A protest in support of extending the existing Metro Light Rail from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill met Bob Carr when he launched the Museum of Sydney’s exhibition Shooting Through on a tram.
The EcoTransit Sydney community group made sure placards calling for “Light Rail Now” were always in view of the TV cameras there for the exhibition’s opening.
To a chant of “17 million not 4 billion” protesters wove through the crowd with a large polystyrene model of a Metro tram held over their heads, and handed out copies of the EcoTransit Sydney (ETS) newsletter and a flyer outlining how Carr had promised to extend light rail in 2000, but did not follow through.
Leichhardt Mayor Jamie Parker spoke passionately in support of the new line and compared the $4Bn price tag for the mini metro to Rozelle with the $17 m required to extend the existing Metro Light Rail.
“An extension to Dulwich Hill is a must and we need another line to the Quay as advocated by Clover Moore,” Parker said.
The mayor described light rail as a cheap, low-cost and low footprint technology and said the extension would take less than a year to fit out and should be started immediately.
“Most of the infrastructure already exists, and all inner-west councils are committed to this in a completely non-partisan way,” he said. “Let’s make sure that trams are not just about the past; they are also about the future.”
ETS spokesman Gavin Gatenby said the Government had failed to tackle this issue.
“We have been campaigning for a year. The tracks are there, the infrastructure is there, and it’s all in good condition. It just needs the government to make a decision. All we get is evasions and excuses,” he said.
“In Europe and America and other places light rail systems are the way of the future, because they work, because they are cheap, and because they are people-friendly.”
The exhibition was opened by Jill Wran, wife of retired premier Neville Wran, and former premier Bob Carr. The museum is run by the Historic Houses Trust and its chairman thanked curators and museum staff for their two years of work putting the show together.
Carr talked about growing up in Matraville catching trams to school, and gave an anecdotal overview of the huge tram network that existed in Sydney until the sixties. He did not discuss new tram lines, and did not respond to the ETS flyer.
“This is a government without guiding intelligence,” said Gatenby as ETS packed up its placards. “The advantages of light rail seem to be obvious to everyone except them.”
– BY JEREMY BROWN