The Greater Sydney Commission has hit the headlines (SMH Monday, October 23) with its release of the draft Future Transport Strategy. The key promise is that with the division of Sydney into three hubs, the Western Parkland City based on Badgerys Creek Airport, the Central River City based on Parramatta, and the Eastern Harbour City based on the current CBD, by 2056, with a population of eight million, most people will enjoy a thirty minute commute.
Most of us will be dead, of course, but if you are lucky enough to still be alive you should be able to enjoy the expanded public transport network which the proposal requires. Any decentralisation requires vastly improved public transport, along with major increases in infrastructure, which have not yet been announced. Of course, there continues to be a tension between relatively quick fix and bandaid solutions, to which governments are unfortunately addicted, and longer term, genuine decentralisation. The NBN was also supposed to ease decentralisation, before the original plan was torpedoed. We will no doubt see other proposals to aid decentralisation, such as high speed rail, which has the advantage of locating population increase outside the existing Greater Sydney area.
Just to remind you, other parts of the State have absorbed much of Sydney’s population increase in the past, such as the North and Central Coasts, and there is still a substantial drift to other regions and other states. However, we must expect Sydney to continue to exert considerable magnetism, particularly for jobs and culture, so debate about the number of new residents Sydney can absorb will continue.