NSW Labor promises to double active transport budget

NSW Labor has committed to an additional $60 million investment in active transport if it wins the state election on 25 March, which it says would double the funding available for walking and bike riding infrastructure. 

Opposition leader Chris Minns made the pledge alongside Shadow Minister for Transport Jo Haylen on Friday 17 February, describing it as an "important and exciting" announcement. 

NSW Labor estimates the current allocation for active transport projects at $60 million over the next four years. 

It has committed to an additional $15 million per year if elected, to bring this active transport spend to $120 million in total over four years. 

“We all want our communities to be more walkable and more cycle friendly," said Minns. “It shouldn’t matter whether you’re living in Leppington or Lilyfield. Everyone should have access to quality walking and cycling infrastructure." 

The new Labor plan would prioritise "greenfield developments", focusing on connecting footpaths and bike paths with community hubs like schools and stations. It says western Sydney and regional NSW stand to benefit most from the commitment. 

“The Liberals have talked a big game on active transport infrastructure, but they just haven’t been able to deliver for growing communities across NSW," said Haylen. 

Retiring Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes responded to the announcement via Twitter, saying the Liberals had already pledged $400 million in one year for active transport.

“In the past year or so we’ve announced multiple programs to fund new and improved paths, parks and pavements across NSW. 

“Whether it’s $30 million for the Streets as Shared Spaces, $110 million for Get NSW Active, $60 million for the City to Parramatta Link, $24 million for the Sutherland to Cronulla Active Transport Link, $194 million for Active Transport from WestInvest, and plenty more besides. That’s more than $400 million in one year.  

“Our vision is hundreds of millions more to transform opportunities for families, for commuters, for tourists, people with disabilities, everyone, to get around cheaply, safely and let’s face it, more fun, by active transport,” the minister said in the Twitter clip. 

The NSW budget for the 2022–2023 financial year allocated $76.7 billion for all transport over the next four years. 

Within that, key allocations for active transport included $16.2 million for the Sydney Harbour Bridge Ramp and $2 million for the Sutherland Cronulla Active Travel Link

The dedicated active transport budget allocations for the financial year amounted to $38.5 million, around 0.2% of the total transport spend. 

Funds will also make their way to bike infrastructure through larger road projects, such as the $804 million M6 Extension Stage 1, which will include shared pathways, and the $602 million Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2, which will include an active transport bridge across the Parramatta River. 

The United Nations has called on countries to invest at least 20% of their transport budgets on walking and cycling infrastructure to combat climate change and disease resulting from motorised transport. 

Lead image supplied by: State of New South Wales (Transport for NSW)

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