Action for Public Transport (N.S.W.) Inc.
|P O Box K606|
|Haymarket NSW 1240|
|25 September 2017|
Action for Public Transport (NSW) is a transport advocacy group active in Sydney since 1974. We promote the interests of beneficiaries of public transport - passengers and the wider community alike. We make this submission on the Review of Environmental Factors dated August concerning the Hornsby to Blacktown bus corridor.
Bus priority generally
The project is designated Bus Priority Program but there are two difficulties with that name:
On page i of the REF, the Executive Summary describes initiatives including "Reducing potential delays for buses at traffic signals by moving stops to the departure side of the intersection" but there is no explanation of why reducing departure delays counters the increase in arrival delays.
The REF regards stops as unwarranted if they are used by fewer than about 20 passengers per weekday. But only the 20 or fewer buses that those passengers use need stop and then only briefly. The rest of the 60+ services cannot save any time from deletion of a stop that they don't use.
Note the distinction between making trips faster on average and making trip times less variable. Both are desirable. Padding the timetable can reduce variability at the expense of speed.
It is generally advisable to have bus stops in pairs, one in each direction. This simplifies passengers' trip planning.
On busy roads such as Pennant Hills Road, stops should always be close to safe crossings. On main roads, this generally means traffic signals although sometimes a bridge or subway is available. On collector roads, a marked footcrossing might suffice. The REF should pay more attention to safety than it does.
Sydney Metro is building a station on New Line Road named Cherrybrook and another at Castle Hill. Neither of these is referred to in the relevant community updates nor in the REF even though the stations are expected to open early in 2019. The advent of metro services will obviously change travel in the north-west. Why bother with a bus fine-tuning that will be obsolete a year after it is implemented? However the REF does cite (page 47) a submission from Hills Shire Council which mentions Showground Road station.
Nor is there any mention of Northconnex, due to open in 2019, which is supposed to reduce traffic in Pennant Hills Road. That should bring possibilities for bus priority.
Comments are separated into sections, with one section for each of the four community update leaflets.
Cherrybrook bus stops
The M60 bus route is supposed to be primarily for long-distance trips. These trips are all significantly lengthened by the winding detour through Cherrybrook. It would seem simpler and preferable to defer any adjustments for a year or so. Once the Sydney Metro station is open, route M60 should be altered to stay on New Line Road and local buses should be arranged as railway feeders.
Pennant Hills, Thornleigh, Normanhurst and Hornsby bus stops
Waitara station is important to M60 buses because it provides a good connection to North Shore railway services, better even than Hornsby.
The Hornsby-bound stop in Pacific Highway nearest to Waitara railway station is badly placed. It is too far from any safe crossing of the highway. It is also too far from its corresponding Parramatta-bound stop near Waitara Avenue and too far from the station. Worse, there is no station signage visible from the bus stop. Consideration should be given to closing the median strip at Waitara Avenue and removing the right-turn lane, permitting the stop to be moved up to the traffic signals. The commuter car park should be reshaped to instead open into Romsey St through the vacant 4A Romsey St site. The bike lockers should be moved to near Waitara Ave.
The stops between Waitara and Hornsby seem arbitrary and are not placed near safe crossings. Two of them are outside and opposite the front gate of a school with no suitable means of crossing and should be moved to a safer location. The tidiest solution would probably be to have a pair of stops immediately west of the Unwin-Romsey junction and another pair at the College-Pretoria junction. The traffic signals should be adjusted to provide a safe right turn from the left-hand lane for Hornsby-bound buses at that point.
The time cost to Parramatta-bound M60 services of the current arrangements at Pennant Hills station is much larger than the likely savings from any of the other changes put forward in the REF and leaflets. If the Parramatta-bound M60 stop at Pennant Hills station were moved 70 metres to the southern side of Pennant Hills Road, trips would be about 5 minutes quicker (and safer for the buses, obviating two awkward lane changes). The same logic does not apply to Hornsby-bound M60 services; using Railway St is not as delaying for them and is convenient for waiting passengers who can compare and choose between bus and train for trips to Hornsby.
The stops proposed for the Thornleigh area do not recognise the trip-generating potential of the railway bridges in Dartford Road, Duffy Avenue and Wells St which connect to areas on the north-western side of the railway. There should be stops serving both directions at Dartford Road, either Duffy Avenue or Phyllis Ave, Station St, Wells St, Albion St and Railway St. The Wells St traffic signals should have pedestrian lights and buttons.
Castle Hill and Baulkham Hills bus routes
The T71 bus stop with shelter in Victoria Ave (proposed action 20) is odd, without a corresponding stop on the opposite side of the road. It isn't doing any harm. It is quite well-placed, being outside Bunnings and Service NSW. Why remove it? Rather it would be better to add a corresponding stop on the opposite side of the road.
Castle Hill bus stops
The leaflet's map has a serious error. Between the intersections of Old Northern Road with Terminus St and with Crane Road all buses divert via Terminus St and Crane Rd, in both directions. This is not to serve any stops nor save any time. It may be to appease shopkeepers on Old Northern Road who complained about the presence of buses outside their shops. The diversion adds about two minutes to every bus journey, involving extra curves, corners and hills with consequent discomfort for passengers. The map shows buses continuing along Old Northern Road, which they don't although they should. Re-instating buses along this section of Old Northern Rd would be greatly beneficial to passengers, reducing every journey time. It might even be beneficial for shopkeepers.
The northbound stop at Castle Towers has been depicted as being at the corner of Castle St, while in fact the bus stop is some 150m towards Pennant St. Is this illustrating a future change? If so, it would be beneficial to passengers for the Castle Towers stops (A/B and C) to be moved closer together, for easier interchange between services. Some passengers could miss connecting buses due to the undesirable distance between stand A/B and stand C.
Action 37 is to remove a bus stop in McMullen Ave. We understand that M60 buses never stop here. The matter should be investigated in case some error would be compounded by action 37.
The REF and leaflets don't discuss the stop outside 379 Old Northern Road immediately west of Telfer St. It doesn't have a pair across the road and it's not near a safe crossing . It's quite close to the next stop outside St Bernadette's. Perhaps it should be deleted from M60.