NEW CITY RAIL LOOP?
In our capacity as boxholder at Haymarket Post Office, APT received a leaflet advertising office equipment. Presumably all other boxholders received copies. The leaflet offers a night for two at a North Shore hotel as an incentive to buy. A map of transport connections to the hotel shows the North Shore railway line crossing the Harbour Bridge and branching in the Rocks area towards Circular Quay.
APT would love to know what fellow Haymarket boxholder CityRail thought of the map. Could it be that this new line will be announced soon?
APT were interested to see a television crew on the Harbour Bridge during morning peak on Friday 28 August, the last day of the pre-tunnel era. No doubt the crew had been sent to get some shots of Sydney's final traffic jam. The traffic had been much heavier than usual on Thursday 27th, probably because of extra peak-hour volumes generated by the Gore Hill Freeway. Unfortunately for the people who advocated the tunnel, traffic jams continue, but in different locations:
After two or three months of tunnel, APT note that traffic jams have become daily occurrences in places that rarely saw them before, such as the Pacific Highway at Lindfield. These jams were forecast when the tunnel was first mooted five years ago but were discounted by tunnel advocates. Some of these jams impact on bus travel, for example around Taylor Square.
On the first day the tunnel was open to public traffic, the government made a statement through the Roads minister tantamount to admitting the tunnel did no more than postpone by a year or two the need to expand public transport services. And this at a cost of $536 million (tunnel) plus $150 million (Gore Hill freeway) and $10 million (other works along Epping Road) and $250 million (F2) and $180 million (remaining stages, Eastern distributor) and hundreds of millions more (Warringah Freeway to Burnt Bridge Creek) etc etc. The funds committed directly and indirectly by the tunnel would clearly have built quite a lot of public transport.
Harbour Bridge lane 7, which was reserved for bus and taxi use effective on the day the tunnel came into service, is attracting some attention from the roads lobby because it appears to have cost the motorist a lane. Even though it seems lightly-used, it carries many more people than other road lanes. APT hope that those trying to have it abolished do not succeed.
APT noticed a new postage stamp commemorating the tunnel. It depicts five cars and a bus driving below the harbour, which is odd as no buses are scheduled to use the tunnel. We look forward to the inauguration of services between e.g. the North Shore and the airport.
A new bus lane has been taken from Clarence St under the Western Distributor up onto the Bradfield Highway. Although short, this is a start for future extension across the Bridge.
APT have investigated the passenger safety aspects of Tangara trains. In these cars, the crew compartment has a large glass panel in the door so that visual communication with passengers is possible. However, tests have shown that the drivers' vision of the track can be impaired by light from the passenger compartments and so blinds have been fitted to these panels. A high proportion of these blinds are permanently drawn, obstructing vision between passengers and guards.
APT have been advised that these blinds should not be drawn when the guard is in the compartments. The darkness of night or tunnels may mean that the guard and the driver can not share a compartment because of their different vision requirements but that is life.
Readers will recall the announcement by the Federal government of One Nation, $2000 million on infrastructure projects which would provide jobs, stimulating the economy. The projects included $150 million for a new goods line from Campbelltown to Enfield and new standard gauge track on the present broad-gauge alignment between Melbourne and Adelaide.
The new goods line would have have improved goods connections with the south. The present line cannot be used for goods during passenger peak hours and is affected by a curfew at night. Moreover, overhead electric power lines prevent double-deck stacking of containers and thereby increase costs. The new line would also have improved the viability of the Maldon to Dombarton line, construction of which was stopped in 1988.
The combined effect of the new line in Sydney and standard gauge between Melbourne and Adelaide would have been a considerable improvement in goods services between Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Much freight presently carried by road could have switched to rail, giving significant economic,social and environmental benefits.
Unfortunately, there is to be a federal election within the next six months. Large rail projects cannot be built overnight. Only a small part of the expenditure is incurred in the first year. When it became clear that the $150 million could not be spent in the relevant time, the money was switched to lesser projects like highway black-spots.
Proper planning of transport projects is too important to Australia to be let suffer for frivolous reasons like six-month electoral appeal.
NEW GOVERNMENT BUSES
State Transit (S.T.A.) has advised that its new buses will be air-conditioned
and that seat spacing will be increased, compared with
that on the two prototype buses, by removing one row of seats.
Initially, STA intends to persist with electronic destination
indicators. Two types will be evaluated. The rear route number
display will be retained. Increased seat spacing and rear route
numbers were among a list of 18 design features which APT submitted
to the STA last April. We are sceptical about electronic signs and
have yet to see one anywhere in the world which is as clear and
reliable as a good roller sign. At slight extra cost, roller signs
can use different colours to convey route information visible at a
greater distance than is the one-word destination. This feature is
not available with electronic signs.
CITYRAIL CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS
A recent government directive required all State Government agencies to produce service quality standards by October 1992. CityRail's draft contains 34 items, of which only 9 are quantitative. The rest are far too vague and open to interpretation to deserve the title "standard' The standard on train comfort, for example, would not have prevented the installation of the notoriously uncomfortable and orthopaedically incorrect Tangara seats. Standards, by definition, must be measurable.
CityRail standards refuse to acknowledge that the trains are part of a public transport system. There is no commitment to inter-modal ticketing, or feeder-bus information distribution. Incredibly, the standard on passenger interchange refers specifically to trains, ignoring the fact that many more passengers interchange with buses than do between trains, and ignoring the railways' financial dependence on good interchange with volume feeders like buses. In short, CityRail's Customer Service Standards aren't. They should start again, putting people first.
Interestingly, 16 of the 34 items have to do with service information, a subject of continuing APT attention over many years. and an area where retiring rail chief Ross Sayers has admitted to some failing. He recently told "Railway Digest" (Oct 1992) that, when he arrived in Sydney in 1988, he had trouble identifying stations, getting maps and buying tickets, and found the system difficult to come to grips with. When he left, his "lingering frustration" was that CityRail did not supply the level of information that customers could reasonably expect. The consequence is that many others simply don't bother, and go by car,
This RTA report was mentioned briefly in the August issue of this newsletter. APT's consultant, who has now analysed it in detail, reports that the RTA has misrepresented issues and endorsed policies which ensure the RTA's own survival, in preference to policies which would bring most benefits to the community.
The RTA aims at achieving a population distribution which is best served by cars and is therefore in the RTA's own interests, rather than considering a range of population distributions equally and seeing appropriate transport systems for them.
The RTA concedes that current transport policies in Sydney cannot be sustained, but it misleadingly assumes that urban sprawl, in the Current Trends scenario in' Future Directions, which happens to be the scenario most suited to service by cars, is the inevitable development of Sydney's urban form.
The RTA should have given equal consideration to alternative growth patterns, including high population density corridors with rail-based public transport, which would offer improved urban amenity, and reduced fuel consumption and air pollution.
The RTA's narrow obsession with maintaining average speeds for road vehicles needs to be replaced by a broader economic, social and environmental outlook. APT's view is endorsed by Commission for The Future research which warns that attempts to build more compact urban forms based on public transport simply will not work with the present expansionary approach to the road network.
It is now generally recognised that car parks in metropolitan areas are a factor in increased car travel. It is disappointing to see developers permitted to profit by building car parks.
Surprisingly, public institutions are getting in on the act. The latest is the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, which wants to build a Melbourne car park as a revenue-raiser.
IS YOUR FLEET CAUSING TRAFFIC CONGESTION?
Thus begins an advertisement for a car fleet management service offered by a finance company. They offer to take paperwork off your desk, freeing you to run your business.
APT's simple answer would be that all car fleets cause traffic congestion, whether managed by specialists or not.
Increasingly, residents of this pleasant area west of Sydney are becoming concerned about the adverse effects of over-reliance on private transport. APT were asked to a recent forum at Lawson where Council people heard various points of view about mountains transport.
APT's representative pointed out that land-use and transport interact and hence must be planned conjointly as an ongoing activity (this has been known since 1970). Of course, the land-use for traffic THROUGH the mountains is dominated by Sydney's land-use which the Blue Mountains council has no control over. This point particularly concerns the recent spate of truck accidents - residents are calling for divided road and/or a completely new road. How about government policies to get such traffic back on the rails? The railway through the mountains would appreciate some extra business. Hazardous goods especially should be sent by rail through such terrain.
The APT member who noticed this a few weeks ago reported it to the
authorities and was told that procedures would be changed. No change
has happened at date of printing.
As reported in the public press recently, CityRail have had to replace the bogies in a significant number of Tangara cars. This is apparently because of defective welds. The fault does not affect the brakes or the mechanical strength.
This newsletter remarked in February that CityRail did not have enough rolling stock for normal operations, and certainly not enough to provide many spare cars. Thus, the shortage of cars is the reason why your peak-hour train this morning may not have had as many cars as normal.
APT have researched public transport connections to metropolitan university campuses. We find that the worst-serviced campus in terms of the home addresses of its students is that of Macquarie. There are buses only to places like Epping, the CBD and Chatswood whereas most students come from further afield.
Readers who travel by ferry will be aware of the problem of ticketing passengers who ride between intermediate stops, neither boarding nor alighting at Circular Quay. It is not unusual for crew to decline proffered fares at these stops.
In an attempt to reduce fare losses on the Meadowbank service, UTA have a crew member go around the passenger decks of inbound services selling special paper tickets to those who will alight at Darling Harbour. The tickets are torn off numbered stubs but it is not always possible for passengers to watch their tickets being torn off. Sales of these tickets are not controlled tightly and in APT's opinion there is an avoidable risk of the system being rorted. Passengers alighting at Darling Harbour are generally asked to surrender their tickets for reasons which are not apparent. It would be possible for a dishonest crew to re-sell tickets and pocket the proceeds.
MERRYLANDS RAIL LINK
This link, although only a few hundred metres long, should significantly improve connections between the Liverpool line and the west. The junction at the Merrylands end is to be grade-separated; the Harris Park end is flat.
API understand that the justification of this project included credit taken for passenger time saved. This may be a first for Sydney public transport even though road builders have been doing it for years.
WHAT APT HAVE BEEN DOING
Participating in a number of forums to discuss operation matters with the government transport authorities.
Contributing to 1-day workshops on air quality and noise management plans for an expanded Sydney Airport and on updating the Department of Planning's Metropolitan Strategy for the Sydney Region.
Contributing to Road Safety 2000.
Fighting the F2
Going to Metropolitan Planning Strategy Update workshops. Preparing submissions to the City West plans.
Going to the Australian Rail Industry Advisory Council workshop, Melbourne.
Elder readers will remember how Sydney Harbour used to have cargo ships daily in places where they are now rarely seen. Indeed, the old Gladesville Bridge used to have to open for coal ships. The only bridges which open now are the Spit Bridge across Middle Harbour (generally for pleasure vessels) and the Glebe Island Bridge across Blackwattle Bay. The latter has only four lanes yet is effectively part of Victoria Road. It has long been regarded as Sydney's prime location to put a new bridge of pharaonic proportions.
Nowadays, Glebe Island Bridge only opens to permit bulk loads of gravel in the Camira to be brought to a concrete plant. Doubts have been expressed that these loads will continue for much longer. Yet the new bridge recently announced for the crossing will have enough clearance to permit vessels of Camira's size underneath. Of course, the bridge will cost much more than would a less grand affair.
APT point out that there is a little-used goods railway passing
within a few hundred metres of the plant. Why can't the gravel be
carried by train? The cement and sand could ride with it.
APT report that the Wilson Street gate to Redfern rail, closed several years ago, is to be re-opened in 1993. It should facilitate pedestrian access in the direction of Sydney University.
MARKETING PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The final-year Advanced Marketing class at Meadowbank College of T.A.F.E. this year chose as its assignment the marketing of a light rail system proposed for the Baulkham Hills - Epping - North Sydney - The Spit - Dee Why route. APT attended the launch of their campaign.
We see considerable value in having such campaigns prepared for public transport. APT will offer our help to similar courses at other colleges.
This term refers to a surprisingly large operation which runs afl over the State. Transport services, in minibuses and cars, are provided to people who would be housebound without them. APT understand that some forces with the Department of Transport. ao doubt thinking of economic rationalism, are starting to transfer these services to the private sector.
APT cannot understand how this can work. The services rely on large amounts of volunteer labour which is free. How could private management improve on this? It is more likely that any restructuring would destroy the system.
After years of research, APT's philologist has at last determined where the word "commuter" comes from. It refers to the public transport rider who pays for multiple trips by commuting the fares into a lump sum paid in advance. We have no idea how the term was applied to motorists, even daily ones.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Air Trains feature by Gary Stix in Scientific American, August. Discusses maglev vehicles. Especially interesting because it shows the politics offending public transport - the old U.S.A. Highways Act is now the Internodal Surface Transport Efficiency Act and provides funding for railways and bicycles rather than just for roads.
International Urban Crisis book by Thomas L Blair, Paladin Books, 1974. Well ahead of its time, this book concludes that not enough is known about the main trends shaping our lives in a predominantly urbanised world.
Reorganisation Demands Better Knowledge of Cities article by Ray Brindle in ANEZAAS Search, October. Brindle is an expert in traffic management.
CHOICE 1993 Consumers' Diary including useful hints and addresses (including APT's address).
A-Train Computer game of planning a city. Macintosh version $99.95 from Direct Access Computer Products (008)025229.
Trends in Transport and the Countryside report from Countryside Commission, Printworks Lane, Levenshulme M19 3W, United Kingdom. Do we want beauty and quietness to be eroded by transport? UKP5 postage paid.
Markets, Morals & Manifestos book edited by Vintila, Phillimore and Peter Newman. Contains papers about economic rationalism and "Fightback!", including one by Newman about transport and cities. $18.95 from I.S.T.P., Murdoch University 6150.
The Environment, Social Justice and the Car. The NRMA is rewriting its public policy. This document is to help with forming that policy.
Public Participation in Decision-Making: Participatory Democracy or Political Greenwash? paper by Judy Messer, available from Nature Conservation Council, 39 George St. Are the consultation provisions of our planning laws a sham?
Transport Planning Sputters Along article by Tom Burton, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 November. Relates to No Nation article above
FOR YOUR DIARY
Passenger Transport conference, 9-10 December, $1195. Enquiries I.I.R. 9545844.
Managing Public Participation conference, 27 November, $195. Enquiries Planning Research Centre 6923975.
In the August issue, we said the F5 had opened from Moorebank to King
George's Road. The section from Fairford Road to King George's Road
did not open until October. It has only one lane in each direction.
The car toll increased to $2 each way when the new section opened.
The truck toll is now $4.50 each way.