Poor transport links costing Illawarra businesses millions

Poor road and rail connections to Sydney are costing Illawarra businesses $150 million a year, according to a report to be released this week.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report was commissioned by the Illawarra Business Chamber (IBC) after a member survey late last year.

‘‘We surveyed the members last year and got 160 responses and 95 per cent of them said transport connectivity to Sydney – road and rail – was really an issue to them,’’ chamber CEO Debra Murphy said.

The report also shows the Illawarra’s transport connectivity lags behind other similar regions in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

Based on an assessment of the network coverage and service quality, the report claims Illawarra’s transport links score 25 to 30 per cent lower than these other regions.

“This report highlights the daily costs to business in the Illawarra from having poor transport links to Sydney and within the region,’’ Ms Murphy said.

‘‘If the speed and frequency of existing transport services were improved to at least the average observed in other similar regions across Australia, the annual savings and benefits would be at least $150 million per annum.”

The full report will be discussed at an IBC lunch on Friday, with a panel made up of Infrastructure NSW CEO Jim Betts, Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka and Mark Streeting from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Ms Murphy said the time had passed to ‘‘whinge’’ about the Illawarra missing out; it was now time to work out how to fix the problem.

‘‘Really that’s the purpose of Friday, to sit down and say how can we do things differently,’’ she said.

‘‘Lets stop being on our hobby horse and comparing ourselves to the Hunter and saying ‘woe is us’ – the poor cousin mentality that we seem to have.

‘‘Let’s actually put some good research together. Let’s discuss it with the powers that be in the room – that’s what’s happening on Friday – and then let’s work out what is important for us and how we can do it differently.’’