Tim O'Brien | Jul 19, 2011

NSW motorists may be breathing a sigh of relief with news that the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority is to be abolished.

After nearly a decade of poor performance - and having become a political millstone for the previous NSW Labor Government - the RTA is to be replaced by a new entity, Transport for NSW.

The RTA's demise comes 22 years after it was formed out of the former Departments of Main Roads, Motor Transport and the Traffic Authority.

Also to be absorbed under Transport for NSW is NSW Maritime, the Transport Construction Authority and the Country Rail Infrastructure Authority.

While Transport for NSW will look after strategy and policy, the 'frontline' services performed by the RTA will be handled by a new body called Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).

For the RTA, the drums started beating in April, when Roads Minister Duncan Gay signalled that it would be given a top-to-bottom "wake-up call".

For some at the top, it has been a rocky road. Current Chief Executive, Michael Bushby, has been invited to act in the role while the position is advertised.

Bushby, who was last year stood down for 10 weeks after an accident on the F3 and the chaos that ensued, is expected to re-apply for the position. (He was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.)

He wasn't the first head of the RTA to feel the political heat of a poorly performing roads bureaucracy. Four years ago, a former Roads Minister, Joe Tripodi, sacked the then RTA Chief Executive Paul Forward for not providing him with satisfactory information on the Cross City Tunnel debacle.

On Friday last week, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian and Roads Minister Mr Gay revealed the new structure, putting the red pen through at least 350 positions (of the 7000 employed) and merging the four agencies into the new umbrella bureaucracy.

The NSW government is promising greater accountability. NSW motorists could be forgiven for being more than a little sceptical.

Tim O'Brien
- TMR Managing Editor