Sydney may become the next major city to build a cable car link to move commuters across the harbour.
A proposal for a project called Sydney Skyway has been crafted by a group of engineers and transport experts who believe a cable car connection between Balmain, Pyrmont and Barangaroo is the best option to improve public transport to harbourside areas that will likely see an influx of residents in coming years.
The team behind Skyway believe Sydney’s current harbour transport infrastructure has reached capacity, and with developments like Barangaroo attracting more residents to harbourside areas, the city needs an innovative transport solution.
The group has requested funding from the NSW Government to conduct a feasibility study on the project.
“We are urging the Government to put some money into interrogating this option to see whether it stacks up,” said Malcolm Moir, a spokesperson for the Skyway team.
Based on research conducted thus far, the group believes the Sydney Skyway would be the most energy efficient means of transporting large numbers of people across Sydney harbour. The Skyway is estimated to be able to move 4000 people per hour.
According to Mr Moir, the Skyway would be environmentally sustainable, relatively cheap to run and on par with other transport options in terms of commuter cost. Each cable car would be fitted with bicycle racks to encourage cyclists to use the Skyway to cross the harbour.
The Skyway would also be integrated with the Opal system.
“This is an energy efficient, affordable, quick to erect and sensible way to move people,” said Mr Moir.
The Skyway is not designed as a tourist attraction but rather as a commuter connection between harbourside destinations.
Mr Moir rejected claims the Skyway will be another Monorail: “The Monorail travelled in circles, this will actually get people from A to B. It is not designed as a tourist attraction. If tourists use it as well, that is the icing on the cake.”
The problem of the inaccessibility of harbourside areas such as Barangaroo has been a contentious issue for several months. With limited road capacity and no simple pedestrian access to Barangaroo, many community members are concerned about the lack of new transport infrastructure to match the new developments.
Sydney Business Chamber Executive Director Patricia Forsythe said Sydney is set to face a serious transport problem in the near future.
“Certainly we need stronger transport connections in the western harbour precinct. There is a view that Pyrmont Bridge is close to capacity, even before we have seen the completion of Barangaroo or the new Darling Harbour entertainment space,” she said.
“Clearly more and more people are going to live and work in the western harbour and so we do need a review of transport options for the area.”
The Star casino in Pyrmont recently proposed a new bridge connecting The Star to Barangaroo, however the project never got off the ground.
Mr Moir emphasised that the Skyway is preferable to a bridge because as well as being sustainable, the skyway could address the transport problem in a relatively short space of time.
“I am told that once it is approved, this project could be operational within a year,” he said.
“In the time it takes to build a bridge, Barangaroo will already be up and running.”
“Time is ticking, these developments are going to be finished before we know it and it doesn’t seem like there has been much thought put in to how we are going to get in and out.”
Mr Moir said the Government has been open to the idea of a feasibility study, but has not provided a definitive response.
Mr Moir has met with the Premier and the Minister for Transport and has presented the idea to the Western Harbour Super Precinct Committee, and said he has not encountered any resistance so far.
Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian said she was open to the idea.
“I always welcome ideas from the community,” she said.
Minister Berejiklian also said there were already plans in place to improve transport infrastructure in these areas.
“We are also planning for the thousands of office workers and visitors expected to travel to and from the Barangaroo development in the coming years,” she said.
“Construction is already underway on the Wynyard Walk to move thousands of customers from Wynyard to Barangaroo and we’ve started early works on a new Barangaroo ferry hub.”
Ms Forysthe said the cable car concept may be worth considering.
“This cable car could not be a substitute for a new transport network, but we shouldn’t dismiss concepts like this as having no place within that new network.”