Our Vision for 2056

Our vision is for Greater Newcastle’s residents, employees and visitors to have and use a world class transport system that meets everyone’s needs.

Achieving this vision will require an integrated whole-of-government approach, working in partnership with local communities and stakeholders to deliver integrated transport networks and places that best meet the needs of our wide range of customers. It will be built on the transformative light rail project currently underway and the recent introduction of more frequent bus and ferry services and trials of on demand services by Newcastle Transport – a servicing model that has applicability for the rest of Greater Newcastle and beyond.

World class transport system

In order to meet the vision of providing a world class transport system that meets everyone’s needs, we need to continue to plan for and build an efficient network that:

Provides quality transport connections to/from and within strategic centres and key locations such as Newcastle Airport

Provides an easy to understand and frequent public transport network to service customers, with a clear hierarchy of services, providing customers with real travel choice – this will include turn up and go services on key high demand routes through to on demand services to serve more geographically dispersed communities, and planning for significant urban growth areas

Improves interchanging between transport modes and services to facilitate a seamless travel experience.
To ensure the best value for money is achieved with our transport services and infrastructure, we need to make sure that the level of service we provide meets the demand for those connections.

Additionally, as Greater Newcastle grows and people continue to drive, there will be increased pressure on the road network. We need to work with stakeholders to develop travel demand strategies to re-balance travel demand (re-time, re-mode, re-route and reduce) to ensure that the expected increase in private vehicle trips does not lead to congestion and unacceptable journey times and reliabilities. These strategies will also benefit businesses and communities in managing their time. We need to ensure that public and active transport are viable options for travelling to/from and within Greater Newcastle.

Transitioning to sustainable transport modes

There is an opportunity to support Greater Newcastle’s development as a Global Gateway City by “getting ahead of the curve” and supporting its transition into Stage 3 of the city development cycle (as referred to in Figure 41).

Greater Newcastle is currently within Stage 1 and 2 of the city development cycle. With increased investment and focus on more efficient and sustainable modes of transport (public and active), rather than car use, there is an opportunity to support the development of a high quality public realm. This has flow on effects in creating a more liveable and global city, attracting businesses, visitors and new residents from across the world.

This process has already started with the transformation of the city centre as a result of the new light rail. Newcastle Transport’s clear public transport network hierarchy with more frequent bus and ferry services and an on demand trial area will continue to support this transition.

Ongoing improvements to make public and active transport more viable options across the whole of Greater Newcastle will include:

  • Development of a strong public transport hierarchy across the Greater Newcastle area, connecting where people live to where they want to travel. Bus routes should reflect customer’s travel needs, with priority given to buses on key corridors to provide comparable, if not quicker, journey times compared to private vehicles. Service levels should match the travel demand, with turn up and go frequencies on key corridors
  • Better integrating Greater Newcastle’s train stations with the surrounding land uses, including providing feeder transport services such as on demand services, bike share, bike parking, footpaths as well as making sure adjoining development responds to the stations through good urban design
  • Reviewing car parking provision across Greater Newcastle and limiting parking in centres where strong public transport exists and exploring opportunities for park and ride, car pooling and car sharing services
  • Encouraging and working with stakeholders to develop travel demand management policies (re-time, re-mode, re-route and reduce travel) such as promoting people working from home or working with employers to promote sustainable working and organisational practices, travelling in off peak periods or reallocation of road space to reduce the number of single occupant vehicle trips
  • Collaborating with local councils and key stakeholder groups to develop a safe and connected cycling network and creating more walkable places across Greater Newcastle.

Future mobility and services

In developing a world class transport system, there is an opportunity in Greater Newcastle to trial and integrate new mobility options and service models as described in the Future Transport Strategy.

New technologies for connected, automated and electric vehicles will improve public and private modes of transport and freight vehicles. An important step in automated vehicle technology was the 2017 NSW Government legislation enabling the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight to approve trials of automated vehicles. This gives us an opportunity to properly assess these vehicles’ ability to meet our policy outcomes of improving safety, boosting service frequencies and reducing congestion.

Personalised mobility devices, like e-bikes and motorised scooters, offer alternatives for short trips to city centres and work locations. These technologies can include assisted mobility devices that are appealing for older people or people with mobility constraints because they require less physical effort than walking or cycling and people can use them for longer trips and over more difficult terrain, even with a lower fitness level.

Ever expanding data sources and applications are enabling greater integration of services and new service models to be developed and adopted. The emergence of rideshare companies has already significantly changed the point-to-point market, with new online service providers emerging and being embraced by customers. The NSW Government’s point-to-point reforms made in 2017 have opened up the market for new transport services providers to meet demand.

The next wave of data-enabled transport service models, known as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), will enable customers to plan and pay for their journeys across different transport service providers via a single customer interface, such as a mobile phone app. MaaS relies on sharing real time information to help customers optimise their journeys through a single MaaS provider. It enables customers to plan and purchase their end-to-end journey from a retailer (most likely via an app) choosing from a range of travel options, such as travelling by public transport, rideshare or bike hire. In real time, the app then guides the customer through their journey.

Data exchanged between customers and service providers via a MaaS platform helps providers offer more personalised services and can also link customers to non-travel related products such as restaurant delivery, event ticketing and retail. As technology unlocks new mobility and service possibilities, customer data sharing presents an opportunity for customers to have unprecedented input into how transport services are delivered. One example is the emergence of on demand bus services currently being trialled in Greater Newcastle and other forms of shared transport that will allow customers to directly influence where their local services travel on a day-to-day basis.

The emergence of new service providers will result in customers having more choice than ever. However, it is important that the transport system also remains easy-to-understand. In high demand areas, frequent, high capacity corridors will be provided to move the majority of people. These will be complemented by more flexible or on demand services on local corridors.

Mode share targets

Greater Newcastle has strong potential to increase the share of trips that people make on public transport, walking and cycling. Using data from the Household Travel Survey (five year pooled data between 2011/12 and 2015/16), we know that during the week three per cent of trips in Greater Newcastle are undertaken by public transport. Despite this, Greater Newcastle has one of the highest shares of people walking and cycling in the metropolitan areas of Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast and Hunter with 13 per cent of trips made by foot or bicycle.

Looking at the journey to work, Greater Newcastle has relatively low shares of public transport and walking and cycling in comparison to similar cities internationally (Figure 43).

Newcastle Transport’s public transport network has already shown improvements to the number of people using public transport. As this model continues to develop, along with a more extensive public transport network, Greater Newcastle could achieve significant increases in the portion of trips taken by bus, train, light rail, ferry and on demand services. We could also see a significant increase in walking and cycling with a safe and connected regional bicycle network and people living closer to where they work and play.

Our target is for 25 per cent of total trips within Greater Newcastle to be made by public transport or walking and cycling by 2056. This will mean a 4.3 per cent shift to public transport and a 3.7 per cent shift to walking and cycling.

We can meet these targets by:

  • Implementing travel demand management policies and behaviour change initiatives as well as infrastructure, supported by Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan 2036’s goal of 60 percent infill development
  • Increasing the frequency, reliability and directness of bus services along Greater Newcastle’s key corridors, including urban renewal corridors, making bus travel more competitive with private vehicle travel (recently introduced in Newcastle Transport operating area)
  • Introducing new point-to-point and on demand services in areas not well served by scheduled services
  • Encouraging the use of car pooling and park and ride
  • Connecting the regional cycleway network and providing safer ways for people to get to where they are going by bike
  • Focusing urban renewal development around train stations, improving train services and improving connections to these services
  • Completing Newcastle light rail and investigating opportunities for expansion
  • Extending the ferry network to the Newcastle Interchange.

Public transport

There are opportunities to improve public transport within Greater Newcastle. We can build on the work undertaken by Newcastle Transport to make changes to the network to deliver bus routes and frequencies that meet customer needs. This includes measures to support public transport priority. We will work towards:

  • Improved integration and interchange between modes/services to enable seamless customer experience
  • Improved time of day coverage and service frequency, supporting connections to strategic centres and key destinations
  • Expanding 30 minute catchments for public transport
  • Provision of bus priority on key demand corridors, including turn up and go frequencies, to support quicker and more reliable journeys competitive with private vehicle travel
  • Bus headstart services (these are bus routes implemented in new growth areas to encourage early public transport use) to provide a public transport travel option as soon as people move into their new homes
  • Protecting corridors to enable the light rail network to extend and support population and employment growth
  • Extension of the ferry service to Newcastle Interchange and consideration of an on demand special events service to support the Newcastle Cruise Terminal
  • Deployment of on demand services across Greater Newcastle to support travel options in lower density areas as well as reduce congestion during peak periods such as events within the Hunter Valley or sporting matches at Broadmeadow
  • Investigating rail corridor infrastructure investment programs that result in faster journeys for customers – see Case Study on Faster Rail Business Case for the Sydney-Newcastle corridor
  • Station upgrades and integration between the stations and surrounding land uses are needed to support increased public transport travel
  • Supporting through appropriate services long distance travel outside the area, connecting people to cities and centres in the North Coast, Hunter, New England North West, Central West and Orana, Central Coast and Greater Sydney
  • Car share opportunities across Greater Newcastle to reduce the need for private vehicle ownership as well as support the accessibility of visitors to the region
  • Increased opportunities for park and ride at key locations to support public transport travel as well as formalising car pooling for people travelling along key corridors such as the M1 Pacific Motorway and Hunter Expressway.

Faster Rail Business Case for the Sydney – Newcastle corridor

The 2017 Federal Budget included a commitment by the Australian Government to investigate improvements to the rail connections between our cities and surrounding regional areas through $20 million in funding to support the development of up to three faster rail business cases across Australia. In March 2018 the Australian Government announced that it will provide matching funding for the development of a business case to facilitate faster passenger rail services between Sydney and Newcastle.

The business case will investigate works such as reducing track curvature, deviations and realignments, removal of level crossings, junction rearrangement and better segregation of passenger and freight services. This could result in travel times between Sydney and Newcastle being reduced from approximately 3 hours to 2 hours.

Business cases are expected to be delivered to the Australian Government in the next 12 to 18 months. They will need to demonstrate faster rail travel times through new or upgrades to the existing rail infrastructure. Completed business cases will then be considered in the context of the Australian Government’s wider infrastructure priorities and future Budgets. Any future funding commitments will take into account state and private sector financial support.

For further information, visit https://infrastructure.gov.au/rail/trains/faster_rail/
index.aspx

Active transport

Capitalising on the strong active transport use within Greater Newcastle, there is an opportunity for trips within centres as well as trips less than 10km to be made by walking or cycling. We will support the development of networks to make sustainable transport a real travel choice as part of the Walking and Cycling Program. Funding within this Program supports infrastructure as well as behavioural change programs and bicycle parking.

Using the bicycle plans developed by Greater Newcastle’s Councils as well as the Newcastle CycleSafe Network, we have developed a regional bicycle network to support travel by bicycle across Greater Newcastle. Figure 46 shows the existing and proposed regional connections. We will work with local councils to deliver cycleway improvements to support a Greater Newcastle Regional Bicycle Network.

The greater density of residential and employment land uses within NSW’s Global Gateways and Satellite cities (i.e. Greater Newcastle, Wollongong and Gosford) presents a greater opportunity to increase sustainable mode shares compared to other regional areas. The availability of robust evidence on travel patterns (via Household Travel Survey data) also enables monitoring of performance throughout the day in these areas.

Newcastle CycleSafe Network

The Newcastle CycleSafe Network is a community led vision to complete a family-safe regional cycleway network connecting destinations across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. It is supported by TfNSW, NRMA, University of Newcastle, Heart Foundation, Bicycle NSW, The Tom Farrell Institute and the Newcastle Cycleways Movement Inc.

The network corresponds with cycleways identified in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Council bike plans. It includes 90 kilometres of existing paths and proposes 140 kilometres of new facilities connecting schools, shops, work places and other destinations. The aim is to make walking and cycling a viable alternative to car travel by targeting trips less than two kilometres for walking and trips less than 10 kilometres for cycling.

The Regional Bicycle Network for Greater Newcastle identified in this plan includes the CycleSafe network and extends the network out to Maitland, Cessnock, Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay.

Newcastle eBike On Demand Service

We have put in place an on demand eBike (electric bike) pilot service in the metro core of Greater Newcastle.

Nineteen docking stations with 100 eBikes and helmets have been installed in various locations for customers to pre-book, collect and ride at a time and place that suits them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The trial allows users to take short trips using a fleet of public bicycles distributed within a physical or digital network. It includes a self-serve, charging station, lightweight power-assisted bikes for people with all levels of fitness and ability, a user-friendly web platform and intelligent fleet management.

The e-bikes are securely locked and automatically charged in the docking points.

More information is available at https://transportnsw.info/travel-info/ways-to-get-around/on-demand-public-transport/newcastle-ebike-on-demand-service

Road use

With increasing population and strong private vehicle use, congestion on the road network will occur. With improvements to public and active transport, there is an opportunity to reconsider the role and function of roads across Greater Newcastle. We will work towards:

  • Completing a NSW Road Classification Review that considers how roads are classified across the state
  • Undertaking Road Network Strategies across Greater Newcastle to inform the development of longer term priorities for the Hunter state road network
  • Addressing pinch points in the road network and informing the program of road network optimisation improvements
  • Undertaking a car parking review to evaluate and prioritise car parking availability and use as well as considering car share and car pooling opportunities
  • Developing travel demand management policies and transport optimisation programs to rebalance demand against service and infrastructure provision
  • Working with key stakeholders in the application of the movement and place framework to support travel and places through Place Plans.

Adopting the movement and place framework and principles in centres has the potential to transform the way those communities operate. The movement and place framework is all about creating places and experiences which locals and visitors will seek out. It acknowledges that both customer and community needs are different and the street environment needs to provide different functions – moving people and goods, while also being destinations for people. The framework will enable us to plan, design and operate the road network to meet these different needs. The movement and place framework is explored further in Customer Outcome 3 within Chapter 3.

NSW Road Classification Review

Currently, road funding and management arrangements between State and Local Government are based on a three tier hierarchy of State, Regional and Local Road classifications.

The NSW Government, through Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), funds and manages State Roads and provides funding assistance to councils towards their management of Regional Roads.

A review provides an opportunity to make adjustments to the classification process and ensure an up to date network that meets the social and economic needs of the community and industry. The last review took a number of years to complete and the three year implementation process concluded in mid-2012.

Maitland Network Strategy

The objectives of the Maitland Network Strategy are to identify the key current and future challenges that impact the function and performance of the road network including transport demand, road safety, along with future land use development impacts. It will propose a framework to manage the road network over the next 20 years.

The Strategy is being completed in partnership with Maitland City Council for a shared understanding of the strategic transport network. Key local roads are included in the scope of the study and challenges and opportunities are developed without special consideration to the classified road network. The transport network around Maitland has restrictions from flood plains, rivers and the heavy rail line. As such, it is important to acknowledge the role of local roads in reducing the demand on the New England Highway.

The Strategy will provide a mechanism for Maitland City Council to seek funding for upgrades on the strategic local government network, with justification on how various links fit onto the overall road network provided through the Strategy. It will provide strategic merit for any future funding proposals and an evidence based methodology to support this.

RMS will work with other Councils across Greater Newcastle to deliver Network Strategies relevant to their local government areas.

Aviation

Newcastle Airport is currently expanding, with recent investment in the Airport’s facilities and major upgrades planned to the RAAF Base to accommodate new Joint Strike Fighters (F-35). These upgrades will create a cluster of economic activity and new jobs at Williamtown. The Airport may also have a larger role in the future in supporting freight movements.

It will be increasingly important to ensure efficient transport connections are available between the airport and surrounding regions. We will continue to support the development of Newcastle Airport by providing public transport connections across Greater Newcastle. Road improvements, committed and identified for investigation, include Nelson Bay Road, Cormorant Road, M1, Hexham, Raymond Terrace upgrades and Tomago Road. These improvements will result in improved freight and passenger vehicle connections.

We also acknowledge the opportunity that the point-to-point reforms implemented in 2017 have had for opening up the market for transport services to meet demand.

Public transport and Newcastle Airport

A number of operators currently provide public transport connections between Newcastle Airport, the Greater Newcastle area and broader Hunter region.

Port Stephens Coaches currently provides 18 connections between Newcastle Interchange and Newcastle Airport on weekdays. The earliest service starts at 4:37am and the last service departs at 9:07pm. The travel time is approximately 30 minutes, which is comparable to the time it takes to drive the same distance.

Hunter Valley Buses provide 12 connections between Stockland Green Hills and Newcastle Airport on weekdays. The earliest service starts at 6am and the last service departs at 5pm.

Taxis and ridesharing services are available as well as other private operators like Hunter Connection Shuttle, Foggs Shuttle and Kroosn Shuttle Service to connect people from around Greater Newcastle to/from the airport.

Freight

The movement of freight through Greater Newcastle is very important to the economic function and development of the Hunter region and New South Wales. As Greater Newcastle grows and densifies, there will be increased pressure on the key road and rail networks transporting this freight. We will continue to protect these corridors from inappropriate development to ensure they can function into the future.

We have also identified a number of connections within Greater Newcastle to reduce the conflict between freight and residential land uses. These include:

  • Lower Hunter Freight Corridor Protection – A future dedicated freight rail line to be constructed between Fassifern and Hexham, bypassing Newcastle while improving regional and interstate links
  • Newcastle Inner City Bypass, Rankin Park to Jesmond – a 3.4 kilometre bypass between Rankin Park and Jesmond, to the west of John Hunter Hospital. The project includes new northern and southern interchanges and a western entrance to John Hunter Hospital. A pedestrian bridge is also being constructed over the road to the east of the northern interchange to replace a set of pedestrian signals. The pedestrian bridge is expected to start construction in mid 2019
  • M1, Hexham, Raymond Terrace upgrades – upgrades to the strategic network of primary freight routes comprising of the New England Highway, M1 Pacific Motorway through to the Pacific Highway at Raymond Terrace and the strategic junction with the New England Highway and Hexham Straight.

More information on major road projects in the Greater Newcastle and Hunter region is available at http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/hunter/index.html. The NSW Freight and Ports Plan will detail further the vision for freight across NSW.

Supporting Newcastle Port

Newcastle Port is the economic and trading centre for the Hunter region and northern NSW. It is a critical supply chain interface for the movement of cargo. Non-coal trades include fuel, fertiliser, wheat, mineral concentrates, alumina and project cargo such as wind turbines. Newcastle Port is the State’s primary coal export facility and Australia’s third largest port by trade volume, handling more than 167 million tonnes in 2017.

Regardless of the global future of coal, Newcastle Port will continue to be an important part of NSW’s current and future freight task. With significant underutilised capacity, the Port is planning to diversify and expand its import and export trade base in the long-term. The New Cruise Terminal facilities are expected to commence operating in 2019 and will further support tourism opportunities in the Hunter region.

Network hierarchy

To support this vision, key links have been identified for Greater Newcastle. These links recognise the regional movements required (connections outside of Greater Newcastle) as well as the need to connect people within Greater Newcastle. This network hierarchy should provide the basis for future transport improvements across all modes.