Hundreds of million of dollars in spending on day-to-day operations will be stripped from the budget of NSW's transport agencies this year and an immediate freeze put on hiring new staff, sparking fears services will suffer.
The transport agencies are under pressure to cut their budgets for existing operations amid record spending on multibillion-dollar projects such as a metro railway and light rail lines in Sydney's central business district and Parramatta.
In a briefing note to staff obtained by Fairfax Media, Transport for NSW secretary Tim Reardon said his deputy secretaries had been told that operating budgets for all of the agency's divisions had been cut by 15 per cent this financial year.
That amounts to a drop of hundreds of millions of dollars in operating expenses across the transport agency's divisions, based on the forecasts in the state budget in June. However, the cuts do not include longer term costs such as bus contracts.
Opposition transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay said it was a massive cut by any standard and would inevitably impact safety, staffing and services across the public transport network.
Ms McKay said the need for the transport agencies to find new revenue streams could lead to fare increases to plug the gap.