Roads and Maritime Services is delivering a once-in-a-generation transformation of the state's road networks and maritime infrastructure to make our customer journeys safer and more efficient.
In 2016‑17, our employees delivered a $6.47 billion budget on projects and initiatives to make NSW a better place to live, work and visit.
As we work to deliver efficient and reliable journeys, we also want to ensure value for our customers. So this year, we dedicated time to change the structure of our organisation to establish divisions with end-to-end accountability for customer, community, financial, environment and asset outcomes. This work is a critical component in changing the way we do business to deliver better customer outcomes.
The key focus for the agency continues to be improving road and maritime safety and travel reliability, as well as easing congestion as population growth in the state continues to drive greater demand on our networks in both Sydney and our regional urban centres.
We have taken a giant leap forward this year in both project planning and delivery. Our improved network planning capability enabled us to unlock network capacity and improve travel reliability for customers and my new executive team will continue to develop this capability in the coming years. Our ongoing programs of work, such as road and bridge maintenance, also depend on our ability to get the planning right before delivering the improvements to road conditions that are important to our customers.
In our role as regulators, we delivered several key improvements this year including the digitalisation of medical records, which will save around 470,000 customers from having to visit us to renew their licenses. We have also continued to develop Australia's first electronic driver licences which will simplify the renewal process and give our customers greater flexibility through digital access to their licenses.
I am proud of our achievements this year and the ongoing dedication and professionalism of our people. While carrying out organisational transformation at the same time as delivering a record budget presented some challenges, our teams maintained a strong focus on successfully completing or progressing more than 4,000 projects and other initiatives.
I am confident that the changes we have made, and will continue to make, as a new Executive will underpin our future success.
Roads and Maritime Services
More than 80 per cent of our $6.47 billion budget was spent on building new capacity on road and waterway networks, and maintaining infrastructure. This year work continued on our major motorways projects, NorthConnex and WestConnex, and we were pleased to open the King Georges Road Interchange upgrade at Beverly Hills two months early. The WestConnex project hit a key milestone with the completion of the new M4 Widening between Parramatta and Homebush. Significant new projects underway in 2016‑17 include the start of tunnelling for WestConnex's new M4 East Homebush to Haberfield project, and the awarding of the construction tender for the M4 Smart Motorways project, which will improve travel times on the state's oldest motorway.
Travel reliability remains a key interest for our Sydney customers, with a focus on creating new clearways and reducing congestion at pinch points. During the year we implemented 11 new and extended clearways covering 81.8 kilometres across Sydney's road network, and completed 50 projects as part of the $825 million investment in pinch points.
The Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan is fast tracking road projects to support the Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek, with both the Old Wallgrove Road upgrade and new Werrington Arterial Road opening to traffic this year. These and other infrastructure upgrades will transform the region building a stronger and more prosperous Western Sydney, already Australia's third largest economy.
More than 100 projects were completed this year across NSW in partnership with local councils to support the health and wellbeing of our customers, and reduce congestion as part of our Active Transport Program. The continuation of this program demonstrates our commitment to implementing a multi-modal transport system and provides our customers with travelling choices. Targeted investment to improve walking and cycling options in areas where shorter trips occur most often has created more accessibility and makes local communities better places to live and work.
Regional and freight
In regional NSW, we worked with local councils and our industry partners to continue to deliver world-class infrastructure. This included undertaking upgrades to the Pacific, Princes and Great Western Highways to improve freight corridors and support growth and connectivity in regional NSW.
It has been a particularly big year for the Pacific Highway with seventy per cent of the project now complete and construction of the final corridor of work between Woolgoolga to Ballina underway. With the completion of this 20-year program in sight, customers are already benefiting from safer journeys and travel time savings of more than 90 minutes between Hexham and the Queensland border.
With around half of the nation's road freight journeys taking place on NSW roads, we continue to support the freight industry as it provides goods and services to people across NSW and regional communities. We aim to balance freight industry and business needs with those of the broader community and environment.
During the year, we removed a number of significant freight bottlenecks through our Bridges for the Bush Program and continued to consult and engage with the freight industry, farmers and the community to promote safety, improve productivity and protect infrastructure. We also launched the Sugar Cane Harvest Management Scheme, which complements existing schemes for livestock and grain, and keeps the NSW economy moving by granting the flexibility to transport heavier loads during harvest season.
Improving the customer experience
The customer is at the centre of everything we do, from designing and building roads to licensing and registration, and customer feedback helps us to shape our programs and services.
Our 2016‑17, customer satisfaction results have remained stable over the last year with high levels of satisfaction noted by our private vehicle, cycling and pedestrian customers. We listen closely to our customers, including gaining better insights through our Roads Customer Satisfaction Survey, which has been conducted since 2015. From the findings we have been able to focus on the things that are important to our customers including access to information, journey times, safety and road quality.
A core component of our work is timely and effective communication and engagement with the communities in which we work. During the year our employees engaged with a range of community members and stakeholders at more than 290 events and activities to ensure our customers had a say, helping us shape the roads and maritime networks for the people of NSW.
In March 2017, we also implemented the government's land acquisition reforms to help make the acquisition process fairer, more transparent and more customer focused. The NSW Customer Service Commissioner reviewed our acquisition processes in detail as part of these broader reforms and, as a result, we have adopted a series of improvements.
In 2016‑17, we continued to safeguard our waterways through our boating safety and education program. Under Operation Boat Safe we engaged with more than 51,000 maritime customers and conducted more than 61,000 vessel safety checks through the state.
Through our Sydney Harbour cleaning program - aimed at reducing marine pollution and keeping our iconic harbour healthy - our dedicated team visited more than 22,000 sites and removed the equivalent of 9,488 standard wheelie bins of litter and debris from the harbour and foreshore.
We also administered the NSW Boating Now Program that provided $10.1 million this year for initiatives to enhance the boating experience for customers.
Building a diverse and inclusive agency
We are committed to creating a flexible workplace and building a diverse and inclusive culture to better reflect the community we serve. During the year we increased the representation of people from a non-English speaking background across Roads and Maritime and encouraged greater Aboriginal participation in our workforce. We also worked with our delivery partners to increase diversity across the state and provide employment opportunities in regional areas.
I am pleased we now have more women in senior roles than ever before and continue to implement initiatives to support the employment and development of Aboriginal people. While we have made strides in increasing diversity and providing access to employment, we need to continue our work in this area.