WHAT A WAY TO RUN
A.P.T. have never been offered conditional support and thus have never faced the dilemma of whether to reject it. We have always accepted any support offered.
We were surprised and delighted to receive a $12 subscription cheque from the N.R.M.A. The cheque arrived by Certified Mail; it would have been still nicer by ordinary mail with the $1.50 extra postage paid as a donation!
SYDNEY HARBOUR IMMERSED TUNNEL
One very pertinent criticism of the Enviromnental Impact Statement prepared for this project was that the EIS neglected several costs of the tunnel and exaggerated several benefits. For instance, it neglected to cost essential roadworks north and south of the tunnel. In particular, the Gore Hill Freeway and extra lanes both in the Domain tunnel and on the western distributor were overlooked. APT understand that the tunnel consortium agreed to provide the extra lanes at no cost; the Gore Hill Freeway is being built by the taxpayer. There were to be four Gore Hill lanes. Work stopped in September when it was decided that all new works had to be placed behind repairing fined damage in rural areas. Work is about to resume, as new funds have been found. But APT understand that only two lanes are to be built over most of the Gore Hill section. This will mean that the Gore Hill Freeway will be one-way tidal! Both lanes will be inbound in the morning and both outbound in the afternoon.
The Domain Tunnel was built with four traffic lanes. Because of its design, widening the tunnel would be prohibitively expensive. The two extra lanes were to be constructed by reclaiming the breakdown lanes and by reducing clearances. Some exhaust fans win have to be relocated. APT hear that it has recently been decided that putting six lanes in the width available is impracticable and the tunnel will be five lanes! Presumably the middle lane will be tidal.
The nett effect of these cutbacks will be to ease the traffic pressure on the bridge-tunnel combination. APT trust that the authorities allow for the new situation in the current feasibility studies into putting more public transport on the bridge.
Another example of building a road which won't be used as planned can be observed in Pyrmont. Many readers will remember the anti-DMR feeling generated at the time of the Fig Street resumptions. The site lay idle for years but the roadbuilders had their way.
Unfortunately for them, by the time the link was opened recently. Wattle Street had been made one-way northbound and their "route to the west" went nowhere!
STILL MORE TUNNELS
APT are unimpressed by Sydney City Council's "solution" to the dilemma of developers wanting more parking space while there is not enough road to serve existing parking. The council wants to build a network of tunnels under Pitt Street north of Park Street and under Margaret Street. As discussed in previous issues, there is to be an east-west tunnel under Park Street. It is intended that these tunnels will connect basement parking stations with main roads at the perimeter of the CBD.
APT are unaware of any precedent for this plan. So far as we know, no city has successfully put many cars underground. (Several cities run trams underground.) APT also doubt that the Pitt Street Plaza would survive the year or two of disruption which open-cut tunnelling would require.
It is facile to believe that a tunnel network will reduce the number of cars in the city. The only possible outcome will be an increase in car travel. The community would do better to prevent developers from turning Sydney into a southern version of Los Angeles. Why not levy developers for public transport improvements? Bradfield planned a railway under the alignment of Pitt St and some of the tunnel for that line lies flooded under Macquarie Street. His line was to follow Pitt St to Town Hall and then head out along Parramatta Road past the university, thence via Gladesville to Epping and beyond.
APT recognise that road tunnels must appear attractive from a CBD perspective, especially given the expectation of other road improvements and a continuing increase in car use. However, we are very concerned that commercial organisations are acquiring an interest in continuing car use. Projects such as the Harbour Tunnel, QVB restoration, Capitol Theatre and now the East-West tunnel all depend on revenue generated from a level of car use which is based on an extension of past experience. However, there are constraints on car use imposed by Australia's current economic circumstances and by the need to reduce our "greenhouse" emissions. If these constraints become more important in the future, and this is not an unreasonable expectation, the vested interest in continuing car use will make it more difficult to respond to them.
PARKING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW
City car parking is not just a local issue, but also of regional transport significance. This is illustrated by Recommendation 6 from the Commission of Inquiry into the Castlereagh Freeway:
"Preparation of a State Environmental Planning Policy to enable controls and limits to be enforced in respect of proposed increased day-time car parking at commercial centres identified in the Metropolitan Strategy and other centres. The views of the Ministry of Transport (now the DoT) expressed to the Commission of Inquiry that there is a need for state controls and restrictions on commuter car parking to support regional transport planning for the Sydney Region are supported by the Commission."
Munich in Germany has developed a novel approach to parking. For a number of years it has required suburban parking at railway stations to be provided by developers as the price for allowing city parking. However with the increased pedestrianisation of the central area, and moves to expand the influence of traffic calming, no further car parking spaces in the central area will be allowed in future. The effectiveness of Munich's method is graphically illustrated in Quality Streets (citation on back page). Figure 2-6 relates car parking provision with retail turnover. Providing more parking gives no more turnover; providing more public transport does - Munich's retail turnover per square metre is double that of many other German cities.
Electrification of the Riverstone-Richmond line has been expedited in response to the unreliable service record of the diesel carsets. APT hear that only two-car sets will run at first; the power supply is to be amplified later.
The VFT consortium has released some details of the costs and benefits of their proposal which now indicates a preference for the inland route. APT believe further analysis is now needed to determine the most economic speed of operation.
We would not be surprised if an upgrade of the existing freight line, which The Australian recently described as a Fairly Fast Train, gave a much higher economic return than the VFT. Countrylink are thinking along the same lines and have already looked at European tilting passenger trains.
CityRail continues to issue suburban timetables that make no mention of NightRider buses. For instance, a Cronulla passenger might well conclude from the May timetable that if he missed the 11:41 p.m. train, that was it. This apparent lack of communication may in fact be a manifestation of the incredible rivalry that the SRA and the STA have for one another. It is noteworthy that some stationmasters thoughtfully include a NightRider leaflet in each copy of the train timetable they issue. APT won't identify these worthies lest we put them in line for official reprimand.
One of APT's member has recently spent the better part of a year in London. He reports that the transport situation in that city has many contrasts with Sydney as well as a few lessons for us.
The main difference is that London is a more public transport-dependent city - not surprising when you have several times Sydney's population living in a smaller area. Buses and Underground trains run with a frequency (every few minutes) which avoids the need to consult a timetable before you travel. There is plenty of good quality information provided: timetables and route diagrams at bus stops, signs and maps on the Underground. London Transport's designers seem to know what information the public needs and provide it - and the Underground map travels all round the world on postcards and teatowels.
The trouble is that with passenger numbers at record levels, the Underground is having trouble coping. The existing lines just don't have capacity. Maintenance has run low and equipment has become obsolete. With the concern for safety after the 1987 King's Cross fire, a wisp of smoke from an escalator is enough for staff to call the fire brigade and close the whole station during investigation. Upsets of this type have become an almost-daily occurrence, making the Underground less and less reliable. Basically it is being starved of funds to perform its proper function.
British Rail, whose above-ground suburban services are more comparable to the Sydney system, has a different worry. A shortage of staff, owing to the non-competitive wages offered, has led to permanent cancellation of many trains even as the number of commuters increases.
The Thatcher government believes that both British Rail's and the Underground's problems should be solved in "free market" terms: increase the fares, which would mean fewer passengers and more money. Unfortunately, this plan doesn't state how everybody else would get around - and London's economy depends on business people and tourists moving around. The free-market ideology has not been applied to the road system by the government. Those who have thought user-pays through have concluded that users of city road space should be charged for their use of scarce resources - and that the revenue might very legitimately be used to improve urban mobility through public transport.
The one major public transport improvement now in progress is extension of the Jubilee line eastwards to the docklands. Equally needed, but less assured, is the "East-West Crossrail" which would take British Rail trains through the city between Paddington and Liverpool Street. Paris built its RER years ago! The government has at least backed away from the most extreme of its road-building plans for London.
Readers will be aware that the Channel Tunnel has recently broken through. You may not also know that British Rail has been given approval to build a new low level station at King's Cross for Chunnel trains but not for a high speed link from London to the Chunnel entrance in Kent. Meanwhile, SNCF proceed apace.
Sydney has numerous private bus routes. Indeed, so numerous are private bus services that they carry more passengers than does CityRail (although over shorter distances and often to feed rail services). The new Passenger Transport Act of 1990 brings in new rules for these services (and incidentally brings them in for the State Transit Authority as well). Service levels and fares for each route will be set by the Govermnent; that route will be awarded by 5-year contract to the operator who bids best for it. As at present, some services will be subsidised.
The industry has welcomed the new situation in this month's issue of Truck & Bus Transportation. APT would prefer to see transport services organised in terms of land-use plans rather than have them run by Harvard MBAs.
Talking of buses, one of APT's members recently asked the STA what plans they had to run buses through the Harbour Tunnel when it opens. Their reply was that no buses would use the tunnel, as experience showed that no-one would want to travel that route!
A review of the recent NSW budget reveals that expenditure on Roads and Transport in 1990-1 will fall by $58 million, or 1.7% in real terms. A fall of $131 million in Transport is partially offset by a $73 million increase for roads, which is consistent with the policies of a self-styled "road-building government".
The budget contains some sensible changes as well. $105 million has been transferred from Operating Losses to Support for Non-Commercial Services in recognition of the external benefits of public transport. The debt on non-commercial services has been reduced, and the interest saving accounts for all the $131 million fall in the Transport budget.
The additional road funds just released to cover flood damage (see page 1) may also turn out to be at the expense of public transport.
In the mid 1970s, an Englishman called John Tyme made quite a name for himself at road inquiries by arguing powerfully against fundamental presumptions of these inquiries. APT have his book Motorways versus Democracy (MacMillan 1978); we would love to know what became of him. We quote: "Road and motorway proposals themselves, with all the immense expenditure involved in them and with all their applications in terms of land-use planning and economic development, are entirely without Parliamentary approval". And: "This country [U.K.] does not have a Department of Transport, but a Department of Highways, which possesses the power to make policy decisions on railways and waterways and, furthermore, which exercises this power not in the national interest, but in the interest of one industrial/financial lobby in short, that it thereby constitutes a corruption of government and thus a major threat to our democracy".
Not much is different in 1990. The leading article in the June issue of Transport notes that the reduction of congestion and the improvement of public transport are matters of some concern to Londoners. But no-one is confident that the Marsham Street Dept of Transport is the right institutional framework for things to be improved. The Dept's solution to anything is invariably to build a road. Railway Gazette International agrees - a leader in its current issue ends "the Department of Transport sees its primary function as building roads, and will fight to the death any attempt to transfer road funds to rail projects".
Plus ca change, plus le meme chose - similar emotions were expressed by independent MP Robyn Read (North Shore) in her budget speech on 16 October. She attacked "American economic rationalism" as practised by leaders who cannot get their own sums right. She aimed several sharp barbs at road interests. She concluded "The State is being run by accountants merely trying to balance the books, and they are pragmatically retreating from the real function of Government [which] is to advance public policy dealing with equity and justice". In the same speech, Ms Read referred to the need to develop long-term solutions to traffic problems on the lower North Shore. She specifically mentioned traffic calming measures and a northern beaches public transport link. APT couldn't agree more.
"There are 119 new ticket inspectors on the City Circle alone", says the poster terrifyingly, with its picture of a steel trap. What it doesn't say is that they're at the stations, not on the trains. When did YOU last see a ticket inspector on a train - a few years ago? Travelling without the right ticket as still a temptation when so many suburban stations have ticket barriers unattended - some at night. some all day as well. For a thorough enforcement of fare paying in the present situation, Sydney needs some ticket inspectors on the trains.
RAILWAY INDUSTRY COUNCIL
The conclusions and recommendations from the Railway Industry Council (RIC) were released late in October. The RIC was set up in 1986 to develop a medium to longterm strategy for rail. It examined the economic, social and environmental implications of a number of alternative scenarios for rail's future.
In relation to urban rail, the RIC has recommended the objectives of Option E: Urban Rail Expansion to governments. This option was aimed at significantly increasing rail's modal share of the urban transport task and policies to discourage car use in urban areas. The nett earnings from an investment program of $500-$600 million per annum over 10 years in Australia's mainland capitals were estimated to total over $2800 million per annum.
APT estimate that the benefit-cost ratios (BCRs) for Option E range from 2.3 (with existing levels of car restraint) to 6.0 with the restraint assumed by the RIC. APT recognise that land use changes and lower road speeds, in order to encourage development along defined corridors, will be necessary for the full benefits of Option E to be achieved.
The Australian Transport Advisory Council endorsed RIC's recommendation in principle on 9 September.
if you thought that public transport and private vehicles were equaller in Melbourne than in Sydney, read on. A new ring road is being built around the former's northern suburbs, crossing the Upfield line near Gowrie. The railway is to be closed for seven months for the purposes of road construction. The adjacent Hume Highway is not to be closed at all.
You will recall from the July issue of this paper that we had reviewed the NSW Department of Transport North Shore Strategic Study and found that a Warringah Railway was viable and preferable to a freeway. The DoT have responded to our review and only conceded one of the points we raised. This increases the railway BCR from 0.66 to 0.72, whereas our estimate was 1.46. It is interesting to compare the DoT response with the MC work referred to above.
In the first place, the DoT have not allowed for any changes in car ownership or parking costs, apparently because this does not form any part of the "traditional analysis". Secondly, they have assumed that existing road capacity through Mosman will not be reduced to restrain and calm car traffic which limits the impact of a new rail link. These changes have been included in the RIC studies, and the recommendations endorsed by an Advisory Council of which the DoT is a part; the same DoT that objects to APT using similar changes in its analysis!
Changes to many peninsular bus services take effect next January 29th. (The project is called Better Buses 90). The present focus of services onto Manly Wharf is to shift to Warringah Mall, reflecting current travel patterns. Travel times will be reduced where possible - few buses outside peak hours will divert to North Sydney or up Battles Boulevard. Services through about ten small pockets will be adjusted to run on main roads. Neutral Bay, Spit Junction, Warringah Mall and Dee Why will all become interchanges between express and all-stops buses. It is hoped that patronage of express services will be increased; if you think you might be affected, seek details from the STA.
APT would be pleased to think that tickets valid on more than one bus might be introduced at the same time but there is no evidence that they will,
APT have written to ANZEC (Australia and New Zealand Environmental Commission) in response to their call for submissions on greenhouse planning. The theme of our submission is transport planning; we say that not only should money be spent on rail but that traffic calming should be used to increase the speed differential in favour of rail.
APT were surprised that transport causes grief with this popular ladies' sport. A new sporting facility has been built in one of Sydney's long-settled areas; it has sufficient netball courts to cater for 80 teams in the championship. 80 teams is 720 players; sufficient car parking turns out to be space for 720 cars. Because sufficient well-lit car spaces are not there, the championship is being scaled back to 50 teams.
APT would have thought it easy for the players to share their cars, carrying maybe three players per car, or even to organise minibuses. Apparently not.
The moral is that intense land-uses should always be placed adjacent to public transport.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The result of the election of office-bearers held on 6th November are: convenor Guy Tranter, secretary Jim Donovan, treasurer Allan Miles, management committee Kirk Bendall, Bob Carey, Allan Hansen, Kevin Eadie.
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Pedestrians' Action Association, Kenneth Vaughan, 1 Albert Aye, Hazelbrook 2779. 893-5333
Traffic Calming Perth, Andrew Henderson, 79 Wood St. White Gum Valley 6162
FOR YOUR DIARY
Transport Action Council next meeting Sunday 25 Nov, Neighbourhood Centre, 61 Scott St., Newcastle: Enquiries Mark Jackson (049) 615661
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Quality Streets - How traditional urban centres benefit from traffic-calming. May. 1988. Transport and Environment Studies (T.E.S.T.), 177 Arlington Road, London NW1 7EY
Railway Industry Council - Conclusions and Recommendations. G.P.O. Box 594, Canberra 2601. APT have a couple of spare copies.
Cities and Automobile Dependence: an International Sourcebook. Newman, Kenworthy, Lyons. (Gower, 1989)
Transport, Energy, Conservation - Policies for Australian cities. Newman, Kenworthy, Lyons. $28 incl. P&P. Inst of Science and Technology Policy, Murdoch University 6150.
Rail 300: The world High-Speed Train race. Murray Hughes (1988). $12.95 Cloustons (06) 280-4499.