The NSW Greens have condemned the Coalition government’s decision to cut Transport for NSW’s operational budget, arguing that poor planning and wastefulness was damaging public transport services in the state.
Greens MP and Roads & Transport spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, said that it “beggared belief” that the Coalition government would cut the transport department budget at a time when public demand for public transport is increasing.
As reported by Fairfax Media, Transport for NSW secretary Tim Reardon has indicated that operating budgets for all divisions had been cut by 15 per cent this financial year, including a freeze on hiring casual staff and creating new positions.
“We know their agenda is to slash in-house expertise because these are the people standing up to their poor planning and political agenda,” Dr Faruqui said.
“When they cut expertise from public services, they cut out people who can steer Government decisions in the right direction, and prevent cost blowouts and wasteful projects.”
The Greens spokesperson said that it made little sense for the government to spend billions on new toll roads when there had been “massive cost blowouts” for public transport infrastructure projects.
“[A]nd yet they want to slash the budget of the public servants who can reign in this madness,” she said.
A spokesperson for Transport for NSW last week attempted to quell fears that the cuts would impact on passenger safety or service reliability, telling Fairfax that the measure was “prudent when fares and our other revenue sources, including advertising at stations and on trains, cover less than what it costs to operate the system”.
But Faruqui claimed that taking hundreds of millions from the department could only erode the expertise of the public service and damage the quality of transport services.
“It’s the age-old technique: defund public services, run them down, and then hand over money and contracts to their mates in the private sector,” she concluded.