One of APT's reporters recently went for a drive with a fairly senior N.S.W. public servant who during the drive proudly proclaimed that he had three cars at home, all currently registered:
It is hardly surprising that public transport has a low priority in the minds of those planning our destiny. when their biggest transport problem is traffic congestion in their home driveways.
The electrification of this branch is well under way and should be working later this year. Because of cost pressures, substations will be rated to drive only 2-car sets which will run a shuttle service beyond Riverstone.
Additional funds were granted by the Commonwealth in June. APT hope that they are used to upgrade the power supply. APT further hope that expenditure on rebuilding little-used stations such as Vineyard and Clarendon will not be a priority; the Richmond service would be faster without so many stops.
Unfortunately, the local MLAs are not likely to forego an opportunity for proving their political effectiveness even if it would be a waste of public money.
Recent events have shown that the road-builders of Sydney are just as determined as ever to circumvent the findings of the Woodward commission. This inquiry, held in 1990, found against the Castlereagh tollway proposed from North Ryde to Pennant Hills Road on economic, environmental and social grounds and recommended that certain alternatives be studied.
The authorities' response was to commission an Environmental Impact Statement on "a transport link", specified in such a way that a major new mad would be an integral part of the project. For example, the study on bus links northwest from Epping, prepared by Transportation Engineering and Ken Dobinson, not only presumes the Castlereagh will be operating to carry its buses but also has appropriated about half the width of Beecroft Road for a bus terminal!
And Maunsell, the firm responsible for the EIS of the eastern end of the F2 route, has distributed almost 160000 propaganda sheets house-to-house to addresses as far away as East Lindfield. These sheets appear to be designed to solicit a community response in favour of the F2. APT note four (deliberate?) weaknesses in the public transport options provided.
(a) City Development: more rail access from the north will be essential to support planned expansion of the Sydney CBD, and a route from the north-west through Epping and Chatswood offers many advantages (see our last Newsletter and also Railway Futures above). (b) Directness: public transport routes should avoid sharp bends and indirect routes so that operating speeds can be competitive with cars.
(c) West of Epping: the public transport options do not link with the existing railway alignment at Carlingford but head for the interface with the F2 west of Pennant Hills Road instead. The road corridor may well be the logical interface between the "east" and "west" studies but is not ideal for public transport.
(d) South of North Ryde: public transport has an advantage here which is not acknowledged; the F2 Commission of Inquiry has already identified road capacity problems associated with the freeway.
APT have also prepared a paper critical of the government's transport strategy for the Rouse Hill development area. We conclude that the land use and transport links proposed in the strategy are designed to favour buses and exclude rail. There is simply no recognition of modern town-planning principles which recognise the economic, environmental and social benefits to be gained by defining a corridor with graded land use densities to support rail.
Following the election of three reform-minded councillors, our motorists' organisation is changing its image. It is trying to look less 1950s-style petrolheaded. It is publishing a newsletter called "NRMA Today" which will discuss traffic issues in much more depth than the Open Road could. APT observe that road demand management is recognised as a valid activity in Today; we hope that the image change is not superficial.
Since you've read this far, how about joining? Rates are $12 per year or $5 concession. Our year ends in September. To subscribe, just send your name and address together with an appropriate amount adjusted for year ended 1991 or 1992. Additional amounts by way of donations are always welcome, of course.
APT were pleased to discover that some bicycle racks have appeared on the platform at Hurstville station. (This station was very gloomy, but it is being brightened up with tiled platforms, underground gal- dens, better lighting and removal of redundant station buildings).
About sixteen cycles can park in the area occupied by one car parking space. (With an attendant, as in Beijing, the figure rises to possibly one hundred cycles.) This takes into account the approach roadways and car turning areas, amounting to perhaps an unproductive third of the average carpark.
Secure bicycle parking will encourage more people to cycle to the station, reducing the waste of land near stations and/or helping more commuters to get to the train quickly. Bicycle lockers would be even more welcome, providing greater security for bicycles with accessories. A modest rental could be charged for this service.
ON THE BUSES
Bouquet to the State Transit Authority for the transport information section in the front of the new telephone directory. It would be nice if Telecom could include private bus operators and trains, including NightRide.
APT's attention has been drawn to the disclaimer in current STA public bus timetables: "State Transit may cancel or vary any service shown in this timetable". How about putting people first by managing better, eh?
This newsletter has previously observed that new buses do not have rear route numbers. APT have noticed recently that rear route numbers on those buses that still have them are not being maintained; many are defective or dirty. Is this another example of negative STA policies?
The recently-released forward plan for Sydney in the year 2020 has 100000 new workers in the central business district; the only way to get most of them to work each day will be a heavy rail system. The existing system is nearing saturation so additional tracks will be necessary, and APT recommend that this be integrated into the new airport link and better access to the north shore commercial areas. We see a Botany Road-Airport-Tempe alignment, as proposed by Transfield/City Tunnel, being more useful than a simple expansion of the Erskinville-Sydenham section to six tracks as it will improve access to new areas and reduce the need for additional road capacity such as the F5 freeway.
APT also see the need for better east-west public transport to serve the Sydney CBD and believe it should be integrated into improved transport within the CBD and also interconnect with the existing rail network which is essentially north-south. Sydney's Olympic bid will require better links to the Cricket Ground and Football Stadium in the east, and the Convention Centre, Exhibition Centre and Entertainment Centre in the west.
Finally, a word for Sydney's second CBD, Parramatta. This has a projected workforce of 60000 and just one railway station whereas the Sydney CBD has 180000 and seven stations with two more planned. APT urge the government to get serious about better rail access to Parramatta, and this includes the Granville 'Y' and an upgrade of the Carlingford line to serve Parramatta as a north-south axis and link at Carlingford with other public transport improvement between the north-west, Epping and the lower north shore.
"Use your Brain, take the Train" was the slogan used by Thomas Cook and Allders Duty-Free to promote Eurail passes at the Sydney Travel and Tour Show. APT hope that Railways of Australia are being similarly enterprising at travel shows overseas.
TWO DAYS OF AIR POLLUTION
During the recent NSW election campaign, Sydney experienced a few windless days which permitted smoke haze and other undesirables to accumulate to record levels, Premier Greiner promised a conference on the subject. This promise was met; the conference was held on 4th and 5th July.
APT are concerned that proper urban planning might become a hot potato to be passed forever between Commonwealth and State governments.
There is to be a new CityRail timetable effective from October 1991, APT understand that changes to be made include (1) rationalising stopping patterns of peak-hour trains, so that there are not so many combinations to be aware of (2) mingling fast and slow trains more judiciously than has been the case up to now, so that slight delays are less prone to snowball (3) rationalising services on the inner west line so that the two trains stopping at Newtown each half hour are about 15 minutes apart.
APT further understand that printed timetable booklets will at long last show details of NightRide services.
It would be nice if we could start to see some return for the Tangara investment. These trains can accelerate faster than older trains and can load more quickly because of their wide doors. There are now about 180 Tangara cars in service, enough to guarantee fast service on any chosen line. CityRail should select a line and use the resulting service improvement as an advertisement for rail commuting.
NEW SPEED FOR BRISBANE XPT
With effect from June, the XPT service to Brisbane has been slowed to 14 hours. The main reason seems to be a change in the inter-urban timetable such that the XPT tailgates a Newcastle train all the way up so that it takes 2 hours 19 minutes to Broadmeadow.
One of the original requirements of the XPT was that it be able to beat steam traction (official record 2 hours although locomotive 3801 is said to have bettered that) to Broadmeadow. APT cannot understand why the authorities do not schedule the XPT to use a passing loop or simply start later. Attitudes like this have cost public transport many passengers.
CITY CAR PARK
Many readers will be aware that construction of the World Square
site, which was suspended last year, will resume in a few months. The
project included a 2000-vehicle car park and lots of office space.
APT are disappointed that the resumption will be on a reduced project
- much less floor space but we still get the same increase in traffic.
NEW LOCATION FOR APT MEETINGS
The venue for APT's popular Tuesday 5 p.m. meetings has moved with the Bicycle Institute to 82 Campbell Street (cnr. Foster Street). Take train to Central or bus to Elizabeth Street.
We take this opportunity to thank the Bicycle Institute for their continuing co-operation and generosity in allowing us to meet in their rooms.
The citizens of Los Angeles are serious about cleaning up their air as these reports from the U.S. Passenger Train Journal for April 1991 show:
...Patronage on the Long Beach light rail line is currently three times that forecast at 18000 daily. A recently opened subway extension is expected to boost this number and further construction is planned. ...The South Coast Air Quality Management District has directed that public buses with internal combustion engines be phased out on better-than-iS-minute headway services by 1998, and entirely by 2010. It is expected that many routes will convert to trolley-bus operation using the traditional twin overhead wires.
Advice was given at a special July meeting on car theft that many cars are abandoned in Sydney's far western suburbs. Police and others suspect a link with people frustrated by a lack of public transport, and the Department of Transport is to review services.
APT ask is this yet another unacknowledged benefit of good public transport.
AMAZING ANGELINOS NORTHSIDE BULLET
The State Transit Authority has been running a trial of a de-luxe coach service connecting the city with Newport and Palm Beach. Other routes are following. The charge to passengers is noticeable (about $80 per week). Seats must be booked in advance. There is one trip inbound in the morning and one outbound in the afternoon. The service is intended to attract people who, because they are not guaranteed a seat, do not use standard services. Because the service can use bus and transit lanes, it can be faster than private cars in some circumstances.
APT have criticised the service. It is now established that the only way to get people out of their cars into public transport is to act somehow on car usage. Even making public transport free does not attract enough drivers to clear the road. Further, the Palm Beach service fragments public transport by competing with ordinary buses. Ironically, these ordinary services run numerous trips per day and therefore can cater for the many people who do not work exactly 9 to 5 every day. APT believe the Bullet is more about commercial advantage to the STA than reducing car traffic. How about running the coach to somewhere there is no service yet, Mr Baird, perhaps St Ives.
APT record the increase in public transport fares at the start of July. We have no argument with increases that are in line with cost-of-living index changes.
The increase would have been a suitable occasion to innovate new types of ticket. There is no Day Rover, for instance. No extension was made to MetroPass, which combines private bus travel to St Marys and Mt Druitt stations with train to city. It started in 1985 but has never been extended.
The decision not to have Day Rover means that Sydney will remain the only Australian capital not to have a multi-mode, all-day, all-routes ticket. The old Day Rover was withdrawn two years ago, partly because of poor sales, but mainly because of squabbling between bus and rail authorities about sharing the revenue.
FOR WANT OF A NAIL
In the renewal of Manly wharf, Merlin International has catered for every need and taste of the day-tripper "seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care". That is, until the visitor wants to catch a bus at the wharf entrance, It seems that there is a clear dividing line between the territories of Merlin and the State Transit Authority, in the form of a wire baffle-fence with a hole for aspiring bus passengers to negotiate before reaching the four bus platforms. Information about bus routes and departure times is at the controller's office at the opposite end of the baffle-fence, There, with luck, travellers will find the timetable display in the window behind the office. The office itself seems to be closed at the hours when most enquiries would be expected.
Why isn't it located logically in the spare display case standing empty right at the wharf entrance and near the hole in the wire? Well - that belongs to Merlin and not to the STA. Hardly good enough for one of Sydney's more conspicuous transport interchanges.
BLUE LAKE RISES
A dispute between the Commonwealth and South Australia in relation to the Blue Lake passenger service between Adelaide and Mount Gambier has been determined in favour of continuing the service.
The arbitrator accepted evidence that there were people with special needs that made the rail service necessary. These included the elderly, persons travelling with young children, the disabled, isolated communities and persons who suffer motion sickness.
Figures presented indicate that an annual 16000 former rail passengers had been lost from the alternative coach services, supporting other evidence that coaches are not an adequate substitute for rail, and that avoidable cost recovery had been 18% in 1989-90.
APT ask is this a precedent for the restoration or introduction of other country rail services in Australia?
FOR YOUR DIARY
Sydney's draft Environmental Policy seminar. 17 August, Tusculum, Potts Point $25. Christine Laurence 241-2523.
50th Congress of UITP Darling Harbour, May 1993. How will the international delegates travel - on Sydney public transport?
Transport and Future Urban Form conference, 1st to 4th October, Sydney. Australian Institute of Urban Studies, Locked Bag 1, Darlinghurst 2010.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
The Real Cost of Energy Hubbard, in Scientific American, April 1991. Fuel prices should include defence, health, environmental and other costs and government subsidies.
Newman's New Plan, Morison, in Australian Cyclist, June-July 1991. Discusses how bicycles fit into a metropolitan transport system.
Sustainable Development Theme of Consuming Interest (Australian Consumers' Association), June-July 1991. Includes a Newman article on sustainable metropolitan transport.
Quarter-acre lots and urban sprawl. John Roseth, in Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 1991. Consolidation and public transport are essential for Sydney.
Towards Ecological Sustainability ed. Bierbaum, 41 papers, 232 pages. $25 plus $3.50 P&P from Flinders University Bookshop, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001.
Another fable: the Multi-Function Polls. Article by Jim Colman in Sydney Review, July 1991. Discusses city planning as interpreted by Harvard MBAs.
Wrong Side of the Tracks? Book dealing with the policy decisions which have given Britain its road bias, and the economic, environmental and social consequences. Transport & Environmental Studies (TEST) 177 Arlington Rd. London NW17EY.
Transport: The New Realism. Shows that expanding roads to meet traffic forecasts is not an option for Britain, and and a package of measures is required to manage demand. Transport Studies Unit of Oxford University, 11 Bevington Road, Oxford OX26NB.
The City: Problems of Planning. Pelican, 1972, ad. Stewart. A demonstration of self-indulgent thinking; it shows how far planning slipped back from the standards of Bradfield.
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Energy Action Group 3rd floor, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
May issue and earlier. For NightRider read NightRide throughout. APT sincerely apologise for this error, which emphasises our point that Sydney's all-night bus services need better promotion. We also have been asked to point out that despite our assertion that train tickets are needed to nightride, you can pay on board. Train tickets from the day before are valid until 4 a.m.