NORTHERN Rivers motorists will have to fork out $30 a year to pay for the NSW Government’s new Sydney transport plan.
The plan, released at the weekend, includes upgrades of the capital’s train and bus networks, and comes as communities on the State’s Far North Coast struggle with limited public transport and as the region’s train line slowly disintegrates from lack of use.
State Ballina MP Don Page yesterday lashed the expense being put on Northern Rivers motorists – who will have a $30 levy attached to their car registration – as ‘unfair’.
“The Casino to Murwillumbah train line has been closed since 2004 and now North Coast residents are going to be expected to pay for Sydney’s transport infrastructure,” Mr Page said.
“The NSW Labor Government’s latest transport plan adds salt to the wound for North Coast residents.”
Mr Page said the $200 million the Government was expected to blow in axing its plan for a CBD metro in Sydney could easily have covered the restoration of the Casino-Murwillumbah branch line and paid for the trains to put on it.
Rail lobby group Trains On Our Tracks president Karin Kolbe initially said she was ‘speechless at the audacity’ of the Government’s decision to make Northern Rivers residents pay for transport infrastructure 800km away in Sydney.
Ms Kolbe agreed Sydney needed a transport overhaul, but said the Northern Rivers’ needs were no less pressing.
“An uninformed viewer might look at us and say ‘yes, you can get around’, but that’s not understanding the distances we have to travel,” Ms Kolbe said.
“And that wouldn’t understand that if you don’t have a car you can’t get around at all.”
OUR GIFT TO SYDNEY
NORTHERN Rivers residents will chip in to help pay for a whopping $50 billion in transport projects, including:
• A $4.5 billion Western Express CityRail service to western Sydney.
• A $500 million expansion of the current light rail system with up to 20 new stations and 10km of new track.
• A $2.9 billion initiative to include 1000 new buses in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Central Coast.
• $3.1 billion for new trains, in addition to 626 carriages on order.
• $158 million in cycleways.
• More than $400 million in commuter car parks.
• $225 million for Sydney ferries, with six new vessels.
• $536 million for motorway planning, transit corridor reservations and land acquisition for future projects.
• The creation of a Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority to drive future transit-orientated development and urban renewal.