THE state government's draft transport master plan, released last week, confirms the North West Rail Link as an infrastructure priority.
But with few other ideas for the area and the rail about 10 years away the question is: can we afford to wait that long?
Critics say the draft plan is a vision rather than a viable action plan as there's little detail on how the 200-plus recommendations will be funded and no detail of when they'll be started or completed.
James Fiander, chairman of The Hills Transport Working Group, said the absence of any short-term solutions for the area meant more of the same commuter pain.
"There's a saying: 'you can't build yourself out of congestion'. You need to come up with an original idea and I'm not seeing any new ideas in this master plan," he said.
"The government is saying the North West Rail Link is a decade, perhaps more, away and in the meantime there is really no plan to improve anything to do with the transport or congestion in north-western Sydney."
Another 100,000 people — most with cars — will settle in the area before the rail link.
"There is no silver bullet to fix all the problems — buses alone won't fix it, trains alone won't fix it, roads alone won't fix it. There needs to be a holistic approach of a little bit extra of everything to solve this problem," Mr Fiander said.
The draft plan identifies several corridors for bus priority work including from Blacktown to Castle Hill, Castle Hill to Hornsby and Parramatta to Liverpool and a long-term plan to complete the Sydney orbital road network including the F3 to M2 connection.
University of Western Sydney professor Phillip O'Neill said the government's commitment to completing the orbital network deserved credit but the plan did little to improve western Sydney's long-term traffic problems.
He said the area's long period of neglect meant it had experienced two or three decades of job dispersal.
"That means it's now a very expensive problem to solve and the reality is it will take two or three decades to fix it.
"We do need a 20- or 30-year plan for western Sydney but the problem is [this plan] doesn't have anything in it that's going to solve western Sydney's problems now."