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WestConnex prediction: buses will double in speed

Date

Jacob Saulwick

Speed increase expected: a bus travels along Parramatta Road near Broadway.

Speed increase expected: a bus travels along Parramatta Road near Broadway. Photo: Tamara Dean

Rest assured, frustrated Sydney bus commuters: your bus will somehow start travelling almost twice as fast in the next few years.

Or at least that is what the state government is assuming as part of its promise to improve public transport along the route of the WestConnex motorway.

Included in the promotional material for the $13 billion WestConnex is a prediction by the state government that the motorway will "almost halve" the bus journey time from Burwood to the city along Parramatta Road.

Using freedom of information laws, Fairfax Media requested the assumptions for this prediction.

The response from the WestConnex Delivery Authority showed the average morning speed of a bus travelling from Burwood to the central business district on Parramatta Road was 14 km/h in 2011.

But by 2031, the government is assuming that buses along Parramatta Road will travel at 25 km/h – about 80 per cent faster than they do now.

This improvement would go against all recent trends in Sydney, where traffic, and particularly bus congestion, has been getting worse.

The improvement could be partly achieved by new bus lanes promised as part of the WestConnex between Burwood and Leichhardt.

The WestConnex will allow separated bus lanes to be added to the surface of Parramatta Road between Burwood and Leichhardt, once a tunnel is built under that section of road.

But the government is also assuming buses travelling from Leichhardt to the CBD will somehow speed up from an average of 14 km/h in 2011 to 25 km/h in 2031.

There are already bus lanes along this section of the Parramatta Road and the WestConnex motorway will not go under this section.

Fairfax Media asked the WestConnex Delivery Authority why it assumed buses would travel almost twice as fast on a section of road that would not be upgraded.

A spokeswoman for the authority said that Parramatta Road was identified as a "rapid bus route" under the government’s "Sydney’s Bus Future" plan.

"These routes will have bus stops every 800 metres," the spokeswoman said.

"WestConnex bus travel time savings were calculated comparing actual bus travel time data with an average target speed as outlined in the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan."

The government has never said how many cars it expects to use the WestConnex motorway.

Fairfax Media requested the assumptions used to create the estimated car travel time savings for the motorway, but was denied the information because it was commercial in confidence.

Fairfax Media also requested comment from the Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, about why the government would assume buses would travel twice as fast on sections of road it was not upgrading.

A spokesman for Mr Gay passed the query on to the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian. Ms Berejiklian has not yet explained why the government expects buses to travel almost twice as fast between Leichhardt and the city in 2031.

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