WHAT A WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD
You might be aware that work has nearly fmished on a new station at St Leonards. (The as-yet unannounced project is not to be the subject of an Environmental Impact Study until later this year!)
At about 7:15 p.m. on Friday 30 June, a train travelling north stopped at the new platform, notwithstanding a team of workers finishing the obviously-wet concrete surface. The doors opened and passengers started to step out. Until then, our well-travelled reporter thought that he'd seen everything. Was the driver's mind on end-of-financial-year matters?
PLANNING FOR THE PAST
APT's consultant has prepared a paper discussing the implications for Sydney of the Government's massive road-building program and lack of any plans to extend the rail network. The paper shows that this program is certain to increase car usage at the expense of public transport, increase resources consumed and reduce the overall quality of life. In addition, the program is in direct conflict with some of the benefits claimed for urban consolidation, the development of regional commercial centres and business plans for Cityrail.
The Government publicly justifies its program by a claim that Sydney's roads are 40% worse than those in other Australian cities. In addition, the Government claims that the "Wran Plan" to improve public transport failed, and a rapid catch-up is needed to accommodate the increase in traffic that still occurred. The Government also cites the already-high public transport patronage to the CBD (around 75% with most on rail) to imply that an expansion of services would not be effective.
The paper distinguishes between various measures of the roads system. Roadspace per head of population is only one measure; were the Government to rely on travel per km of road, Sydney would not look as bad, But there are also advantages to Sydney from congestion - higher public transport share, less petrol usage. Figures are given for Toronto (Canada) showing the benefits which a city can expect from public transport.
Our rail system is fairly heavily patronised, but not as well as European systems. This may be because of the good service offered by our SRA.
The paper goes onto discuss the impact of road building on Sydney - increased traffic, then more resources consumed, declines in public transport usage, all leading to a less pleasant urban environment. Finally, the paper discusses land use and its ramifications for transport planning.
The paper concludes that building more roads in an attempt to catch up with demand, rather than looking at fransport needs for Sydney's future, can only be described as planning for the past.
APT will be happy to supply a copy of the paper (small SSAE).
THE ECONOMY OF THE STATE
There can be no doubt that some of the government staff cuts are good for the economic health of the state. The benefits may take a while to show because of considerable severance payments but will nevertheless eventuate, If this sotmds odd coming from APT, remember that we promote public transport, not the unnecessary staffing of Transport House by unproductive middle management.
But the same cannot be said for the wholesale disposal of state assets. All that does is to divert development capital from other projects to once-only cash for the government. It can even be argued that asset sales increase our call on imported capital and hence worsen our already-adverse balance of payments.
Moral: when a politician opens his mouth to speak, think of a crocodile.
TRAMS' TUNNEL MEDITATION
APT was fascinated by minister Baird's promise on 19th July to study the feasibility and viability of converting Harbour Bridge lanes 7 and 8 to bus-only lanes connecting to a terminus on the site of old tram platforms 1 and 2 at Wynyard. The idea is to do this when the Harbour Tunnel opens, so that the present 8 car lanes increase to only 10.
Ignoring the red herring that compressed natural gas (CNG) buses suitable for underground use run on Australian fuel, the transport benefits are worth considering. As it happens, these two lanes are as wide as the main deck lanes and are not prone to the loss of capacity due to motorists slowing down in tunnels. Thus, the government will lose two perfectly good toll- generating lanes and public transport passengers will benefit by up to 20 minutes per trip. Really, the only argument against the plan is that it will make less attainable the ideal of converting the lanes to heavy rail use but that has other obstacles, starting with the cellar under a bank in Barrack Street.
A $30M refurbishment of the double-deck train fleet was announced on 31 July. Four new seat styles are to be given a public trial. We understand that one is like the Tangara (ouch) and three are reversible. Only two are sufferable for the long trips which characterise our system.
Why haven't you seen the trials? Because the trial train has been black-banned. Objection has been taken to the safety interlock between doors and brakes similar to that which caused trouble way back in 1960. Proper handling of this matter by management would have averted the public's being disadvantaged. The man to telephone is Peter Niven (219-1067).
APT was concerned to see how the Average Australian thinks. A poll reported in the SMH of 17 July puts the greenhouse effect way down at worry number 35. What crucial matter is number 34? Screening of the same TV advertisement more than twice per hour, that's what. With minds of this calibre electing our leaders, what hope have we?
DO ROADS CAUSE TRAFFIC?
A study by Newman and others has looked at transport energy consumption in 32 cities around the world. The study was relied upon by the R.T.A. in its "justification" of the Castlereagh Tollway. For the benefit of those who noticed the controversy engendered by the R.T.A., APT abstracts the study.
Australian cities are ranked among the heaviest trait- sport energy consumers. Patterns of gasoline use per capita were found to be closely related to land-use intensity and to the relative provision made in cities for cars versus alternative fonns of transport. The findings indicate that greater efficiency in transport energy use could be achieved through improvements in both transport and physical planning of cities.
Policies to reduce consumption have to date relied on improving vehicle fuel efficiency. This study focuses on the key relationship between transport energy use and land use. It aims to identify urban characteristics correlated with gasoline conservation and to formulate realistic land-use and transport policies for energy conservation in Australian cities.
Gasoline use in Australian cities is found to be about half that in U.S. cities, although there are large variations between U.S. cities. Figures for European cities are less than half the Australian figures. Usage in Asian cities is less than 1/6th of the Australian figures. A combination of economic, technological, transport infrastructure and land use parameters is needed to explain adequately the variation in gasoline use between the cities. This suggests that transport planners have an important role to play in reducing gasoline usage.
The study concludes that gasoline usage in Australia
could be reduced by
- inner-area higher densities
- generally higher densities
- more centralisation
- accepting that CBD parking supply is a major factor in the level of car use and by containing further increases in parking supply
- lowering road provision per person
- improving public transport performance
In short, free-flowing traffic does not lead to savings in fuel or time, or lowering of emissions in a city overall. The means of achieving these savings appear to lie in more fundamental transport and land-use planning, especially the role of urban density and how it relates to travel distances and use of other transport modes. Congestion can be used as a positive force in improving cities for many purposes.
Acknowledgement: Search, Vol 19 no 5-6, 1988.
The NRMA suggested in the Open Road that the above findings were an April Fool's Day stunt. See page 94 of the April issue.
HARBOUR TUNNEL REACHES BAULKHAM HILLs
The RTA has made misleading claims in favour of building the proposed Castlereagh Tollway, much as it did for the Sydney Harbourlnunersed Tunnel. There, it came under criticism from the highest authorities including the then Department of Environment and Planning. Here, minister Baird says that most people are in favour. No wonder, since he has offered them a tollway or nothing.
In a comprehensive response to the Castlereagh Environmental Impact Statement (ElS) , prepared for APT by its consultant, the RTA is found to abuse benefit-cost ratio (BCR) methodology. The RTA use BCR to justify their preferred solution to a transport problem, the toilway, rather than using the BCRs of a number of optional projects as a guide to selecting the most appropriate one. The 46-page report also finds that the BCR for the tollway is overstated, and that public transport options did not receive serious consideration. The EIS ignores the additional traffic which the tollway itself would generate, despite the existence of an internal RTA document leaked to APT (1989 newsletter no 2 page 4), which recommended allowance for such induced traffic.
The adverse impacts of the additional traffic outside the study area are not accounted for in the EIS, nor is the loss and degradation of the considerable urban bush- land affected. APT's report goes on to describe possible rail developments in Sydney's north-west corridor. The APT report. "A Response to the Castlereagh Freeway E.I.S.", is now available at council libraries in the areas concerned. Alternatively, copies may be ordered from APT for $15.
Curiously, the EIS on the proposed Alexandria to Beverly Hills section of the F5 acknowledges (page 4-13) that roads induce traffic. It mentions generated traffic but suggests that allowing for the extra traffic would Increase the BCR. APT has no explanation for this variation in RTA policies between different sides of the Harbour.
NORTH OF THE BORDER
APT records the inception of the Reduce Traffic in Brisbane movement. We have already drawn attention to Sydney's foolish attempts to do in the 1970s what Los Angeles did in the l9SOs. Best wishes; don't let Brisbane do it in the 1990s. Unfortunately, they've already made a bad start with the Gateway Bridge. For further information, contact Trish Ferrier on (07) 374-1021:
The RTA's interest in the proposed Brush Farm Park road at Eastwood has resurfaced. One of our advisors, wondering what might have brought this on, had a good look at a map of Sydney. Get out your directory. Route 45 goes from Lucas Heights across Silverwater Bridge. Brush Farm and the Wahroonga-Epping stretch of the F3 would line up nicely. See? Local planning with global effects.
A.P.T. FINANCIAL MEMBERS ONLY
On the night of Thursday 18th May, a member waiting at Town Hall station was flabbergasted to see a 48-class diesel locomotive towing a new inter-urban car (minus its pantograph) through Platform 1 and continuing on the City Inner line to Central. A prize of a blue full-fare MetroTen ticket is offered for the most humorous explanation of what had happened to the pantograph. Runner-up gets a special collection of used tickets, including one SkiTube and a rare MetroFifteen. Entries close 31st August. Editor's decision is final.
BOOZ-ALLEN & HAMILTON
APT has no argument with the Liberal government's desire to make the SRA more efficient. Greater efficiency should mean lower fares and/or reduced subsidy from government. But let's get the Booz-Allen report, and the government's enthusiastic adoption of it, into perspective.
The Liberals criticised the railways long before they gained government, perhaps simply because the SRA was government-owned. On gaining office, they chose a new Chief Executive to do their bidding. He in turn sought out consultants who would give answers the government wanted. Rule Number One of government enquiries: Don't have the enquiry unless you know the answer beforehand. So it is not surprising that the government should adopt the Booz-Allen report almost without questioning.
The biggest fault with the report is that it fails to recognise, and account for, the community benefits which the railways bring, but which do not show in the SRA balance sheet - things like reduced traffic congestion, reduced road toll, and increased freedom of choice in Mode of travel. The report compares SRA with nine other railways, all of them north American and most of them Class 1 heavy-haul freight railways. No explanation was given as to why railways similar to SRA were not chosen for comparison.
The report has been implemented with negligible public involvement. Notice that the private coach operators who will reap the displaced country passengers are not being asked to pay for damage to road surfaces nor for the extra road accidents that will occur.
The accepted figure for cost of road accidents is $6,000,000,000 per year in Australia (that's $16 million per day) for medical costs and lost production. Personal loss, pain and suffering are additional.
WHAT APT HAS BEEN DOING LATELY
Park Street Tunnel: We have made a detailed submission to the City Council. We have been on the 2BL Throsby show. We have attacked the original concept of something planned to give the developer the best profit. Recent indications are that the authorities are inclined to see it our way.
Pedestrians' Rights: From September, council rangers will issue on-the-spot fines to motorists who park on footpaths.
Better police surveillance of transit lanes: The police have responded, thank you.
Demise of the Day Rover ticket: We wrote plenty of letters. It is interesting that the ferry ticket dispensers have a button provided for Day Rovers!
Redfern Station Pedestrian Bridge: APT has been fighting for the restoration of direct connection between the platforms and Wilson Street. This route is used by thousands of people in peak hours to get to Sydney University. Its closure makes their trips three minutes longer - not a lot but many Sydney roads owe their existence to claimed small time savings. A fundamental difference between road and rail in Sydney is that motorists' time savings represent a major reason for the RTA's existence, whereas the SRA is forbidden to account for the value of train travellers' time savings. Oddly, extra barrier staff are provided on weekends at penalty rates to man a similar short cut between the same bridge and Paddy's Market
TAKING OFF IN A PORSCHE
Thus begins a Continental Airlines advertisement. The deal is that First or Business class passengers flying from Australia to L.A. or Frisco are entitled to a luxury car for 3 days.
The advertisement does not discuss traffic congestion in those cities.
Leighton Holdings, having been involved in building a Hong Kong rail system, is bidding to build the elevated rail system in Bangkok.
Win or lose, APT thinks there are plenty of places in Sydney where Leighton could build railways.
WHERE ARE THE PUBS OUR LIQUOR TAXES PAY FOR?
The propaganda element in the N.R.M.A.'s Open Road magazine is becoming more explicit. In its August issue is a picture of two respectable-looking gentlemen studying the "badly crumbled shoulder" of the Pacific Highway as a truck passes, its wheels straddling the marked road centreline. The caption says the crumbled shoulder "forces heavy vehicles across the centreline, posing a threat to oncoming traffic."
Most motorists can see the condition of a road from the driver's seat. An alternative caption might have read "semi-trailer swerves over centreline to avoid two men in suits, one photographer & an unknown number of minders and parked cars who suddenly appeared over the crest of a hill on the Pacific Highway."
Talking of the N.R.M.A., one of minister Baird's innovations is the Roads and Traffic Advisory Council which advises the RTA on roads policy. This council is chaired by Richard Cox of the N.R.M.A. Two other seats are occupied by trucking interests, Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians are unrepresented. How can such a biased body be credible?
DRIVE IN ONLY - NO PEDESTRIANS
So read the ad for a factory sale at Rooty Hill. Although APT fully expected the motor car to replace the horse, we never thought it would come to this.
Were they selling heavy furniture? No, just frozen food!
APT would like to embark on a project which requires advice from someone with a good knowledge of Trade Practices law, if you are a suitably experienced lawyer and could help occasionally, please contact APT.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
The 25th June was a typical Sydney Sunday - no large sporting events to generate traffic. Yet there was a major traffic jam in Sydney's inner suburbs on that afternoon. Victoria Road was bumper-to-bumper inwards from Westbourne Street. So were Parramatta Road and even Crystal Street? The Bradfield Highway was still worse, owing to resurfacing work. Public transport had been hit too - the North Shore railway was working single-track at half the usual frequency.
APT's interpretation of this is that the demand was intolerably close to capacity on that day. Unlike the RTA, we feel that there is no achievable car-based solution. Remember the 1988 Australia Day long weekend when most of a million people were carried into town by, what - public transport. Later that year, hundreds of thousands enjoyed the Richmond air show despite restricted car access. It was recently hinted that the Riverstone-Richmond railway might be closed but local M.P. Rozzoli has now denied this, A related matter is parking. One sunny Saturday a couple of years ago, radio stations carried police messages to the effect that no more parking was available at any northern beach. Bradfield's planned Warringah Railway would have solved that problem.
GO BEFORE YOU GO
APT was struck to hear that public toilets are being removed during the revamp of Artarmon railway station. The official reason is the cost of maintaining clean weirdo-free facilities. In a real emergency, you can beg permission to use the staff toilets.
This seems to be a chance for Grey Power to show it strength. if the idea spreads to other lines, we see this unkind cut as a significant vote-loser for the government. Don't treat wrinklies like cockies, Mr Baird.
P.M. ON P.T.
The much-publicised "world's greatest environmental statement" from the Prime Minister does contain references to improved public transport, with particular emphasis on land-use planning and the relationship between the environment and transport infrastructure pricing. If this means increasing charges on motorists to compensate the community for noise and air pollution and the waste of limited crude oil resources, then APT is in favour of it. Unsurprisingly, the Federal Government then says transport is primarily the responsibility of state and local governments.
re Los Angeles: A study last year conceded that despite a $61 billion road-building program, no amount of further road-building could ensure free movement for drivers. (Source: New Internationalist below)
Incidentally, test running on the new L.A. to Long Beach light rail line began in June - the last tram ran in 1961. That city of cars has recognised its mistake.
SPECIAL JAIL FOR TRAFFIC OFFENDERS
Incredibly, there is such a thing. It is the Ichihara prison. Following a period when the road toll was of outrageous proportions, Japanese society riow expects errant drivers who thereby cause accidents to serve a corrective sentence and then pay reparations. Safer roads is the result of this attitude.
As long as driver's licences are seen as an Australian birthright, it will be politically impossible to take serious measures about our toll.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
May 1989 issue of New Internationalist. Special car chaos issue. Large newsagencies or N. I. Publications, P.O. Box 82, Fitzroy 3065. (03) 419-7111.
The Big Choke. 33-page book about London transport. Features before- and after-expressway pictures of Idah-Oberstein (West Germany). UKP5.67 postpaid from T.E.S.T., 177 Arlington Road, London NW1 7EY.
Personal Action Guide for The Earth. Informed thoughts about how best to live for the sake of the planet. Commission for the Future. $3.50 AGPS.
Page 1 last issue, column 2, second-last paragraph. For peddlers read pediars. Sorry.