OPINION

Clayton Barr: Raising the Barr | NSW transport system might be funny if it were an episode in a political comedy

Raising the Barr: Transport system might be funny if it were an episode in a political comedy

In our part of the state, we don't have access to the wide range of public transport options like they do in Sydney.

We have a set of bus services offered by several local providers and we have trains skimming through the edge of our area, at Branxton and Greta.

Meanwhile in Sydney they have the full complement of transport options. There are normal trains and then there are the driverless trains (called the Metro) not to mention light rail systems (trams) as well.

There are of course buses too and then there are the ferries and river cats that use the waterways to move people around.

During recent years, there have been many billions of dollars tipped into Sydney transport projects and there have been many billions of dollars of additional money tipped in because of cost blow-outs.

In real terms, Sydney is receiving the equivalent money in transport infrastructure projects as 10 Hunter Expressways every year. On one single Metro project, the blow-out of $4 billion, was an "error" that equalled more than two HEXs.

No doubt you have heard the Premier say that we can't build trains in Australia, and so those billions of dollars have been spent in Korea, Spain, India and China, ensuring that those countries have a skilled workforce while our kids can't find a trade.

But it's worth noting that the tunnels being built for one rail system are too low and small for another part of the train system, which means that we can't mix-and-match on the different lines because some of our equipment won't fit through.

A few months back we learnt that the new ferries, being built in Indonesia, providing their people with terrific jobs, won't safely fit under our bridges, meaning that top decks will need to be cleared of people at each bridge.

And in this past week we have found out that these ferries have been imported into Australia with the deadly asbestos built into them and that they won't be able to reverse when required.

These billions of dollars of errors, failure of designs, and the employment of workers in foreign countries instead of our own, are just part of the story in transport.

We also had the terrible situation a few years back when one of the new ferries was named "Ferry McFerryface" with the Minister assuring us that it had won a popular public vote. We later found out that the champion Australian, Ian Kiernan had in fact received four times as many votes, but that the Minister had made a "captain's call" because he thought it would be funny.

I am not seeing too much to laugh about in the transport space, but if it were an episode of Utopia or Hollowmen, great comedies on the ABC, then these ridiculous scenarios would definitely have made me laugh.

  • Clayton Barr is the State MP for Cessnock. Contact his office on (02) 4991 1466 or email cessnock@parliament.nsw.gov.au.

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