We are disgusted at the petulant trivialities which to date are the Opposition's only contribution to the transport debate in Earlwood. Mr Coleman says (SMH, 1.6.78): "The Government has acted on the assumption that it is a sort of crime to drive a car, that people should not be allowed to drive on good roads and freeways, and that congestion, noise and pollution are the consequences of using cars."

Would he please note that 1): congestion, noise and pollution are the consequences of using cars; 2): Neither the Government nor Action for Public Transport has ever advocated compulsory use of public transport. We are "not allowed" to drive on (non-existent) freeways in the same way as we are not allowed to park where there is no room or go to the theatre when it is booked out - hardly an earth-shaking injustice. Yet his statement is clearly designed to imply the additional idea that the Government thinks "people should not be allowed to drive" - a malicious piece of nonsense put about by the Opposition before this to raise groundless fears.

The Government's assumption that it is a crime to drive a car is a similar figment of Mr Coleman's imagination. The Government has always stressed that it is not "anti-road", and has recently appealed to the Commonwealth for more road funds. It is perfectly reasonable for a person to use the form of transport most suitable to his circumstances. If, as now happens, the personal choice to drive inflicts social injustice, inefficiency and energy wastage on the community as a whole, the fault lies not in the choice but the circumstances. Public transport should be improved to the point where it can compete freely with the car on its own merits, once the true costs of the alternatives (not only the direct costs) are considered.

Mr Coleman says: "The Chullora-Kyeemagh freeway is the only solution to noise pollution in Bexley." There is no single solution. The Opposition, following the NRMA, has irresponsibly tried to narrow the transport debate down to freeways. Their outrage at the Government's decision to scrap inner-city freeways blinds them to the broader issues of transport in the Sydney region.

They should take to heart the words of two Sydney experts (David Chesterton, architect and town planner, and Michael Colston, transport engineer) reported in the Herald of 13th May. They are like a breath of fresh air amid the bickering. "Sydney people are being polarised into pro-freeway and anti-freeway groups - to the detriment of motorists and the traffic movement in the city." "The NRMA by its intransigence is not serving the interests of motorists. If the NRMA has its demands accepted, the costs will preclude a new traffic system ever being built." "The answer to city traffic problems does not lie in one extreme or the other and there is no panacea."


On the occasion of his 1978 James N. Kirby Award, Mr Alan Reiher, Chief Commissioner of the PTC, delivered a paper entitled "Public Transport Dilemma". In it he detailed the transport issues requiring social debate and ultimate determination by the community

In doing so Mr Reiher disclosed the extent of the present-day effects of the "years of financial neglect". Mr Reiher referred to the declining performance in public transport which had been occurring "progressively over a long period and at least for the last 10 years". He added that if it had been permitted to deteriorate much further "it could have reached the point of no practicable return". He based this assertion on the following facts:

  1. Metropolitan Rail:
    1. of the 1,190 metropolitan passenger rail cars, 520 are over 35 years old. Indeed, about 480 are over 50 years old;
    2. train delays due to equipment failure have recently been in the order of 1,500 per month, rising to 2,000 in periods of wet weather;
    3. the rate of failure of metropolitan electric rail cars has risen to 20 times the rate existing 10 years ago. The 1967/8 rate of failure was 0.8 per million kms compared with 17 per million kms today;
    4. 60% of all failures are due to electrical faults in the, old rail cars;
    5. maintenance facilities are generally old and are "far from conducive to high standards of efficient reliable service".
  2. General Rail:
    1. of the 540 locomotives in the PTC's fleet up to 130 were regularly out of service, though this has now been reduced to about 100-110;
    2. the out out of service level of this fleet and the rate of failure in service is almost twice the figure of major freight railway operations overseas.
  3. Bus:
    1. of the 1,700 buses in the PTC's fleet it has not been unusual to have 300-350 out of service daily;
    2. until the recent introduction of Mercedes buses there existed a shortage of about 40-50 buses to conduct peak-hour services;
    3. between 1964 and 1977 the rate of failure of buses in service increased from 45 per 100,000 kms to over 90 per 100,000 kms;
    4. the 1977 figure is about 4 times the rate of failure of other metropolitan bus fleets elsewhere in the world;
    5. the only high capacity (in terms of seating) bus operated by the PTC has a rate of failure of 144 per 100,000 kms. This is the relatively newly acquired Atlantean.
  4. Patronage:
    1. over the 10 year period prior to the 1976 fare reduction patronage of the bus system declined by 26%;
    2. during this period the patronage of the rail system declined by 30%;
    3. the comparable figure for ferry and hydrofoil services was a 24% decline.

It is the belief of Mr Reiher that much of the problem of the public transport system in N.S.W. is the result of the lack of adequate public information and debate about many important issues such as standards of facility and service, financial alternatives and their social implications, and the options, where they exist, to the present form and extent of publicly provided transport, both for passengers and for freight.


Further to our concern about the PTC telephone enquiry service "hangups" (April Newsletter) we are pleased to report that the PTC is to spend $3 million on a computerised reservations system which will amalgamate the rail, bus, & ferry inquiry offices & the customer service bureau. It will permit the answering of the majority of incoming phone calls (which can exceed 5000 per day) within 30 seconds. First contracts for equipment should be let by late '78, first services commencing mid 1980.

Whats On

Every Tuesday:

APT informal meeting- all welcome- Conference Room (note) 1st Floor, Great Southern Hotel, George St. City, (opp. Rawson Place) 5.30pm till about 7.

Bicycle Inst. Meetings:

All at Environment Centre, Pitt St. Thurs. 15 June- Cycle routes group 7.30pm Wed. 14 June- Spring Carnival Planning meeting, 7.30pm. Thurs. 6 July- General Meeting, BINSW, 7.30, Films, supper.

Macquarie Uni.

Seminars-FREE-2pm Weds, Room 201, Bldg. C5A:

14 June-

"Equity in Urban Transport Policy"- Dr. G.M.Neutze, Director, Urban Research Unit, ANU.

21 June-

"The Present & Future of Large Electric Buses" Mr. Roy Leembruggen,of Elroy Engineering Co.

26 July-

"Economics of the Airline Industry"

2 Aug.-

"The Long Distance Truck Driver"

9 Aug.-

"Transport Policy in NSW- Some Issues" Mr. G. Messiter, Senior Policy Analyst, NSW Ministry of Transport.

16 Aug.-

"Low cost Improvements in Public Transport" Mr. Geoff Dawson, Action for Public Transport


The 1976-77 Australian Department of Transport's Annual Report provides an interesting statistical summary of energy consumption by the different transport modes in this country. The report states that the transport sector in Australia accounts for about 37 per cent of final energy consumption and about 60 per cent of consumption of petroleum products. Transport is highly dependent on oil supplies in that 99 per cent of the energy used is derived from an oil base.

Of the energy supplied to transport by oil based fuels, 66 per cent is contributed by motor spirit, 25 per cent by automotive distillate and 9 per cent by aviation fuels. The rate of consumption of liquid petroleum fuels in transport has been greater than the average rate of increase of oil consumption. For example, in 1975-76, consumption of motor spirit and auto distillate increased by 3.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively over consumption in 1974-75, which was well above the 1.0 per cent increase in consumption of all petroleum products in general over the same period.

The report states that road transport accounted for nearly 79 per cent of total transport energy, rail and sea for about 8 per cent each and air for about 5 per cent. The private car was the dominating mode in the consumption of transport energy, it accounted for 57 per cent of total transport energy requirements. In commenting on the increasing cost of oil-based fuels the report states that despite the high energy consumption of the private motor car, especially in the urban passenger task, urban passengers appear to have been reluctant to switch permanently to the use of more energy efficient modes of public transport even in the face of substantial fuel price increases that have occurred since 1973. The report states that there will be no significant fall in transport sector energy consumption unless there are very substantial increases in the price of fuel. In commenting on possible short term effects of an increase in fuel prices, the report says that the lower income and socially disadvantaged groups are likely to bear the greatest reductions in travel as the level of discretionary trip making appears to be associated with income level. Higher income groups are likely to pay the increased prices.


The studies, undertaken in Sydney since 1973 (April newsletter), in assessing cost/benefit figures, have not taken into account all the community benefits which accrue from using buses in preference to cars. The benefits were conducted solely on the reduction of travel time per person (all vehicles). APT believes that the inclusion of criteria such as fuel efficiency and contribution to pollution would materially influence the findings of these surveys, would lead to faster implementation of bus priority measures, and would defuse the wasteful debate about the value of existing measures such as transit lanes.


APT has long advocated the limiting of car access to the inner-city area and has noted several proposals of the Sydney City Council to effect this object. Recently, Council announced the closure of Dixon Street on a part-time basis. However, the oft-proposed closure of Pitt Street has not yet eventuated.

The desirability of closing Pitt Street is obvious to those interested in reducing pollution and increasing the efficiency of movement of the large transient population. Yet after each of the many occasions of its proposal, its implementation has been deferred. Alderman Andrew Briger, Chairman of the City Development Committee, responded to a recent APT enquiry on this issue by stating that Council had not "bowed to any pressure in relation to this project" nor had it shelved its plan. He added that it was necessary to gain the approval of various authorities "and if possible the concurrence of the Transport Workers Union".

The TWU is well known for its opposition to street closures after its confrontation with Ashfield Council; some members of the NSW Traffic Authority are similarly disposed on this issue. It is to be hoped that the Sydney City Council does follow "most vigorously" its "policy of improving pedestrian movement in the city" and overcomes opposition to inner-city street closures.


- designed to promote public interest in roads and road transport, are available from the Dept of Main Roads, 309 Castlereagh St, Sydney. Titles include "public Transport on Roads", "Roads and Pedestrian Safety", "Roads and Neighbourhood Planning", and "Roads and Pollution". A future brochure will discuss bicycles.


For forms of government let fools contest:
Whate'er is best administered is best.

Alexander Pope.

Readers are invited to support ACTION FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT in the achievement of its objectives;
  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 end social consequences.
  3. To promote public discussion and participation in the provision of transport services.
  4. To support research to further the above aims.