“Extending the privately operated M5 or building the M6 southbound are not in the long term interests of St George commuters,” says Brent Heber, Greens candidate for Kogarah in the NSW election, due in March next year.
“The Baird government’s proposals would cut a swathe more than 20 metres wide through the environmentally sensitive Barton Park and Muddy Creek wetlands and parklands in addition to cutting up Scarborough Park,” Mr Heber said.
“Most importantly the funds for the project are only on the table if the government goes ahead with the sale of our State’s ‘poles and wires’, which will leave us with little say in how clean or how costly our electricity will become in the future. So we’ll be paying more for electricity and more on road tolls.
“Far better would be to spend moderate public funds improving our existing rail and bus services with a handful of strategic initiatives. Firstly, the rail services to our area were cut by the recent train timetable at a time when patronage is through the roof and road use has dropped off, it makes no sense. Those services need to be restored and added to, not cut.
“Second, a Park and Ride facility at Kingsgrove would give many M5 commuters a “last chance” to escape the tunnel and jump onto a train, pulling more cars off our roads and out of the city.”
In addition to enhancing existing commuter service, Mr Heber advocates a light rail system which would create permanent jobs in the St George area.
“Long term, the best idea is to extend the Bay Light Express from Cronulla to the city which could provide regular services throughout St George around the bay where there is a public transport hole,” Mr Heber said.
“Light-rail can be built for roughly a quarter of the cost of a four-lane motorway, is more reliable, and would be less environmentally disruptive. It would also create permanent jobs locally and support our local retailers.”
“Studies have clearly shown that building more roads just adds more traffic and congestion long term, a fact brushed under the carpet by Duncan Gay and Mike Baird. There are a multitude of better alternatives than indebting St George residents to more privately owned and operated motorways.”