Got a spare
two and half grand – $2,524 to be precise? Why not buy a ticket to the Sydney
Transport Summit
, a two day talkfest running today and
tomorrow at the Radisson Plaza Hotel? Going by the program, the cost works out
at an economical $158 per hour.

Most of the
conference is dedicated to public transport – yet the charges would seem to
price out anyone other than ministers, their bureaucrats, oil companies,
vehicle manufacturers and road builders.

Still, it
sounds good – which might be why The Sydney Morning Herald is on board as a key
sponsor. SMH editor Alan Oakley was due to kick of proceedings this morning by
making the opening remarks.

And the
SMH has already got a nice yarn from the conference, with a preview of
opposition leader Peter Debnam’s presentation today:

The State
Opposition is pledging to build a light rail loop through the city and has
given itself a 12-month deadline to explore extensions to Bondi, Burwood and Parramatta if it
wins government.

At today’s
Sydney Transport Summit, co-hosted by the Herald, the Coalition leader,
Peter Debnam, will give details of his plan to extend the Lilyfield to Central
line to Circular Quay, with a decision to be made within 90 days of taking
office on whether it should run down George or Castlereagh streets…

“I see it
as a headline project,” Mr Debnam said…

That’s a rather unfortunate choice of
words. Unfortunate but apt. “We don’t want long studies,” Debnam says.
Indeed.

The conference looks like a short-term
opportunity for some careful repositioning by both the SMH and the NSW Liberals
as a state election approaches – with minimal long-term benefits for Sydney’s
long-suffering commuters.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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