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NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has given his strongest indication that the second stage of the Parramatta light rail will not go ahead.
Mr Constance on Thursday said the government was increasingly likely to instead use "trackless trams" or buses to service the stage two route between Camellia and Sydney Olympic Park.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance has indicated stage two of the Parramatta light rail will not proceed.CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY
"Ultimately into the future if we had the option with either bus rapid transit or trackless tram technology, I think that’s what we’re going to do," he said.
"If I can provide trackless trams, why the hell would we go and rip everything up if we can avoid it."
Mr Constance said he would be "a mug" for not investigating less invasive and potentially more economical ways to service the region without laying tracks, and pointed out that trackless tram technology was not available when the government committed to stage one.
"For us, it makes sense to do that, and I’d be crazy not to ... I’d be a mug to not go and check this out."
Small businesses on Church Street, Parramatta have lost a lot of passing trade since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and construction of the light rail.CREDIT:WOLTER PEETERS
The nine-kilometre second stage has long been in doubt, complicated by the government's multibillion-dollar metro rail line between Parramatta and the central city.
Parramatta lord mayor Bob Dwyer implored the government to push ahead with the second stage of the light rail, pointing out that close to 30,000 more homes were forecast to be built along the route by 2036.
"The City of Parramatta has contributed significantly to the NSW government’s goal to increase housing supply by providing the largest number of housing approvals in the state," Cr Dwyer said.
"But we need the Premier’s continued commitment to provide the infrastructure to support this growth."
Opposition transport spokesman Chris Minns said the government needed to provide clarity to the community and commit to a specific transport option.
"It’s simply a roundabout way of saying to western Sydney that they are going to cancel a public transport project," Mr Minns said.
"Constance should be honest with western Sydney. If the project is off, let them know."
Western Sydney Business Chamber executive director David Borger said trackless trams or buses would not attract the same level of investment as light rail.
He warned the second stage would be a defining issue at the next state election.
"The NSW government has developed a strong narrative that it delivers what it promises when it comes to public transport," Mr Borger said.
"It would be a shame to throw that away now by breaking this promise to western Sydney."
Mr Constance inspected the first 50 metres of track laid for the light rail on Thursday.
Stage one will offer a service between Westmead and Carlingford every seven minutes when it opens in 2023.
Mr Constance said that, unlike those impacted by the CBD light rail, no businesses along the route of the Parramatta project had received any government compensation because it was running on time.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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