The Guardian October 11, 2000


Now the Olympics cost:
Transport services at risk

by Peter Mac

Even before the afterglow of the Olympics had faded, the real cost of 
hosting the Olympic Games was becoming evident, with the news last week 
that cuts to Sydney's City Rail services are under serious consideration. 
The cuts could include less frequent services, longer stops at busy 
stations, and train changes for commuters from outlying suburbs.

The changes have been justified on the basis of sacrificing service for 
reliability, even though the rail system is no longer facing the extreme 
demands it experienced  and met admirably  during the Olympics.

As the Atlanta Games so disastrously revealed, there was in fact no 
alternative to public transport as a means of getting spectators to the 
main Olympic games sites, especially given Sydney's radial form, which 
makes transport planning particularly difficult.

However, the lessons in public transport planning which the Games provided 
are being quietly put to one side. Despite the obvious superiority of 
public over private transport as a means of transporting large numbers of 
people on regular journeys, public funding is now to be increasingly 
directed to road construction.

This week Federal Cabinet is expected to approve a proposal to fund 
construction of major new local roads in regional areas as well as the 
massive Sydney orbital tollway, despite the inefficiency and environmental 
costs of such projects.

The high-speed rail project under consideration to link Sydney and Canberra 
is under a cloud, because the Department of Finance has released figures 
which indicate that the public would have to underwrite construction by 
private firms to the tune of at least one billion dollars.

And in a final blow to rational transport planning, the Howard Government 
is no longer backing plans for a second airport at Badgery's Creek.

Instead, it wants to expand operations at Kingsford-Smith, thereby 
increasing the noise and air pollution for the majority of Sydney's 
population, and increasing the risk of a catastrophic accident.

Oh brave new world, that hath such people in it!

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