Track-free trams would transform Parramatta Road

Clean, silent track-free trams would bring Parramatta Road to life and create new public transport between Strathfield and the city under a bold new transport blueprint to be released today.

The project could be delivered within five years without the need for digging up roads, acquiring properties or affecting current roads.

While trackless trams are being used internationally, it would be the first system of its type in Australia.

The Parramatta Road Public Transport Opportunities Study commissioned by Inner West and Canada Bay Councils and supported by all Inner West Councils endorses a Guided Electric Transit System (GETS) or trackless trams as the best option for public transport on Parramatta Road.

The Study considered Light Rail, dedicated Diesel Bus lanes and Track-less Trams.

Track-free trams emerge as the preferred option on basis of:

  • low disruptions to commuters
  • speed of implementation
  • cost-effectiveness
  • environmental considerations
  • ability to be accommodated within the existing carriageway.

Administrator of Inner West Council Richard Pearson said track-free trams could be a game changer for Parramatta Road.

“There have been more than a dozen plans to transform Parramatta Road over the years – and they have all failed due the lack of commitment to a real public transport solution.

“We now need to move in partnership with the State Government to conduct an urgently needed feasibility study to progress this game-changing option.

“The Parramatta Road of the future needs to be a pedestrian-friendly High Street and cater for local access, with reactivated street frontages, lower speed traffic and modern public transport,” he said.

“Centre-running public transport would reduce our reliance on cars, bring the street front back to life and bring back a balance of people and movement to one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares.”

Former Mayor of Leichhardt and member of Inner West Council’s Advisory Committee Darcy Byrne, who initiated the study while in office, said it was exciting to see the study he originally championed come up with such an innovative solution.

“Making Parramatta Road work is one of the toughest challenges in planning Sydney’s growth, and trackless trams should be looked at closely,” he said.

“What we don’t need is another good idea gathering dust – there is a narrow window to transform Parramatta Road or it will be a basket case forever,” he said.

"Track-free trams can provide all the benefit of light rail on Parramatta Road without having to dig up the road or acquire properties. After the destruction of WestConnex the people of the Inner West will welcome this creative solution. 

"With narrower carriages, using guided technology to run down the middle of the road instead of the edge, track-free trams can create the space for the curb side parking and footpath dining that the rejuvenation of Parramatta Road depends on.

“The State Government should step up and work with councils in the corridor to take this proposal to the next level by jointing funding a feasibility study,” Mr Byrne said.

City of Canada Bay Mayor Helen McCaffrey highlights that it is critical to have the best possible public transport infrastructure built in tandem with the WestConnex project.

“We must make the most of the opportunities that WestConnex provides. The opportunity to really transform this area is here now - we must make the most of it,” she said. 

“This study shows that world-class public transport infrastructure has to be included to deliver not only for those who live in the area now, but for future residents.”

Burwood Mayor John Faker also welcomed the study.

“Burwood is quickly emerging as a commercial and retail precinct with our daytime population increasing significantly as people come to work in our area,” he said.

“It’s essential that we provide additional transport options to help alleviate congestion on our roads and make it easier for commuters.”

Mayor of Strathfield Council Andrew Soulos said a dedicated mass-transit line along Parramatta Road would provide welcome relief for many.

“There are many possibilities for connecting to the train network and Olympic Park, preserving greenspace and easing congestion,” he said.

Watch an animation of the proposal below.

For interviews, phone Inner West Council Administrator Richard Pearson on 0400 438 458 or Council’s Media Team Kate Walsh on 0421 224 366/ Brendan Berecry 0434 141 583.

Note: see Study Key Findings below

Parramatta Road Public Transport Opportunities Study Key Findings

The key findings from the Joint Councils study which was undertaken by independent consultants Bodhi Alliance & EDAB Consulting are that:

  • A Guided Electric Transit System (GETS) can be operational at an estimated cost of $200 million compared to the State Government’s proposal for a Rapid Bus Transit system at an estimated cost of $130 million.
  • A Guided Electric Transit System can be in place from day one of the opening of WestConnex Stage 3 and ensure the transit corridor is preserved.
  • Retaining kerb-running buses as proposed by the State Government just reinforces business as usual for use of the road.
  • If a modern public transport approach is not taken, Sydney will simply have two major arterial routes rather than a motorway underground and an accessible and activated surface route.
  • Unless the corridor is occupied with public transport from day one of WestConnex Stage 3, it will be taken up by cars in a very short time, compromising the opportunity to provide public transport for the Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Strategy (PRUTS) population that will be introduced over the next 30 years
  • PRUTS will significantly increase population and employment – and so increase travel demand.
  • Centre-running public transport preserves kerbside parking, which helps to create a people-friendly space
  • Centre-running public transport gives permanency to public transport and would inspire true revitalisation and investor confidence as the platforms for the centre-running GETS provides a sense of commitment, whereas kerbside running of buses can be revoked/ removed at any time.
  • The GETS proposed by the Councils extends to Strathfield whereas the Rapid Bus Transit (RBS) proposed by State Government only goes as far as Burwood.
  • The proposed GETS could readily be extended to Rhodes, Olympic Park and even Parramatta to replace the light rail route that has been dropped by the State Government.

Note: The Parramatta Road Light Rail Opportunities Study has been completed by Bodhi Alliance & EDAB Consulting, which specialises in infrastructure planning.

More on Parramatta Road here

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Page last updated: 21 Jan 2019