SO YOU THOUGHT OUR TRAINS WERE CROWDED
APT has received a copy of the specification of the new metro trains for Cairo (Egypt). It shows that these trains are made in three-car sets which can be coupled into six-car or nine-car sets if required. All cars, power and trailer, are single-deck.
A load of seven passengers to the square metre of standing space is described as "normal" load. This means that the three cars are supposed to carry 861 passengers between them as a normal load, equivalent to 60.4 tonnes of people! Just for comparison, note that four-car Tangara sets are tested with a "crush" load of 70 tonnes of scrap, and that the Tangara cars are all double-deck.
KINGSFORD-SM1TH AIRPORT BLUES AGAIN
One Sunday last August, about 600 attended a meeting at Botany Town Hall which was supposed to be a debate to discuss the proposed lifting of the airport curfew. Regrettably, all those invited to speak in favour of lifting the curfew had urgent family business and could not come. But the three speakers against lifting (mayor Ron Hoenig of Botany, a town planner and an official from a flight crew union) duly arrived and were well received.
Unfortunately, the locals apparently do not fully appreciate;
(a) that the greatest pressure to lift the curfew comes from freight interests, not passenger carriers
(b) that any increase in KSA usage will mean increased road usage.
APT concurs with one of the speakers, who said it was vital for an airport the size of KSA to have rapid public transport available; KSA doesn't.
We find ironic a press release distributed at the Botany meeting. Issued in the name of Laurie Brereton, it argued that completion of the proposed new airport at Badgery's Creek would ease problems around Mascot. We would respectfully point out that the Hon. Mr B when he was Minster for Everything Else backed numerous projects which had detrimental effects on nearby residents.
By the way, Badgery's Creek Airport would be about 3 km east of Wallacia. Look it up - UBD maps 85A-85B.
We are disappointed by the lack of interest given the Very Fast Train in this context. it would remove much of the Canberra and Melbourne traffic from KSA and at the very least give several years' breathing space before KSA extensions need be considered again. Sydney's second airport could be Canberra! It is deplorable that major transport facilities are still being designed without any integrated plan.
APT understands that once the $1 fare was being charged, monorail patronage fell to only about 5000 passengers per day. There has been some growth since, but not enough to pay. 5000 x 365.25 is 1.8 million dollars per year turnover. On a capital investment of $50 million, that's a yield of 3.7%. But look at it this way. Suppose the investment is to be recovered over a period of ten years (15 or even 20 years wouldn't change these figures very much at modern interest rates). Suppose that interest rates are 8% higher than the inflation rate. Then to service and repay the $50 million would cost $606,638 per month or $7.3 million per year. Any costs of operation (power, crew, repairs) are ON TOP OF this amount.
Now, you have been told that the fare will stay $1 for a while. The bottom line would appear to be that monorail patronage will have to rise enormously to about 40000 per day before any profit emerges, unless substantial contributions are made by Darling Harbour traders. Public reaction to the initial breakdowns led to the decision to retain drivers on all trains, even though the computer control (if it ever works) will theoretically obviate them. The driver occupies one of the seven compartments on each monorail car set. This reduces the payload of about 5000 per hour to about 4300. Achieving 40000 average per day will require "crush loads" for 9 hours per day, which will be somewhat unpleasant for the passengers on humid summer days. We wait with interest to see what contribution, if any, the monorail makes to clearing Entertainment Centre crowds, which can be 11000 people in the 20 minutes after show's end.
By the way, 5000 people might sound like a lot. But they could be accommodated in three 8-car double-deck air-conditioned suburban trains. Proper planning of Darling Harbour transport could have set realistic capacities and service levels to be met, evaluated ALL costs of different ways of meeting them, selected a suitable system and then arranged finance from those who would benefit from the development. APT doubts whether this process would have resulted in the thousands of car spaces now in the project, with their attendant costs of congestion elsewhere and pollution.
TANGARA: TEETHING TROUBLES
The contract for the new Tang ara metropolitan train calls for about 430 cars to be delivered at a rate, once the production line has been got up to full speed, of one per four working days. The target for 1988 was 48 cars. But at the end of 1988, only two sets were in service. They were not worked very hard in 1988 - ask around at work and you will find plenty of people who have never ridden in one. The shortfall appears to have been due to difficulties in production. Over the Christmas-New Year holiday, twelve apparently-finished cars and several unfinished were visible parked in the maker's yard. (So were lots of Tangara bogies.) Two particular difficulties are known to have been fixed - the automatic doors and the on-board computer software. APT has heard of a problem with the static inverters that is being solved. But rumours persist that there is also a weight problem; nobody will talk about this one. We have been told that the intention is to accelerate production to one per three working days and thus recover the loss. "Soon, everyone in Sydney can travel first class."
SYDNEY HARBOUR IMMERSED TUNNEL (S.H.T.)
The Sydney Harbour Tunnel Act lays down the monthly payments to be made by the Government to the Joint Venture. The payment rises sharply in March and again in September. According to APT calculations, the Government is at present paying about $1.02 for each $1.00 taken at the barrier. This will rise to $1.42, hence the need for the increase to $1.50 per vehicle. The catch for the Government is that the $1.42 assumes no further decrease in takings when the toll rises. APT would guess that $1.45 would be more accurate. When the statutory payment rises in September, the Government will be paying about $1.65 per $1.50 taken and there will be further rises in the payment before the next election. Question: will the Government tough it out or will they put the toll up to $2 before the election? Note that the election must be held by March 1992 - before the opening of the Tunnel.
A new glossy leaflet about the SHT is doing the rounds. It still talks of crossing time savings of an average 10 minutes in peak periods. The leaflet does not discuss total trip (e.g. home to work) savings, but we understand that the latest Roads and Traffic Authority (= D.M.R.) estimate is, because of increased congestion on feeder roads, a whole two minutes. Not only that, folks, but the average trip will be 40 metres shorter!
The pity about the Government's failure to hold its promised enquiry into the SHT is that they have missed the opportunity to discover how to make the best use of the thing. Our recommendation is for Bridge lanes 7 and 8 to revert to transit use, whether buses, light rail or heavy rail.
CAN THE LEOPARD CHANGE HIS SPOTS?
As remarked elsewhere, the DMR is now the RTA. We wonder whether anything beyond the name is changed. The reason for our concern is persistence with its practices of yore. Glossy documents are still being prepared about new road proposals which either ignore simple improvements to public transport services parallel to the road or else say that the need for road "improvements is perceived to be additional to" any planned PT improvements. Despite a Greiner election promise (ha!) to the contrary, the DMR/RTA will reportedly continue to determine its own Environment Impact Statements.
The latest three proposals are
(a) the missing link between Beverly Hills and St Peters - we expect an ETS to issue soon for a road closely parallelling the East Hills railway up Wolli Creek
(b) Boundary Street, Roseville - will they wreck King Edward Street and Margaret Street?
(c) New roads through Beecroft, including the defunct Lane Cove Valley freeway revived as the Castlereagh Tollway.
This topic has been very much in the limelight lately. Infrastructure for residential areas costs $40,000 more per home in established areas than in outlying new suburbs, hence Government preference for as many new homes as possible to be in older areas. The term "infrastructure" covers all public investment necessary to make a house a home, including road, water, electricity, gas, telephone, drainage, sewerage, school, hospital, shops, and public transport. For a good coffee-table exposition of the planning ramifications of this, APT recommends that you read "Planning Sydney's Future", by Spearritt and DeMarco, available from good booksellers. The necessity for adequate public transport is a recurrent theme throughout the book.
ROAD CONGESTION IS GOOD FOR YOU!
Traffic congestion, contrary to popular belief, can lessen pollution and lead to net energy savings. For details, see Herald of 24.1.89 or "Search" journal of Sept/Nov 1988.
The NRMA has been conducting an expensive media campaign,at a cost, we are told, of 40 cents from each member, on the need for more funds for roads. But its attempts to link that so-called lack of funds to the admittedly horrific road toll is mischievous, at best, and perhaps even culpable.
The experts do not necessarily agree with the NRMA: Bernard Fisk, the Chief Executive of the new Roads and Traffic Authority says the answer to the road toll lies with the attitudes of people driving (NRMA members?) rather than the safety features of vehicles or better roads. Mr Fisk says that given the vast distances and small population, the NSW roads system was excellent. (SMH 17.1.89)
The Traffic Authority, in its 87/88 Annual Report, said that speeding and fatigue run close to alcohol as the major road safety problem on NSW roads. At least a quarter of fatal crashes involve speed inappropriate for road or weather conditions. Harry Camkin, Director of the Authority, goes further; "In-depth crash studies have indicated that human factors contribute to crashes with a much greater frequency than either environmental or vehicle factors. The ratio of contribution has been found to be about 95:20:5 for human, environmental, and vehicle factors respectively".
APT acknowledges that better roads might be more forgiving of bad drivers. Mr Camkin continues; "Engineering measures to render the roads more forgiving are often much cheaper to implement and ultimately more effective than imparting a higher degree of skill to the driver". But offsetting this "drivers might compensate for environmental improvements to some degree, in a manner that increases risk - for example, 'road improvements' tend to increase speeds". ("Cost-effectiveness.. . .of road safety measures'; Traffic Authority; March 1988)
Last October, the Minister for Land Transport, Mr Brown, made a scathing attack in Federal Parliament on the (NRMA affiliate) Australian Automobile Association's roads funds campaign, saying that motorists themselves, not the roads, were responsible for most deaths. (SMH 14.10.88)
On Sunday 30.10.88, the NRMA was conducting a public opinion poll on, amongst other things, its public image and its credibility. "You can fool some of the people ....".
Recent experience with the Melbourne Light Rail network demonstrates the advanced nature of that city's public transport system. The light rail vehicles are remarkably quiet in operation and provide high quality transit at frequent intervals. The system utilises former railway track and rights-of-way to St Kilda and Port Melbourne.
Passenger information in the form of computer produced timetables and route maps are to be found at each stop. A good standard of "street level" information has been achieved, but care needs to be taken to ensure the effective use of such information. Many of the information boxes were vandalised with graffiti and the timetable lists were quite faded and hard to read.
Clearly the "Met" has the right approach, however more attention to fine details will improve current service levels.
A feature of the recently released "Central Area Transport Strategy" by Victoria's Road Traffic Authority is an item regarding on-board passenger information systems. This project is costed at $10M and is designed to provide announcements or display of the next station or stop name. Naturally such systems have been in operation in Europe for decades. Once again Melbourne shows the way in passenger information upgrading "down under".
The strategy document is full of interesting reading and it stresses the need for transport balance, not the usual "give us more roads' syndrome. A related document is "Metplan", the Metropolitan Public Transport Industry Plan dated September 1988. This document outlines a strategy for boosting Melbourne's public transport system - rail, train and bus. The absence of roads lobby doctrine is a welcome change and shows that some governments are capable of getting their transport planning act together.
In late January, the Department of State Development was to issue the functional specification for the oft promised integrated transit centre over the country platforms at Sydney Terminal Station. Other developments which will capitalise on the benefits of good public transport access are planned for St Leonards and Hornsby. APT has recommended more commuter-friendly designs than has been provided at Sydney's newest interchange at Chatswood.
Bus drivers and conductors have long referred to the small single-journey tickets as "flimsies", from the quality of the paper used. The new monthly suburban rail tickets must also now qualify for that title. They are bigger (approx. 100 x 65 mm) but on very thin paper, and you don't even get an original. You get a carbon copy torn from a book. The SRA has assured us that the ticket has been redesigned and will soon be issued on light cardboard.
We still meet every Tuesday at 449A Pitt St (4th floor, Regional Council offices) at 5pm. Visitors welcome. If street level door is closed, be patient, someone is bound to open it.
The State Transit Authority (STA) was born on 16 January, taking over the role of the Urban Transit Authority. One of its tasks is to make up its mind about the fare and ticketing changes which were put in the too-hard basket last October.
The fares leaflet dated 3rd July 1988 stated that Off-Peak Return tickets (or mini-fares) would not be available after 22nd October. All reference to the tickets was deleted from the timetable book dated 11 September. However, the tickets were never withdrawn and remain on sale today. They provide savings of about 10% on inter-urban trips and up to 45% om the shortest suburban trips for people buying return tickets after 9am or on weekends.
A new ticket called the Day Tripper was heralded in the September 1988 timetable book but never saw the light of day. It was to allow unlimited off-peak rail travel throughout the Sydney system, and to provide an alternative to the existing Day Rover ticket, which allows rail, bus and ferry travel. No price was mentioned, but presumably it would have been less than the $7.50 for the Day Rover.
If it was meant as a replacement for the Off-Peak Return ticket, then pricing would be a problem. Even at our stab-in-the-dark figure of $4.50, it would still disadvantage most people who only wanted to make one return journey. For example;
|FARE FROM CENTRAL|
|Newtown, St Peters||2.00||1.20||4.50 (?)|
|Homebush, Carlton||2.60||2.00||4.50 (?)|
|Westmead, Sutherland||3.40||2.70||4.50 (?)|
|Mt Druitt,Waterfall||5.20||4.30||4.50 (?)|
|Penrith, Helensburgh||6.20||5.80||4.50 (?)|
The combination of public holidays and weekly tickets caused a problem last Christmas. For many years it has been the practice to discount weekly tickets when there is a public holiday in the week, but this was stopped last August. weekly tickets were to be always at full price. Nobody protested too much when the October Labour Day holiday came around, because most people were still in front buying a weekly, especially if they also used it after hours. However, with Christmas Day and Boxing Day falling in the sane week, it made quite a difference, and caused quite a stir. Those regular commuters who were still on deck during that sleepy week baulked at a weekly ticket which cost more than three days' fares. The little extra revenue the Authority got by abolishing the discount must have been outweighed by the extra bother of having to sell commuters a daily ticket on each of three days, instead of selling a weekly only once. It was said that some kind-hearted ticket sellers took pity, and sold the cheaper off-peak tickets before 9 o'clock,
The outcry caused the Minister to ask the Authority to review the policy, and there the matter rests. Do we have to wait for another kerfuffle next Christmas before the discount is restored?
Another facility which was to have been removed from October 1988 was the availability of the second portion of a return suburban rail ticket on the day following the use of the first portion. Over a weekend, it could be used two or three days later. This concession should be retained.
The Day Rover ticket also needs review in two areas. Firstly, in the suburbs, the ticket can only be bought at railway stations and bus depots. This creates a problem in areas that are remote from railway lines, because bus depots are usually not easy places to get to at the start of day's outing. Some more convenient sales points are required, Secondly, the restriction on their use before 9am on weekdays should be removed. The numbers of people using them are not large enough to create any effect on the morning peak hour trains, buses or ferries. A similar pre-9am restriction on the purchase and use of pensioners' all-day tickets was removed early last year without causing a ripple, and there are far more of those sold than Day Rover tickets. As a service to tourists and local day-trippers, the time restriction should be lifted.
The variety of tickets available on the Sydney System government services alone, without mentioning private ones can be confusing, or just simply unknown to a large number of visitors and residents alike. Most of them are fairly well described in their own individual leaflets, but we see a need for a small booklet which would describe all the types of ticket available - single bus, rail and ferry, returns, students' off-peak returns, weekly: quarterly, yearly, Travelpass, Metropass, Day Rover, pensioner's, children's, combined zoo, Sydney Explorer, Family Weekend, Airport Express, platform tickets, extensions, apprentices, Family Fares, combined rail and Manly ferry, Ausiepass, yes, and perhaps even the monorail.
A TRICENTENNIAL PROJECT?
The bi-Centennial year, with its events largely centred on Sydney, has been and gone without any sign of the long-promised revision of the Public Transport Map. The hundreds and thousands of visitors to the city during 1988 had to make do with the 1985 version, which today is still being freely sold around town. So many bus routes and route numbers have been changed that one feels like warning people who are seen consulting it in the street. There has even been a new train line.
If the Bi-Centenary couldn't stir the authorities enough to produce a new map, what will?
FROM THE EDITORS
This is the first Newsletter since August 1988, but the gap has been usefully filled with press releases. We will make every effort to get Newsletter back onto a regular basis.