ELECTION OUTRANKS POPE
APT have many times told CityRail executives that passengers usually don't like the buses which replace trains during trackwork, especially when these buses are organised in a way that wastes passenger time. For instance, we hear that the incessant bustitution on the Central Coast line has had a noticeable detrimental effect on patronage. The executives have always avoided that point.
Our view has been vindicated by finding out there are to be no substitutes between late January and the last Saturday in March. - What is so special about 25th March? Why, that's when the state election will be.
We have also heard that the inner west line from Macdonaldtown to about Burwood will be closed from 4th January until 30th January, if current plans are followed. That will take out services for all the very-popular Sydney Festival events in the Domain. It will also take out 19th January, when the Pope will celebrate Mass in Sydney. If that closure proceeds, it will he interesting to see how the buses cope.
NIGHTRIDE INFO IN S.T.A. TIMETABLES
The latest STA bus timetable for the "Green Line" bus routes (Newtown-Marrickville-Earlwood areas) also gives a map and timetables for the two Nightride bus routes that serve the area (N30 and N40). This is to be commended; we think it is a first for STA timetable booklets. So far, it has only been done in rail timetables, and not very well at that.
Perhaps other STA bus timetables could be examined to see whether appropriate Nightride bus information could be provided for use by travellers at time when the STA buses are home in bed. Not to detract from the initiative, APT suspect that the STA's largesse in this instance may have something to do with the fact that the STA has the contract to run those two particular Nightride services (N30 and N40).
FASTER RIDE FOR RYDE
State Transit has improved bus services on the Victoria Road (Ryde-City) corridor by introducing a new service - route 510 - an all-day weekday service which uses the elevated roadways over Darling Harbour to bring passengers quickly to the centre of Sydney at Town Hall.
The new service is S.T.A.'s response to passenger complaints that access to the CBD had been deteriorating as a result of the relocation of major bus stops ever further from the city centre (Nov 1993 newsletter). S.T.A.'s initial response to the complaints was patronising, claiming that there was little that could be done to improve matters.
BIKES ON TRAINS
APT have been assisting a group of cyclists who have encountered great difficulty with the internal design of the new Endeavour trains. Even when almost empty, there is no space on these trains for larger luggage items such as surfboards and bicycles. We note that at least one U.S. commuter line has removed some seats in order to accommodate more bikes.
APT have weighed in to the discussion about whether the Cahill Expressway along Sydney's waterfront ought to be removed, wholly or partly. We wrote to the Premier pointing out that its roadway was not necessary, especially if the M2 construction. was stopped, as public transport projects which would reduce cross-harbour road traffic are already being planned. Such action is also consistent with the aims of his government's Integrated Transport Strategy.
We would be very pleased to see the roadway turned into a pedestrian area - it is in a tourist part of town and has magnificent water views. Meanwhile, the RTA characteristically saw the opportunity to plump for a new road as a "replacement' for the unnecessary Cahill; fortunately for the community, a document exposing this duplicity was leaked.
NEW TYPE OF BUS TICKET
A new bus ticket, available on routes 300 and 350 between the airport terminals and town, is the AirportTen. It sells for $30 and can be bought on the relevant buses. The standard fare is $5 single or $8 return. APT infer that the ticket is intended to attract patronage from airport workers without reducing the takings from air travellers who cheerfully pay premium fares.
NEW TYPE OF TRAIN TICKET
An APT member recently received a pair of complimentary tickets available for one day's unlimited travel on the CityRail system. We were unaware that such things existed. How you go about getting them is not clear; our source received them in apparent appeasement of a complaint.
At the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisation conference in October, member groups APT, Public Transport Users' Association (Victoria) and Rail 2000 (Sth. Australia) conducted a successful workshop on public transport consumerism. Changes to AFCO's Statement of Purpose were drafted, to express a concem for an "equitable society that is healthy, safe, and sustainable". While subject to change, we expect the draft to be confirmed in the near future.
IS THE NRMA A TRUCK LOBBY GROUP?
The latest NRMA Hume Highway Survey gives a good account of the upgrading of the Hume Highway which is now a dual carriageway for its entire length in Victoria (285 km), and 65 per cent of the route in NSW is of divided highway standard. Other useful information includes the cost of upgrading, traffic volumes on various sections, and road safety.
However, the NRMA report is notable for a lack of discussion as to the extent of use of the Hume Highway for road freight, the use of measures to improve heavy vehicle safety on the Hume Highway (including the new SAF-T-CAM installed by the RTA), and the ability of National Rail to win back some of the long distance freight rail has lost to road over the years.
The significant increase in funds needed to maintain the Hume Highway is also noted, including $50 million in 1992-93 as against $120 million for construction that year. Most of this maintenance is needed for high road freight tonnages, including over 5 million tonnes (MT) moved by truck between Sydney and Melbourne as against less than 2 MT by rail. Yet, the report gives no discussion for the need for improved cost recovery from heavy trucks, or the value of an improved rail system for line haul freight to make life safer and easier for motorists.
The NRMA report argues that the remaining undivided Hume Highway should be brought to freeway standard by the year 2000. With the ongoing improvements to date including the Yass Bypass opened in July 1994, the most heavily trafficked sections (with the exception of Albury) and the worst "Black Sections" (with higher road crash incidences) of the Hume Highway have now been, or will soon be, bypassed.
What is left includes sections like the $70 million Bookham Bypass, with a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of only 0.8.This BCR is less than for upgrading the existing Sydney-Melbourne railway from its present "steam age" alignment with steep ruling grades and numerous tight curves to modern Fast Freight Train standards. Whilst one would be pleasantly surprised to see the NRMA put rail upgrading ahead of Hume Highway upgrading, the fact is that there are many road works awaiting a start with a BCR larger than 2. Should not the NRMA be supporting these instead of a gold plated Hume Highway?
The other issue where the NRMA is tacitly supporting the road freight industry is its silence on the backdown by the NSW Government to conditionally accept the heavy truck registration fees proposed by the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC). As well as costing NSW $45 million net a year in lost revenue, the NRTC charges will halve present NSW fees for the heaviest six axle semitrailers and slash B-Double registration fees from about $14,000 to $5500. The NRMA now accepts that these new charges are less than perfect, and should be seen as a starting point to develop better mass-distance charging.
This is in stark contrast to the NRMA position in the late 1980s that each private motorist in NSW was cross-subsidising the road freight industry by $100 (per car) and that the NRMA supported no increase in truck weights and B-Doubles until a fairer system of cost recovery was introduced.
Choices like these are currently before the Federal Government, and the National Transport Planning Taskforce.
NEW BUS TIMETABLES
State Transit altered a number of bus timetables commencing 21st November. For detailed information on these or any other public transport services, ring 13 1500 (6a.m. - 10p.m.).
The Riverina XPT is being replaced by a daylight train to Melbourne for seven months from 13th December. APT are told that the deal between New South Wales and Victoria is on terms very favourable to the latter. Our Melbourne counterparts are concerned that the train will be seen by their Public Transport Corporation as competing with the P.T.C.'s Albury buses.
A tilt train from Sweden will be on trial in New South Wales for
three months and will then go back to Sweden. This trial coincides
with the forthcoming election campaign. APT would prefer to see the
resources expended on track re-alignment to make long-distance
freight services faster.
Meanwhile, the state's highway upgrading goes on.
APT have raised concerns about pedestrian access between the proposed Technology Park (former Eveleigh railway workshops) and Redfern station. The derelict pedestrian overbridge at the western end of the station has now been closed (Aug. 1989 newsletter). The Department of Planning has acknowledged the importance of facilitating access to the station. CityRail's train-operations boffins plan a new mid-platform concourse, which would lengthen walking distances to trains, but most passengers and some planners would prefer a concourse at each end of the platforms.
Readers will be aware that most Tangara trains have at last been fitted with non-squealing brake shoes, but you may not have realised that nearly all seats in some cars have been raked backwards 5 degrees; APT have been quite impressed by the better comfort.
The disappointing thing is that it took CityRail seven years to make it happen; people have been complaining about those seats since they were introduced in 1987.
Of course, the seat backs still do not fit the average adult's back. The lumbar curve, which was made too low, has not changed.
WARRINGAH TRANSPORT COMMITTEE
APT are attending the public meetings held to publicise the findings of the committee set up to advise on the best transport developments for the north-east. Readers would know that the large committee has worked hard and reduced the forty-eight options to six for workshops and public comment.
It has been very encouraging to see the people of Warringah recognising that to provide more road space would be shortsighted, whether done by building a freight route or otherwise. Unsurprisingly, Mosman people have been harder to convince of the virtues of public transport; this is because the present services through Mosman are frequent and are so fast, because of the Warringah Expressway, that materially improving them would be extremely expensive.
APT therefore wonder why the mayors of some of the local councils
involved persist in pressing for light rail via Mosman. On the other
hand, we have been pleased that no-one wants a new road bridge across
Middle Harbour; perhaps the extreme ugliness of the huge new Glebe
Island bridge punching its way into the Sydney skyline has taught the
BUS TRAVEL SPEEDS AGAIN
Regular readers would be aware that public transport services should be given priority over other road traffic; they lose patronage if not competitive with the travel times of cars. Bus operators say that the bus lanes now appearing on some main roads are only just the beginning; expected slowing-down of traffic due to chronic congestion will undermine bus services unless priority is given. Also, the fact that some buses take very much longer than others on the same road will need countering. Readers will also remember announcements that the bus services taken out of Crow's Nest and run along the Gore Hill Freeway would be 17 minutes quicker. Well, timetables are being redrawn because increased traffic on Epping Road (caused by the Freeway) is slowing the services down and of course Crow's Nest is still worse off than before the freeway bus services were established. State Transit estimates that traffic on Epping Road has increased by 10,000 vehicles per day since the Freeway.
FOR FREEWAYS FIVE THE RTA LIES
APT were interested to gain some insight into Roads and Traffic Authority reasoning. As is now well-known, this over-powerful body is absolutely determined to 'solve' Sydney's transport problems by building roads. In particular, it intends to build the so-called Sydney Orbital which will make Sydney the only city in the world to have an orbital" road passing through its centre. Orbitals or beltways in other cities have led, to urban-fringe developments and greater car dependence. So strong is RTA determination to build roads that it is prepared to tell lies in order to help roads through the assessment process and to arrange financing in ways which have now attracted the Auditor-General's critical attention. Although some of the blame for this may be due to politicians, it is nevertheless clear that RTA engineers need no encouragement from above. On 19th October, a press conference was held by Hon. Richard Jones MLC supported by several transport and environment groups. The conference called for a wide-ranging inquiry into the RTA. A senior RTA executive arrived uninvited so that he could respond to the media on the spot. Of course, what the RTA wants is to prevent those issues from being debated in public.
We don't quite know what the RTA is being so defensive about. We suspect that they do not want the public to accept that traffic congestion is not relieved by road-building but in fact caused by it. The recent U.K. Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution report (see For Your Library below) suggests that 40% of traffic on the London M25 orbital was generated by constructing that road. traffic and its side-effects should be allowed for in RTA modelling, especially as tollway companies allow for it (and rely on it for their turnover) in their calculations. It could be concern over the Government's AAA credit rating and Loan Council standing; however these are now under threat from the Auditor-General's interpretation of greater public debt. It could be from monitoring the trend in public opinion and seeing a trend about to reach a majority where the political process can no longer provide protection. Maybe it's all of these.
A brief radio interview later that day cast some light on the matter. A senior RTA executive made clear that roads are not only for people in cars but are also, in RTA policy, needed for commercial traffic such as freight which could never use public transport. Of course this is almost as fallacious as the passenger traffic argument. Demand for freight transport is just as much a function of land-use patterns as is passenger transport. These land-use patterns are in large measure due to RTA road-building policies. Anyway, existing roads can carry the commercial traffic essential to the community's access needs if other less essential traffic is removed and the commercial traffic is calmed to move in a manner acceptable to others.
The "roads are needed for trucks" view is being used to justify the M2 and M5 East tollways. This would be fine if trucks fully paid for these roads and no new traffic was generated. However the tollway revenue from expanded car use is being used to fund the "truck route" in a cynical financial package that violates the community interest. There is a significant cost imposed on society by the inefficient structure which over-relies on road freight and the "just-in-time" delivery philosphy it represents. One finds warehousing organised to minimise travel time in the freight industry with no recognition of the extra travel which will be needed by other people, particularly by people who don't have cars.
AIRPORT RAIL LINK
Since the August issue of this newsletter, the new line has become known as the New Southern Railway. It will permit train travellers from the south-west (but not Liverpool or Bankstown) to get to the airport easily by train. With either an interchange station or a rail junction at Cook's River, it could also serve the Illawarra line; we trust that this will be provided. The line will likewise permit quick travel by rail to the airport from the eastern suburbs and the North Shore. It will effectively be the two extra tracks needed between Sydenham and Erskineville. It will help justify the eventual connection to Badgery's Creek airport via Liverpool. Importantly, it is more likely to succeed financially if the M5 East tollway (General Holmes Drive to Beverley Hills) is not built because they partially share a market and it will help reduce Sydney's over-reliance on road transport.
The environmental impact statement will be open for comment until 17th December. APT have already met with CityRail and argued for individual evaluation of each element of the eastern (Botany Road) alignment option instead of the dismissal of that option on cost grounds alone. These elements are underground track connection at Central, an interchange station at Redfern, and a Botany Road location for the Mascot station.
Several points are not yet clear. APT sincerely hope that through-ticketing with all other rail services will be possible, notwithstanding the private operation. The $6 airport fare will not apply to passengers who ride under the airport between other points.
There has been some controversy about whether the deal granted by the Government is too generous. APT understand that if the Link had been put to tender, it would have been impossible to construct the line and have it operating in time for the Olympic Games.
WHY SYDNEY HAS ROAD CONGESTION
According to the Sydney Morning Herald (27 Oct) 90% of individuals earning more than $150,000, and 56% of those on $50,000 to $60,000 receive a company car as an employee benefit.
Guess who's causing peak hour road congestion and not paying for it.
FOR YOUR DIARY
The Ecological City - Achieving Reality - conference, Brisbane, 16-19 November. $200. Department of Housing & Regional Development, (06) 241 7485.
New Southern Railway - pub night, 3 December, Surry Hills. The speaker is accounting professor Bob Walker. Urban Environment Coalition, (02)698 7461.
Urban Road Transport - conference, Sydney 7-8 December with a third day on efficiency in freight. With one exception, the programme reads like a Who's Who of the road lobby, including ex-DMR chiefs. IIR (02)954 5844.
UITP 51st Congress Paris, 28 May to 2 June 1995. Union Internationale des Transports Publiques, Ave. de l'Urugiiay 19, Brussels, Belgium.
Making Cities Livable - conference and exhibition, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, 5-9 September 1995. Dr S Crowhurst Lennard, P.O. Box 7586, Carmel, California 93921.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Transport and the Environment - report 2674 of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. UKP 30 from Her Majesty's Stationery Office or see the report in The Weekly Telegraph number 173 at page 4. Also see:
(a) The Economist of 8th October at pages 68-69
(b) The Economist of 29th October at pages 62 and 67
(c) New Scientist of 5th November at pages 3 and 6
(d) New Scientist of 12th November at pages 14-15
(e) Australian Financial Review of 14th November
(f) The Age of 19th November - several articles. Curbing Gridlock, Special Report 242, Transportation Research Board, Commission on Behavioural & Social Sciences & Education, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington D.C. U.S.A. Registered September 1994. Vol. 1 Summary. Volume 2. We found these in the RTA library. They state clearly that roadbuilding does not cure congestion; perhaps the RTA don't read their own books.
Hell on Wheels no. 2 - newspaper opposed to the MS East. Available from TAGAM, P.O. Box 333, Bexley.
Liquid Petroleum is Peaking - Decline of the Age of Oil. Paper by Brian J Fleay. $10 + $1.50 post. Occasional paper 3/94 from Institute for Science and Technology Policy, Murdoch 6150.
Roads of Doom (a Nick Possum mystery) - comic about an unfortunate city not unlike Sydney. Les Robinson and comrade. $2 from LinkUp, P. 0. Box 707, Darlingurst.
Transport and Urban Development - Workshop papers #2 from Australian Urban & Regional Development Review. Order from Minister for Housing & Regional Development, Canberra.
Metropolitan Planning in Australia: Trends and Prospects - Workshop papers #3 from Australian Urban & Regional Development Review as above.
Urban Public Transport Futures - Workshop papers #4 from Australian Urban & Regional Development Review as above.
Getting Around - article on public transport in Choice, September. Shows consumer opinions around Australia. Overleaf is a comparison of fares and fuel prices in various countries.
Driving the N.R.M.A. off the Road - article in Green Left Weekly, 21 September, which presents a view of the demutualisation rather different from the N.R.M.A. view.
Speed - film set in a milieu of Los Angeles transport.
Take a deep breath - article on air pollution in The Economist, 17th September.
The Economics of Traffic Congestion - article by Arnott and Small, American Scientist, October. Argues that road-expansion fixes do not cure congestion and can even make it worse. Transport Policy and Global Warming - seminar proceedings published by European Conference of Ministers of Transport. ISBN 92-821-1188-1, available from D.A. Information Services (03)8734411.
Refocusing Road Reform - book by John B Cox, Business Council of Australia. Argues that there are micro-economic benefits in fostering road construction in Australia's cities. Totally ignores generated traffic.