When it comes to public transport policy this Government has shown nothing but contempt for the people of the inner west. In the past month we have learned that the Government will be ripping out 35 more bus stops across the inner west. This will affect commuters on the 412, 422, 423 , 426 and 428 routes. We have also learned the Government has again delayed accessibility upgrades at Lewisham and Petersham railway stations. And, if that was not bad enough, it is also selling off the inner west bus Region 6 services, ignoring the tens of thousands of local commuters and residents who have signed petitions protesting against the sale. It is beyond doubt that this Government is putting the interests of big business ahead of the people of the inner west in transport planning. Local commuters rely on their local bus stops. The Government claims that removing stops will improve on-time running—the reason given by the transport Minister for selling off the entire Region 6 bus network—but it refuses to acknowledge that this will make it harder for people to catch the bus, especially seniors, parents with prams and people with disability.
The stops slated for removal are close to medical facilities, schools and nursing homes. Inner west residents have reacted with outrage and disappointment. They are concerned that the trip to the doctor or to the shops will be more difficult. To make matters worse, this decision will discourage people from using buses and force even more people into cars, which will add to the congestion that already delays the buses. Removing bus stops will only add to the problem it is trying to solve. So why is the Governing doing this? It is time for the Government to come clean—removing these bus stops is nothing more than fattening the pig for sale. It is about reducing risk and increasing profitability for the potential private operators of Region 6 bus services. It is no accident that at the same time local bus stops are being removed, the Government is preparing to announce a successful tender. The removal of our local bus stops is part of the Government's ploy to fatten the wallets of big business and private operators; local commuters in the inner west will be worse off.
Documents obtained under freedom of information laws reveal that the Government has left Lewisham and Petersham railway stations without vital access upgrades in lieu of stations in Liberal-held electorates. The Transport Access Program scores stations against a range of criteria to assess the greatest need, including patronage, connectivity to other lines and proximity to schools and other services. In its matrix Petersham station scored 62.29 and Lewisham station 56.48. These are well above stations, including Como station, in the electorate of the member for Oatley, and Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, which scored 26.59.
This is a blatant slap in the face to the hundreds of inner-west residents who have signed petitions calling for upgrades at their local train stations. Despite being one of the largest stations in the inner west, parents at Petersham are still forced to navigate the stairs with prams. Lewisham commuters regularly face the farcical situation of their station being closed due to flooding. Shamefully, these stations are inaccessible to people with disability. One Lewisham resident with limited mobility explained that he had to catch a wheelchair accessible taxi to Summer Hill station—one suburb across the line—often waiting for an up to an hour for that taxi just so that he can catch the train.
Clearly, stations across the State require urgent upgrades to meet the needs of people with disability. Each of us in this place wants to see each and every station upgraded to ensure accessibility for every one of our residents, but the community is right to want assurances that the process used to assess the rollout these important projects is fair and balanced. They deserve to know that the needs of people with disability in their electorates are not being put second to the political interests of some Liberal politicians. The world's best transport networks are affordable, dependable and accessible. We must make sure that we do not sacrifice any one of these qualities for the other. I call on this Government to put politics and private interests aside and to deliver a transport network that meets the needs of local residents. I ask the Government to retain our local bus stops in the inner west, and to immediately advance the upgrades of Lewisham and Petersham train stations. That is where the focus should be placed.