MINISTER AGREES WITH ACTION GROUP
APT have long argued that Sydney should have intermodal tickets and should not have the present environment whereby the rail system and the bus/ferry system regard each other as the opposition. Although it didn't make headlines, we record that on 16th November last, the day after our last issue was distributed, minister Baird said it would be a nonsense if the new automatic ticketing systems being introduced for trains and buses were not integrated with the up-graded ferry ticketing system - thus enabling rides for all services to be issued on a single ticket.
MINISTER AGREES WITH ACTION GROUP
That same month, APT received a letter from Mr Baird's office. We quote:
the Minister has recently decided to formalise the work of the Transport Forum (which comprises the Chief Executive Officers of the Department of Transport, State Rail Authority, State Transit Authority and Maritime Services Board) and establish a Transport Research Institute as a means of enhancing the State's long term strategic planning capabilities.
"Reflecting the level of commitment to this initiative, the Director-General of the Department of Transport is to be the Chief Executive of the Transport Research institute and Chairperson of the Transport Forum"
APT's view is that land-use and transport should be planned together, because they interact. We were disappointed to hear Mr Murray, speaking shortly after Roads was removed from the Transport portfolio, say that he was opposed to any new body to plan land-use and transport, because there was enough red tape already. Still, planning public transport is a start!
Press advertisements and a few billboards around town invite companies to consider joining the 600 now operating from Macarthur. The ads suggest that there are great advantages in relocation.
Insofar as this arrangement provides jobs closer to the people, it is fine. However it often means extra transport costs for the longer trips between work and home for existing staff and between the subject workplace and its suppliers or customers for goods. Public transport would cease to be an option for many workers.
If all these extra transport costs were taken into account, APT think that the community would reconsider the attraction of business parks located in semirural areas away from public transport corridors.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENTS
APT have complained about these documents before. We find that they are exploited by the proponents of questionable projects in order to give an air of respectability to those projects. The Environmental Education Project of Sydney University is preparing a videotaped examination of EISs.
As an example of what worries us, a single sentence will suffice. The University of Technology, Sydney, is proposing to construct an access road to the rear of its Kuringai campus. The road cuts through a National Park and has an average grade of about 1 in 9. The EIS defends this, pointing out that the wad could provide "an enriching driving experience".
The doors connecting Tangara crew compartments to the adjoining passenger area have a large, sometimes tinted, window in them. This window improves passenger security by letting guard and passengers see one another. Presumably it is tinted because too much light from the passenger area could adversely affect the driver's vision at night or in a tunnel but the slope of the windscreen should minimise this problem.
APT noticed recently that these windows were fitted and/or retrofitted with blinds apparently intended for use by drivers (but not guards) to obscure the window. Subject only to the driver's vision being paramount, we would have thought that the visibility of the driver benefited passenger security almost as much as did guard visibility. We are pleased to report that most drivers leave the blind open. We have so far seen four GUARDS riding around town with their blinds drawn.
APT suggest that if you notice a closed blind on a guard's compartment, you ask the guard to open it. Should he not have done so by the next station, the matter should be referred to your line's manager.
PAY TO FIND OUT
On 8th January, CountryLink advertised temporary changes in the Brisbane XPT service due to track-works. The advertisement concludes by giving a telephone number for further information. The number has the 0055 prefix and diallers are therefore charged for the time they are connected. APT are surprised by this impost.
BATTLE OF ST LEONARDS
The lower North Shore centre of Crows Nest has expanded northwards to the point where it takes in adjoining St Leonards. Even though this growth was easily foreseeable fifteen years ago, nothing has been done to rationalise the planning of St Leonards. Thus, the local government boundaries have not moved for decades; the business centre is still cut up between no less than three councils.
APT understand that regular inter-council meetings are held but that Willoughby and Lane Cove councils persist with parking codes which may be relevant to small shopping centres like Castlecrag but are causing larger centres like Parramatta and Chatswood to be swallowed in car traffic. North Sydney council aims at one car space per 200 square metres of office space; the other two run about four times as many spaces. We would have thought that the success of North Sydney council in developing a commercial heart to the same densities as Sydney CBD spoke for itself St Leonards has a further affliction - a Government-sponsored development under the old railway station site is to have 800 car spaces in its Stage 1 alone.
It is plain that the roads feeding St Leonards are loaded to capacity already. The only new road capacity being built up there is the Gore Hill Freeway. (APT were surprised to see a viaduct being built across Chelmsford Avenue, which the local council closed permanently many years ago; why not cross at grade?) The Roads and Traffic Authority have admitted in their Lower North Shore study that even if all the new roads proposed for that area were built overnight, traffic problems would remain. Yet the new buildings already under way will create so much peak hour traffic that one new highway lane north and one south could not handle the additional cars.
APT await with interest the conclusions of feasibility studies into new public transport links on the lower North Shore.
ENGLISH TRUCK WEIGHTS
APT find no humour in the antics of the English truck lobby which contrived to put 40-ton trucks on the roads contrary to the wishes of Parliament (a protracted enquiry had concluded that 40-ton trucks were not warranted and st the limit at 38 tons. A simple administrative fiat that 5% overweight would be tolerated shortcircuited all that, as 105% of 38 tons is 39.9 tons and who would prosecute over a mere 100 kg!). New Scientist of 15 December discusses the causation of road surface damage by heavy vehicles. It seems highly likely that still heavier trucks will soon be commonplace.
The recent London train smash at Cannon Street station resulted in the death of one person. Yet it was headlines worldwide, including Down Under. The first stories conjectured that the age of the rolling stock (40 years) might be implicated.
Road accidents causing a single death are everyday
occurrences and as such are not worthy of headlines.
And much of Sydney's present train fleet was made in 1928-9, so a
40-year old English train is not on its last legs. Presumably, then,
the loudness of the media scream about Cannon Street is an implicit
acknowledgement that trains ARE safer.
An APT member who intended to go walking in the Blue Mountains on tth January thought it would be prudent to investigate train travel carefully, having seen a newspaper story about track work. Asking the staff at a 3-platform suburban station was worse than fruitless - their best information was a leaflet about the preceding DECEMBER shutdown. Research in town produced two yellow booklets, timetables for trains and for substituting buses.
There was also a piece of propaganda asserting that the majority of passengers polled had expressed a preference for buses to replace the trains over other forms of transport. Just what other forms were offered? Skateboards? Helicopters?
APT feel public interest would have been better served by (i) candour in public announcements. Eyewash tends to stain the perpetrator. (il) better attention to the needs of passengers. Why on earth were the trains and buses in separate booklets, when a typical journey would have required one train, one bus, and one more train? Why were short- and long-distance passengers directed to different interchanges? Connections were so bad that 1-hour waits were not uncommon; using a single interchange would have helped by making more alternatives available.
APT's management committee attended the January 9 launch at Central of the first blued XPT set. It was a field day for politicians - various achievements announced won't happen until late 1992 if at all. If and when they do happen, doubtless there will be a rerun of this TV-oriented colour extravaganza. Until then, passengers will be forced to ride long distances in XPTs designed for short trips and with limited baggage space.
APT could not discern any benefits for passengers in the refurbishing. Rather, a careful look at country services seems to suggest that they are close to extinction - standing on the Central suburban platforms the other evening, it was possible to see platform 1. That is, at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, there are now NO trains in Sydney Terminal Station.
Several DEB sets have been taken from the Illawarra line for use on the Southern due to shortage of rolling stock. This has caused two adverse effects on Illawarra passengers.
Illawarra timetables have now been rearranged so that (a) passengers for stations beyond Wollongong must change there, which is inconvenient (b) thirty services per week are now suburban K-sets. These trains do not have toilets; there were reports of children wetting themselves during the holdups on 21 January. What happened to the suburban runs formerly performed by those double-deck K-sets? Should there have been a resurgence of red rattlers recently on your line, the reason may be Illawarra. The policy appears to be to reduce maintenance costs at the expense of passenger comfort.
APT also attended a briefing by rail planners at Central. We report that on-time running is best on the Eastern Suburbs line and worst on the Liverpool lines. No mention was made of EARLY running, which the writer feels is qualitatively different from late running in that it is absolutely unnecessary. That a few trains run early clearly shows that guards and dispatchers do not use the highly-accurate watches now available for as little as $3; why not?
There are several recognised trouble spots in the Sydney metropolitan network. One if them is the Strathfield-Central section, which is so heavily loaded as to provide some of the pressure for Central Coast trains to run via the North Shore. The SRA planners state that expansion of Strathfield-Central could only be done at huge cost underground; they appear not to have considered "interleaving" the fast and slow trains as suggested by APT several years ago. A better idea may be a new route from the North-West via Chatswood to the Sydney CBD - see MetroWest article.
MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR
Many suburban railway stations have been smartened up recently. Pymble's works have involved finance from a number of local firms. Why not drop up there sometime and have a look? You may well decide that sponsorship can have positive aspects. If you feel that your station could benefit from more passenger seating. go for it!
APT mention with approval the introduction of a sponsored Burwood-Cronulla beach bus during January. The sponsors are McDonalds, Burwood Council and Cronulla Chamber of Commerce.
Not content with the public enquiry's finding against the North Ryde-Pennant Hills F2 tollway, the government has recruited assistance to sell that road to the public. The result is a document called "Community Voice" which solicits feedback about transport preferences but ignores the connection between transport and land-use planning.
On the other side of Sydney, rather than risk losing the F5 cause in another public enquiry, the government has let it be known that the outer section (Moorebank to Beverly Hills) will be constructed by private enterprise.
Expect another snow job soon!
APT's analyst has worked through the available information on the MetroWest proposal for a new underground railway in the Sydney CBD. He points to five weaknesses in the plan, which are set out below with APT solutions.
(1) Additional passenger capacity from the north is not being utilised if MetroWest ends at Wynyard. The solution would be to extend MetroWest northward to Warringah and the North-West via Chatswood, Epping and Carlingford.
(2) Passenger capacity from the west is limited, particularly if the local line is developed as a rapid transit facility with bus-rail interchange and more high density land use. The North-West extension and ParramattaCarlingford link would relieve Parramatta-StrathfieldCity capacity and should be promoted by SRA as an alternative to the Castlereagh Freeway.
(3) The narrow doorways of interurban trains, slowing passenger access, makes them unsuitable for amplifying access to the western CBD from the existing rail network. It would be better for interurban trains to stop only at key stations, with intermediate access by suburban trains.
(4) Ten-car interurban sets require very long platforms (about 250 metres); making all MetroWest platforms this length would increase costs. It would be better to limit interurban trains to 8 double-deck cars and to run 10-car suburban sets. Developing a trailer Tangara car for a 6-car unit would allow consists of 4, 6, 8 or 10 cars to match loads.
(5) The whole MetroWest concept depends on Sydney CBD expansion, rather than replacing cars by trains. The city centre is already over-developed. The State Government should work towards a multi-centred city with a matching multi-centred rail network. Typical regional centres would be Parramatta, Chatswood, Bankstown, Hurstville and Airport. The SRA's role in this design should include promotion of the economic, social and environmental benefits of the greater use of public transport and less automobile dependence. The SRA has stood idly by while the RTA has built the Harbour Tunnel and other freeways which diminish the market for rail and encourage wasteful urban sprawl. On a related matter, it would be interesting to know whether Chinatown station (the proposed new one for the ESR line) is to be integrated with Haymarket station on the Metrowest line.
APT have received a copy of the 1990 Australian Fuel Consumption Guide for New Car Buyers, which sets out fuel consumption for each current car model. This booklet is issued by the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy. Its stated purpose is to help one choose the most fuel efficient vehicle for one's needs, in order to help conserve our valuable oil resources and reduce the emission of gases contributing to the greenhouse effect. Our copy arrived inserted into our copy of Choice magazine.
APT are appalled that the booklet does not say anything about public transport. Nor does it indicate that fuel consumption can be reduced by proper regional planning of our cities, where most of our fuel is used. It does not mention car pooling. The closest it comes to hinting that fuel consumption will be reduced by reducing the amount of driving you do is to recommend planning your driving so as not to make multiple trips when one would do.
We refer the Department to the paper of Newman et al
in ANZAAS Search, Vol 19, number 5-6. This paper
discusses ways of reducing fuel consumption, including
- inner-area higher densities
- generally higher densities
- more centralisation
- containing increases in CBD parking accommodation
- lowering road provision per person
- improving public transport performance.
We are disappointed that the Australian Consumers' Association also has failed to pick up these points. Saving fuel by reducing the amount of driving is even more in the consumer's interest than is having a lightweight car.
APT have received a letter from the SRA commenting on the article in the November newsletter which suggested that more of the ticket examiners should be on trains rather than on stations. The letter states that a total of 142 examiners are available for deployment on trains or at non-Circle stations in addition to the 119 fixed at City Circle stations.
Your correspondent, who rides trains daily, can remember only one on-board metropolitan ticket examination in the last 12 months. It was on a Saturday, about 6 a.m. APT stand on our suggestion that there is insufficient on-train ticket checking. The practice in European city railways appears to be to check tickets every two or three journeys on average.
Speaking of fares, APT understand that heavy fare increases will be announced as soon as the Greiner government wins the imminent election. If you are a regular train traveller, mitigate the rise by ordering a season ticket on polling day.
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Environmental Transport Association, 17 George Street, Croydon CRO1LA, U.K. Ideologically sound organisation covering all land transport modes. A car recovery service is available to members.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Transit Australia monthly. Large newsagencies or $46 p.a. from G.P.O. Box 1017, Sydney 2001.
Urban Action Newsletter of urban environmental activism. Produced by the Urban Environment Coalition, 73 Garden Street, Alexandria 2015.
Wheels within Wheels Mick Hamer (Routledge, 1987). Explains the workings of the British road lobby.
Energy, Transport & the Environment Michael Howard. UKP25 (add UKP2 for orders outside U.K.) from Transnet, 16 Warren Lane, London SE166DW.
Travel in Towns - Jam Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Martin Mogridge. Argues that if space in cities is to be used efficiently, private vehicles must be restrained.
Greenhouse: Towards a Freight Transport Strategy Greenpeace, 1990. Jacana Consulting, P.O. Box A957, Sydney South 2000.
Cities Are Good for Us Harley Sherlock, 1989. Transport 2000, 10 Melton St., London NW12EJ
Green Guide Who's green in Australia, including APT. International Public Relations, 33 Walsh Street, West Melbourne.
Computers on the Roads - Automatic Vehicle Identification, by Brian Martin. Current Affairs Bulletin, October 1990.
Roads to Ruin New Scientist, 15 Dec 1990. Article by David Nowland discusses road surface damage. Considers how it is caused and what might be done to minimise it. The solutions examined do not include moving freight by rail!
Fouling the nest James Colman (article on Sydney's planning or lack thereof) in Sydney Review, Jan-Feb 1991.
Draft Policy Summary (planning Melbourne public transport to reduce greenhouse emissions) $3.50 from P.T.U.A., P.O. Box 324, Collins St 3000.