Transport master plan 'light on details'

Extending the F6 to Sydney Airport has been targeted as a "missing link" in the state's road system, according to the NSW government's Draft Transport Master Plan.

"We will progress a motorway project between St Peters near Sydney Airport and Loftus in Sydney's south," the master plan said.

The extension is one of six such "missing links" in the road system - the plan states that Infrastructure NSW would advise which motorway project would be first to get the green light.

However, Illawarra residents shouldn't expect work to begin any time soon.

The plan calls the extension a "long-term priority" of the O'Farrell government, which places it in a 10 to 20-year time frame.

The master plan is light on details of the planned projects, some of which, like the F6 extension, have been mooted for more than a decade.

There are no start times specified, nor any explanation of the costs or how the government would pay for them.

It is understood that these issues will be addressed in the Long-Term Transport Master Plan, due in December this year.

Looking even further into the future, the plan touches on the possibility of a road linking Wollongong and western Sydney, saying a transport corridor had been reserved for this purpose.

Beyond the extension, the master plan identified Wollongong as a regional city with a growing population that needed "faster and more efficient links to Sydney" because of steadily worsening congestion issues.

"Without any action, this congestion will get worse and will start to impose costs on local businesses and impede economic activity," the plan said.

The plan also makes mention of the poor public transport system in Wollongong and the high level of car ownership.

"The city has few significant east-west transport links and a poorly integrated bus network," it said.

"Outer areas of the Wollongong metropolitan area are only connected with central Wollongong by road. Public transport in the northern and southern suburbs of the city is particularly poor."

It also says what many rail commuters already know, that the train trip to Sydney is too long, and adds that Wollongong needs more frequent trains services, especially during the evenings and weekends.

To rectify the city's public transport issues, the master plan proposes, in the short term, to "strengthen bus operations in major centres, as well as connections between those centres".

"This will occur through the development of the Regional Transport Plan and network and timetable reviews."

It added these reviews of train timetables "will deliver faster travel times and greater travel reliability between Wollongong and Sydney. We will support these rail services with an integrated bus service."

Given Port Kembla's growth, the plan stresses that "further rail freight access planning is required to ensure that landside freight connections are improved and enhanced to service this expansion.

"Rail access to Port Kembla is increasingly constrained, including the Port Kembla branch line servicing the outer harbour where the expansion proposal is focused."

The draft master plan left Keira MP Ryan Park unimpressed. He believes the O'Farrell government had all but ignored the Illawarra.

"The Illawarra is one of the largest commuter corridors in the country, with over 20,000 people travelling out of the area each day, yet here we have a government who has announced an unfunded plan with no projects that will help the region," Mr Park said.

"They talked about everything from fast trains to enhancing local road infrastructure, yet here we have a plan that offers very little for the region."


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