WHAT A WAY TO RUN BUSES
On 22nd July, your roving reporter asked at a kiosk for a route 290 (Epping) bus timetable. A hand-written note on the glass said that this timetable, amongst others, was out of print. On commenting that it seemed to have been out of print for a long time, your reporter was told that it had indeed been reprinted, but because it was out of print for such a long time before, there was such a rush on the new print that ...
BUS INFO IN PHONE BOOK
The State Transit Authority has kept up the good work by maintaining the eight pages of bus and ferry information in the new 1994 Sydney white pages telephone directory. The only problem is that they persist in omitting the BusTripper from the list of available tickets.
Also, as usual, CityRail has failed to provide a rail information page to complement the bus and ferry ones. Nightride buses are also ignored. And for private buses, the situation remains hopeless. A traveller has to know the name of the bus company in the relevant suburb before even making a first phone call.
WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS
A Herald-Saulwick poll (SMH, 8 August) has found that 16% of voters would make public transport their second priority for government expenditure, after health and education (equal first).
The public transport vote was overshadowed by roads spending (18 per cent), but given the impact on the electorate of the RTA/NRMA/roads-lobby publicity and public relations machine, compared to that of the public transport lobby, this result should have governments at both state and federal levels seriously reconsidering their urban motorway programs.
Expressions of interest were called last year for proposals to serve the Warringah area. As stated in our last newsletter, the government saw difficulties in every proposal and set up a committee to advise the Planning minister. It now appears the difficulty was that every proposal needed Treasury involvement, i.e. public subsidy.
It is not clear what this committee can discover that is new. The seven councils comprising Transit North (from Pittwater to North Sydney) have already decided to plump for light rail from North Sydney via Spit Junction to Warringah. APT are concerned that Warringah will be treated in isolation from the proper expansion of the Sydney rail network into a multi-centred one. In particular, access from Warringah seems to be focused on just North Sydney at the expense of other areas such as Chatswood and North Ryde.
Indeed the Transit North councils came out in support of retaining the Cahill Expressway (see below), perhaps not realising that new rail lines to Warringah and the Airport could also help reduce road traffic on this route. Closure of the Cahill, and less pressure for an Eastern Distributor, are just the kind of community benefits that can make public rail investment worthwhile.
The problems with what to do with the traffic at the North Ryde end of the M2 are legendary. Readers should be aware that the traffic modelling and assessment process stopped near the Epping/Delhi Roads intersection, thus relegating this problem to be solved by others. A tunnel for the Lane Cove section of Epping Road has already been suggested, and presumably widening of the Gore Hill link would follow.
RTA surveyors have been seen recently working on the Lane Cove River immediately upstream from Fuller's Bridge. This reinforces APT suspicions that the road interests want to "improve" connections between the M2 and Warringah, presumably via Delhi Road, Blue Gum Creek and then probably Boundary Street and Reseville Bridge. In the late 1980s, the DMR went so far as to issue a glossy leaflet to the Boundary Street area canvassing possibilities for the Archbold-Boundary-Penshurst intersection.
NEWS FROM OVERSEAS
Thirty-five European cities, including Birmingham, recently agreed at a conference in Amsterdam to work towards the reduction of traffic in urban areas. Public transport will have a much expanded role in these cities as will bicycles. We read this in "Transport Retort 17/3"; author John Whitelegg is confident that it will actually happen.
On the other hand, the city of Guangzhou (formerly Canton) has reportedly decided to slash the number of bicycles in the city from three million to one million in order to "clear the streets to make way for cars". They seem to have much to learn. Yet, they are building a metro system.
The success of this service has led to a plan for one more vessel and present indications are that more may be needed.
APT would like to see a real analysis of the patronage figures. Are the passengers former rail users, new travellers with a purpose, or simply people enjoying the trip? It matters because a service subsidised by the public purse should have a clear community benefit. Thus far the patronage claims are reminiscent of the Harbour Bridge bus lane, where rail and other bus services have been the losers.
REVIEW OF OUTER SUBURBAN TANGARA
APT have ridden this train, which is easily distinguished from other Tangaras by the ugly orange panels on the sloping surfaces at front and back. We find that the seats are very much better orthopaedically than city Tangara seats, in that they have the lumbar curve in approximately the right place. They are also more comfortable and are fully reversible. The seats are a bit wider, which narrows the aisles, making for comfort but not for quick loading at major stations.
The inter-car doors suffer from the same disease as city Tangaras, i.e. people use the emergency release to open them, resulting in doors which stay open.
This sudden announcement (the day before the date for the Parramatta by-election was announced) is pleasingly close to the line recommended by APT in "Rail 2000" (see article in preceding issue of this newsletter and map in September 1990 issue). We see a need for a multi-centred rail network for Sydney, with fast rail connections between centres such as Parramatta-Bankstown-Hurstville and Parramatta-Epping-Chatswood.
As reported in the press, the plan calls for the duplication and upgrading of the Carlingford line, a link to Parramatta and a tunnel between Carlingford and Epping to allow a "fast direct connection between Parramatta and the Central Coast".
The Carlingford to Epping tunnel is particularly significant, as it can be shared by a Macquarie and North-Western railway. APT's advocacy of this line, linking Chatswood with Macquarie, Epping, Carlingford, Castle Hill and Rouse Hill (with some intermediate stations) as a better transport initiative than the M2, is clearly boosted by this cost-sharing opportunity.
We do, however, have concern over the "cheap" connection to Parramatta that is proposed. APT can see the benefit of a new north-south cross line which would enable additional stations to serve an expanded Parramatta CBD area. Trains could then work through from the Carlingford line and on to Granville to form services to Bankstown and Hurstville.
NEW RAIL TIMETABLE
We know this 10 July issue is "new" because it says so on the front cover [how will the next one be distinguished?].
The Bankstown line now has a 15-minute weekend service as do the Eastern Suburbs and Fairfield lines. The inner-west line still fails to get one; services to Homebush have actually worsened as inner-west trains are the only ones that stop there. The inner-west trains now come from Liverpool and therefore make quite slow trips from the outer suburbs because they stop at all stations. The North Shore does rather better, with 6 trains per hour as far as Gordon, two of which skip some stations.
The new sheet timetables did not appear on station walls in time for the implementation. Some stations pulled the old sheets down and left blank walls. Some didn't, leaving misleading information displayed for weeks. One customer-focused station posted handwritten sheets!
The booklet timetables for the Parramatta line still fail to give details of the N50 and N60 Nightride buses at the back, although these buses serve many stations along the line. Only the N70 and Nl are shown.
None of them mention Nightride in the body of the books after the last "midnight" train. The Nightride buses are in the back, where you would only look if you knew they were there.
It is important to reduce congestion delays to bus services, not only because of extra travel delays thereby caused to passengers but also because the varying extent of the delay breaks up the regular spacing of services leading to buses travelling around in pairs and larger clusters.
We are pleased to report new bus priority at Newtown, where Enmore Road joins King Street, and a bus lane outwards along Broadway. We trust that more delay spots will be treated.
We reported in the last issue that APT was to survey bus clustering. This has happened, at least the city-Newtown services 422-3-6-8. Outbound services were surveyed for four hours on each of eight days 27-30 June and 4-7 July. Services on weekdays are scheduled to be three buses per hour on each route. The arrangement is supposed to see buses evenly spaced, with one each five minutes. On both of the Thursdays surveyed, the services were so irregular that twelve buses per hour gave an average wait time of over 4.5 minutes; this service could be bettered by seven evenly-spaced buses with a huge cost saving. APT sadly infer that bus controllers are ineffectual.
The modest increases handed down by the Government Pricing Tribunal for Sydney were implemented in June. Next year's hearing will look at the whole structure of fares. APT will be presenting a proposal; if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know.
From 4th July, Brisbane had not only a RoverLink (all day, all modes bus-train-ferry) but also an Off-Peak RoverLink available out of peak hours weekdays and all day weekends. And whose name is printed on the back of the Brisbane RoverLink tickets? The name of a man who is now in charge of the Sydney buses and ferries, which won't participate in daily all-mode tickets!
Brisbane travellers now have the choice of a Rail Rover, Bus-Ferry DayRover, Bus-Ferry off-Peak Saver, Family Pass (weekend buses and ferries), RoverLink and Off-Peak RoverLink. What has Sydney got? Only a BusTripper. And the promise of Bus-Ferry Tripper. Recent union action has delayed the introduction of Bus-Ferry Tripper and prevented the on-bus sale of both.
Closure of this, in conjunction with reversion of the eastern Bridge lanes to rail and providing Tunnel road access to Macquarie Street, appears feasible. Relocating or truncating the railway is another matter altogether, and the money would be better spent expanding the rail system elsewhere.
The cost of the Park Street tunnel has been included in. the Government's estimates of closing the Cahill. APT cannot understand this, as the Cahill is essentially a north-south road while the Park St tunnel would be east-west, and (see above) traffic would need to be reduced, not diverted, to make the Cahill closure acceptable. Perhaps there is another agenda to resurrecting the Park St tunnel that we thought the City Council had killed. Requiescat in pacem.
APT were disappointed to see that this large hole in the ground is going to become a huge CBD car park, weakening radial public transport services. Several underground rail lines run around it; we have no need of more CBD cars.
AIRPORT RAIL LINK
The much-needed rail link from Sydney CBD through the airport to the East Hills line and perhaps the Illawarra line has been announced; for unspecified reasons, the minister wants to see it completed by the opening of the Olympic Games in 2000. The line is to be substantially funded by taxpayers, contrary to previous Government assurances (unbelievable to APT) that it would not be.
This significant step towards achieving a multi-centred rail network
will provide convenient rail access to the Airport from the south
(assuming the Arncliffe interchange station is built), south-west,
north and east. The apparent lack of a new station at Redfern means
that western line users will be less well served and there will be
little benefit to those residents served by the Bankstown line. Other
benefits of the new line include capacity relief between Redfern and
Sydenham and a connection between airports to Badgery's Creek.
The community will benefit more from its investment in the new railway if the MS East (General Holmes Drive to Beverly Hills) is not constructed because their potential markets overlap. We trust that the private station operators have a similar view of the value of the M5.
Finally, note that airport passenger traffic has peaks are at different times of day from the present peaks and so is quite attractive to CityRail because it can be accommodated easily.
PEDESTRIAN BRIDGES & TUNNELS
Sydney faces a snowballing need for champions of pedestrian rights. This is because of a variety of works undertaken in many areas by the RTA in the name of free-flowing traffic. One school near the Wahroonga exit from the F3 has requested that the RTA install a bridge or tunnel across the main road at that point. This follows a near-tragedy in which a truck drove past red lights and came close to hitting some pupils who were crossing the road.
APT's view is that this incident is a symptom of the growing intrusion of motor traffic into Sydney life. This is intolerable and in some cases such as the above has obvious physical dangers. Rather than attack the symptoms by building pedestrian bridges and/or tunnels, we would prefer to see the traffic slowed down. If you put a bridge outside your school, the danger a bit further along will increase and we will end up building bridges outside every school. Far better to slow down the traffic, thereby making public transport (particularly rail) more competitive and generally leading to more liveable cities.
As stated in the last issue, APT made a submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee enquiring into motor vehicle emissions. Ignoring the submissions of the RTA and its friends (which concentrated on the finer details of how cars were to be inspected for compliance with arbitrary guidelines of exhaust composition) and of the Environment Protection Authority (which seems to think that the battery-powered town car will solve all our problems). APT took on the issue of how to reduce the total amount of driving done.
We also gave evidence at one of the hearings. We were well-heard by the three Parliamentarians who turned up; we do not how where the other two Committee members were. Submissions along similar lines to ours, suggesting that there must be alterations to transport and land-use planning before air pollution can be reduced, were made by some others.
With the current interest in air pollution, API have estimated the increase in fuel consumption that will be caused by the M2. Of course the EIS for this project claims significant fuel savings, because it starts with the (defective) assumption that traffic demand will be unchanged.
When the real-word increase in demand is included, the APT figures show that annual fuel use will be increased by 8000 tonnes on opening and 28000 tonnes in the year 2016 if the RTA's traffic forecasts are to be believed, rather than the RTA-claimed savings of up to 12000 tonnes. APT envisage making similar calculations for the MS East extension.
As we remarked in an earlier issue, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act was amended recently to provide that instrumentalities such as the RTA could not determine projects which they themselves had proposed.
This is not quite correct. Twelve road projects escape the independent audit of the Director of Planning by virtue of having had requirements issued before 22 April 1994. They are:
In collaboration with other governments, the Commonwealth recently held an inquiry into urban transport. APT made several submissions at various stages; this newsletter reported on some of them and the deaf ears that they seemed to find.
The final report, dated February, issued late in June. The Commission suggests that road pricing will solve all our problems, especially if all transport providers face competition. APT disagree with that view. Road pricing may work in a place like Singapore where there is only a fraction of Sydney's car fleet and where people accept more authoritarian Government. We cannot see it working in Sydney because the prices needed to take sufficient one-occupant cars off the road would be so high that great social disruption would be caused. As for competition, the only competition which will help big cities is to have public transport trip times door-to-door competitive with the car.
BUS TICKET INSPECTION BLITZ
APT's reporter had his ticket inspected three mornings out of four in the week of writing, and other passengers on the last trip said that their tickets had been checked twice on the same trip. The inspectors may be in plain clothes (jeans and sneakers), but their faces are becoming familiar.
The Environmental Impact Statement for this project issued last month. APT are reviewing this statement. We will make a submission by the due date (10 October).
Meanwhile, note that the MS route extends to General Holmes Drive instead of stopping at the Princes Highway, which is curious in view of the overload which the Drive already carries. The extra length is probably intended to get a foot in the door for both the inner M6 and for the Cook's River Valley motorway.
The RTA's summary of the EIS claims that "the RTA will only decide whether the motorway should be built once the community has had an opportunity to comment". It makes no mention of the RTA's vested interest in the building of the motorway, and no admission that its completion will generate additional trips, or "induced traffic". This is yet another case of the RTA deliberately misleading the public.
Atlanta's Rapid Transit Authority has admitted it will be hard- pressed to complete construction of its 12km North Line in time for the 1996 Games. Construction has been delayed because falling tax revenues have cut the funds available for construction works. (Rly. Gaz. Int'l.)
FOR YOUR DIARY
Transport Policy: What's needed? What's Happening? conference, 22-23 August, Melbourne, $425. Monash University Transport Group, (03)905 2306 or 905 4973.
N.S.W. Environment in Crisis conference, 27 August, $30, Nature Conservation Council, 247 4206. Includes a workshop session on transport and land-use planning.
Marginal Electorate Campaigning conference on strategies for the 1995 state election. 9 a.m., 28 August. Book with Total Environment Centre, 2474714.
Cities and the New Global Economy conference, Melbourne, 20-23 November. (03)8193700.
Ecotex 94 conference, Canberra, 7-9 December. Has sessions about alternative energy, etc. (06) 288 2884.
Competition and Ownership in Land Passenger Transport conference, 9-12 July 1995, Rotorua. Transit New Zealand, 6444966670.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Population and Cars Talk by Lincoln Day (A.N.U. Demography Dept) on 2RN Ockham's Razor, 26 June 1994. Shows the connection between public transport and liveable cities.
Back on Track: The Global Rail Revival. Monograph by Lowe, published by Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20036-1904 USA.
Rethinking the Role of the Automobile. Monograph by Renner published by Worldwatch Institute as above.
The Future of Urbanization - Facing the Ecological and Economic Constraints: Monograph by Brown and Jacobson, published by Woridwatch Institute.
Alternatives to the Automobile: Transport for Livable Cities. Monograph by Lowe published by Worldwatch Institute.
Enhancing the Ethical Culture: The Approach adopted by the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales. Article by Davidow and Williams in Aust. 3. of Public Admin., Vol. 52 No. 4, December. Interesting, but does not cover the ethics of promoting unjustified and damaging roads.
Traffic Congestion Is there a way out? Book edited by John Whitelegg, 1992. 0-948135-35-2 from Leading Edge.
Transport for a Sustainable Future The Case for Europe. Book by John Whitelegg, 1993. Used by APT in our recent Emissions submission. 1-852931-46-9 from D.A. Information Services, (03)873-4555.
The Dynamics of Social Dilemmas - article by Glance and Huberman in Scientific American, March. Some heavy thinking about the attitudes which drive NIMBYs to thwart goals that demand collective effort and co-operation.
7:30 Report ABC-TV, 7 July, about motor vehicle emissions.
7:30 Report ABC-TV, 14 July. about the RTA's ambitions for Sydney. The RTA spokesman was unable to admit that the RTA has no plans for easing traffic congestion.
Transport Policies for the New Millenium book edited by Ogden et al. $24.95 ppd from Civil Engineering Lab Manager, Mon ash University, Clayton 3168.
In the last issue, we forgot to mention that there is also a bus expected-arrival board at the Airport stop for routes 300-350.