FROM THE PAST
APT's attention has been drawn to a letter in the Herald of 18 April 1877. The correspondent complains of a new railway timetable and its complicated stopping patterns of trains on the Redfern-Burwood sector. "There is too much of the hop, skip, and the jump about the movements of the trains".
APT also thought you might manage a wry smile at the following story from the Herald of 9th August 1958:
Traffic superintendent commented on conversion of two Harbour Bridge tram lines to road lanes. He said that another Harbour crossing, with 8 lanes, would be needed immediately somewhere west of the Bridge. He pointed out that the imminent removal of trams from the Balgowlah line would free up road traffic and let another two thousand cars cross the Spit each morning peak. It was fortunate a new Spit Bridge would open soon.
The more things change, the more they stay the same!
ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The Hawke federal government established E.S.D. working groups to look into transport and other matters. APT made a submission on transport. The final report has been released ($14.95). So little attention is paid in it to points raised by us that it is difficult to believe that the APT submission was received! The report is vague in many areas but does acknowledge our comments about a lack of strategic direction.
PROGRESS IN ENGLAND
APT read with interest of plans to further expand the M25. This road, which circles London and is the the world's biggest bypass road, is to be enlarged to 12 lanes (14 lanes in places). The tunnel under the Thames at Dartford is to be supplemented by a bridge. Roads minister Chope describes the M25 as a huge success "because it has attracted far greater traffic than originally envisaged".
APT's view would be that enlarging the road in an attempt to ease congestion has failed and has increased traffic volumes, thereby causing congestion elsewhere. We predict that the new amplification will likewise fail.
The M25 was a pet hate of John Tyme, whose book about anti-motorway campaigns was cited in this newsletter two years ago. Another road which attracted Tyme's attention was the planned Air Valley road. APT understand that a two-mile tunnel is to be built instead; we are not in a position to judge whether the environmental effect is mitigated by tunnelling but the traffic effects will be the same. The U.K. government seems no better able to manage transport in that small country than do our governments in ours.
F5 (AND F6)
Readers may recall that Liverpool Council with support from Campbelltown and Eankstown councils took the R.T.A. to court for not complying with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act in building the Milperra to King Georges Road section of the F5. The councils argued that the R.T.A. failed to undertake an independent Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed tollway. The court held that valid consent had not been given to the project However the project is to go ahead because it is (according to the R.T.A.) "too advanced to stop".
An Illawarra resident has pointed out to APT how the rail line through the airport area, Arncliffe and East Hills to the south-west which was discussed on the front page of the last issue of this newsletter could benefit the south: Not only would the line improve connections to the airport in most directions but it would reduce the need for extending the F6 north from Sutherland. This gives yet another reason for starting it. Needless to say, the accelerated completion of the outer F5 to Milperra tends to reduce the benefits Sydney stands to gain from public transport improvements in that direction. Why not use the F5 as a truck road, with a sufficiently high toll to ensure that it retains that function?
REPORT FROM AMERICA
APT's roving reporters have visited several overseas cities recently. The most outstanding example of a city using cars unnecessarily is Honolulu, on the south coast of Oahu. The whole island can be driven around in three hours, but the great majority of trips are confined within the Honolulu-Waikiki area which is about 10 by 5 kilometres. The population of this area is about 120,000 residents plus about 30,000 tourists who occupy 45-storey hotels. Oddly, almost everyone has a car and drives everywhere in it. The only exceptions are a few less well-off people who use buses.
The city is actively considering a transit system. APT think one should have been installed when the tourist boom started - it would have permitted there to be retail, hotel and cultural facilities all within an easy walk and would have created a dense city heart very attractive to tourists.
BENEFITS OF PUBLIC SPENDING
Several commentators recently have advocated various new roads on the ground that it will stimulate the economy by making commerce more efficient. APT's view differs - road improvements induce traffic, leading to rising domestic consumption of resources and increasing dependency on road transport. It would be better to seek savings by reducing the transport share of G.D.P. (e.g. with public transport), and putting the saved resources to better use.
ROAD SAFETY 2000
On 26th September, roads minister Murray launched this initiative of the N.S.W. government, aimed to prevent the expected rise in road accident damage through the 1990s. The workshops and public consultation which developed the strategies to be used were clear that increasing public transport ridership was an effective way of bring the road toll down and that the continuing increase of car usage, especially in Sydney, should be questioned. After all, the cost to the community of road accidents has been shown to be at least twice the State Rail Authority's subsidy!
APT remain hopeful for safety and for many other reasons that Sydney will not follow the path taken by Los Angeles But the impression is clear that our leaders will pay only lip-service to road safety.
One of the tenets of Road Safety 2000 is that road safety is to be a consideration in all transport decisions. This implies that preference is to be given to safe transport modes wherever possible. There is no evidence that such preference is in fact being given nor even considered in New South Wales. We cite a few cases:
It has been announced that lane 8 of the Harbour Bridge will be reserved for bus use when the tunnel is opened late in 1992. Even so, the tunnel will provide a nett increase of three lanes for cars and thereby increase car kilometres with a consequent increase in accidents. If road safety was the prime consideration, one would expect more positive steps to be taken to increase public transport ridership in the northern suburbs. The outstandingly obvious project to do this would be to reserve lane 7 also and use the old Wynyard tram station as a terminus for a guided-way transit system serving the Warringah area.
The S.R.A. has decided, while rebuilding the railway bridge at Craven between Dungog and Gloucester, not to straighten out the alignment. The decision was made on the ground of cost. Yet the cumulative effect of only a few such decisions is to make rail travel between cities slower and less attractive; people travel instead by road and are more likely to become accident casualties. Travel time savings are used to help justify road projects but not rail projects!
On 12 December, our national affiliate, Transport 2000 Australia, proposed that XPT services be extended to Melbourne. The popularity of Brisbane XPTs seems to indicate that this would attract many road travellers to the acknowledged safety of rails. Yet the Minister for Transport attacked the proposal. If Road Safety 2000 were being followed, one would expect such proposals to be embraced.
No steps are being taken to retard metropolitan local government councils in their slow but steady campaign to make Sydney suburbs look like Los Angeles. Competition between local shopping centres seems to be a race to provide ever more car parking. This leads to people shopping further from home. The Government's present policy of proclaiming selected large councils as "cities" suggests that even more planning will be local and can be expected to ignore traffic generated between local areas. One would have hoped that Road Safety 2000 heralded a new era in traffic and land-use planning in Sydney.
RURAL ROAD SAFETY
The same road safety policy is supposed to also apply to rural roads. But the aftermath of yet another fatal intercity coach crash in January saw exactly the same reaction that happened after the crashes in October and December 1989. The authorities and the public seem not to realise that fast coaches at night on unlit roads just cannot be safe. The continuing run-down in rural rail services is at least as relevant a factor in bus accidents as is passenger seat-belts. Much money is spent on roads while railways cannot even borrow. A current rural example is the Cullarin Range between Goulburn and Yass - the twisty Hume Highway is being replaced by a modern divided road while the railway stays twisty.
By a macabre coincidence, all three crashes happened during major disruptions to air services which placed extra demands on buses! Even so, people fail to perceive that the different modes of travel (air, road and rail) inter-act.
APT suggest that the only thing which can make safe night travel on unlit winding roads is having drivers drive at a speed appropriate to the conditions (that's also what the police say). After all, the driver's losing concentration for a fraction of a second can put the whole bus off the road. Alas, drivers don't agree and won't comply.
And Australia can never hope to have more than a small fraction of our rural roads built with divided carriageways, let alone streetlights. In pursuance of Road Safety 2000 therefore, it would be more logical to minimise coach movements at night. There is to be a coronial enquiry into the Tamworth smash; if you are interested in a modern view of the scope of such enquiries, see "Coroner takes a wrong turn" on page 13 of The Australian, 24 April 1990. Author McGuinness criticises the coroner for, having found that the truck driver's death was due to his being under the influence of a drug, embarking on a further inquiry into the further causes of the crash. The coroner played straight into the hands of the road lobby.
Readers will be aware of the state government's current publicity
campaign arguing the benefits of selling state assets such as banks
and insurance offices. The public are sceptical - one letter argued
that we could hardly buy them as we own them already! A separate
issue is the contracting-out of such things as train cleaning.
APT understand that "non-commercial" bus services are next on the list.
We doubt that the substitute service will be as good.
APT note the rapidly-increasing number of railway and bus things called SomethingLink. We have received several suggestions, most of them printable, for further names of this type. We point out to those in authority that they should concentrate on providing a service rather than trying to make changes to the language that might backfire badly.
APT have seen a consultant's report on future directions for road transport which was prepared for the Roads and Traffic Authority. It makes interesting reading. It reveals an economic deficit of $720 million for N.S.W. roads in 1991 escalating to many billions in future years unless strongly interventionist policies such as land use controls, demand management and road pricing are adopted. Even then the most effective road-based scenarios can only stabilise the deficit and achieve a slight reduction in Sydney's air pollution. Rail-based options capable of more favourable economic and environmental outcomes are not evaluated in the report.
The state government's response to this two-part report damning present land-use/transport policies is just as interesting. It's been withdrawn from the R.T.A. library (Catalogue no 656.1) and reclassified as a cabinet document in order to prevent Freedom of Information access. So much for open government!
APT are unable to appreciate the EXIT signs installed at Town Hall station low-level platforms. Some are installed at the foot of down escalators!
APT were interested to note a letter in the Australian Financial Review of 22 November last. Richard Kirwan gives a thoughtful view on risk-sharing, which he states is even more important than the tax environment of a project. If the risk is not shared properly, what private investor will want to participate? Kirwan discusses the sharing of risk and profits between public and private sectors, noting that long-term projects require careful agreement of demand forecasts. Only then will the cost of capital be minimised, because private financiers will not have to be defensive in their costings. The private sector will need protection from demand shortfall but in return must give the public sector a share in any profits from excess demand.
Readers would be aware of this handy service whereby for a single phone call to 954-4422 you used to be able to get accurate information about trains and all public and private ferry services in Sydney. The costs of running the service were said to be about $2 per call; the government decided to try to save money. Effective from the start of this month, the service was handed over to contractors; APT fear for its survival. The hours have been reduced from 16 to 12 per day. There are separate numbers for trains (131500), S.T.A. (131515) and private buses (630-0511) so it helps to know which services cover your area. Or does it - the train and bus numbers are apparently answered in the same room and calls can be transferred.
Despite the reduction in service to Sydney residents, the south-east region of Queensland (which includes Brisbane and the surrounding coast) will have a multi-medal transport information telephone number soon.
NEW CITYRAIL TIMETABLE
On 12 January, the new timetable came into effect. It is supposed to provide extra seats in peak hours (or so anyone - who complains is told) but does not do so on all lines. it seems to be intended to reduce staffing costs. Significant changes include the phasing out of most single-deck, and the expected elimination of six-car double-deck, suburban trains. Services for Saturday and Sunday now follow a single weekend/holiday timetable. Services are somewhat more regular, but with different times and stopping patterns for peak, off-peak, evening and weekend services the tag memory timetable" is certainly not universally applicable. There are many instances of longer, and uneven, intervals between trains.
The peak periods have been contracted and there are also particular instances of extended intervals between trains in the transitions between peak and off-peak services. But last trains tend to run at later times, particularly towards Central,
Some services, particularly off-peak, are slower due to additional intermediate stops. Limitations of space preclude discussion of individual lines here.
The much-vaunted elimination of 1928 "red rattler" trains is not complete. Even so, there will not be sufficient reliable rolling stock until late 1992. A perverse consequence of the peak period contraction is that it will remove one of the incentives for adopting more flexible working hours.
There have been many complaints about the new arrangements. Common topics include the poor service between Liverpool and Regent's Park (including the loss of direct services from Campbelltown), less frequent services to many stations in outer areas, poor connections, the inconvenience to shift workers and finally the greater impact on customers from cancellations. -
APT would like to see the Bankstown and Liverpool via Regent's Park services restructured. Six-car trains would allow the previous Bankstown via Sydenham peak period service pattern to be restored with the same number of carriages. Matching Bankstown via Lidcombe and Liverpool via Regent's Park could also be provided with 6-car trains and run at regular 15-minute intervals. APT suspect that one reason for reducing the number of Bankstown via Sydenham services in peak periods, and East Hills trains after the evening peak, is to improve the balance between the two sides of the City Circle. Trains terminating at Ashfield during the peak, and at Central between the peaks, also reflect this imbalance. This balance could be improved in other ways, such as providing a turnback siding between the Local lines just past Newtown. Another desirable improvement would be to extend all Liverpool via Regent's Park services to a new turnback platform at Glenfield and slightly re-time services so that connections can be made with Campbelltown via East Hills trains. This would avert the undesirable effects of the shortage of platform space at Liverpool; a stop-gap solution would be to terminate the additional trains via Regent's Park at Cabramatta, where a connection with Campbelltown services via Granville can be provided, and run them empty to storage at Liverpool. Other desirable works include new turning facilities at Berowra. In the longer term, there should be more all- stations trains between Blacktown and Riverstone (which will need some track duplication) and modifying the Carlingford line to make it part of a new link between Epping and Parramatta.
This timetable has been implemented prematurely, with rolling stock shortages and incomplete development undermining a lot of worthwhile improvements. APT hope that the shortcomings can be fixed quickly to minimise any permanent loss of patronage and provide a firm foundation for the growth and acceptance of the CityRail network
APT have received a copy of a booklet dated December issued by the National Roads and Motorists' Association. Entitled "What It Costs To Run Your Car", the booklet shows costs as seen by the motorist. Sadly, no mention is made of costs externalised to the community, such as pollution, noise nuisance, road accidents, congestion delays, etc.
DAY ROVER TICKETS
These were withdrawn by CityRail some time ago and officially are supposed to be not popular enough to warrant their re-introduction. (APT think the real reason is the political difficulty of splitting the revenue with the State Transit Authority for its buses and ferries but that's another story.) However, CityRail is considering a "Train Tripper" to be available on a daily basis for unlimited rail journeys.
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
People for Public Transport care of Conservation Centre, 120 Wakefield Street, Adelaide 5000.
FOR YOUR DIARY
New Directions in Urban Transport conference, 9-10 April, Sydney. $1195.00 Telephone 954-5844.
Car-free day in Centennial Park, 29 February. Go by public transport!
Saving Our Cities conference, 29 February, Darlinghurst, $23.00 Telephone Urban Environment Coalition 698-7461.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Games 2000 - what Sydney must do to host the Olympic Games in 2000. Article in Sydney Morning Herald, 1 January. Leo Schofield presents opinions of several expert town planners. What they say about transport has already been said in this Newsletter. Harry Seidler is quoted as saying that responsibility for land use and zoning in Sydney should be removed from local government and centralised.
Air Pollution and Greenhouse - A Transport Strategy for Sydney, Report by Jacana Consulting, available from Greenpeace, 555-7044.
2040 - A message from the future Videotape produced by CART Brisbane. $60 (concessions are available) from 50 Exeter St, Ashgrove 4060.
Transport Planning - The Men for The Job. Lady Sharp. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, January 1970. ISBN 11 550108 8. This is the seminal paper which stated that transport and land-use must be planned conjointly as an ongoing activity. 22 years later, we're still not getting it right Microfiche copies may be found in good libraries - cite catalogue page 3619.