Volume Nine 2010 focus on Transport, Planning and Industry

The Auditor-General, Mr Peter Achterstraat, today released his Volume Nine Report to Parliament for 2010. The report includes comments on his financial audits of NSW Government transport, planning and industry agencies for 2009-10.

Sydney Metro (Vol Nine, pgs 13 & 197)

Of the $412 million spent on the Sydney Metro, $356 million represents expenditure with no apparent future benefit to the people of New South Wales.

“I recommend the New South Wales Government identify lessons learnt from the Sydney Metro experience and ensure the State never again expends such a large amount of scarce transport dollars and valuable time on a project that does not proceed”, Mr Achterstraat said.

Road travel times (Vol Nine, pg 111)

The average morning peak speed for Victoria Road increased from 21 to 26 km/h while for the M5/Eastern Distributor decreased from 41 to 35 km/h.

School Zone flashing lights (Vol Nine, pg 118)

Flashing lights have been installed in over 350 sites in the past three years at an average cost of $63,000 each.

High levels of overtime continue at the RTA and RailCorp (Vol Nine, pgs 113 & 148)

RailCorp’s overtime payments reached $128 million, with more than 410 employees being paid 50 per cent or more of their annual salary in overtime.

RTA’s overtime for 2009-10 was $44 million. The highest overtime earners at RTA continue to earn substantial amounts of overtime, with one employee receiving $118,000 in overtime payments in 2009-10.

“RailCorp’s and RTA’s overtime payments are significant and should be addressed,” Mr Achterstraat said.

Contractors (Vol Nine, pgs 112 & 158)

RailCorp has about 590 contractors, with more than a quarter costing more than $1,000 per day.

RTA employs 698 contractors, which represents just over eight per cent of its workforce. More than 60 of these have been engaged for over six years. The highest paid contractor earned $413,000 in 2009-10.

“I recommend RailCorp and the RTA review their use of contractors to ensure it represents good value for money,” said Mr Achterstraat.

Vandalism is on increase (Vol Nine, pg 24)

RailCorp is spending increasing amounts on repairing damage, caused by vandalism and graffiti, on its premises and trains. As part of a new program under their Customer Charter, RailCorp spent $55 million on repairing damage caused in 2009-10 as well as the backlog from previous years.

Increased Rail complaints and compliments (Vol Nine, pg 156)

In 2009-10, complaints about RailCorp increased by more than 20 per cent. Complaints about service replaced complaints about staff as the major area of complaint – more than 4,000 of the 26,000 complaints related to service. Compliments increased by 12 per cent to 2,449.

Major capital projects over budget and behind schedule (Vol Nine, pgs 26, 117, 145, 202 & 204)

Nine major transport capital projects are over budget and behind schedule, while a further four are either over budget or behind schedule.

Age profile of transport services workforce (Vol Nine, pg 20)

A significant portion of the transport services workforce (39 per cent) are over 50 and are likely to retire in the next 5 to 15 years. The RTA and State Transit have 45 per cent of employees over 50 years of age.

IT system implementations (Vol Nine, pgs 107, 141 & 160)

IT system implementation issues in transport agencies are a concern.

The RTA’s upgrade to its Driver and Vehicle System (DRIVES) has experienced significant issues with project management and governance.

Over a 5-month period, RailCorp’s $35 million new procurement system resulted in over $100 million in late supplier payments and more than $4 million in double payments.

Further information

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664