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Future Transport Strategy

Guiding principles

In an age of uncertainty, setting a vision and guiding principles allows us to be flexible and adapt to change as we create the future transport network.

Our population is forecasted to increase to around 12 million people by 2056; freight volumes are estimated to double in the Greater Sydney area and increase by 25 per cent in regional and outer metropolitan NSW; and the passenger network is preparing for over 28 million trips a day. This means planning for the future has never been more important. While recent events, such as COVID-19, impacted demand and mobility patterns, particularly for public transport trips, long-term expectations still forecast a significant increase in demand for transport.

Future Transport 2056 outlines six state-wide principles to guide planning and investment. These are aimed at harnessing rapid change and developing new technologies and innovation to support a modern, innovative and resilient transport network.

Customer focused

Vision: Customers’ experiences and their end-to-end journeys are seamless, interactive and personalised, supported by technology and data. 

The future of mobility, in both regional and outer metropolitan NSW and Greater Sydney, is customer focused, data enabled and dynamic, allowing the network and services to effectively respond to rapidly evolving customer needs and preferences. Customers’ end-to-end journey experience will be seamlessly integrated across different transport modes, including information, payment and transfers between modes.

In the future, personal mobility packages, such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), will bundle traditional ‘modes’ with technology platforms and new service offerings, like on-demand bus and ferry services, car share, rideshare, carpool, bike share and smart parking.

Our smartphones and smart devices will be the gateway for each journey, allowing customers to make travel choices based on what matters most to them – service frequency, cost, emissions, comfort or travel time.

Transport will be supported by ‘big data’ – the extremely high volume of data generated each day from the transport network that can be analysed to reveal travel patterns and trends. As digital technologies like artificial intelligence, 5G and the ‘internet of things’ increase – growing volumes of rich data – service providers will be able to better connect with customers, know their preferences and tailor service offerings in real time. Transport’s real-time Digital Twin will create a digital real-world model of cities and communities to facilitate better planning, operations and delivery.

The ever-increasing coverage, capacity, variety and speed of wireless communication technologies and connected devices will allow vehicles and infrastructure to communicate with each other to improve the quality and safety of customer journeys and enable the use of automated passenger and freight services across Greater Sydney and regional and outer metropolitan NSW.

Successful places

Vision: The liveability, amenity and economic success of communities and places are enhanced by transport.

Recent events, such as COVID-19, have reinforced the vital role that successful places play in supporting healthy lives and strong communities, attracting talent and delighting visitors. 

Transport influences the experience of all those who live in, visit and work in a place, as well as people travelling through. Transport shapes the physical environment, such as our streetscapes, and influences local activity. The design of transport infrastructure supports the environmental outcomes of places.

Public spaces are key components of a successful place where people can meet and enjoy their leisure time, such as in town squares, libraries and community centres, parks and sportsgrounds, and on waterways. An example of how Transport is delivering successful places is through its collaboration with local councils to repurpose streets and streetscapes to be pedestrianised and to extend restaurants into alfresco dining areas.

Being able to safely and easily access these spaces by walking, cycling and public transport encourages people to be more physically active, improves mental health and increases social interactions and recreational opportunities in communities.

Transport’s role in supporting the creation of successful places and integrating the movement of goods and people in place design, such as through improved streetscapes, better public transport and more convenient access, provides an opportunity for local communities and the private sector to work together to create attractive places for our diverse communities. 

A strong economy

Vision: In 2056, the transport system powers NSW’s $1.3 trillion economy and enables economic activity across the State. 

Over the short term, the transport system will play a key role in NSW’s economic recovery, by supporting mobility and job creation through its operations and infrastructure investments, and ensuring the efficient movement of freight and goods. 

Transport plays a key role in supporting new economic and social opportunities, including supporting the development of the Western Parkland City, the Aerotropolis and surrounding employment lands, and connecting the regions of NSW to key corridors and growth areas.

Transport data provides vital insights to drive decision making and the provision of services by the private sector. The data is a valuable asset that can support innovation and stimulate economic activity.

By 2056, increased automation, freelancing, ‘virtualisation’ and a strong services economy will enable a vibrant, modern economy that creates and supports new industries and jobs. Economic productivity will grow, as the transport network moves people more efficiently to job centres and provides companies with access to the right workers, skills and customers. 

Technology will enable productivity-enhancing flexibility in the way people work and the times of day they travel. Better digital connectivity, emerging technology trends, such as augmented and virtual reality, and the growth of the service and digital economy, will help create a future of work that is ‘anytime, anywhere’ for even more people. Recent experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, where many people were required to work from home for extended periods of time, has demonstrated how effective technology can be in changing how we work and in what circumstances we choose to travel.

Technology, such as robotics and automation, will transform existing industries and drive new ones – with the World Economic Forum predicting that some 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will hold jobs in the future that do not yet exist. 

First- and last-mile freight will be transformed by technology delivering efficiencies in logistics and small parcel movements, incorporating innovative direct-to-consumer deliveries and supporting ‘freight as a service’, micro-freight delivery models and supply chain resilience. Advances in automated manufacturing relating to drones and 3D printing also have the potential to impact supply chains.

At the same time, today’s substantial freight task will continue to expand. Our primary industries and mining industry will continue to grow, strengthening links to global export markets. 

Safety and performance

Vision: Every customer enjoys safe travel, regardless of transport mode or location, across a high-performing, integrated and efficient network. 

NSW has set a target of zero trauma on the transport system by 2056, committing to significant reductions in absolute and per capita rates of trauma across road, rail, waterway and air transport infrastructure and services.

Achieving our safety vision will require a mix of targeted and proven initiatives that consider how people, vehicles, speeds and infrastructure work together to create a safe system now and into the future. It will also mean providing information and technology to support people to make safer decisions about their mobility choices.

Designing trauma out of the network will mean ensuring the majority of road travel occurs on 4- to 5-star roads, incorporating key safety measures such as median and roadside safety barriers, wide centrelines, audio tactile line markings, reduced speeds and traffic calming methods.

It also means prioritising a set of public safety performance measures that will track the level of risk in our system across our fixed infrastructure; vehicles, vessels and rolling stock; operators and controllers; and customers and the community. This includes responding to new and emerging public health concerns, such as COVID-19, with Transport delivering innovative solutions to keep our network running while maintaining the highest health and safety standards.

As technology develops and is tested and proven, new vehicles (such as connected and automated vehicles (CAVs)) and smart infrastructure are expected to reduce rates of road trauma caused by human error, if key safety features are embedded into them; but will also present new challenges, as road environments and road users adapt to this new technology, and as CAVs interact with traditional vehicles in mixed traffic. New technologies are also expected to improve traffic flow and efficiently manage higher traffic volumes.

City-shaping public transport passenger and road vehicle corridors will help deliver a safer, more reliable, high-performing network. Key corridors, including all NSW motorways, will be designed and upgraded as smart corridors that accommodate the vehicles of the future and other digital technologies.

Greater separation of major traffic flows will support higher performance and safety, with freight bypasses of major regional cities and centres. Improved separation of transport modes will remove interactions that cause unnecessary safety risks and negative impacts upon efficiency (such as level crossings and separated cycleways).

Prioritising safety during planning, design, construction, management and operation across our major transport projects will help to deliver a safe and integrated network. Providing safe and direct access to and from our future transport interchanges, especially for pedestrians and bike riders, not only delivers a safer integrated environment but can enhance the qualities of our places as well.

Accessible services

Vision: Transport enables everyone to get the most out of life, wherever they live and whatever their age, ability or personal circumstances.

Access to transport is fundamentally important for all people in NSW. However, based on 2018 ABS data, 12 per cent of the 1.2 million people living with disability (including age-related disability) in NSW are unable to use any form of public transport. A further 18 per cent have difficulty or require assistance using public transport. Almost 17 per cent do not have or do not know whether they have access to public transport in their local area.

An accessible network will mean more choice for people with mobility constraints and make travel on both public transport and by private vehicle easier and safer for everyone.

Technology that provides customer information, travel planning and wayfinding, such as websites, real-time information at transport facilities, on board trains, buses and ferries, and via trip planning apps, is progressively becoming more accessible. In particular, there have been significant advances in smart phone apps that provide specialised assistance for people with disability. 

As technology advances, we will seek opportunities to improve the accessibility of transport information and the way we gather feedback from all customers, while continuing to engage and provide information through face-to-face methods and other means. We are continuing to work with customers living with disability to remove barriers from our transport networks; such as improving the design of bus stop poles to include Braille and tactile information.

Over time, the whole transport network will be physically accessible through the delivery of new assets or by upgrading or repurposing existing assets. Transport is working to deliver greater choice for all our customers, including through human-centred design approaches in infrastructure delivery and operations.

In regional NSW, NSW TrainLink services will use a new fleet of accessible trains for intercity and regional travel. In addition, the Country Public Transport Infrastructure Grant Scheme will continue assisting councils with the renewal of the State’s bus stops to provide accessibility and shelter. Transport is also working in regional and rural communities to provide innovative mobility access solutions across NSW. This includes engaging with Aboriginal communities to improve their access to transport services and available subsidies. 

In metropolitan areas, new accessible ferries will replace some of the current fleet as they are retired and the Sydney Metro and Sydney Light Rail are now among the first projects to deliver fully accessible fleets and assets in Australia. Other projects, such as the Transport Access Program, continue to upgrade our existing train and ferry networks to achieve compliance with the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002.

An accessible transport network also means easier access for people with prams and young children, people wheeling luggage trolleys, people using walking frames, and so on; making our transport system more equitable for all types of customers travelling under a range of circumstances.

1Australian Bureau of Statistics, Disability, Ageing and Carers 2018


Vision: The transport system is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, operationally resilient, affordable for customers and supports emissions reductions.

Moving to an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable transport system is essential to tackle climate change, create liveable places and a productive economy, reduce congestion, and support the better health and wellbeing of our communities. 

Taking a whole-of-life approach requires consideration of future needs, challenges and opportunities, and integrating design, planning, financing and governance decisions. 

The implementation of a new cross-cluster delivery approach that shares operational and capital costs equitably across users, taxpayers, investors and other beneficiaries, will support ongoing financial sustainability. By 2056, a transport network of public and private assets will enable NSW to maintain its competitiveness in a global low-carbon economy.

Investment in infrastructure will aim to provide jobs, skills development, or improvements in the local economy across a project’s lifecycle and build resilience into the network against threats, such as bushfires. To deliver fairness in the distribution of impacts and opportunities, we will improve our understanding of the social effects of transport infrastructure projects, and the values and heritage of the communities we work in.

Sustainable transport needs to be lean, clean and green. This means reducing overall transport demand through integrated land use planning, lowering vehicle emissions by using more sustainable transport and investing in more sustainable fleet (such as the new electric diesel bi-modal regional rail fleet), and transitioning to low-carbon fuels or electricity that is sustainability generated.

Taking this whole-of-life approach to assess economic, environmental and social impacts also requires us to consider future needs, challenges and opportunities, and to integrate flexible solutions into the design, planning, financing and governance decisions we make now, in the context of future decision making, risks and uncertainty.

New technologies will also help us get the most out of our existing assets, solving network issues without significant capital investment. For example, smart motorways will better manage traffic flows and congestion, potentially reducing the need for extra road space, while digital twins (virtual replicas of the physical world) can help save costs through predictive maintenance and identification of network problems.

Six principles for Future Transport

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

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