WHAT A WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD
Your roving reporter found himself at Mt. Colah station on the afternoon of Easter Saturday. A notice on the booking office window stated "This station is not open for the sale of tickets. Passengers are requested to purchase tickets at their destination."
What intrigued APT's reporter was the fact that a railway officer WAS on duty. His function, he told APT, was to give right-of-way to the guards on the 8-car trains which, because of the Easter Show traffic, had replaced the usual 4-car trains used at weekends. The station is normally unmanned after 1 pm. on Saturdays. The platforms are curved and guards on long trains cannot see the full length of the train.
When asked why he couldn't sell tickets, the officer replied that the Line Manager had told him not to, because the SRA did not want people to get the idea they could buy ticket at weekends at the smaller stations.
FOOTNOTE: An APT member who has lived at Mt Colah for 30 years tells us the station, though normally closed on public holidays has always previously been staffed for the sale of tickets over all 4 days of the Easter weekend due to extra Show traffic.
OVER THE TASMAN
New Zealand's new Minister of Transport seems too good to be true. According to the February issue of Rails, in his first few weeks in office he has thrown doubt on Wellington's motorway extension and warned transport leaders that economic fitness can no longer be divorced from environmental matters.
He reportedly said that they "should not necessarily be planning highway developments based on projections governed by historical indicators"
This newsletter recently attacked a publication called "Fuel Consumption Guide for New Car Buyers" which did not even hint that fuel could be saved by replacing car journeys with public transport ones.
Now the federal government has issued a 68-page booklet called "The Energy Guide" which is being distributed to every household in Australia. Page 26 has one line about public transport; the inside back cover refers readers to one or two Greenie organisations. - APT feel vindicated.
This body incorporates the functions of the Industries Assistance Commission and the constitutional InterState Commission. It has very recently issued a draft report entitled "Rail Transport". APT made a submission to the Commission.
The Commission preserves the I-SC recommendations that road transport be fully charged for road surface damage. Its general attitude to rail does not strike APT as being particularly enlightened - dense modern cities cannot work without good public transport.
APT are intrigued by the Commission's recommendations that concession fares be not available during peak hours and that country fare concessions be equally available on all travel modes, not just rail. Laudable though these ideals may be, we cannot see Australian politicians implementing them.
APT respectfully remind the Commission and all other Commonwealth bodies that Australian has an interim planning target for the control of greenhouse gases. This target, like that of other established countries, is to stabilise emissions at 1988 levels by the year 2000 and to reduce them 20% from 1988 levels by 2005. These targets can only be met by either closing whole industries down or having public transport make massive inroads into car use. Neither Commonwealth nor State governments seem to be taking the greenhouse target into account. Current policies of state governments purport to be aimed at reducing traffic congestion on metropolitan roads but in fact will exacerbate it.
APT understand that this suburb was named after its main industry, the butchers A. J. Bush. The abbatoirs were closed a few years ago; the site is being redeveloped for sporting and residential purposes. Supporters of Sydney's bid for the Olympic Games hope that Homebush will be the jewel in Sydney's crown.
The site used to be lavishly covered with railways. APT would have thought the railway worth using to carry people to and from the development, given that it has excellent connections west, east, and north. Planners disagree; they point out that numerous stations on several lines are within a kilometre or so.
Ironically, the organisers of a computer exposition at Rosehill in mid-May show in their advertising that train transport is available to the door.
Several predictions of dire trouble have not materialised. Tn 1959 Robert Raymond and Charles Watson-Munro published a book called The Energy Crisis of 1985", setting out measures Australia had to take if the supposedly impending oil crisis was not to paralyse our economy. These included stockpiling iron ore for construction of energy facilities and stockpiling other materials for producing batteries. Then, in 1980, Lindsey Williams published "The Energy Non-Crisis", discussing how reports made to President Nixon about an impending shortage of Alaskan oil were grossly exaggerated.
In another field, Ehrlich wrote "The Population Bomb" in 1968. He told how the global food supply could not keep up with projected population growth. His predictions were not realised although he and David Suzuki are still staying similar things and may yet be vindicated,
APT would like to look ahead ten years at Sydney's transport picture, on the assumption that little or nothing is done to cure the lack of planning and the dominance of the car. We feel that traffic congestion will increasingly control the development of Sydney. Any slack in the roads system will be taken up by spread of the peak hour and by an increase in night-time goods deliveries where possible. Where the total trip times of public transport alternatives become more comparable with car times than they are now, public transport ridership will increase. Once that has happened, the only way for an increase in the population to be handled will be for people to make fewer journeys or make shorter journeys. This will manifest itself by changing land-use patterns because congestion is self-limiting and does not of itself warrant indefinite expansion of road capacity.
Meanwhile, of course, air pollution in the western suburbs will get worse. The writer suspects that it will become bad enough to affect land values. The very dirty air experienced from the 6th to the 9th May will become unremarkable. Ironically, pollution will have been exacerbated by the roads built in the 1990s "to help the free flow of traffic".
There will have been no major advances in road safety. In particular, there will be no "smart cars" (because the first accident in which anyone is hurt by the error of a smart car will see all of them off the road indefinitely). Something like a quarter of all Sydney families will have suffered road trauma to a member during the 1990s.
SMALL FERRY SERVICES
The 5:30 p.m. service from Circular Quay up the Lane Cove River to Greenwich, Northwood, Longueville and Hunter's Hill has been withdrawn because the operating company find they cannot run it profitably. Curiously, the corresponding inward service continues to arrive at the Quay at 8:30 a.m.
One of the reasons given by the operators for the lack of profitability is a control on fares imposed by the Roads and Traffic Authority.
A recent road safety initiative was to have been the revision of speed limits to make them more accurately reflect local conditions. Part of this was to raise the standard 60 kph to 70 where appropriate. A quid pro quo for this was that selected 60 kph sections would be restricted to lower speeds. Another feature of this idea would have been that speed limits would be perceived as more reasonable, and compliance by drivers would improve.
Unfortunately, politicians got hold of this plan. Roads minister Murray announced that speed limits on many Sydney main roads would be raised; APT cannot recall him saying anything about reductions. Readers will have seen 70 signs but your correspondent has yet to sight a 50. APT field agents are investigating a rumour that there is a short length of 50 kph road in the St Marys area.
APT are aware of one section of highway (Ryde Road, Pymble, near Kendall Street) where the sight distance for motorists is about half that considered minimal for the 60 kph speed zoning. The majority of motorists pass that point at speeds well in excess of 70 kph.
The point of this story is that an essential part of promoting public transport usage is to make car travel less attractive. The last thing we need is 70 kph highways everywhere (and some 80 kph roads are to be made 90 kph!). An additional benefit of holding speeds down is lower fuel consumption, less noise, and less accident damage.
Paradoxically, the capacity of road lanes in vehicles per hour is less at 70 kph than at 60, because the minimum safe separation rises due to greatly increased stopping distances at higher speeds. APT's spy saw a four-vehicle collision on Broadway recently where speeds are not high. It is only a matter of time before we have a major incident on one of the 70 kph highways.
No contracts have yet been let for upgrading the existing fleet of double-deck suburban trains under the high profile Citydecker program. It appears that the money has been diverted into station upgrading work which has become immensely popular with local MPs in these pre-election times.
APT ask is this "letting the managers manage", as promised by our politicians?
The Warringah Transport Corridor Joint Committee (representing the views of affected northside councils) has written to local MPs seeking their support for a Warringah Freeway.
The independent member for North Shore has declined, referring to work done by APT in its review and suggesting the Commissioner David Kirby "got it right" in his Inquiry. She remains prepared to discuss "critically needed public transport options" for Warringah as a high priority.
RAILWAY INDUSTRY COUNCIL
One of the recommendations from the RIC was the establishment of an Australian Rail Industry Advisory Council to advise the Federal Minister for Land Transport on rail reform issues.
The recently announced membership list is dominated by union and
freight user interests. Considering the significant economic, social
and environmental benefits of an expanded urban rail system
identified by the RIC, APT would have expected urban users and other
beneficiaries to be represented. We conclude that urban transport
problems are not a high priority for the Federal Government.
TOO MANY PORSCHES
APT members with insufficient garaging for their fleets of luxury cars will be pleased to hear that an elevating device capable of holding a second car above your prime vehicle can easily be installed at home. At only $11,000, it costs far less than the pair of Porsches shown using it.
Being imported, the gadget will directly add to Australia's economic woes. Readers will appreciate that encouraging motoring also has an indirect effect on the community that cannot be ignored.
The Balmain peninsula puts a population of about 15,000 residents and quite a few businesses on an area of about 320 hectares. That's about 50 residents per hectare, generally regarded as high enough to preclude a transport system heavily reliant on cars.
Sydney readers may recall that planning minister Hay appointed an administrator to over-ride Leichhardt Council's refusal to zone about 5 parcels of waterfront land to high-density residential. The council went to the Land and Environment court and had the administrator's appointment declared invalid. The council has revived the matter, calling for submissions. APT will speak at the public hearings. We will recommend planning public transport improvements, aimed to tie in with an Inner West transit system.
A PRETTY FACE AT LANE COVE
The new Liberal candidate for the seat of Lane Cove has expressed concern about traffic that will spew off the Gore Hill Freeway into Epping Road, and poor public transport in her area.
APT share her concerns, but note that her own party is now responsible for causing them.
APT have prepared a paper highly critical of the Assessment (more precisely, a re-assessment) of the F5 Tollway between Liverpool and Beverly Hills. As well as having the usual economic, social and environmental shortcomings expected from the RTA, this Assessment will compromise the value of community participation in the Botany-West Transport Study.
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST
APT understand that Tempe and eventually Waverley bus depots are to close. The intention is that facilities will be provided at other depots at less cost, with the advantage of freeing some land for other uses.
We point out with bemusement that the former Newtown, Rozelle and Enfield depots have been vacant for many years!
B-DOUBLES TO PERTH
An APT member has sent us a story from the January 9 issue of Australian Rural Times.
A finn called Rallor is earning big money by running a B-double weekly between rail depots (sic) in Sydney and Perth. APT find extraordinary that the playing field is so slanted towards road transport as to make such an enterprise profitable.
PAYING FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT
APT commend two recent private-enterprise initiatives towards public transport. The first was the free train rides on 21st April offered to customers of St George building society. The second is the $4 reduction on movie tickets offered by Greater Union to patrons producing two consecutively-numbered bus tickets. Cooperation between public transport and commerce can benefit both. Best of all, removing traffic from the roads benefits the whole community.
This newsletter has in the past dwelt on the curious reluctance of the State Rail Authority to mention in its timetables the NightRider buses which cover metropolitan Sydney hourly from midnight to 5 am. To ride the buses, one needs a RAIL ticket.
Timetable 10, dated 11 March 1991, still does not mention NightRider but does mention combined rail-ferry-zoo tickets!
Listening to early morning radio recently, APT heard cheerio calls to two listeners. One was listening in his car en route from Woronora to Wyee, the other from Campbelltown to Newcastle. We were intrigued to hear that the second "worked on the F3". Fair enough too; he deserves something for all that driving.
It should be obvious to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Sydney's environs that vast numbers of vehicle-kilometres of travel through the metropolis are being caused by the building of multi-lane rural roads. Unfortunately, it isn't clear to our road-builders.
APT have said before that Sydney's expansion should have transport and land-use planned together. The example of the Rouse Hill and Kellyville developments could be used to show how not to develop a city.
The former defence land at Rope's Creek already has rail formation and in some cases working lines (almost to Clarendon). How about directing development that way, eh?
CARS DELAY YOUR TRAIN
Many motorists will tell you that e.g. buses hold up peak-hour traffic. In fact, the reverse is the case. If the bus passengers rode in their own cars, the traffic wouldn't move at all!
A more recent development in Sydney is the proliferation of 40 kph speed limits in rail tunnels under the CBD. We hear that these are due to the enormous car parks being excavated in many parts of the inner city. For instance, the World Square excavation removed 900,000 cubic metres of rock! Relieved of the load, the underlying rock expands and carries any railway tunnels with it. Safety dictates that train speeds must be reduced. So, your neighbour who drives to town and parks in the basement may be delaying your trains.
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Citizens Advocating Responsible Transport for Sydney P.O. Box R1511, Royal Exchange. Andrew Magee 547-1209.
Addresses of numerous overseas organisations with objectives broadly similar to APT. Send SAE to us.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Consuming Interest (Aust. Consumers' Assoc.) April-May 1991. This issue features an illuminating lead article on the philosophy of small government and whether deregulation is a good idea for society as a whole. A larger article (pp 4-10) examines some Australian experiences.
Cars come to the end of the road in New Scientist, 23 March 1991. British transport researchers conclude that the car's domination of transport policy must end.
No is not an answer Peter Cullen. Lobbying has a humorous side; anecdotes mostly about health lobbying. $19.95.
Greenhouse and Urban Transport P. Newman in ANZAAS Search, Vol. 22 No. 3, April-May 1991. We shall need light rail, traffic calming and urban villages if we are to cope with the Greenhouse effect and with declining oil supply.
Paying for Roads - the economics of traffic congestion. Gabriel Roth. Penguin, 1967. Early exposition of road pricing. Includes many interesting references. The Open Street - public transport, motor cars and politics in Australian cities. Ian Manning. $27.95 from Transit Australia Publications 949-4424.
The Cost of the Car page 73 in The Economist, 27 April 1991.
FOR YOUR DIARY
National Energy Management Forum June 24-25, Melbourne. (008)023-733.
6th World Conference on Transport Research 29 June - 3 July, Lyons. Write to Laboratoire d'Economie des Transports, MRASH - 14 avenue Berthelot, 69363 Lyon. France.