NOT IN MY BACKYARD
APT note sadly the new record for the world's longest roadtrain. Last May, a huge prime mover with 21 trailers was driven 8 km down the Stuart Highway.
We calculate that if fully loaded, the train would have done $45 worth of damage to the road surface. From the safety viewpoint, the thing was a holocaust looking for somewhere to happen.
Failure to take proper account of such costs is why trucks are used so much more than is in the community's interest.
Walking across Pyrmont Bridge one morning a few weeks ago, APT's reporter was intrigued to see market research pollsters out. It turned out that they were asking pedestrians various questions about their trips with an eye to bolstering monorail ridership. Are the fares too high? Are there too few stations? How often do you ride buses around the CBD? Have you had any bad experiences with the monorail? (APT hadn't but the whole of Sydney suffers by the extra traffic induced by the huge city parking stations it made possible.)
APT's pleasure that the monorail's future was under official consideration was premature; construction has since started of the new Darling Walk monorail station.
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
APT have just received the report on Infrastructure Management and Financing in NSW from the P.A.C. Most of the report is a bland acceptance of existing transport policies with criticism limited to financing aspects. It describes the Bennelong Car Park as a "success story", which it certainly isn't from APT's point of view.
However the report does endorse the need for a true comprehensive integrated Infrastructure Development Plan, and notes that this would be 'somewhat novel' for NSW. It cites the example of the RTA calling for ideas to develop the lower North Shore road system and the DoT separately calling for expressions of interest in a Warringah mass transit link. The report observes that these two proposals are in competition for the movement of people from a defined geographical area, and comments that the public, let alone the private sector, would have been forgiven for wondering what was happening. Quite!
The report just reproduces the RTA line for the North West Transport Links EIS, describing it as an integrated transport link. However it notes that consideration is being given to amending. the EP&A Act to empower the Minister for Planning with the final say where the proponent and determining authority are both the same government agency.
An end to dodgy determinations? - wait and see!
NRMA SMOG ALERT
The local motorists' association has started a new campaign to clear
Sydney's air. There is to be a Smog Week in November. APT are always
sceptical about claims that increasing the capacity of the roads
system will reduce air pollution; the NRMA suggestion of more
staggered working hours is no exception. In any case, most of the
capacity gains from spreading the traffic have been realised already.
This newsletter has frequently complained about poor organisation and other problems with weekend bus services replacing rail services affected by trackworks. We are please to record that there may soon be an improvement.
APT telephoned the local line manager's office after a particularly drastic weekend and carefully explained why the notice was inadequate, how some of the announced details were incorrect, and how the stopping patterns of the bus service were merely a poor imitation of train stopping patterns and not suited to bus services. Buses accelerate and brake much more easily than do trains but waste large amounts of time deviating from main roads to those railway stations which are well away from the main roads. We also explained why the mute followed by the buses at certain points resulted in a poorer service to the passengers due to traffic delays and how the arrangement at one station where inbound and outbound services shared a bus-stop caused confusion among passengers.
According to the line manager, control of metropolitan supplementary bus services is about to be removed from city-based engineers who, it is admitted, have only a limited knowledge of suburban matters and handed to suburb-based line managers. APT will be watching for the promised improvements.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT ENQUIRY SERVICE
One of the delegates to the May Sydney UITP public transport congress thought he would try Sydney's public transport telephone enquiry service. He rang 131315 (STA's successor to Metro Trips) from the airport and asked how to get to the Hotel Nikko, Darling Harbour.
Apparently no-one on duty knew where monorail stations were and after much hanging-on, he was told to travel by taxi!
A postscript to the above: the separate-for-a-while enquiry lines for trains and the STA have now been re-united on 131500. This is something which APT were advocating strongly.
GOVERNMENT PRICING TRIBUNAL
The May issue of this newsletter recorded APT's submission at the recent fare review hearings. We are pleased to record the tribunal agreed with our view that the multi-mode Travelpass should be retained. The fare increases granted were much less than the accountants had pressed for and were similar to the inflation increases of previous years even though inflation is now very small. In addition, APT appear to have contributed to the proposed agenda for a wider inquiry on transport pricing scheduled for 1994. On the whole, we thought our involvement was worthwhile.
If you have been put off by high prices of yearly tickets, go back and ask again. Somebody made a mistake implementing the Tribunal's decision that the rise for season tickets should be only 5%. A new set of fares, higher than last year's but lower than the June levels, was announced early in July when the error was discovered.
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT PLAN
In the February issue of this newsletter. APT mentioned that we were trying to get a copy of an "integrated transport plan" being prepared for the whole of Sydney. Our official request produced only a curiously-worded letter. It now appears that the government's coyness was deliberate - the "first release for public discussion" dated March was not released.
A copy reached us just after the May newsletter went to press. It provides a timely acknowledgement of past transport/land-use. policy failings, such as the unstructured dispersal of employment, undisciplined satisfaction of predicted (road) transport demand and inappropriate location of medium-density housing. It also concedes that "Sydney has outgrown its world-class rail system and opportunities to expand the system have not been taken".
Urban containment around a network of centres and corridors .is the kernel of a new transport vision for Sydney, echoing APT's call for the development of a multi-centred rail network, Financial support measures, such as road pricing and contributions from non-user beneficiaries, are mentioned but the other vital corridor support issue of area-wide traffic calming has been avoided. There is also strong and unquestioning support for truck routes.
APT have found a curious conflict within the document, despite the recognition that "strategic planning is merely wishful thinking without a focus on ensuring that immediate actions are consistent with a longer term vision and without an ability to deliver". This conflict comes from an apparent endorsement of most currently planned activities, particularly those which accommodate a growth in motor vehicle use, which TRULY makes success of the integrated strategy "wishful thinking".
Despite this major inconsistency with the document, or possibly because of it, the envisaged release for public discussion has been blocked by state Cabinet
APT note that a version dated June is quoted in the Public Accounts
Committee report discussed above. Perhaps this version will be
On 5th June, APT attended a discussion on the practicalities of the very-fashionable public participation which is now such a conspicuous feature of environmental impact studies. We came away confirmed in our belief that the authorities are now abusing the process. Advocates of new roads and other such things exploit public participation to find out in.advance what the weaknesses in their plans are. They use this knowledge to window-dress the proposal in order to pre-empt many objections that might otherwise have threatened the proposal.
Organisations such as APT are accordingly reducing the time they invest in public participation.
The Roads and Traffic Authority is having prepared an Environmental Impact Statement on the M5 from St Peters to Beverly Hills. The intention is to complete it before the end of 1993. APT suspect that the "community consultation forum" recruited to help with the EIS is purely to make the RTA thrust to build the road seem legitimate. Many community organisations are boycotting the forum.
APT point out that the M5 will not help the revenue base of the badly-needed airport rail link now being studied by Transfield.
Federal funds are being provided for connections between points on the outskirts of Sydney. Everyone concerned seems to presume that this implies a road which will carry lots of interstate trucks. APT cannot understand this presumption; we can see great benefit in spending the funds on rail connections such as Enfield-Campbelltown.
A meeting of interested groups was called for Crossroads, south of Liverpool. Although invited, APT did not attend. A second meeting was held at Rooty Hill, west of Parramatta. Again, APT did not attend but at least one representative of a like-minded community group did. We understand that he took the RTA and its consultants to task for exploiting community forums in order to promote RTA policies. It is gratifying that he received a round of applause from other community representatives and that a senior RTA official listened very carefully to what he said.
The Minister for Transport became also the Minister for Roads upon the retirement of Wal Murray. While APT are pleased to see belated government recognition that roads are a form of transport, we are extremely disappointed to see the new Roads minister announce new roadworks worth about $560 million in his first week.
To recap the history, recall that the Woodward inquiry (at which APT gave evidence) found that the F2 as proposed in 1989 was not warranted on environmental, social nor economic grounds. Unperturbed, the Roads and Traffic Authority then proposed a "new" project along exactly the same route. They reserved to themselves the right to determine whether the project would proceed; unsurprisingly, they approved it. Of course, the M2 cannot be built unless a suitable expression of interest is made. APT fear that the project will be re-shaped for the benefit of private interests. In particular, we are concerned that the "bus lanes" will be open to private vehicles and that perhaps even the "breakdown and bicycle lanes" will turn out to be car lanes. Recall that a very similar thing nearly happened to the Park Street tunnel.
Although required by law to consider alternatives such as public transport and to give reasons for rejection of those alternatives, the RTA managed to present them as unsuitable. For the interest of readers, APT set out the ten steps by which consideration of a new north-western heavy railway line was eliminated:
Readers will remember the handy little timetables issued for
individual railway stations a couple of years ago, but now
Burwood bus depot has printed a series covering the bus routes it services.
BUS LANES - ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK
APT note a miniserial claim, published on 19th May, about increased bus patronage since the Gore Hill link and Lane 7 improved bus travel to town. The inference seemed to be that more people were leaving their cars at home. Separately we know that cross-harbour vehicle movements have increased substantially since the tunnel opened, so there appears to be a conflict. CityRail confirmed there had been a loss of patronage, but could only attribute this to CBD employment rather than a specific event such as the tunnel. APT suspect that fewer people are riding bus to a railway station, so perhaps the new bus provisions are not as successful as the Minister claims.
Another bit of "bus lane" has been built in Parramatta Road, inbound only, outside Sydney University. This is an ersatz bus lane, as it is provided by reducing the width of other lanes. Although only a few hundred metres, it leads directly into a storage lane at the Glebe Point Road intersection with a special phase in the traffic lights intended to give priority to public transport
On the other hand, so-called "improvements" in Flinders Street and Military Road will result in reduction of bus priority.
DISINTEGRATED TRANSPORT PLANNING
The Industries Assistance Commission (a Commonwealth body) recently convened an inquiry into urban transport and called for submissions. APT were intrigued to discover that separate submissions were filed by the following New South Wales authorities: the Dept. of Transport, the Dept. of Planning, the Roads and Traffic Authority, the State Rail Authority and Treasury. There should have been a single NSW submission, of course, not five!
WASTED SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY
At the recent Port Kembla Harbourfest, CityRail was a sponsor. Locals were appalled by the heavy motor traffic which the event generated. APT would have seen it as an obvious opportunity for public transport - several DEB diesel sets were parked at Port Kembla and could have, with a little organisation and advertising. carried large numbers of people from perhaps Thirroul and Berry. They didn't. Moreover, the regular service shut down because of "bridgework' and was replaced with road buses which were badly affected by traffic congestion.
The bridgework can't have been too radical, because a steam excursion from Sydney drawn by locomotive 3801 (over 200 tonnes) got through!
In pursuance of a policy to ease access to railway stations for those
unable to climb stairs, CityRail is to build passenger lifts to all
platforms which can't be reached by ramps graded at 1-in-14 or less.
APT understand that at Strathfield, the intention is to remove half
of the ramps that have carried so many for so long and replace them
with stairs (and a lift). The present ramps slope at about 1-in-8.
Something is crazy somewhere!
LOCAL GOVT. ACT SUPPORTED PARKING
There was a provision in the old Local Government Act which required councils to pay the takings from parking meters into a parking fund. Of course, this facilitated the funding of parking in urban areas, recognised as being deleterious to public transport.
APT report that the provision has not been repeated in the new Act, apparently because of pressure from councils recognising that there were better investments than car parking stations, at least from the community's point of view. In any case, revenue collected from motoring is a tax and should not be hypothecated to motoring.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Urban Action newsletter of NSW Urban Environment Coalition. Many articles concern transport and land-use. Subscribe via UEC at 770 Elizabeth St. Waterloo2017. 698 7461.
Transport Retort UKP22 published six times per year by Transport 2000, Walkden House, 10 Melton St. London NWI 2EJ. Highly recommended.
Campaigners' Guide to Road Proposals UKP10 and Taming the Truck UKP4, both from Transport 2000 as above.
Beyond the fringes - the impact of moving from the city. Article by Michael Dickinson and
ESD is in - Ecological sustainability and Better Cities. Article by Jim Colman
both in The Sydney Review, May.
Moving Millions An Inside Look at Mass Transit. Book by Stanley I Fischler. New York, Harper & Row, 1979. Chiefly interesting for its account of the Snell Report - see below.
American Ground Transport proposal for restructuring automobile, truck, bus, and rail industries, presented to Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly, by Bradford C Snell. iii+102 p. It investigates the machinations in the 1940s which deprived over one hundred American cities of their electric tram systems and replaced them with GM buses. Never released; appears in August 1974 U.S. Govt. Publications catalogue under reference 08497.
Transit Modernisation and Street Traffic Control 1950 book by Bauer and Costello. Argues for replacement of street tram- ways by "modern buses". Our archivist found a copy at a second-hand shop. Curiously, it reports "critical" traffic congestion but does not mention air pollution as a problem. APT wonder what Snell thought of it.
The Future of the Car - can the environment sustain it and will it ever be more efficient? Amory Lovins, Director of the Rocky Mountains Institute, interviewed by Robin Williams, 2FC, Winter.
Saving Energy is vital to Australia's Future. Report by Energy Research and Development Corporation. Order from Publications Officer, (06)2748404.
Can LA kick the car habit? article in New Scientist, 12 June. Argues that it may now be too late to reverse the Los Angeles land-use patterns brought on by 30 years of building expressways.
City planners against global warming article in New Scientist. 24 July. Explains the link between town planning and transport usage. A good plug for public transport in large cities.
Train, Train novel by Graham Coster. Can they get the old branch railway re-opened? Bloomsbury Publishing, 1989.
FOR YOUR DIARY
Link Up conference 21-22 August. The Total Environment Centre has won a grant to study linking all Sydney public transport proposals. Christine Laurence, 247 4714.
APT meet weekly to co-ordinate our activities. With effect from September, we will transfer our traditional 5 p.m. Tuesday meeting to Friday. It is hoped that this will facilitate socialising among members and visitors after the formal business matters are dealt with. Rendezvous at Broadway as before.