20 December 2016
To Gareth Ward MP
Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Parliament House
6 Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Dear Mr. Ward,
At its most recent meeting, the Thirroul Village Committee decided that I should make this written representation to you on the Committee’s behalf.
The Committee is sure that you will agree that the Illawarra, with its evolving economic and employment issues, needs a low-cost, reliable and convenient transport system to access education and employment opportunities in the Sydney Basin. Also, in consideration of the contribution that motor vehicle emissions make to global warming, we take it for granted that your Government sees the need to promote the development of a safe and reliable public transport system.
With this need for a greater reliance on public transport and the benefits it provides to the community, the 13 % drop in passenger numbers over recent years in this area is alarming, especially when compared to a 23% increase state wide. The reasons for this decline must, in part, result from changes made by your Government. Clearly, the changes made in 2013 timetable and the resultant impacts on traffic, parking and commuter behaviour are well recognised by the community as contributing to this decline.
In this situation it is perplexing that the Government appears to support and promote a public transport policy that requires the construction of car parks and increased usage of private cars to access railway stations.
It is extremely disappointing that recent decisions to again reduce the number of Austinmer peak travel options, while refusing to consider possible stops at Bulli, appear to be based on a policy that accepts, or even encourages, the need for commuters to travel further to stations by private motor car. Indeed the policy encourages many to bypass this area entirely, and drive to the outer suburbs of Sydney in search of satisfactory access to their essential commuter services.
Specifically, could you please explain why the number of express services stopping at Austinmer station in the evening is now in effect half of those that were available in the morning? It would seem better practice to match the number of commuter services leaving a station in the morning with those returning in the evening.
At a recent meeting in your office, we were told that it had been easier to make extra express stops only at Austinmer, because there are many more "operational contingencies" to cope with extra stops at Bulli. The Committee requests that you provide a substantive explanation of these “contingencies”.
More broadly, we suggest that further consideration be given to the ongoing population growth that is being driven, in part by, the northern Illawarra's popularity with commuters. This growth is occurring in the context of an inadequate road system, which is still limited to single lane access, in a setting where Thirroul’s location, as the closest beach to the burgeoning population near Appin and south western Sydney, further exacerbates traffic problems.
We believe you have a key role in improving services within this area, yet it appears that the increasing demand is not recognised and services are effectively degrading. Could you please advise as to the steps you are taking to address our concerns?
Thirroul Village Committee