An artist’s impression of the NSW Coalition’s bus rapid transit proposal as featured by the Manly Daily on 25 February 2011

The promise from the NSW Coalition to seek expressions of interest for a bus rapid transit system for the Northern Beaches has been welcomed by SHOROC, a partnership of Manly, Mosman, Pittwater & Warringah councils.

“We think this is a great announcement and, if built, would deliver significant benefits for our region,” said SHOROC President and Pittwater Mayor Harvey Rose, “it is a priority that should be commenced in the first term of whichever party forms government after the upcoming election”.

However, SHOROC considers expressions of interest should look at an on-road as well as an in-tunnel solution as the cost could be less than a tenth by building the system on the road instead of through the proposed tunnel.

“The bus rapid transit system is a key element of our regional strategy Shaping Our Future, but we think a practical system could be built on-road for a fraction of the cost,” said Mayor Rose, “the lower the cost the more likely it will be built in the short-term.”

SHOROC considers the expressions of interest should also consider construction of an underground interchange around Neutral Bay and include delivery of a bus rapid transit system east-west from Dee Why to Chatswood.

“An option proposed in our Shaping Our Future strategy that should be considered is to build an underground interchange around Neutral Bay linking to a metro-style rapid transit service to the city,” said Mayor Rose, “this would make a huge difference by freeing up space on the Warringah Freeway and the CBD by reducing the number of buses travelling into the city”.

“A similar bus rapid transit system should also be considered east-west from Dee Why though to Frenchs Forest and Chatswood to take pressure off the north south corridor and enable residents take fast public transport to jobs in these growing areas,” said Mayor Rose, “we need a holistic solution for the whole of the region.”

Funding for rapid buses from Mona Vale to the city and from Dee Why to Chatswood, Ryde and the CBD, road upgrades, immediate construction of the Northern Beaches Hospital and upgrades to Mona Vale Hospital top the list of priorities for the SHOROC region under Shaping Our Future, the regional strategy which has been adopted by Manly, Mosman, Pittwater & Warringah councils.