Rather than just focusing solely on rail trails, we should be introducing integrated public transport here in the northern rivers.
National Party politicians have promoted rail trails to the detriment of discussing the broader issue of improving public transport options such as rail and bus services.
Our region lacks accessible and affordable public transport options for residents to get to work, study and leisure.
The closure of the Casino-Murwillumbah rail service in 2004 against the community’s wishes, has meant lost opportunities to reduce reliance on cars and alleviate road congestion and maintenance costs.
National Party MPs should not be promoting rail trails while ignoring the critical need for affordable public transport options such as train and bus services.
It’s absurd that the government is contributing $3.3 billion to the $11.5b WestConnex motorway in Sydney, but ignoring the public transport needs of regional communities.
Despite the overinflated figures of the rail feasibility study suggesting it would cost $953 million to return heavy rail services, the cheaper and more viable option of a light rail commuter service was not investigated.
We should also be investigating the option of increased frequency mini-buses, particularly for the significant numbers of commuters who travel daily from the coast to work in Lismore.
The Lismore to Bangalow road is only going to become more congested in the future. With rising fuel costs, impact on roads and potential for accidents, we need to look at smarter integrated transport options that will meet the needs of an aging population as well as young job seekers in a carbon constrained future.
While the Greens are not opposed to the idea of rail trails alongside the existing tracks, any moves to rip up the rail line for rail trails will almost certainly extinguish any chance of restoring the rail at some future date.
Adam Guise, Greens candidate for the seat of Lismore