Volume Eight 2011 Focus on Transport and Ports

The Auditor-General, Mr Peter Achterstraat, today released his Volume Eight Report to Parliament for 2011. The report includes comments on financial audits of government agencies in the Transport and Ports sectors.

Slower travel speeds in the morning peak (pg 33, 34 & 60)

Road users in the Sydney morning peak period are taking longer to get to work, while the afternoon peak remains largely unchanged.

‘Morning peak travel speeds have worsened on six of the seven major Sydney roads’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘The morning peak‘s average speed decreased from 31 to 29 km/h. The afternoon peak’s overall average speed remained unchanged at 42 km/h’, he added.

‘In 2010-11, the slowest major Sydney road was Victoria Road with an average morning peak speed of 24 km/h and 31 km/h in the afternoon peak’’, Mr Achterstraat added.

Crowding on trains (pgs 87 & 102)

More than half of train users are concerned about crowding on CityRail trains. However, CityRail is performing better than international benchmarks for crowding. ‘CityRail’s trains compare well against a global benchmark of no more than four passengers per square metre, achieving an average of one passenger in both 2011 and 2010’, Mr Achterstraat said.

People left standing at bus stops (pg 116)

‘There are more buses and more services, but 22 per cent of passengers with key operators have been left standing at bus stops because buses are too full, did not stop or do not turn up’, Mr Achterstraat said.

Transport workers far more likely to test positive for drugs than alcohol (pgs 22 to 24)

‘Although positive drug and alcohol test results at RailCorp, State Transit and Sydney Ferries continue to fall, positive drug test results remain significantly higher than alcohol results’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘At RailCorp contractors consistently return much higher rates of positive drug and alcohol test results than employees’, Mr Achterstraat added.

All three agencies had very few positive alcohol test results.

Major capital projects over budget and behind schedule (pg 48 & 90)

Nineteen of the 43 major transport projects are late or over budget. ‘The Waratah train project is more than a year behind schedule and continues to experience difficulties’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘Only one eight carriage train was delivered by 30 June 2011 - the remaining 618 carriages will be progressively introduced into service, with all carriages expected to be in operation by January 2015, fourteen months late’, he added.

Rail freight at Port Botany (pgs 9, 12 to 14)

Total trade through NSW ports corporations increased by 10 per cent in 2010-11. What is concerning is the declining use of rail at Port Botany. ‘Rail movements through Port Botany fell from nearly 19 per cent to 14 per cent in 2010-11. This is a significant fall and places pressure on an already congested road network’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘The $725 million Port Botany expansion will add a third terminal in 2013 and will put further pressure on our transport systems’, he added.

Long-term contractors (pgs 37 & 38)

‘Transport agencies have 91 long-term contractors - all these have been engaged for more than 6 years’, Mr Achterstraat said. ‘Extensive reliance on contractors can result in higher employment costs and less ownership and commitment to organisational goals and objectives’, he added.

State Transit has the longest serving contractor who has been engaged for over ten years. The highest paid contractor was engaged by RailCorp and paid $578,000 in 2010-11. ‘It is pleasing that RTA has significantly reduced contractor numbers, falling from 698 to 448 in 2010-11’, said Mr Achterstraat.

Further information

Barry Underwood, on 02 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664 and email barry.underwood@audit.nsw.gov.au