Seeking clearer visions

Ian Kirkwood’s article in the Newcastle Herald covers the potential impact on Newcastle bus services:

THE state government’s UrbanGrowth agency says its four potential visions for Newcastle ‘‘reimagine the city centre as an enhanced destination, supported by new employment, educational and housing opportunities and public domain, that will attract people’’.

I’m not sure who else they were looking to attract – water rats, perhaps? – but the four ‘‘opportunities’’, as UrbanGrowth describes them, are big on glossy artist’s impressions and motherhood statements, and somewhat short on concrete detail.

The agency is inviting the public into a six-week ‘‘conversation’’ between now and September 18, but after two days of trying, the Newcastle Herald is still seeking detailed answers to some major questions.

The first of these is the implied linkage between the sale of corridor land and the creation of public infrastructure.

From another angle, UrbanGrowth’s plans may also have implications for the city’s bus service. The Newcastle rail station bus depot goes to an unspecified location in the “West End” in options three and four, which also show a “potential bus layover” on the rail corridor between Merewether and Argyle Streets.Merewether and Argyle are hardly in the West End, but either way, would the bus services still run all the way to Watt Street, as they do now, or would they end in Newcastle West, forcing all public transport passengers onto the light rail?

The answers to these and other questions will emerge in time but if there’s even a chance of bus services receiving a heavy rail-style truncation, then the government should come clean on it right now. By breaking its plans into three separate components – the Wickham interchange, the light rail and the revitalisation plans unveiled on Monday – the government is making it harder than it otherwise might be to grasp the ‘‘big picture’’ implications of the changes.

That would be unintentional, surely?

Read the full article at the Newcastle Herald.