The NSW government did no research on the effects on parking at train stations before it launched its new train timetable last year.
The government released the timetable on October 20, claiming it would create faster travel times for commuters.
But the timetable meant express trains stopped at just two stations between North Wollongong and Sutherland – Thirroul and Helensburgh – with local services running to intervening stations.
Many commuters have ignored the local services and are driving to Thirroul and Helensburgh where they park their cars all day.
This has led to a massive increase in cars parked at both stations, causing problems for residents as well as commuters.
According to information supplied to the Mercury after a Freedom of Information request, Transport for NSW did not consider the flow-on effects of parking when working on the revamped timetable.
The Mercury made a request for ‘‘any and all reports, research and analysis’’ into the effects the timetable would have on parking at Thirroul and other stations in the Illawarra.
The government’s official response was that there was ‘‘no information’’ relating to this issue.
This week Transport for NSW was asked whether this meant no research was carried out, but a spokesman instead highlighted a key aim of the timetable.
‘‘The timetable was designed to encourage customers living close to smaller stations between North Wollongong and Helensburgh to catch services to connect to express trains, rather than driving to major stations,’’ the spokesman said.
Keira MP and opposition spokesman for the Illawarra Ryan Park said it ‘‘beggars belief’’ that no research into parking was done.
‘‘Commuter car parks and parking around major hubs like Thirroul are absolutely critical and one of the big problems with this timetable change is that it has not taken into consideration the existing infrastructure, such as new commuter car parks at Woonona and Austinmer and also where there are already challenges with car parking as we’ve seen in Thirroul.’’
Thirroul area neighbourhood forum convener Stephen Kennard has been a critic of the new timetable since its introduction.
While he said it wasn’t possible for the government to foresee every possibility, Mr Kennard felt it should have researched the parking situation.
‘‘In truth, it should have been fairly obvious that Thirroul is a hub for people to come to,’’ Mr Kennard said.
‘‘Also, in the old timetable, through trains stopped at Bulli and Austinmer and when they took those stations out it should have been obvious what would happen.’’