MEDIA RELEASE / NEWSLETTER / October 1978 / ISSN 0155-8234


For the duration of most of the Wran Government's first term of office the Opposition parties failed to make any worthwhile contribution to transport policy debate; instead, they concentrated on blindly advocating, freeways and criticising the PTC "deficit". By contrast, the Government's contribution to the actual improvement of public transport was impressive; this was reflected in pre-election opinion polls where its performance in this area received favourable electoral response.

Just three weeks prior to the election the Opposition parties released their long-awaited policies on "Transport" and "Roads and Highways". During the campaign these parties ignored their own policies and reverted to a simplistic "more freeways, less deficit" line of comment. For its part the Government reiterated its "five-year/31 billion modernisation plan" for public transport; an important additional promise was to electrify the Newcastle, Goulburn and Illawarra railways. APT attempted to comment through the media on major aspects of all parties" transport policies and campaign tactics. Press releases were issued on the following themes:

  1. criticisms of the Opposition's "deficit" and freeway campaign advertisements;
  2. a request to the Government to announce long-overdue contracts for country passenger carriages and railcars; and
  3. a call to the Government to end rumours concerning some country service cuts.
However, the media treated transport as a non-issue and APT had little success in its attempts to stimulate rational debate. As an alternative to this general aim, APT distributed its anti-freeway leaflet in the key electorate of Fuller, then held by the Leader of the Opposition.


It is common knowledge that fuel costs more and local cars less following the latest Federal Budget. However, what are little understood are the effects of these revenue changes, taken together, on the travelling public and in particular on car usage and demand for fuel.

The change in the tax burden from ownership to usage has had the immediate effect of causing a car sales boom. Seasonally adjusted, car registrations increased 8.7% during the month following the changes. The effect of the large increase in fuel cost on car usage has not yet been determined. However, if overseas experiences are any guide, no appreciable decrease in car usage or fuel demand will result. In February of this year, a marketing director of ESSO Aust., Mr Terry Young, made the following comments: The consumption of gasolene is affected much more by the initial price of the motor car, rather than the price of gasolene. The correctness of Mr Young's beliefs has been supported by studies overseas following the 1973/74 fuel crisis and the resultant large fuel price increases in the U.S. and elsewhere. All studies showed no appreciable decrease in car usage following the fuel price increases, although a decrease did occur during the periods of fuel shortage.

In other words, the likely outcome of the increase in fuel price will not be a reduction in car usage. On the contrary, the increase in car ownership resulting from the reduction in sales tax may actually lead to an increase in car usage and fuel demand. An effect of the fuel price increase given scant attention by the Fraser Government is the penalisation of individuals and groups most dependent on car usage. Thus, those with no present public transport alternative have been hit as hard as those who have such an alternative. The disadvantaged groups include most rural dwellers, people in many suburbs, and elements of the public transport industry itself. In summary, the new revenue changes are the result of a combination of government aims, firstly to prop up the ailing motor car industry, and secondly, to maintain revenue by shifting the tax burden to the user. While the second aim is a worthwhile one, the revenue changes, taken together, will probably lead to an increase in car usage and fuel demand. The Fraser Government has yet to come to grips with the impending fuel shortage and the long-term problems of excessive urban car dependence. These latest tax initiatives are hardly going to make these problems any easier to solve.

WHAT'S ON -----


(in progress)-"Managing Traffic at the local level"-Lecture series, mainly for municipal engineers- $25 - Enquiries-Mary Duncraft, 929-8544. Oct. 20 "Energy Planning for the Eighties"- Seminar - Enquiries; Tom Fischoff, School of Mechanical Eng., NSW Inst. Technology, Box 123, Broadway, 2007.

Oct. 23

Sydney's first scheduled Mini-bus starts - Dee Why to Chatswood. (PTC)

Oct. 29

Newcastle Cycleways Movement - Survey of Belmont rail line for possible conversion to commuter/recreational cycleway. (Tony Stephens, 049-25507).

Nov. 8

World Town Planning Day - Address by Gough Whitlam - Housing commission theatrette, 302 Castlereagh St, 6pm, Free. (Special treatment for APT members - contact Kevin Eadie at any Tuesday meeting).

Nov. 12

Free trip for APT members on Eastern Suburbs Railway - 1.30 till about 4.30 - Central to Bondi, all stops.Phone booking & indemnity mandatory before Fri. Nov. 3 to Kevin Eadie 290 4076 (W) or 81 4268 (H).

Nov.15, 16, 17.

Conference on Pedestrians! - Boulevarde Hotel - $20 to $30 per day. More info. from tuesday meets, or Aust. Road Research Board.

Nov. 21

APT ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING. 5.30 Gt. Southern Hotel, 1st floor. Agenda includes election of officers. For the benefit of country members, nominations (with acceptances) will be accepted by post or from the floor.

Nov. 1979

Transportation conference in Adelaide - "to review the potential for, & implications of, extensive low cost improvements to existing city transport".Enq; 1979 Transport Conference Manager, Inst. Engineers Aust., 11 National Circuit, Barton, ACT, 2600.


Display of Submissions to Inquiry into Road Transport Industry - Ministry building, 117 Macquarie St, Sydney. - Queen Victoria Building Restoration Exhibition - Central lobby, QVB. The plans make little provision for the public transport consumer, given that the entire western side of the building is, in fact, a bus station. Comment forms available - Budding architects, let your heads go!

EVERY Tuesday

- APT meeting, 5.30, Gt. Southern Hotel bistro; Mutual mobility frustrations release session & your chance to rip everyone elses transport ideas to shreds. (Good time to pay your 1979 dues, too !)

"...I had one but the wheels fell off dept."

- The Standards Assoc. has released standard No. 1927 - Pedal Bicycles - setting standards for strength & durability of both the assembled bicycle & the individual parts.


  1. Urban Public Transport: The deterioration of Sydney's public transport services has been arrested by the Wran Government. Indeed, all parties now appear committed to the re-equipping and upgrading of the existing urban public transport system, although how the Opposition can reconcile its commitment with its attitude to the PTC "deficit" has not been explained. However, the following problem remains: the route structure of Sydney's public transport system has not responded to the dramatic post-war changes in metropolitan land use. The PTC and its predecessors have shown little willingness to expand away from a system of bus routes based on the defunct tram network; poorly coordinated private operators have been left to cater for the huge, car-induced population developments away from the government operated routes. A result has been the post-war decline in public transport patronage.

    Speaking at the recent seminar conducted by The Chartered Institute of Transport entitled "Commuter Transport - Today and Tomorrow", the Chief Commissioner of the PTC, Mr Alan Reiher, stressed the urgent need for an "urban transport authority" to coordinate all forms of public transport, including PTC trains, ferries and buses, private buses and taxes. Creation of such an authority now forms part of the Liberal Party's transport policy, while the Government has taken some initial steps to coordinate private bus and PTC rail timetables. Although the Government has established a long-overdue enquiry into the whole private bus industry, basic needs have gone unanswered (eg. Sydney has no map of private bus routes; there is no central source of timetable or route information for private buses, etc.).

    The Government and Opposition apparently agree on the need to develop cross-suburban bus routes. While the Opposition sees private operators as fulfilling this task, the Government does not. The PTC will use few 19 seat Mercedes mini-buses to implement Government policy; the first new route will be No. 101 Chatswood to Dee Why, starting on 23rd Oct. The main criticism to be levelled at these proposals is that they are aimed only at facilitating the cross-suburban movement of people to and from their places of work. They add little to the solution of what has now developed into a grave social problem - the suburban immobility of those living without access to either public transport or cars, ie the unemployed, the aged, the incapacitated and those parents with "secondary" occupations in one-car families. Despite their apparent success in Melbourne, demand responsive systems (eg. dial-a-bus) have not yet been considered by any party.

  2. Urban Roads and Freeways: The differences between the Government and Opposition policies on urban roads and freeways are great. While unfortunately choosing to proceed with some freeway development, the Government places greater emphasis on arterial routes and ring-roads and has scrapped the inner freeways. The Opposition proposes to build not only the inner freeways but also an extensive and hugely expensive radial freeway system.

    Indeed, it would appear that the Liberal Party's two transport policies, on "Transport" and "Roads and Highways", were written by two uncoordinated bodies. While the former policy statement criticises the preponderance of radial road and public transport routes and highlights the need for cross-suburban route development, the latter policy proposes the construction of an entirely radial freeway system! Further, the Liberal Party asserts, without apparent foundation, that "benefits caused by transit lanes may be outweighed by the problems caused". Prompted, no doubt, by the NRMA, the Liberal Party would review the whole transit lane policy.

    Opposition policies envisage the servicing of Botany Bay Port by road transport. Thus the Opposition advocates the construction of the Kyeemagh-Chullora road. By contrast, the Government recently established an independent Commission to enquire into the need for such road, and importantly to assess its social and environmental impact and the development of alternative transport modes.

  3. Non-Urban Transport: The Government has promised much in the area of non-urban public transport -railway rehabilitation, new passenger carriages and railcars etc. Its record in track upgrading is impressive, however by the time of the state election many promised country rail improvements had failed to materialise. The shortage of passenger carriages and railcars remains acute, and the situation has steadily worsened due to the combined effects of the increase in patronage following the fare reductions of 1976 and the increasing age of all vehicles. Up to 20% of carriages are out of service awaiting repairs, although, the situation has improved marginally in the last year. Tenders were closed for new air-conditioned carriages about a year ago, but so far no contracts have been let. The current program to refurbish existing, air-conditioned carriages with airline-type seats is to stop at the 32nd conversion, leaving 40-odd carriages unconverted. Indeed, the shortage has become so embarrassing to the PTC that a directive has been issued to station-masters to withdraw advertising concerning air-conditioned country trains, as air-conditioning can no longer be guaranteed. Amazingly, some air-conditioned carriages (ex Riverina Express railcars) have been converted to a travelling art gallery!

    The position with non-airconditioned railmotors is even worse. The age of these vehicles has led to a dramatic worsening of their rate of failure, especially in the last year and mainly due to engine failures. Tenders for new railcars closed on the 22nd March, but again the Government has not yet let any contracts for their construction.

    One can only speculate on the effect that serious overcrowding, a poor timetable and the frequent replacement of air-conditioned carriages by elderly, non air-conditioned ones on the Central West Express had on the Government's relatively poor election performance in Bathurst.

    The recent announcement by Mr Wran of large-scale electrification of the rail network is a welcome development in Government policy with important energy implications. The Liberal Party spokesman on Transport and Highways, Mr John Dowd, has indicated to APT that he does not favour electrification, and this view is reflected in that party's policy. Curiously, the Country Party is in favour of such a policy.

    The Opposition proposes to construct a dual-carriageway freeway from Bathurst/ Orange to Albury. Such a proposal is pure nonsense and does not warrant serious discussion here.

    All parties seem committed to the development of rail's freight potential. However, the Opposition proposes to abolish road maintenance taxes, while the Government intends closing the existing loopholes. APT believes that road haulage operators should contribute directly to the maintenance of the road infrastructure.

  4. The "Deficit": The Opposition has been most critical of the increasing PTC "deficit", although, it has been more reticent in enunciating ways to contain it. The Opposition has pledged to reduce the "deficit" by the application of "business methods and efficiency". Past Coalition Party Governments have interpreted these sentiments to mean higher fares, cuts in services and low capital investment in public transport infrastructure. Indeed, a great deal of the present "deficit" represents the high capital investment undertaken by the Wran Government to redress past neglect. In the absence of specific proposals, the public must remain sceptical of Opposition intentions towards fares, services and re-equipment.

    The Government has stated that it will not increase fares this financial year.


During the recent election campaign the Premier, Mr. Wran, announced that the Sandy Hollow to Ulan portion of the never-completed Sandy Hollow - Maryvale railway would be constructed. This line, which is being financed by White Industries, the Ulan coal miners, will enable their expanded output to be railed to Newcastle instead of the present outlet of Port Kembla. Action for Public Transport welcomes the construction of this railway. The present road haulage of coal to Gulgong is both uneconomical and environmentally undesirable.

The obvious question which must be asked however is whether the State Government will complete the resulting 22Km rail-less gap between Ulan and Gulgong. The construction of this rail link would of course convert the Sandy Hollow railway from being a purely coal-carrying line into a valuable cross-country link in the P.T.C.'s rail network. Apart from providing an alternative route to the heavily graded and congested Blue Mountains line a Sandy Hollow-Gulgong link would be invaluable as a bypass line during, periods of traffic disruptions, eg. flooding at Maitland. On 9th August a public meeting, called by the Dubbo City Council, was held at Dubbo calling for the completion of the remaining part of the Sandy Hollow railway, that is, from Ulan to Gulgong and Maryvale. A.P.T. will be liaising with the Dubbo Council to determine what further action might be taken in this matter. The State Government's views in the matter of completing at least the Ulan to Gulgong portion of the Sandy Hollow railway are awaited with interest.


APT has made a submission to the Sydney City Council concerning the proposed redevelopment of the QVB. The submission highlights the unique position of the building as a public transport focus and stresses the need to incorporate public transport access facilities (eg. tunnel to Town Hall Station, improved bus facilities etc.) in any redevelopment plan. In addition, APT has made a submission, through the Commuter Council, concerning the upgrading of the building to become a major public transport terminus.


The PTC's new bus (MO 1951) is now in service. Its features were fairly well reported by the media. What they didn't say was that the route number signs are much smaller, and that opening standee windows, fitted to all PTC buses since 1959 to improve air movement, are not provided. Mechanised ventilation is fitted but as with most buses in service, is not used. The worst thing about the smaller route numbers is that they discriminate against the partially sighted, who are the least able to use other means of transport.


The PTC is seeking an Outdoor Advertising Manager who will, with a staff of 40 and a salary of $16,000-18,000, inter alia, "develop areas not already in use". These areas will include the Eastern Suburbs Railway. On the other hand, Victorian Railways is positively discouraging outdoor advertising, and the NSW Local Government Association is also seeking to tighten the rules with respect to tobacco advertising.

As the PTC income from advertising last year ($1 million) represents only a quarter of one per cent of its $402 million revenue, we must ask, "Is it worth it?" We await the report of the Planning and Environment Commission on this urban blight.

Since your last newsletter we have -