An Illawarra MP has called on the state’s transport minister to “get out of his ministerial car” and go for a ride on a notoriously jam-packed South Coast Line train service, so he can speak directly with fed-up commuters and experience the overcrowding firsthand.
Labor’s Illawarra spokesman Ryan Park has written to the NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, inviting him to take a trip on the 3.24pm train from Central to Kiama – on a weekday of his choosing – and “jump on board” the ongoing issue of overcrowded services.
Mr Park, who is also the Member for Keira, said the invitation came on the back of Mr Constance’s reluctance to personally respond to the issue, instead “delegating the task to a junior member of the Liberal government”.
In his letter to the minister, seen by the Mercury, Mr Park said he was regularly contacted by commuters “regarding their safety, discomfort and frustration about this [3.24pm train] and other similar afternoon services from Sydney to Wollongong.”
“The 3.24pm service is so crowded passengers stand for the entire duration of their journey, on the stairs and in the aisles, for more than an hour every day,” the MP’s correspondence said.
Earlier this year, the Mercury reported some South Coast Line train services were so crowded that commuters were forced to use the toilet as a seat.
The passengers’ predicament – aired by Mr Park’s Labor colleague, Wollongong MP Paul Scully, during a speech in the NSW Parliament – came at a time when figures from Transport for NSW showed South Coast trains were getting more crowded.
Read more: No more carriages for South Coast Line
The worst South Coast Line services for overcrowding are the four-carriage trains that leave Central at 3.24pm and 3.54pm on weekdays.
The minister has been asked to accompany Mr Park on the 3.24pm train and speak with commuters along the way, before alighting at Thirroul.
“To my knowledge the minister has never travelled on the 3.24pm service from Central to Thirroul, so I doubt he can really understand what it is like to experience overcrowding every day,” Mr Park told the Mercury.
“As the minister responsible, Andrew Constance needs to get out of his ministerial car and experience firsthand the appalling conditions he expects commuters to endure.
“I am willing to work with the minister’s busy schedule to identify a weekday afternoon of his choice to share this experience with me and the hard-working commuters of the Illawarra.”
The Mercury asked Mr Constance’s office if he would accept the invitation and also comment on the South Coast overcrowding.
No response – or RSVP – was received by deadline.