NEWSLETTER February 1977


Every Tuesday

- informal & informative - we're into Granville and its aftermath, the PTC, the government, & the media,(probably in that order) latest books, games(?) & an ale or three. Gt. Southern Hotel lounge 5.30 You might enjoy it, we do. Always finished by about 7.00 - See ya---

Feb 7 at 5.30

- General meeting- NEW VENUE- Environment Centre, now upstairs at 399 Pitt - between Liverpool & Goulburn but still in Sydney.

April 23

Cooks River Festival. What's with the Cooks R. freeway?...... (see Herald Jan 29 pp33)

May 24

Aust. Transport Research Forum. Melbourne.

Probably Feb 28

Public Enquiry into Granville.


While it is to be hoped that the PTC Enquiry and the Judicial Enquiry into the Granville Train Disaster, will quickly produce an explanation of how the derailment occurred, it is appropriate that the disaster has provoked a wide-ranging debate about the long history of neglect of public transport. At a meeting on the afternoon following the accident, our majority opinion was that the Judicial Enquiry should have the power to investigate rail safety in New South Wales generally and we telegrammed that view to the Transport Minister, Mr. Cox.

The precise scope of the Judicial Enquiry which has been set up is unclear. Although it appears that its terms of reference are not as wide as we had hoped, we have decided to ask to make a submission to it, that would relate to the more general area of its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, there is a groundswell of opinion in favour of a much broader enquiry, particularly into how the Federal and State Governments decide their priorities in transport spending. (See, for example, the National Times, 22/1/77). One of the issues that has been raised is the discrimination against public transport, relative to roads, in both the provision of grants and the interest rates on loan funds allocated. We hope that this broad debate will continue and seek the views of our members on the direction it should take and. how we can best sustain it.


One of those who died in the accident at Granville was Mr. Milton (Tony) Walker, the President of the Penrith City Commuters' Association. Mr. Walker spoke, representing railway travellers, at our Public Transport Policy Forum in April last year. A member of the Penrith City Commuters' Association, Mr John Brookfield, told the Save Public Transport Committee that Mr. Walker had been the motivating force behind the Association, since its launching in 1975. He said that Mr. Walker had also been most active in the Combined Commuters Associations' Committee and had established such a good rapport with senior PTC officials that Public Transport Commissioner, Mr. Josh Trimmer, had attended an Annual Meeting of the Penrith Association. We are sending letters of condolence to Mr. Walker's family and the Penrith City Commuters' Association.


At the time of printing, there was still no indication as to whether the Loan Council (comprising the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, the Federal Treasurer, Mr Lynch, and the six state Premiers) would approve Premier Wran's request to raise $200 million overseas loans to bring NSW railways to a "safe operational standard". To grant approval for the loan would be without precedent. However, Mr Fraser is reputed to break with precedent in what he regards as extraordinary and reprehensible circumstances. Surely there can be few more extraordinary and reprehensible circumstances than those of our railways, after twenty years of financial starvation.


Several members of the Save Public Transport Committee met with Mr Kevin Parish, Chairman of the Interim Central Commuter Council, on January 23. We found wide areas of agreement about the role and mode of operation of the council and are optimistic about its prospects, when it holds its first business meeting on February 7th. Mr Parish and our representative on the council, Alderman Sheila Swain, are confident that once the public see the Commuter Council in operation, they will not accept a claim made by one radio commentator that Commuter Council members are "in the pocket of the minister". We resolved to request the council to ask what arrangements for buses would be made under the various proposals for termination of the North-Western Freeway, now being considered. In addition, we decided to convey to the Council, some general points which we feel should guide it in its deliberations.


Consideration of the State Cabinet sub-committee's report on freeways was put off again at the Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday, January 25. Earlier, we had sent letters to all Cabinet Ministers, stating our arguments against proceeding with the freeways. We also issued a news release on the subject which gained some worthwhile radio coverage. Meanwhile, the N.R.M.A. has launched a desperate last-ditch campaign to save the freeways, during which they have tried to discredit public transport and the anti-freeway movement with false statements. (See SMH, 14/1/77). Like the State Cabinet, we would prefer not to spend our time discussing freeways. Perhaps, as Mr Cox promised prior to the elections to abandon freeways in inner suburbs, Cabinet could do so without discussion.


With the future of the Rose Bay ferry service in doubt, it's encouraging that the Transport Minister, Mr Cox, will meet the ferry operators to discuss ways of keeping the service going. The Vaucluse Progress Association's proposal for 35c Combined Bus-Ferry tickets (which are already in use successfully on the Athol Wharf Ferry) should be a goer. Full marks to the Sydney Morning Herald for its editorial (28/1/77), urging more use of the harbour for transport.


Sir Eric Willis succeeded Tom Lewis as leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party a few days after the fatal train accident at Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains. Before that accident, as before the Granville disaster, Liberal parliamentarians with leadership ambitions had been awaiting their opportunity. On the respective occasions, the Glenbrook accident and Sir Eric's ill-considered and incorrect remark following the Granville disaster merely provided part of their excuse. It appears in this latter case, the incumbent has survived, but not without a counter-productive distraction of public attention, for which the media were at least 50 per cent to blame. The front pages would be much better devoted to discussing what both parties propose to do about our public transport system, now that the Premier has aptly, described it as "ramshackle".


Your hardworking editor has lost the newspaper clipping, but its essence was that although NSW and Victorian Railways have conducted identical campaigns to promote the Southern Aurora for business travel, the response has been about ten times as great in Victoria as in NSW. The spokesman for the PTC couldn't think why this was the case. Official reaction was "disappointed".

We suggest that as VR has a comparatively intelligent management and a comparatively good public image, people are willing to take an interest in what they are trying to sell. But as the public relations policy of the NSW PTC is one of false advertising, glossy brochures and cheap gimmickry, people here are not so tolerant.


"Millions of transport decisions are made by individuals who are not required to account for all the consequences; many of the disadvantageous effects fall not on the decision maker himself but on third parties. When the individual decides how to travel to work, whether and how to make a trip to the country, he considers the cost to himself, in time, expense, comfort and perhaps risks. He seldom considers the delays, expense, discomfort and risks that he imposes on other travellers, though these may far exceed his own; nor does he take into account the noise, fumes and environmental nuisance he will cause.

"It is not only because of these externalities - the costs borne by people other than the decision makers - that one cannot say that the decisions now taken represent society's choice. They may not even represent the decision maker's own preferences, since he can only choose from the options open to him, which he may find unsatisfactory.

"Those who oppose the building of a new road will undoubtedly use it if it is built, but that does not mean that they have changed their minds in favour of it; they can only respond to the choices they are given. People who would rather use public transport than go to the trouble and expense of running a car may find public transport so deficient that they feel obliged to run a car. Similar deficiencies compel housewives to give up their own time, energy and freedom in order to act as chauffeurs to their families. These are all examples of unwanted or forced travel. Of course the travel is wanted in the sense that it represents the best of the available alternatives, but it is wanted only because other possible alternatives, which would be preferred, are denied. If people choose A when they are not offered B it cannot be inferred that they prefer A to B."

From "Changing Directions", Coronet Books, 1974. P106ff $2.15 from Mrs Burfitt's Specialised Bookservices, 23 Hercules St, Chatswood. Ph 411.2639 or 419.3473


Congratulations to City Council for "mall-ing" (if that's the word) Circular Quay - European style - pedestrians & public transport - Sydney's first. However, traffic control is below standard. Many motorists simply ignore the signs or are unaware of them. Others become confused & just stop! Official policy is to allow motorists a period of grace before enforcement begins. This must cease. The safety of pedestrians, particularly less agile folk, must not be compromised.

Victoria Rd. has an allied problem. The inward bus lane approaching Pyrmont Bridge has never been adequately policed, & the new Transit lane (Rozelle to White Bay) has suffered abuse on at least one morning peak.


Our 100 page book on the public transport crisis in Australia really is selling well. "Getting On The Right Track" - $1.20 from AFULE office, 126 Chalmers St., ARHS Bookshop, 27 Belmore St., OR any SPT meeting.


The SPT / Sydney Uni. study of the "transpoor", (Dec 76 N'letter), supervised by Ms Bowen of Ella Community Centre, should provide useful data both for Ella & for government agencies. If successful, the study may later be repeated in other parts of Sydney.


What's in a name? - NO decision yet on Coal Loader - Wran flies to see Lang Hancock - What next?.
(Extract from Herald 27 Jan 1977)


  1. To foster and promote the expansion and improvement of public transport services for the overall benefit of the community.
  2. To promote a rational transport system with regard to efficient use of resources and environmental and social consequences.
  3. To promote public discussion and participation in the provision of transport services.
  4. To support research to further the above aims.

NEW MEMBER: (Please print)
NAME ..................
ADDRESS ..................
PHONE: (HOME)........(WORK).......
AMOUNT ENCLOSED: $.....................DATE......

******There is, currently, increased interest in public transport.
Encourage SPTC membership. There is work to be done*****