Degrade. Defund. Privatise. Repeat.
This is the current policy of the Liberal/National Coalition in both Australia and the state of New South Wales and I for one am sick of it.
After not coming to an agreement on overtime rates with train drivers, Sydney Trains and by extension the Department Of Transport, are now doing their level best to annoy the heck out of the general public by cancelling train services at random and leaving passengers on station platforms with little information.
I have spoken to three drivers and it seems that whoever their managers are, simply isn't assigning drivers on scheduled runs because they haven't got any authority to guarantee that the drivers will be paid for doing them. This is management from above by budget knavery and the best guess is that the trail of decision making leads straight to Minister Andrew Constance's door and quite possibly to Premier Gladys Berejiklian herself.
Last night at Wynyard Station, passengers were herded like sheep, deliberately held back from entering the platforms because of over crowding and the very real fear that someone might fall onto the tracks, wherein we stood nine deep waiting for trains in both directions.
When I finally did get a train that I could get onto, I found myself standing next to the railing on a set of stairs, with a bolt being pushed into my ribs and at one point I swear that my feet weren't actually touching the ground and I was suspended in the air by the crowd crush.
Thanks to the shenanigans by Sydney Trains, my expectations have been successfully lowered from wondering if I'm going to get a seat to wondering if I'm going to get a train.
Thanks Andrew and Gladys. Your handiwork is on display for all to see. Andrew has officially blamed yesterday's madness on staffing issues and lightning.
This morning wasn't really much better. I took a bus from Marayong to Blacktown because the next four services to anywhere had been cancelled and when I did get to Blacktown, the announcements that trains had been cancelled outnumbered the announcements for trains that were actually running, severalfold. I don't know if you can blame lightning which happened more than 12 hours ago for a current running problem.
The playbook which is currently being worked through has been used before. We've seen this with airports, the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, the electricity and water companies, we're currently seeing it with schools, the post office, the ferries, and if it wasn't obvious before then it is now, the trains and buses. That playbook is simply to starve the services of proper funding, watch as the public gets angry, lose government, then block any and all attempts to correct the stupidity; then after being voted back into office, claim a mandate to privatise government assets before selling them at a discount to your not quite criminal friends.
In the meantime, start playing identity politics, stirring up racial tensions and demonising the newest broad immigrant group to arrive, blame poor people for their own poverty but refuse to do anything about it, or shift the media focus to some other completely irrelevant topic like changing the flag or the republic.
I find it a bit rich that the Minister For Transport lives in an electorate with zero railways stations and that his electorate was presented with the brand new B-Line services; with no plans to expand that portion of the bus network. Incidentally, private operators TransDev already own the South & South Western Sydney bus depots but have no intention of buying the unprofitable parts of the bus network at all. The plans for the Sydney Metro were first put forward in 2001, then 2005, 2008 and 2010 until Barry O'Farrel promised to fill in all of the holes that would be dug for the new stations if his government was elected. It was and magically, the plans resurfaced for a privately operated metro line; so there's no surprise there. As an aside, I consider it total lunacy that the Metro line terminates at Cudgegong Road but doesn't go the extra 4.1km to Schofields where it could have made a connection.
Back to the issue at hand. Andrew Constance's job as far as I can tell, is to stand up in parliament and refuse to answer any questions about anything ever posed to him. I don't know what the expiry date is for blaming the previous government but here we are seven years later and Constance's default answer to to say that they're cleaning up the mess left behind by Labour, while not actually cleaning anything up at all.
Maybe as the Liberal/National Coalition drifts towards the economic right, they are secretly hoping that we'll just accept the fascist myth of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, that the trains are running on time. Yesterday proved, that if you want the public to acccept the lie, you have to at very least make sure that the trains are running in the first place.