BUSINESSES which rely on Sydney’s road network reject claims by Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal that traffic congestion in Sydney is no worse than it was 10 years ago.
A report to be released today found eight out of 10 small and medium-sized companies are bleeding money because their staff are stuck in traffic – sometimes for an extra hour a day.
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From increased fuel consumption and operating costs to ballooning wage bills, they say the Iemma Government must act now to free up Sydney’s blocked arteries – particularly in the southwest, inner-west and Northern Beaches. The NRMA study found more than half of road-reliant businesses like couriers and trucking companies report staff spending up to four hours longer in traffic each week over just 12 months.
Michael Cummins, who runs 10 trucks as Man And His Van Removals, said his vehicles spent an extra half an hour battling gridlock from Brookvale to the city via the Spit Bridge every morning.
"We used to leave at 7am but that had to be changed to 6.30am because 7am is now peak hour. I’m now considering having to get them started even earlier," he said.
The Daily Telegraph last month revealed that the RTA’s own data confirmed commuters in areas not serviced by trains – like the Northern Beaches – were spending an extra 110 minutes a week in mind-numbing traffic jams over the past decade. But Mr Roozendaal told a pre-election traffic summit travel times were unchanged over the past decade. "I invite Mr Roozendaal to spend a morning in one of my trucks and see for himself – he’d be surprised," Mr Cummins said.
The NRMA will today demand the Government face the peak-hour traffic crisis, which it has acknowledged is getting longer every year.
A recent NSW Transport and Population Data Centre study found peak hour had expanded from 8am-9am to 7.30am-9.30am, and from 3pm-6pm to 2.30pm-7pm in two decades."The State Government needs to get serious about fixing Sydney’s traffic problems," NRMA chief executive Tony Stuart said. The NRMA’s own patrol roadside assistance vans have also noted increasing delays.
Mr Roozendaal last night said he understood the frustration of drivers and businesses."I recognise the challenges Sydney faces – the peak is getting longer and people are commuting further," he said. "Sydney is a big city. Some routes have gotten worse and some are better.
"The Government is constantly looking at ways of improving traffic flows and I am always happy to hear sensible ideas."
He added the Government had committed $110 million to duplicating the Iron Cove Bridge on busy Victoria Rd and was investing $100 million to directly target traffic hotspots on 20 major routes.