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!