A lunch event run by the NSW Government in the middle of Sydney’s CBD has been slammed for causing travel chaos.
The American-inspired dining experience – Open for Lunch, George Street Hoedown – ran between 12pm and 3pm on Friday – but the light rail was blocked from overnight Thursday to hours after the pack down on Friday afternoon.
Signage at light rail stops warned of the closure in the weeks leading up to the event – but the event still caught plenty off guard.
Frustrated Sydneysiders flooded social media with complaints after their plans were thrown into disarray, with many questioning why nearby Hyde Park wasn’t used instead.
Some claimed they could not get to work.
“I can’t get to f**king work if it’s in the middle of the light rail tracks,” one person said online.
“Sydney treats public transport as a system that can just be turned off and on when convenient rather than an essential public service,” wrote another.
“We can’t go lower than this. Can we? What an embarrassment! Disrupting public transport so people can enjoy their lunch and wine,” complained a third.
“There’s literally parks and other large open spaces within walking distance to where they set up,” reasoned another.
Others were quick to point out the irony that the government had blocked one of Sydney’s most critical roads and rail lines on the same day it locked away a protester for doing the same.
“A climate protester is sentenced to 15 months in jail for blocking one side lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for 25 (minutes) … Meanwhile, the entirety of the George St light rail route is blocked off all day for some wanky ‘Open for Lunch’ event,” Environmental Consultant Michael Mazengarb tweeted.
“It’s okay if pollies do it,” one person responded.
“The moral of this story is she should’ve scheduled her traffic blockage with the proper authorities,” said another.
Just blocks away from patrons feasting on George Street, Deanna “Violet” Coco was told she would spend the next eight months in jail for her April 13 climate change demonstration on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
During her demonstration, she stood atop a parked truck and lit a flair – live-streaming the brief affair.
Coco was convicted and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of eight months on several charges, including using an authorised explosive not as prescribed, possessing a bright light distress signal in a public place, and interfering with the safe operation of a bridge, to which she pleaded guilty.
Her demonstration lasted 25 minutes.
During a press conference at the event, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said it was one of many events planned to bring people “back into the city” post-Covid.
“Whenever you want to do something great, there’s always a naysayer who says that we can’t go ahead and do it,” he said, addressing traffic ad public transport concerns to local media.
“When it comes to this event last year, there was a lot of criticism by shutting down the light rail – you know what? Everyone had a great time – everyone was out having a great time.”
“One day without the light rail – no problem.”