WHAT A WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD
You may have noticed digital clocks being installed on some stations. The one at Mount Colah gained 4 minutes in its first week. At this rate, it will gain one hour in three months and be just right for daylight saving! Or, by early 1994 it will have gained 12 hours and be correct again.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
APT have more than once remarked that some of the facelifts that the State Rail is giving its stations and carriages could have been better planned. But even we were astonished by the work of enclosing the four sets of stairs up from the platforms at North Sydney. This station is quite a busy one at peak hour. The platforms may have ben wide enough in 1932 but are not now. Yet the SRA is reducing the platform area available to passengers at the narrowest point!
On each platform, two areas of about 8 metres x ½ metre are being lost to passengers.
APT tried to complain to Geoff Wannan on 219-1070 but were unable to get through.
APT also tried to ring Geoff about the City-to-Surf race day arrangements. On that day, thousands needed the railways to get to Town Hall before the race, and to get to or from Bondi. The whole North Shore railway was closed all day as was the Illawarra beyond Hurstville; buses were slower and hopelessly crowded. Many people were unaware of the bustitution until they reached their station on Sunday morning. For the record, next year's City-to-Surf is on Sunday 11th August; would CityRail please confine trackwork on that day to work which will not interrupt services.
"BusPlan" - the hew routes and timetables for bus services in Sydney's inner western suburbs (see June issue of this newsletter) is now scheduled to commence in mid-October.
In the July issue of this newsletter, APT commented on the Park Street tunnel project that costs in the suburbs of extra traffic generated by the 1200-space carpark had been ignored. On 2nd August, Wal Murray announced that a tender had been accepted to build a 1100-space car park near the Opera House. It appears that there has been an Environmental Impact Statement on that project; it was in 1988. The EIS may be regarded as irrelevant because the former government was so determined to build this project that it passed the Bennelong Point (Parking Station) Act in 1985.
PARK STREET ROAD TUNNEL
APT have reviewed the Environmental Impact Statement for this project (see July newsletter); identifying a number of shortcomings and distortions. We conclude that the tunnel is not viable.
APT have received a copy of the Snowy Times, a colourful paper full of advertisements for skiers. We were perplexed to notice a full-page spread for land near Jindabyne "10 minutes from proposed VFT station". For the record, one of the VFT consortium partners has withdrawn and the Commonwealth has declined to step in. Yet the VFT people have recently been promoting their tram in Hyde Park and elsewhere
Which business encourages you to pay in advance for its services, frequently fails to deliver on time or at all because of insufficient capacity, then insists that you pay again if you damage your receipt?
State Transit insists that you pay an additional concession fare if your damaged MetroTen ticket won't operate the validating machine on the bus. To complicate matters, the validators malfunction 10% of the time even with tickets in pristine condition.
Sorry, AURAL RAPE. Why are long-distance bus passengers forced to listen to muzak programs chosen by the driver? One wonders how many of them are thereby diverted to car use. Oh yes, have you been to Town Hall station at night recently? - they are relaying rock music over the public address system! Exasperating, especially when you can hear the different numbers from other platforms and all you want is to find a bubbler [CityRail policy seems to be against bubblers on platforms with cola machines].
APT went to a recent presentation by CityRail of its marketing plans. We were disappointed that the speaker did not mention external beneficiaries of rail systems such as ours. Nor did he discuss economics nor inter-system competition.
NEW LONG-DISTANCE TRAINS
State Rail has called tenders for new diesel rail cars; to be known as Explorers, to connect Sydney with Armidale-Moree and Canberra. APT are concerned that there is no requirement for improved travel times over the former XPT services. Other notable omissions are showers (provided in Queensland trains for many years) and provision for large luggage items like bicycles and surfboards. Food services should see an improvement over the disastrous XPT experience.
Provision is made for airline-style trolleys as well as a counter service, Wheelchairs are provided for. There is a requirement that reflective window tinting should not inhibit identification of stations, a problem with existing rolling stock.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Government's financial troubles are likely to see a deferment of its shared funding arrangments with N.S.W. for proposed Sydney-Melbourne XPT trains. Prepare yourself for yet another decline in Syd-Mel train services.
The whole Illawarra line beyond Hurstville was closed for major work last January. APT remarked then that the acceptance of this by Illawarra commuters boded ill for other lines.
Sure enough, a closure has been announced for St Marys to Penrith from 29 September to October 7 outside peak hours and the Bankstown line will be next; it will close for 5 days for re-signalling [sic].
SRA say that it is the only way to spend the money they've been given in the time available. They also point out that the earthworks involved are often of a nature that would be impracticable with one line still operating and aver that a brief interruption can be preferable to an extended series of weekend closures. You be the judge.
APT have been discussing with interstate counterparts the desirability of a complete smoking ban on country trains. Noting that non-smoking bookings are all taken well before smoking bookings, we suggest that smoking accommodation could be reduced.
Australian National intends to ban smoking on its intrastate services, and further restrict smoking on its interstate trains, from October 1st. Smoking is already banned on all trains in Victoria and Western Australia, leaving New South Wales and Queensland as the last states to maintain substantial accommodation for smokers.
R.T.A. OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
APT was one of about six consumer groups invited to attend a plenary session of a two-day seminar for Roads and Traffic Authority executives. Given five minutes to address the assembly, our delegate said that the RTA's urban problems were qualitatively different from rural problems. The rural issue is all-weather access; the urban issue is mobility. The only new access in Sydney in living memory is the Alford's Point bridge! For instance, the Harbour Tunnel will shorten trips by only 40 metres on average. Road mobility in Sydney has not improved recently in Sydney; average speeds have fallen and traffic jams are now all-day affairs.
He went on to say that it is generally incorrect to aim for an unreachable target and that it is dishonest to sell something on a false promise; both of these are evident in recent mad marketing.
He concluded by expressing regret at the number of commercial centres with large car parks being built near (or even above) railway stations. These overload nearby road routes; it would be preferable for them to rely more on rail.
Recent issues of this newsletter have discussed the shape of the back of the moulded seats in Tangara carriages. APT have received a letter from State Rail saying that Tangara seating is being reviewed. The letter states that the present malformed seats were designed by an ergonomist!
MORE FUN WITHOUT THE CAR
So ran a clever bus and ferry advertisement in the context of a booklet promoting Carnivale the name was altered to "nivale". APT wonder why CityRail did not join in that advertisement.
APT have previously remarked that Sydney public transport is unusual in not having an all-lines, all- modes day pass. Until recently, the BusTripper ticket was issued. It was valid on buses only but has now been withdrawn. We hear that a new BusTripper, valid also for travel on ferries, is in the pipeline but will still not be available for train travel.
It has often been said that the greatest single barrier to using public transport for many people is the need to change between travel modes (e.g. from train to bus) or even to change between two vehicles of the same mode. Improving the availability of all-mode, all-line tickets would help counter this barrier.
ROUTE NUMBERS ON BUSES
It seems that the State Transit Authority is determined that the display of route numbers on the rear of its 1300-odd Sydney buses will cease. STA's first two Renault buses without rear route numbers were placed in service on the Ryde mutes around December last year. APT objected immediately. The STA response was procrastination. Even with ministerial intervention, we did not get a reply until the end of July. This is of course wholly unsatisfactory.
In our view, the reasons given by STA range from invalid at best to nonsensical, and clearly indicate what happens when the people who make the decisions are not intensive users of the system.
The STA recently placed into service a further six buses without rear route numbers. Tenders are presently being called for 300 new buses. If you think rear route numbers are of value; best you do something. State Transit's phone numbers are on p.61 of the White Pages.
California, a state with more cars than any country except its own,
has voted for road tax increases and major state-funded public
transport works. Propositions 108, 111 and 116 carried in a June
referendum will lift fuel and truck taxes and authorise bond issues
worth US$3,000,000,000. Maybe they have realised that the only escape
from chronic air pollution and gridlock is to seek alternatives to
On this page you see APT's multi-centered Sydney Rail Map. It was first produced in 1987 at the time of the Harbour Tunnel controversy and the "Roads 2000" surveys by the then DMR. It illustrates how new rail developments north and south of the harbour could have been considered as an alternative to the road tunnel.
The rail map was re-issued as part of the APT response to the Castlereagh Freeway E.I.S. to highlight possible developments in the North-West sector, The recently-announced (see overleaf) combined rail unions' plans for new links to serve Parramatta form the essential core network from which other extensions can be made.
EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER
In July, we suggested that public transport bureaucrats should make more use of their own system. In August, they did. We report that their travel was uneventful.
NEW SUBURBAN TRAIN TIMETABLE
State Rail has apparently failed to sell its ideas for an "improved" timetable which would have slashed off-peak services on most lines and the idea has been deferred until after the next election at the earliest.
In the October issue of the Open Road will be your voting paper [we hasten to add that owning cars does not cause congestion or much pollution; using them does]. The Motorists Action Group team include in their policy the improvement of public transport for a better environment. They omit to recognise that better public transport reduces the external costs of transport to the community (road toll, pollution and noise).
Talking of the NRMA, see Ross Gittins' comment in the Herald of 10th September. There was a rejoinder letter the next day.
The heavy snow in early July blocked roads at Oberon, Bathurst and elsewhere. APT note that railways were less affected and wonder whether the Oberon train could have got through, had it been retained. The railway bus between Lithgow and Bathurst could not run; we wonder if anyone thought of a substitute train service.
APT were concerned to hear Mr Baird say that the work of electrifying the Richmond line had been deferred, due to cutbacks in Commonwealth funding. The Richmond line is sufficiently elevated above the roads to Richmond that it is usually unaffected by floods, even when all roads are closed. Mr Baird went on to suggest that the Castlereagh Tollway would be built and would solve transport problems in the northwest; this statement would appear to pre-empt the public inquiry into that project (see below).
WHERE IS DAVID KIRBY?
In the early l980s, Sydney barrister David Kirby was commissioned by the Wran government to conduct separate enquiries into the desirability of the proposed Kyeemagh-Chullora road and the proposed Warringah Expressway from Neutral Bay to Manly Vale. He found against each project. Copies of his reports are still around - try libraries in the areas concerned.
Tn 1986, Travers Morgan were commissioned by the then Department of Main Roads to conduct an enquiry into the desirability of the proposed Sydney Harbour Tunnel. They found that the tunnel had a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of only 0.34 and that there were other reasons for not building it. Their report was suppressed at the time and was not released even under the Greiner/Baird administration until North Shore independent MP Robin Read obtained a copy in 1990.
In 1989, Commissioner for Inquiry for Environment and Planning Woodward was asked to investigate the justification for the first stage of the proposed Castlereagh Tollway from North Ryde to Pennant Hills Road. When his report was released last month, APT were pleased but not surprised to learn that he recommended against its construction after taking into account traffic, environmental, social and economic considerations.
Local councils were less pleased with the umpire's decision. A public meeting was held at Epping on 31st August. It was publicised by display advertisements in metropolitan dailies and full pages in local papers, such as the Hornsby Advocate of 30th August. APT members were at the public meeting; they report that its conduct was very biased. The nine pro-tollway speakers did not scruple to misquote traffic projections when it suited them. So-called motions were put without any discussion being allowed. No attempt was made to count the substantial minority present.
It is your writer's view that people who act like the pro-tollway forces who conducted the public meeting thereby do considerable harm to their own cause. Their blindness to such points as the fact that the Tollway would not yield the traffic benefits they seek speaks volumes. Their illogic is matched only by the Government's continuing to allow developments such as the new towns in the north-west in the face of repeated demonstrations that the necessary transport infrastructure is not being planned, let alone built, by those whom we entrust with our transport.
But the over-riding question is, will it ever occur to these people that the umpires who have found against their beloved roads four times just might perhaps be right?
WHAT THEY REALLY THINK
APT have a copy of the Lower North Shore Traffic Study Report dated June 1990. It is an internal R.T.A. document. We quote:
"It was hoped that the roadworks likely to be completed over the next five years would improve the level of service of the arterial road network. However, it was found that even if some additional projects were included, the level of service in five years time will be about the same as that existing at the moment. The major reasons for this are the continuing rapid development of the sub-regional and other centres within the study area, and the limited level of funds provided for roads"
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Transport 2000 Australia. care Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations, P.O. Box 375, Manuka 2603. The national viewpoint, with members in each State; APT are foundation members. -
Sunshine Coast Commuters' Association, P.O. Box 645, Caloundra 4551. (07)229-2262
FOR YOUR DIARY
Transport and the Greenhouse Effect, 22 September. Coalition for Urban Transport Sanity, 247-2228
15th Australasian Transport Research Forum 26-28 September, Manly. Ministry of Transport. G.P.O. Box 1620, Sydney.
Metropolis 90, including Transport and Infrastructure sessions, Melbourne, 15-19 October. P.O. Box 29, Parkville 3052
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Private Tollroads in Urban Areas: - economic and financial issues, Beesley and Hensher in Current Affairs Bulletin, May 1990.
Technocratic Dreaming: of Very Fast Trains and Japanese Designer Cities. $12.50. Left Book Club, Trades Hall Box 22, 4 Goulburn St, Sydney.
A Rail Strategy for the Sydney Region, leaflet prepared by Jacana Consulting for the Labor Council and rail unions. It advocates a modest expansion of Sydney's single-centred radial rail system, making it multi-centred.
Railway Freight and Sustainable Development, Andrews and Gray in Search (ANZAAS) July/August t990
Ecologically Sustainable Development - a Commonwealth discussion paper dated June 1990. Paragraphs 177-191 concern transport.
Public Participation In Transport Planning, $10 from Coalition for Urban Transport Sanity. 27-4206.