.
Mr Shepherd said with NSW population expected to grow to 9 million by 2050, including 7 million in Sydney, the plan would provide a long overdue guide to much needed and actionable solutions to transport challenges in the state.
“Sydney’s transport system is obviously in urgent need of an overhaul. Congestion is causing mounting costs and inconvenience for business and the community, and is holding up the transport of our goods for export which is a major handbrake on our productivity,” Mr Shepherd said.
“The state’s fast growing regional centres also desperately need a long-term plan for road, rail and port infrastructure so communities could be reassured that economic growth would benefit them.
“The NSW Government is clearly going down the right path in preparing a comprehensive and integrated transport plan for the next 20 years and engaging the community by releasing it for public comment.
Mr Shepherd said business expected the final plan due later this year would mark out a strategy for the funding and prioritisation of projects under the plan.
The government should give consideration to sourcing new funds to pay for the plan through the privatisation of government assets over time and the use of user pay approaches.
“There is no harm in borrowing to pay for these projects if the cost–benefit analysis shows large gains down the track. The private sector stands ready as a critical partner for developing this ambitious but greatly needed plan for infrastructure provision,” he said.
“It is pleasing to see that integration is at the heart of this plan so infrastructure and land use decisions are made together, and that transport corridors that will be important in the future are being planned for now.”
Mr Shepherd said the final plan should outline how projects would be measured for their performance in reducing travel times while also catering for increased traffic volumes.
He called on the state government to prioritise new projects according to clear assessments of their net economic and social benefits.