Public Transport and Connected Communities

 

The NSW Greens are firmly committed to investing in public transport, and safe cycle and walkway infrastructure. A well designed public transport system reduces emissions, saves money and creates connected communities. Our vision for public transport in the Northern Rivers is a system that is reliable, affordable, regular, and complemented by safe cycleways and walkways. This system will at once reduce our emissions and connect our communities. We’re proud of the work we’ve done in securing an on-demand public transport trial in the Northern Rivers, but this is only the start.

Due to the lack of other transport options, the Northern Rivers is strongly reliant on cars, with over 70% of people reliant on the use of a car in which they’re the only driver. Over half of respondents in a recent transport survey indicated they were unable to make a trip because of the lack of travel options. Most disturbingly, 20% of respondents were unable to travel to a health appointment, with that number rising to 60% for indigenous Australians.

The lack of affordable, reliable and regular public transport costs our communities and our environment. It costs our communities in missed medical appointments, leading to worsening health. It costs in missed social opportunities, leading to isolation. It’s costing in servicing a car and paying for petrol. And, importantly, it costs our environment. We will make transport affordable for all who wish to travel, including those without a car or a licence. By reducing the need for cars, we are reducing the ever-increasing demand for road and parking space.

Emissions from passenger vehicles in Byron Bay alone generate 62,000 tons of greenhouse gasses - nearly two-thirds of Byron Shire’s total transport emissions of 93,000 tons, according to the 2016 report by Zero Emissions Byron.

The NSW Greens are committed to working for reliable, affordable and regular public transport for The Northern Rivers, complemented by safe cycle and walkway options. Our plan will connect communities and help the Northern Rivers transition to a clean energy future.

 

Our plan for public transport and connected communities:  

  • A comprehensive long-term transport strategy
  • Affordable, reliable and regular public transport, connecting all of our Northern Rivers communities
  • Reserving the rail corridor
  • Promoting and providing safe cycleways and walkways
  • Sustainable, emissions-free transport

 

Comprehensive Long-Term Transport Strategy

The Northern Rivers region is being held back by an abandoned transport system, with limited services that are not suitable to handle current needs, let alone meet the needs of our growing communities.

We will prioritise the development and implementation of a comprehensive transport strategy for the Northern Rivers. This comprehensive transport strategy will take into account not only the current needs of the community but also plan for the demands of the future. 

Once developed, we will build this Transport System on principles of accessibility, safety, affordability, efficiency, emission reduction and tourism opportunity.  It will include trains, light rail, electric buses, car sharing, cycleways and walkways.  It will form the basis for public transport for decades and remain adaptable to newer technologies over time.

Ad-hoc planning and lack of funding have left our region’s transport needs under-serviced. We will work with councils and local communities to determine the best way forward for our region’s transport needs. Whatever the right mix is going forward, we will ensure that public transport is affordable, reliable and regular to guarantee connected communities.

 

Our plan will:

  • A long term sustainable strategy that takes into account future growth
  • An end to the ad-hoc chaos and outdated approaches to transport
  • Future-focused development will focus on 100% renewable, emissions-free transportation

 

Affordable, Reliable and Regular Public Transport

Currently, public transport is expensive, infrequent and unreliable. Our policies will connect communities by revitalising our public transport systems to ensure better service connectivity within the region and beyond. We will also invest in active transport infrastructure to ensure that walking, cycling and other activities stay safe.

We will ensure the affordability of public transport by offering free services to students, pensioners, and others receiving Centrelink payments. This will improve the accessibility of public transport and ensure that cost is less of a barrier.

We will increase the frequency of bus services, rolling out more trials of express connections between towns and work to secure permanent increases in the frequency of bus timetables - including providing 24-hour buses within the region from Friday to Sunday. This will improve the reliability of bus services with the aim of complete service connectivity in the region.

Funding is justified because a decent public transport network reduces the need for new roads.  Ewingsdale Road is a classic case.  Instead of duplicating the roadway we can duplicate the transport options available.  Public transport from a Park-n-Ride hub like the Cavanbah Centre would have priority and reach Byron Bay quickly. 

We will develop a comprehensive Public Transport System to improve the movement of our communities and our touring visitors to and through this region. 

 

Our plan will:

  • Bring in 24-hour buses from Friday to Sunday
  • Phase in affordable transport through free public transport for pensioners and students.
  • Mandate complete service connectivity across the region
  • Upgrade buses to have bike racks

 

Reserving Rail

Northern Rivers has inherited a legacy of railroads, which once connected communities across the state. Instead of utilising them, successive governments have allowed them to degrade and decay. We will revitalise our rail links, using them to connect communities across the state as they were always intended to do. We need to make use of this asset in a capacity which will unite the community, rather than continuing to allow it to go unused.

We will retain rail capacity by keeping the rail corridor as public land for the Public Transport System and maintaining the rail tracks and infrastructure until our Comprehensive Transport Strategy is designed, approved and funded. The rail corridor will support further sustainable development, serving as a critical link between villages and towns that offer settlement options, including affordable housing.

 

Our plan will:

  • Use existing rail infrastructure to connect the region
  • Ensure 100% renewable transport on the rail corridor
  • Connect communities with fast, affordable public transport

 

Promote Safer Cycling and Active Transport

Walking, cycling and other active transport modes improve health, produce fewer emissions and are a great way to connect people with nature. The Greens will promote and incentivise cycling, walking and active transport by making our streets safer and investing in cycleways and walkways.

Cyclists and pedestrians should be safe wherever they are, at all times of the day. We’ll work with local groups to prioritise cyclist and pedestrian safety through campaigns to drive behaviour and investments in infrastructure, including crossings and cycleways as appropriate.

Councils have a crucial role in ensuring active transport, and we will continue our partnerships with them to improve existing walkways and cycle routes and create new ones. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia, increasing the cyclability across the region will not only benefit locals but will also increase the attractiveness of the area to tourists.

 

Our plan will:

  • Reduce health costs through promoting active transport
  • Increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Create more routes and improve diversity of transport choices

 

Clean, Emissions-Free Transport

While buses and trains do have a lower emissions intensity when compared to private cars, they still generate emissions and use fossil fuels. The Greens will begin the transformation to emissions-free transport through trialling clean transport options in Northern Rivers.

We will develop and co-fund proposals for clean energy, low emissions busses - putting together a $2.5 million fund and developing a proposal to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to trial electric and biodiesel-powered busses in the area, in partnership with councils and the local community.

While a modest beginning, the ultimate goal will be to ensure that our public transport infrastructure is running on 100% renewables. Future options of renewable-powered energy could include electric rains running along a multi-use rail corridor with electric buses and electric bikes feeding into the route.

 

Our plan will:

  • Decrease transport emissions with low emission buses helping clean the air
  • Guarantee 100% renewable public transport will increase the demand for batteries and bring down costs across the board by providing security of supply
  • Provide potential opportunities for local growers if biodiesel is used