Your well-travelled reporter presents a hitherto-unrecorded method of clearing a railway carriage. Seen in a peak-hour train at Town Hall was a man deeply inhaling eucalyptus oil, aggravating the dose by rubbing liberal amounts on his face and neck.
Needless to say, we didn't hang around!
An opportunity has been lost to replace road transport of some coal by rail transport. A few hundred metres of track could have been built at the Mount Piper power station (near Wallerawang) together with a coal loading facility. There are several collieries which have access to rail, giving the power station a choice of suppliers.
It was decided instead to build a conveyer from Springvale to Mount Piper; coal from other sources will be brought to Mount Piper by mad. APT feel that if the full costs of road transport of heavy commodities like coal were taken into account, more use would be made of rail.
Many readers will have seen previous comments in this newsletter suggesting that CityRail should be more careful in planning its weekend trackworks. APT refer to several occasions where works have been scheduled which coincide with events which one would expect to draw large crowds. We also refer to unreliable and generally inadequate notification of these works to travellers who will be affected by them. If you want to know just how inconvenient it can be to have your journey unexpectedly increased by an hour, be in a train as it reaches the point where passengers must change to bus travel and look at the faces of those who had no idea that the train wouldn't be continuing.
APT regret to advise that CityRail does not seem to agree. On the weekend 18-19 July. for instance, services were replaced by buses (a) near Newcastle (b) near Woy Woy (c) the whole North Shore (d) Central to Kogarah (e) Central to Sydenham. Not all stations bore adequate warning signs even by Friday evening. Yet the sesqui-centenary party at Darling Harbour that weekend attracted 250000 people; one wonders how they got there.
APT repeat our view that scheduled weekend works which interrupt services should be announced at ALL stations on the CityRail network by the Wednesday afternoon preceding. One useful way of doing this would be to post a map of the system with the interruptions shaded, so that intending passengers could see clearly whether their route crossed an affected area. We understand CityRail policy to be that a handwritten notice posted at "affected" stations three days before is sufficient. We disagree. In any event, even this policy is not being followed.
GORE HILL FREEWAY
This link between Longueville Road and the Warringah Expressway on the lower North Shore opened this month. The authorities were in a quandary about the best time to open it - ideally it would be opened simultaneously with the Harbour tunnel but for them to do so would imply official recognition of the freeway as a mere feeder for the tunnel. The authorities cannot take this position because of their famous claim that the tunnel will not cost the public a penny. It was decided to have a public ceremony on 23rd August and then close the road until 26th August
Certain bus routes along Epping Road, such as expresses to Epping, Ryde and Denistone East, will be taken off the Pacific Highway and run along the Gore Hill Freeway. This will make them slightly faster. Unfortunately, expressways tend to break up transport corridors. There will be several disadvantages:
There should have been no freeway (or tunnel!). Instead, there should have been frequent bus services to the nearest convenient interchange station and maximum use of rail transport along the main corridor.
APT's North Shore correspondent noted the early appearance of graffiti on retaining walls beside this mad. When the enormity (both in visual impact and in sheer size) of the noise barriers became apparent, we expected that graffitists would not let such a large area remain unadorned for long. We were intrigued to read a RTA claim that "Aboriginal art from the areas is being reproduced on the retaining walls". This apparently refers to the pattern embossed on some of the noise barriers; go and judge for yourself.
Considerable reductions in Countrylink bus services to Central Western towns came into effect on 1st July. Dubbo, Parkes, Orange, Grenfell, Cowra and Bathurst have all suffered a reduction in bus connections to Lithgow. In particular, Bathurst and Orange have had massive cuts. These are the two university and boarding school towns in which weekend loadings are considerable. Bathurst is now only serviced by buses passing through and Orange now has only one bus (previously three) beginning its journey there.
APT hear that further rural cuts are in the offing.
This body was created 16 years ago in order to provide a channel for communications between the then Public Transport Commission and its customers. It was provided with office space and a secretary in Transport House. APT learned some months ago that the future of the council was under question; we participated in a review of its functions which seemed to us to be intended to find a basis for dismantling the council.
The review recommended the re-constitution of the council and nominations were called for. APT nominated two of our members whom we considered well-qualified to represent commuters. Neither of our nominees was accepted. Of interest is the inclusion on the council of some members who appear to be political appointees rather than active public transport users. We understand that one of them used to be a motor dealer.
Very recently, the future of the council has come under question again. They have lost the secretarial staff, apparently because of pressure from the Dept of Transport. They seem headed for a limited role of liaison - APT sense that council will be less amenable to input from groups such as us and more prone to autonomy. Clearly, APT need to cultivate our own links with public transport authorities.
PARRAMATTA ACCESS STUDY
One recommendation of the Woodward enquiry (see above) was that a proper study should be made of Parramatta approaches as part of the F2 study. There has been such a study and a report has issued.
APT have received a copy of the Parramatta overview; there is, however, no reference to it anywhere in the F2 EISs or working papers. The transport and land-use of large cities should be planned together as an ongoing activity. This has been known for 20 years. Why is Sydney transport still being planned piecemeal?
The document predicts that from 1991 to 2011, Parramatta's workforce will grow from 30000 to 60000. Public transport ridership will grow from 10500 to 30000 which will clearly require some public investment including some conscious effort to clear bus routes of other traffic. APT are surprised to see that car commuting is also expected to rise, from 19500 to 30000 - where will all the cars go? The present road system is embarrassed daily by current traffic; the overview recognises that public transport will only work if the roads are clearer. Is it really planned to build large extra roads into Parramatta from all directions?
APT are very much in favour of road safety promotion. If the costs of road accidents were sheeted home to motorists in proportion to the risks each cause, there would be so lithe driving in the suburbs (and such careful driving) that public transport ridership would multiply immediately.
We therefore applaud the decision by the Government to severely restrict car speeds near schools at arrival and departure times. Some other Australian states have been doing this for years, but better late than never.
APT hope that this decision will help society understand that the burden of care outside schools falls on the motorist and not on the parent. Strip shopping centres should be next for the restricted traffic speed treatment, to make conditions safer and more pleasant for shoppers when not in their cars.
GREENHOUSE AND E.S.D.
APT have prepared a submission to the draft Greenhouse and
Environmentally Sustainable Development strategies. Our submission is
directed specifically at transport, and urban and transport planning,
issues. It discusses trends overseas.
FRINGE BENEFITS TAX
The 1992 federal Budget extended this tax paid by employers on certain perks they hand to their staff. From next April, it will include the deemed cost of car parking spaces. The cost will be assessed by market forces - the charges at a parking station within one kilometre of the parking space will be used. The tax charge will range from zero in suburban locations to about $250 per month in the CBD.
This Canberra addition to the $200 tax per annum recently levied by the N.S.W. government will help reduce car use to our major centres. APT are concerned that, in the absence of matching policies to reduce the community subsidy to car use, the FBT increase could actually cause more urban sprawl by encouraging suburban office development.
This candid RTA report was referred to in this newsletter recently. It has recently been declassified and opened for public comment. Readers who would like to express an opinion on where Sydney is heading should obtain the leaflet "Have Your Say" from the nearest motor registry (or telephone 008-805715) and return the reply-paid form attached by 11th September. According to the leaflet, a major issue is whether we should have total transport management but the answers which you must choose from bear little relevance to that question.
APT are intrigued by the description of the report and leaflet carried in some local newspapers, presumably as a result of a media release kit. Very lithe emphasis is given to the central issue - a casual reader might conclude that the whole thing is a RTA push for more road funding.
F2 NEW EIS
You will remember how the Roads and Traffic Authority was determined to build the Castlereagh Tollway from North Ryde to Pennant Hills Road and ultimately to Windsor Road. So many flaws were shown in the plan that the government agreed to refer it to public enquiry held by Commissioner Woodward in 1990 The enquiry found that the F2 could not be justified on environmental, economic or social grounds.
Unabashed, the RTA tried again. Separate environmental impact statements were issued recently for the eastern and western ends. The road is much the same as in 1990 except that part of it has been made "environmentally friendly" by including two bus lanes connecting to a transfer station at Epping rail. Bus passengers wanting to go to the CBD (5000 expected daily) or North Sydney (1000) or Parramatta (5000) are to transfer to trains which are supposed to have ample free seats.
In reality, there are only about 2000 seats per morning peak available from Epping to the city. And not all of these are useful to long-distance travellers as they are on all-stations trains which are too slow for commuters trains. Some seats are on inter-urban trains which do not go into the city proper. And wouldn't it be easier for the Parramatta workers to have direct buses and not use the F2 at all? This is but one weakness of dozens in the EISs. The major weakness of the 1990 F2, that it does very little for traffic congestion in the area, is repeated in 1992.
APT's consultant has analysed traffic flows with and without the F2 and also as an M2 tollway (the toll tends to reduce usage). He finds that the network models used in the ES have had to assume levels of congestion which freeway advocates generally regard as unacceptable in order to achieve the travel time savings needed to justify construction of the P2. Of course, this is figure-fudging. For example, using Department of Planning data, road speeds average 30.82 km/h with the base network, 32.18 km/h with a tollway and 32.39 km/h with a freeway. Thus a freeway only improves average speeds by 1.57 km/h. Assuming that 40 km/h is the minimum acceptable (present conditions are described as unacceptable in the EIS) and that speed improvement is roughly proportional to expenditure, then more than five F2s would be needed to make traffic travel at acceptable speeds. If new traffic induced by the five F2s were allowed for, the hoped-for increase in speed would not be realised.
Work by other consultants shows just how useless a road the F2 would be - it would not cause a decrease of traffic even in Carlingford Road. APT can but wonder why the F2 is being promoted by the same RTA that issued the Have Your Say leaflet referred to above, which opens:
"We believe that it is time to take a long hard look at our transport
options and develop a plan for the future.
The policies and ideas of current road planning are not necessarily appropriate for the long-term future."
F5 OUTER PROMOTION
The outer half of the PS (King George's Road to Moorebank) opened a few weeks ago. APT remark that racing driver Peter Brock has been retained to help with the sales effort of the F5 developers. An advertising campaign has been started to promote use of this toll road. APT think that such promotion is obscene, given the air pollution and other costs of motorway travel.
At time of writing, western suburbs motorists were voting with their wheels against the $1.50 toll but this trend is not expected to last.
Our correspondent reports sightings of Route 300 and Route 400 buses on the Pacific Highway over the June 27-28 and July 18-19 weekends.
As Route 300 is the Airport Express service, APT were astonished by this portent of direct services from the North Shore to the airport Route 400 is the cross-country route from Bonds Junction to Arncliffe, Campsie and Burwood. Linking the northern beaches through Chatswood and Macquarie will make Route 400 a true orbital service. Again, APT are surprised to see such a long-felt need being addressed.
APT were taken aback when we found that someone had borrowed these
numbers during rail trackwork disruptions to signify various bus
stopping patterns known only to the weekend supervisors. Don't route
numbers mean anything anymore? Who issues temporary numbers?
APT jubilantly report that CityRail has taken positive steps towards rectifying the unhuman shape moulded into new railway seats. Tenders have been called for the job of modifying damaged seats; all new seats will be made to a new design.
Curiously, two types of pre-Tangara car, for example car 3955, still have uncushioned fibreglass bench seats at one end!
Queensland Rail has just had a $525.6 million upgrading package approved. It will mean faster travel from Brisbane to Cairns. All of the timber bridges on the North Coast line will be replaced and the steel bridges will be upgraded to 20 tons axle load capacity. Tight bends and curves in the track alignment will be eliminated.
It is claimed that savings will emerge by increased loadings, by fuel savings, and by travel time savings. Unfortunately, rural railways in New South Wales have no capital available for track strengthening or alignment improvements and are not allowed to take credit for travel time savings.
NEW TELEPHONE DIRECTORY
Congratulations to the State Transit Authority for continuing the
multi-page bus and ferry guide in the front of the new Sydney 1992
white pages phone book. It's a pity the private bus proprietors and
the railway can't do the same.
This acronym denotes "State Transit Automated Ticketing System". In the promotional blurb for STATS, the authority says:
"STATS records information about passenger travel. State Transit will then use this information to plan future services based on your needs." (telephone directory page 24). Again, "STATS records information from the magnetic stripe about passenger travel patterns. It will tell us how many passengers catch different services. State Transit will use this information to plan future services." (brochure).
This is all very well, but, like all of these systems, it can only record the travel patterns of those people who actually caught the bus - not of those who didn't catch it because it ran early, or who didn't know where it was going because of inadequate destination displays, or who didn't know when it was going because they couldn't get a timetable, or who didn't know it ran at all because the information line had closed down, or who couldn't get on the bus because it was late and overcrowded, or who didn't catch the bus on Sunday because it doesn't run on Sundays, or who would like to get the Express bus but there isn't one, or who would like to go directly to Shoppingville but can't because the bus doesn't run there, or who would have caught the bus but the ferry was late
APT understand that the information recorded will be a great help in planning future services, but we also hope that the STA realise that more information is required than that which is obtained from just headcounting on the bus.
APT are represented on the Community Advisory Committee for this project. The committee is concerned with noise management, air quality management and a health study. APT members who may be interested in participating should ring Kevin Eadie, 819-6052, after 7:30 p.m. any day.
NORTH COAST FREIGHT
In one week recently, there were several serious road accidents on the Pacific Highway up the north coast. Doubtless this will lead to pressure from people and coroners for the highway to be rebuilt to divided-road standard from Hexham to the border.
APT feel that the same arguments lead rather to the conclusion that more goods and passengers should be carried by rail.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
NRMA Today edition 5. Contains several articles on the environmental policies of a motorists' association.
On Track Journal of the Coalition of Transport Action Groups Inc., P.O. Box 204, Beecroft.
Gridlock A novel by Ben Elton. Who caused the traffic congestion? $11.95.
Townscapes Gerald Burke and The Home or Man Barbara Ward. These 1976 Pelicans showed an enlightened view of where cities were heading. If you can find these books, you can see that at least some town planners knew what sustainable transport policies were.
Accounting for Environmental Assets Robert Repette. pages 64-70 in Scientific American, June 1992. Conventional accounting overlooks the depreciation of natural assets. These assets are considered to be abundant and their marginal value is set at zero. The error can make impoverishment appear to be growth and prosperity.
Grand Canyon film by Lawrence Kasdan stars Steve Martin. Shows what can happen in a city where millions are deprived of opportunity. Recommended by Peter Newman.
Sydney at the Crossroads: - New land use and transport options for the future. Report by Glazebrook and Associates 569-4142. Sydney must learn from other cities and build on its current base of heavy rail and major centres.
Energy for Motor Vehicles Bleviss and Walzer in Scientific American, September 1990. Much talk about technology and just a little about urban design and proper transport systems including public transport.
FOR YOUR DIARY
Ecopolitics VI conference. Melbourne, 25-27 September 1992. RMIT (03)660-2226.
Australasian Transport Research Forum. Canberra, 7-9 October 1992. Enquiries to Dr Milloy, (06)2746800.
Urban Consolidation conference. 19-20 October, Sydney. LI.R. 954-5844.
International Public Transit Expo 4th to 6th October 1993. New Orleans. USA-708-260-9700.