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Gay vows to take on RTA ‘arrogance’

The NSW RTA will be reformed to address its "arrogance" and improve its services

By Rob McKay | April 20, 2011

NSW has the chance to transform the transport portfolio for the better, the NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA NSW) believes, following the shake-up unveiled yesterday.

What ministers described as a “dysfunctional” administration of transport in the state is to undergo reform, with the new state government vowing changes in structure and attitudes in the next 12 weeks that will affect the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) and freight planning.

“Any improvement that this government can make to the RTA and to bring freight issues into the broader transport planning sphere would be very, very important,” ATA NSW manager Jill Lewis says.

“There are some really good people within that RTA structure and if these changes bring together those people and their ideas and their implementations, then, in 12 months time, I think we will have a agency and a portfolio that we are all proud of and happy to work with.”

Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay was particularly pointed about the RTA, speaking of a negative culture in its dealings with the public that was being tackled.

“The RTA will not come out the same,” Gay says.

“There certainly is a concern, which the organisation recognises, that there is a persona of arrogance.

“They’re addressing that at the moment but what we’re doing here is starting from the top down and putting a whole new process in place.”

Gay added that: “Instead of operating in silos, the RTA will now be at the core of an integrated system that will ensure planning for the state’s future roads and transport systems will be in a strategic and holistic way.

“For the first time there will be a minister with the role of co-ordinating freight from farm to port and from ship to shop.”

Under the proposed reform of a wider structure of NSW transport administration aimed at tackling duplication, the procurement, planning and policy powers will be unified and freed-up resources pushed on to the front line.

The new divisions will be customer experience, planning and programs, transport services, transport projects, freight and regional development and policy and regulation.

“We have long been arguing that unless you establish [and] have a truly integrated transport authority that does planning and policy across all modes of transport and roads, you won’t be able to deliver those critical value customer services we desperately need in Sydney and across NSW,” Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian says.

The Sydney Business Chamber also welcomed the reform. Executive Director Patricia Forsythe believes much can be gained through the reorganisation, especially related to the establishment of a freight transport division.

“I welcome the Government’s commitment to improving facilities and access to the ports,” Forsythe says.

“They say an army marches on its stomach, in that spirit, a city thrives on its freight network.

“Freight transport underpins the success of business and the strength of the Sydney economy.

“It’s an area that hasn’t received the attention it deserves.”

The move to tackle the fragmented nature of transport administration has also been supported.

“Sydney’s transport network has suffered from a collection of 15 disparate transport agencies all looking out for their own patch without a strategic focus on delivering better transport services,” Forsythe says.

“An integrated transport authority will break up the old transport empires and force them to work together to solve the challenges of Sydney’ transport network for the first time.

“Trains, buses and ferries don’t operate in isolation from each other. This is overdue and ground-breaking reform and a common sense approach to delivering a better transport network and better services to Sydneysiders.”

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