Transport for NSW has released a statement urging road users in the Newcastle CBD to be tram aware due to a number of near misses since the launch of the city’s light rail service in February.
Road and maritime services director for the Hunter, Anna Zycki said that there had been in excess of 200 near misses around Stewart Avenue, Steel Street and Worth Place in the last few months due to motorists travelling through red lights and nearly colliding with trams that have the right of way.
In response to these incidents, Roads and Maritime Services has adjusted traffic light phasing and installed new signs at Stewart Avenue to raise awareness among drivers of passing trams. Zycki added that signs would also be installed on Steel Street “in coming weeks”.
Keolis Downer employee and tram driver Corey Moore and NSW Police Chief Inspector Amanda Calder joined Zycki in stressing the importance of vigilance among drivers as the light rail service becomes increasingly embraced.
“NSW Police will be out monitoring driver behaviour around the sites over coming weeks, but it’s important to remember police can be out in force, new signage can be put in, and traffic lights can be adjusted, but at the end of the day – drivers and other road users need to be aware of their surroundings and take care on and around the road,” she said.
Moore added that drivers should always be aware around light rail tracks.
“As tram drivers, we are trained to look out for other drivers and pedestrians,” he said. “We are being extremely cautious as we travel through intersections, but trams can’t stop quickly or easily and the close calls we’ve had are really concerning.”
The Newcastle Light Rail service, part of Transport for NSW’s Revitalising Newcastle project, launched on February 17 and runs 2.7 kilometres from Wickham to Newcastle Beach.