Gladys Berejiklian speaks about the future of transport in Sydney’s north at RBF breakfast

Hyecorp Property GroupThe Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, Member for Willoughby and NSW Minister for Transport, has a soft spot for Ryde; she grew up here, and the audience at this morning’s keynote speaker breakfast sponsored by Hyecorp Property Group was full of familiar faces for her. Full of familiar challenges, too, with Ryde being a central location for people to commute into work from across Sydney.  Many people working in Macquarie Park live outside the area.

“By 2021 there will be 90,000 jobs in the Ryde area,” Gladys told around 70 RBF members and guests. “We want to encourage people to use public transport and integrated transport such as biking to a train station. We want to introduce innovative transport solutions.”

North West Rail Link and its impact on Ryde

Gladys Berejiklian with local Chamber presidents

L-R Nigel Kelty (Epping Chamber), Eddie Reginato (NSW Business Chamber), Andrew Hill (Ryde Business Forum), the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, Tony Abboud (Ryde Chamber), David Tompkins (West Ryde Chamber)

Community consultation has told the NSW Government that when the the North West Rail Link is built 30% of its commuters will want to get off at Macquarie Park/North Ryde.  The line will  have a positive impact on the Ryde area allowing people from outside Ryde to get to work more easily, and lessen the traffic burden in the Macquarie Park area. Tunnel boring machines for the rail link will be ready to start work by 2014.

Other outcomes from community consultation has seen commuter car parking spaces on the Rail Link increase from 3,000 to 4,000 and eight stations in the north west instead of six.

After our breakfast Gladys was heading to Sydney’s north west to released the second environmental impact statement on the Rail Link, which will show what the new stations will look like.

“Ryde is a very important part of Sydney and public transport is part of a strategy to help Ryde achieve full potential,” Gladys said.

Transport Master Plan – have your say

The NSW Government has consolidated ten different transport bodies into one to better manage integrated transport – going to where people live, play and work; looking after rail, road, freight. Gladys said her department has spent a year developing a draft transport master plan, the goal of which is make sure trains, buses and ferries work together. The plan is expected to be in a final state by the end of December this year. Feedback is still welcome on what we want in Ryde and RBF encourages members to contact us and let us know so we can collate feedback on business’ behalf and submit it for you. The Transport Master Plan has already attracted 2,000 written submissions and been downloaded around 9,000 times.

Ryde’s hotspots are included in that transport plan, Gladys said, with the government considering rapid bus transport or light rail for Victoria Road. The concept of the F3 and M2 link is also being considered, with Transurban offering a proposal. The NSW Government is buying land to cater for this development.

Kaylar Michaelian from Hyecorp Property Group thanked Gladys on behalf of RBF’s members and guests.

As Integrated Transport was quite a topic at our breakfast, Andrew Parker from Optus said a few words about Optus’ recent successful Ride to Work Day and encouraged business owners to support cycling to work and other means of reducing traffic.

Questions by guests at the breakfast

Guests were invited to ask questions at the event. If you would like to ask Gladys a question that isn’t mentioned here, contact us and give us your question by 10 November 2012. We will collate all questions, send to Gladys and print her replies here for the benefit of all RBF members.

John Booth, TWT:  Why is the government planning single deck trains for the rail link? These trains cannot be integrated with other parts of rail network.

Answer: Gladys believes double decker trains were best while she was in the shadow ministry but has been researching the topic since the state election and has changed her mind. Single decks can run twelve services an hour, double deck trains can only run four services an hour. One reason is the length of time it takes to load passengers on and off. The concept of changing trains at Chatswood for the city circle and north shore should be no different to changing trains at Central, which 100,000 people do every day. Chatswood will have trains to the Sydney CBD every three minutes.We are the only major city in the world without single deck carriages, Gladys said. Double decker trains are fine for longer distances but single are better for moving people around in an urban environment.

Sabrina Ferguson, Ryde Business Forum: In Paris the metro is single decker and you can expect a train every three minutes. It’s a fantastic service and it’s great to hear Sydney will have something similar. However, Paris is a more compact city than sprawling Sydney, and its metro carriages don’t have many seats. Expecting people to stand for up to 45 minutes might not make the train alternative attractive.

Answer: Firstly the single deck trains will have plenty of seats; the carriages can be configured with as many or as few seats as is necessary. Secondly because 30% of  commuters will be getting off in Ryde they won’t be standing for long if they don’t get a seat.

Charles Kilby, Aussie Home Loans Ryde: What about parking for the M2 and train commuters at Macquarie park?

Answer: Gladys to get back to him on this one.

Cr Roy Maggio, City of Ryde: Are you going to improve service on the waterways?

Answer: The government has restored 165 weekly ferry services. It is doing a network review to see where the demand is. It has also franchised Sydney ferries and is still looking at ways to increase and improve ferry services. Patronage on ferries is increasing now the services to popular stops has been increased. Ideas for improving services down the river will be announced soon. An independent body sets the fares, approved by Gladys, so the private company can’t increase the prices. The government has improved bus and ferry connection so they match up better.

Andrew Hill, STARStv:  I have recently visited Singapore and it has a brilliant taxi service. Always taxis when you need them.The drivers are locals who really know the area, often retired people on a second career. Why can’t we have a good taxi service here?

Answer: Taxi drivers do it tough here in NSW as running a taxi is expensive. Each taxi plate is worth about $400-$500k. If you put too many taxis on the road it devalues the plates. There are guidelines around driving taxis, and standards to keep up. The taxi industry is vigilant about improving standards.

Wayne Abrahams, North Ryde RSL: I live in Epping and commuter parking for the train is now encroaching for blocks around the station. People are even parking on the edges of Epping and catching a bus to the train station because they can’t park any closer.

Answer: Epping is a major hub with commuter parking problems, one of many being assessed by the Government.

Andrew Hill, STARStv:  The North Ryder shuttle service is free and put on by the City of Ryde. Can the state government do something similar for free to lessen the commuter parking problems?

Answer: There will be no new free services, Gladys believes people should make a contribution. The government has a commitment to not increasing fares until there is a substantial improvement in the transport network.

David Tompkins, West Ryde Chamber of Commerce: West Ryde also has the parking problem around the station, and has major works underway at the shopping centre, meaning there is less parking in West Ryde right now than ever.

Answer: The Transport Master Plan looks at integrated transport, eg bike to train station, and Gladys has noticed an increase in cycling commuters and bikes being left at train stations. She is happy to talk to local groups with transport issues. The government has announced nine new commuter car park and Gladys is happy to have more, possibly with private sector involvement.

Morell Boyce, Ryde Business Forum: What about fostering a coastal shipping service between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane? This would help get trucks off the road. Also, what of the sale of blocks of land in Macquarie Park?

Answer:  Gladys has talked about the ‘blue highway’ with Duncan Gay, Road Minister, and the idea is being considered. She will also be considering the blocks of land as Macquarie Park is an important business region for NSW.

(Questions and answers are provided as accurately as we could record them. If you asked a question and believe it is reproduced incorrectly here, please contact Sabrina Ferguson and it will be rectified.)

Photos from the event are here:

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Disclaimer: Ryde Business Forum is not associated with nor does it support any political party.