Fix NSW Transport rally – 17 February
Marching protesters stopped traffic in the Sydney CBD on Saturday 17 February as they rallied to ‘Fix NSW Transport’.
Rally attendees supported by acclamation a motion calling on the government to scrap the planned WestConnex, F6, and Western Harbour Tunnel/Beaches Link motorways and the imminent privatisation of inner west bus services.
The motion also demanded more heavy rail services and freight rail, improved conditions for Sydney Trains workers, a cycleway network across greater Sydney, and a halt to the Sydenham to Bankstown Metro project in favour of a rail link in the F6 corridor.
“We know that public transport is much more efficient, but the government is refusing to consider alternatives for our region,” said Greta Werner from F6 Action.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Alex Claassens said that the government was putting profits ahead of the needs of commuters. “Our transport minister, Andrew Constance, has no regard for our transport services or the people who keep them running,” Mr Claassens said.
“Coming soon are trains that don’t fit our tracks, metro trains with no drivers, guards or station staff, [the] closure of the Epping to Chatswood line, a line that was only opened ten years ago, and then on top of that, we’ve got the impending closure of the Bankstown line… the list goes on.”
Represented at the protest were community groups from across Sydney and regional NSW, including opponents of the Newcastle rail line closure, Windsor Bridge, and Western Sydney airport. No WestCONnex and anti-WestConnex residents’ groups from Leichhardt, Camperdown, and Rozelle also marched, supported by unions, local councillors, and Greens and Labor MPs.
Councillor Philip Thalis, representing the City of Sydney, told the rally that the council estimates the cost of flow on ‘feeder road’ projects will take the total bill for WestConnex to between $45 and $50 billion. “No other city in the world is so stupid and reckless” as to be investing in large toll roads, Cr Thalis said.
“WestConnex is not the answer to any question we want to ask – it’s the problem,” said Cr Thalis.
Those who gathered in Martin Place for the speeches also heard musical performances by Ecopella, John Lozano, and Ken Stewart from The Urban Guerrillas.
Groups which endorsed the rally: Action for Public Transport NSW, Better Planning Network, CAWB – Save Windsor from the RTA, Coalition Against WestCONnex, Ecotransit Sydney, F6 Action, Friends of Erskineville, Hayberry Precinct, Keep Sydney Beautiful, National Tertiary Education Union – Macquarie Uni Branch, NORTAG, Rail Tram and Bus Union, Restore Inner West Line, STOP Western Harbour and Beaches Motorways and Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance.