The West Metro: Baird’s real legacy for the Inner West

Change is bad news for a politician. The guy responsible for all those cranes you see on the skyline really should have stuck to the Bob Carr formula – and done nothing. Mike Baird could have retired a legend instead of “the vandal”, the most hated man in the Inner West.

WestConnex protestors were quick to claim his scalp. Within minutes of his announcement last Thursday, an ecstatic Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong high tailed it down to the Euston Rd protest site to celebrate. She posted a video announcing that “this toxic tollway” had “relegated Baird to political history.” Likewise The WestConnex Action Group (WAG) excitedly pronounced “Baird Bulldozed” and “called on the new Premier to immediately halt the project.

Now don’t get too excited… None of Baird’s successors will change anything, not now that the man who took all the heat has gone. Nor will Labor. On the WestConnex Luke Foley has only ever uttered the opportunistic claptrap and the slippery evasions politicians everywhere are famous for.

Late last year Baird announced something way more significant for us, his real legacy project. That’s the extension of the Sydney Metro – the West Metro to Parramatta. But no one even noticed.

Anyway, it’s hardly fair that something that actually pre-dated his time as Premier is what Baird will be most remembered for. Late last year he announced something way more significant – an extension of the Sydney Metro – the West Metro to Parramatta. But no one even noticed.

Details of its route haven’t been announced, but it was stated that it’s going to the Bays Precinct and the Olympic Park Corridor – so smack through the Inner West. Super fast, regular trains (every four minutes in the peak), just turn up and go. Fantastic news, right? Especially for the Baird-haters who have been demanding public transport.

Well, no. Jenny’s party and the WestConnex protestors did notice, but they don’t want a metro either. Their position is confusing and frankly – hard to believe, but in a local newspaper late last year, Peter Hehr, convenor of RAW (Rozelle Against WestConnex) helpfully spelt out why they will fight it too.

He had to invent a reason, claiming that it is “likely to be owned by a private consortium ” and therefore “isn’t really public transport.”

Dead wrong on both counts. It may well be operated privately but like the Sydney Metro, it will be built, owned and regulated by the NSW government. They will set its Opal fares too. The light rail, all the ferries and most of Sydney’s outer suburban buses are already run along similar lines.

Obviously this lot have another agenda, but could it also be that our protestors are not the plucky, free-thinking 70s style radicals they see themselves as at all, but plain old cranky, get-off-my-patch conservatives?

Well, they don’t have to use the metro Baird built. Most of them have a car, an Uber or GoGet account. They can always use the WestConnex.

Russell Edwards