Action for Public Transport (N.S.W.) Inc.
|P O Box K606|
|Haymarket NSW 1240|
|12 February 2015|
Action for Public Transport (NSW) ("APT NSW") is a transport advocacy group active in Sydney since 1974. Our members are users of public transport services.
We make this submission because decisions being made now about transport, particularly Westconnex, are central to the success or failure of any attempt to civilise Parramatta Rd. Far from being an aid to that endeavour, the Westconnex project is a direct threat that UrbanGrowth needs to be countering, not accommodating.
This submission urges UrbanGrowth to critically review the assumptions made in its Draft Parramatta Road Urban Renewal Strategy:
We note with interest that UrbanGrowth has secured a portion of Westconnex funding for its intended improvements to Parramatta Rd. APT NSW believes that the whole of the Westconnex budget (in the order of $15B) would be far more wisely spent on public transport improvements (focused towards Parramatta, rather than the existing CBD). Unlike Westconnex, this approach would genuinely facilitate the regeneration of Parramatta Road.
The notion that Westconnex will reduce the level of traffic congestion on Parramatta Road and position UrbanGrowth to cure these ills is irredeemably flawed.5
If building roads solves congestion, the construction of the M4 parallel to the western end of Parramatta Rd should have removed traffic from that stretch and it would already have regenerated, with or without UrbanGrowth. That's not what happened, as anyone can see.
How many more times will the M4 motorway "need" to be widened? How much more land and money will this tail-chasing exercise consume? Why are we doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?
UrbanGrowth is presumably adopting this position on the say-so of the Westconnex Delivery Authority, which the Strategy suggests is ceding some part of its budget to UrbanGrowth. This must be tempting, but it is ill-advised. UrbanGrowth should be in the vanguard of opposition to this ill-considered, archaic and expensive plan. And still keep the money.
Walkability and severance
Public transport and walkable environments are mutually supportive, as we are sure UrbanGrowth already knows. Motorway on-ramps and off-ramps, and gaping tunnel portals, are hostile to both. There are a lot of these marked on the precinct maps as "under investigation". APT NSW believes investigative efforts should be directed to more productive, less destructive public transport projects; even better, we could get on with several that have been fully investigated, fully designed, and repeatedly announced, such as a rail link from Parramatta to Epping.
Public transport services
The Strategy takes a superficial approach to public transport services and the needs of public transport passengers. It correctly predicts a need for additional services, but UrbanGrowth appears to be assuming that better public transport will automatically follow increases in density.
This is not a safe assumption. It certainly has not happened in Harold Park, mentioned on page 9 as a model for Camperdown. Off-peak frequencies on bus route 433 remain at a dismal 30 minutes, despite the high density of the new development and its proximity to the city and two universities.
UrbanGrowth needs to take care not to confuse a line on a map with an actual, useful public transport service. The only way to tell the difference is to closely examine timetables and routes (meandering routes are a remnant of old bus fiefdoms).
Having done so, APT NSW has found that many of the bus services listed on page 14 of the Strategy as part of the "public transport focus for the Parramatta Road corridor and surrounding areas" either do not exist or run at such low frequencies (30 minutes or more) for much of the day that they cannot be an attractive mode of transport.
Parramatta to Burwood via Newington is an existing route (525). Hurstville to Macquarie Park via Burwood town centre is an existing route (M41). Burwood to Sydney CBD via Parramatta Road is an existing route (461).
Frequencies are shown in the tables below.
|Weekday AM peak||20 mins from Parramatta|
10-15 mins from Newington
|Weekday Off peak|| 30 mins from Parramatta|
15 minutes from Newington
|Weekday afternoon peak|| 30 mins from Parramatta|
10 minutes from Newington
|Weekday Evenings (7pm to 8:50)||60 minutes from Parramatta and Newington|
|Saturday||30 minutes from Parramatta|
20 mins from Newington
60 mins 7:40 to 9:40 pm
|Sunday||60 minutes from Parramatta|
30 mins from Newington,
some extra services during mid-evening
60 mins 5:50 to 7:50 pm
|Weekday AM peak||30-40 mins 4:25 to 6:35 am|
10-15 mins 6:35 to 8:05 am
|Weekday Off peak||20 minutes|
|Weekday afternoon peak||20 minutes (10-15 mins in|
|Weekday Evenings (7pm to 8:50)||30 minutes to 10:36 pm.|
Last service 11:15pm
|Saturday||50-60 mins 5:10 to 6:55 am|
30 mins all day to 10:36 am
Last service 11:15 pm
|Sunday||30 mins all day from 6:25 am to 8:36 pm|
Last services 9:35 and 10:36 pm.
|Weekday AM peak||10 minutes|
|Weekday Off peak||15 minutes|
|Weekday afternoon peak||10 minutes|
|Weekday Evenings (7pm to 8:50)||30 minutes to Burwood|
No service beyond Burwood
Last service 8:50pm
|Saturday||20 minutes to Burwood|
No service beyond Burwood
Last service 8:50pm
|Sunday||20 minutes to Burwood|
No service beyond Burwood
Last service 8:10pm
The other services mentioned in the Strategy do not exist, so far as we know.
Is there a firm date for these services to commence and what are the frequencies proposed?
Unless fast, high frequency services are in place before increases in population occur, the result will indeed be the increased traffic congestion that is widely predicted in commentary on UrbanGrowth's plans. It is in everyone's interest, motorists, residents and public transport users alike, to prevent this.
The construction of the Leppington railway line in advance of significant residential development in that area is the model to follow.
What has been, and still is, lacking is the evolution of public transport from mainly a radial commute network into also becoming a rapid interconnected web of routes to make suburban nodes more accessible.
By making cross-town public transport travel to the intersection points as convenient as accessing the CBD, nodes of knowledge based employment and other activities can agglomerate in a self reinforcing process. The M41 (above) is a step in that direction. This can only work if frequencies are high as it depends on seamless interchanges between services.
The density argument we will leave to others except in this respect: good public transport services do not require a wholesale shift to high-rise, high-density living. The suggestion that it does is an opportunistic move by a segment of the development industry attempting to overcome objections to the kind of developments they are accustomed to building, and wish to continue building, primarily for investors.
The typology of development in areas that have comparatively good public transport (like the eastern suburbs and the north shore) is varied. There is a range of options suitable for different people at different stages of life. The differences in public transport use and effective density in these areas owes more to the level of public transport services provided, the amount of land devoted to asphalt, and the walkability of the streets than it does to the typology of housing.
Landcom's guide to density6 shows that there are many different ways to pursue increases in density, some more gentle than others.
Blues Point tower is no better at supporting a decent public transport system than the terrace houses and variety of human scaled alternatives that surround it.
Better uses of $15 billion
UrbanGrowth has secured a portion of Westconnex funding for its intended improvements to Parramatta Rd.
APT NSW believes that the remainder of the Westconnex budget (in the order of $15B) would be far more wisely spent on public transport improvements (focused towards Parramatta, rather than the existing CBD). This approach would genuinely facilitate the regeneration of Parramatta Road.
Westconnex does not enable a recovery for Parramatta Road, it sounds its death knell. We hope to see UrbanGrowth in the vanguard of opposition to this ill-considered, archaic and expensive plan.