Public transport in the Lower Hunter does not meet the community's needs and expectations, while its quality doesn't encourage greater use by the public.
The Lake Macquarie electorate has a mix of private and public buses, but too many areas have no service. Recent changes have been beneficial for to some people, but the fact remains that without significant increases in approved route-kilometres and timetabling services will not meet existing and future demand.
Recent years have produced numerous government-sponsored studies of public transport needs in the region as well as a number of third-party reviews.
A common theme from these studies is that the public transport network in the Lower Hunter should be managed by a local authority that would set priorities, allocate resources and ensure coordination.
- I support the establishment of an autonomous regional public transport authority. It should be resourced with an increased pro-rata funding allocation for the region and this must be adjusted by CPI and increased in proportion to regional growth.
Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange
Debate has raged for many years about the future of the Wickham to Newcastle rail line, while the need for more regionally critical and beneficial infrastructure has been ignored. The most significant regional need is the combined Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange and Pennant Street Bridge at Glendale.
Glendale is demographically central to the main population centres and an interchange on the Main Northern Rail Line would provide the greatest boost for potential public transport in the region. Major desired destinations accessible from this location include the John Hunter Hospital, Westfield Kotara, Charlestown Square, Newcastle CBD, Speers Point, Toronto and to Cessnock and Maitland.
The Pennant Street Bridge will connect the major public transport hub on the northern side of the line with the Cardiff Industrial Estate - one of the most dense employment zones in the region. This is an opportunity to make public transport a viable option for many workers. The bridge construction would also see significant investment in new and expanded businesses. The Knoll Group has already indicated that it is prepared to invest over $600 million on its nearby site if the bridge goes ahead. With the bridge estimated to cost around $50 million dollars, the sense in its construction is immediately compelling.
- I will continue to fight for the delivery of the long overdue Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange and Pennant Street Bridge.