APT offer the following as planks for candidates to put in their policy platforms for the State election on March 25th:
This State Transit Authority ticket, which provides ten bus trips, is sold in full-price and concession versions. The later, costing $3.85, used to be available to pensioners but is now for use by children and students only. APT do not know what was accomplished by its partial withdrawal - the pensioners were not great users of it because they can buy all-day all-mode excursion tickets for a fixed $1.
The downside of the change is the extra stopping time taken by buses because individual 60c tickets are being sold to passengers who might well have bought them ten at a time in advance.
STATE GOVERNMENT REPORTS
Two reports were released by the State government late last year on topics which suggest that they ought to have canvassed the pros and cons of managing travel demand - the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Vehicle Emissions and the report of the E.P.A. working party on traffic noise. Travel demand management is widely regarded as an important part of any serious attempt to limit growth in car usage but the private motor lobby seems to regard it as infringing personal rights.
Only the Emissions report paid any regard to the possibility of government policies having any effect on traffic volumes and only to a limited extent. On the other hand, the Noise report regarded traffic growth as inevitable and tried to find ways to reduce the numbers of residences affected by noise.
APT are disappointed that neither of the two saw much future in trying to influence the growth of traffic. You deserve leaders who are capable of leading and who don't shrug their shoulders at something they incorrectly regard as too difficult.
APPEAL ON DECISION
Readers will be aware that only a dwindling number of road projects proposed by the RTA will be formally approved by the RTA. Legislative changes coming into effect mean that in future no authority will be able to approve its own proposals.
One of the last RTA road projects to be determined by the RTA itself is the amplification of the Pacific Highway between Lyons Road and Englands Road, on the southern outskirts of Coff's Harbour. Predictably, the official decision was that the project should proceed - the RTA would not willingly find against one of its own road proposals.
APT have obtained a copy of the decision document. We have found it to contain several errors of fact, many errors of law, and many serious clerical errors which undermine any decision relying on it. We are seeking to have the decision formally reviewed on grounds including its ignoring the vital question of generated traffic. Stay tuned.
State Rail's Strategic Plan (1994-2016) and the RTA's State Road Network Strategy were released in a television spectacle on 10th January. APT's impression is that the RTA wants to continue roadbuilding while masquerading as a department performing "traffic demand management", and still wants to appease the road lobby. The generation of extra traffic by road-works is still not recognised.
Contradictions in the RTA document include:
The final Integrated Transport Strategy and "Cities for the 21st Century" strategy issued on 13th February. It seems to APT's eyes that nothing has changed except a new euphemism for freeways: "strategic transport corridors which will stimulate the economy".
LOCAL COUNCILS JON THE ROAD LOBBY
APT were concerned at what we heard of a conference on "transport" organised by the Local Government Association of N.S.W. We understand that the word "bicycle" was not heard all day and that public transport was likewise practically ignored. We have obtained a copy of the proceedings and intend contacting two of the speakers for further details of their platforms. We are disappointed that the Association did not present both sides of the transport picture.
NEW CITYRAIL TIMETABLES
These commenced on 5 February. Generally, there are a few more off-peak services. Weekend all-stations trains between Redfern and Burwood have been doubled to four per hour.
This corresponds with a customer wish noted by CityRail's Lucio di Bartolomeo (Herald, 28 January) for better off-peak and weekend services. There was an increase in frequencies on the Bankstown line in the July timetable.
The timetable booklets do not carry the phone number (281 4244) for the recorded message on train running.
PROMOTION OF "EASY ACCESS"
Endeavour trains have been operating since March 1994 on outer CityRail lines. Each train has a wheelchair space. In that time, only two wheelchairs have been carried, according to CityRail.
We would like the same groups which successfully lobbied for the easy access to promote its use, The reputation of public transport will not be enhanced if resources are absorbed to little benefit. One argument used in advocating easy access is that there would be savings in subsidised taxi facilities; these savings are presumably not being realised if the patronage levels mentioned above are any indication.
FOREIGN EXPERT SPEAKS IN SYDNEY
On 8th February, APT were guests of the RTA at a lecture given by
Professor Lee Schipper, an American expert on transport and energy.
We concur with his opinion that there are many interactions among
factors such as energy prices, social interests, etc. We were
disappointed that he did not offer any solutions nor did he have an
opinion on generated traffic. However, he recognised that there are
huge externalised costs of cars in large cities.
PARRAMATTA-HORNSBY RAIL PROPOSAL
This project is currently in Phase 1 of the community consultation process involving "key stakeholders". A value management workshop on 31st January attempted to identify preferred options for both the route and the mode to be used. Most options utilise the present Carlingford railway corridor. As with most transport planning in Sydney, political expediency may once again have placed artificial constraints on the planners' ability to produce the best solution for the community. In this case, the Premier's Parramatta by-election (July 1994) statement committing the project to the tortuous Carlingford line corridor appears to have disadvantaged other routes which in the longer term might have provided much faster travel times between (say) Warringah and Parramatta.
A brochure describing the proposal is available from Rust-PPK on 743-0333.
BUS SERVICES - NEW PROMOTION
Coinciding with the re-opening of Luna Park in January, Sydney Buses did a commendable marketing job in the Milson's Point area. APT congratulate them.
WARRINGAH TRANSPORT PROPOSALS
The tedious process continues of trying to get a large committee (and the community which it represents) to agree on how best to serve the Warringah area. Unfortunately, Mosman Council still cannot see that its and everybody's interests would be served by public transport.
APT are happy that the need for rail public transport appears to be a given, with the primary focus of the committee being on which corridor rather than which technology or even which mode. The high cost is a lasting issue that will be unlikely to get resolved at election time, considering the safe Liberal nature of the area.
M2 BUS WAY FARCE
Outgoing transport minister Baird has frequently mentioned its pseudo-busway lanes in defending the M2 tollway. The lanes run from Epping to Windsor Road, Baulkham Hills. They are easy to fault in that they are difficult for passengers to reach (except at Pennant Hills Road) and that they take passengers east to trains which don't go east, which is not consistent with minimising travel time. The tollway consortium indicated at the outset that it was not keen on constructing them, which is understandable as the lanes may reduce toll takings. Nevertheless, it would have been politically difficult to omit the lanes and so the consortium agreed to build them.
The first detail to go was the low kerb which separated the busway from the general lanes. Then, during January, the consortium told residents that "the railway" had objected to details of the planned bus-rail interchange at Epping and that the difficulty was insurmountable. The traffic needed to produce the desired tollgate revenue will need extra lanes at peak hour. APT suspect that the consortium is trying to change the bus lanes into defacto extra lanes for general traffic. The expected traffic admitted in the Environmental Impact Statement was not as high as that forecast to prospective investors.
If, like the bus lanes, the extra lanes terminate at Beecroft Road
there will be considerable extra traffic in Epping and more tollgates
will have to be constructed. On the other hand, if the extra lanes
continue east to North Ryde, the M2 will have to be wider than has
been approved for construction.
CIRCULAR QUAY - ONE STEP FORWARDS, TWO BACK
Some readers would have participated in the Keys Young public consultation in relation to Circular Quay which concluded in December. The consultation had been organised by the Government. There was considerable awareness of the Quay's importance as as a transport interchange, especially between bus and other modes.
Unfortunately, much of this has been short-circuited by a City Council land deal at Circular Quay East, which has taken away some of the parking space used by buses waiting to start. The result is that several George Street services now wait in Phillip Street, having set down their last passengers near the Phillip and Bridge Streets intersection. This has greatly increased waking distances for bus passengers to The Rocks and to ferry terminals.
INFORMATION FOR PASSENGERS
State Transit buses are progressively being equipped with more legible route number displays, using more easily distinguishable typefonts. The improvement is the result of a user-driven campaign spread over many years.
Private operator Westbus' recent adoption of black numerals on coloured backgrounds for its route numbers has rendered some displays unreadable. On the positive side, Westbus now boasts a 24-hour telephone information line - 8900000 - which is better than the Government's 16 hours.
OPPOSITION TO AIRPORT RAILWAY
At a public meeting on 28th January attended by some 70 people, Tempe residents objected to the proposed use of Tempe Reserve off Holbeach Avenue as a construction site and earth stockpile during the construction of the New Southern Railway. They claimed the E.I.S. was faulty in not having identified Tempe as a "residential" suburb. Deputy opposition leader and local member Andrew Refshauge objected to the proposed railway because it promoted Kingsford Smith Airport rather than his preferred option of Badgery's Creek. He also said it cost taxpayers too much ($600M), sporting bodies lost the use of the reserve, and there was to be no compensation for those inconvenienced.
APT told the meeting that the railway would have a lower long-term impact than the alternative MS and Cook's River Valley motorways and that the construction site could probably be moved to the Boral site in Lusty Street or to a site within the airport boundary. The possible use of the "third" runway to stockpile the 1.3M cu m of earth from the railway tunnels was not discussed!
We hear from Canberra that the news is not good for 1995-96 federal funds for rail. The One Nation programme will not be continued this year, despite the rail fuel excise collection of $150 million a year by the Federal government.
It now appears likely that the Homebush Bay games site will have a "loop" railway line capable of handing the needed 30 trains per hour rather than a "terminal" station (our Nov 1993 issue) whose capacity would have suffered from trains having to change direction.
Some readers may have been surprised to notice a Bus and Coach Association sticker on their bus claiming that buses are the safest form of land transport.
In fact, statistics exist which support this claim. The 1994 Industry Commission report on urban transport cites (page 261) Federal Office of Road Safety and Ecologically Sustainable Development Working Groups figures giving rail fatality figures of 0.2 per 100 million passenger kilometres and bus figures less than half of that.
APT have established from the SRA that the rail figures include suicides, trespassers and/or graffitists and trackside workers. Train passengers are not at significant risk. On the other hand, Federal Office of Road Safety tells us that the bus figures are limited to occupants, distorting the result.
It seems that ordinary passengers are easily forgotten, despite all the hype about "improvements" and transport integration.
NORWEGIAN RESEARCH INTO PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The Norwegian Royal Ministry of Transport and Communications has circulated to journals interested in monitoring public transport experiments, including this one, a set of papers about the Norwegian Trial Scheme for Public Transport. These may be of interest to public transport specialists and user groups. They are in English. Contact us if you would like access to them.
Note that the population of Norway is only about four million, not much more than that of Sydney.
BYE BYE BAIRDIE
Sydney's public transport system has been substantially improved under the stewardship of retiring Transport minister Bruce Baird. Unfortunately, the RTA's unstoppable tollway building programme, and grandiose monuments like the unnecessary Glebe Island bridge, have largely negated those improvements.
Mr Baird has said he is seeking employment in the field of merchant banking. APT note that tollways are financed by banks; Mr Baird's talents would be well known in the field.
MALDON - DOMBARTON RAILWAY
One of new Premier Greiner's first actions on assuming office in 1988 was to cancel this project which was then about 60% complete. It was cancelled even though a large penalty had to be paid to the builder. Interestingly, the same principles were not applied to the Sydney Harbour road tunnel which was then not as far advanced.
At a press conference last month, Premier Fahey mentioned the railway as being a Labor folly, intended to serve a colliery with only about ten years' remaining life. APT disagree.
The line would not only have served Clutha and Tahmoor Mines (several mines) but also have taken coal trains with western coal out of inner Sydney and away from the steep Como bank which necessitates expensive extra locomotives. Generally, it would have greatly eased the constraints which peak-hour passenger operations put on coal trains. On the basis of coal industry export projections made in 1992, and Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics freight rates, the ERDC study in 1993 found a positive net present value with a benefit cost ratio for the new railway of about 1.1, which compares very favourably with the Harbour Tunnel's 0.4.
LABOR'S TOLL POLICY
APT agree with other commentators that state Labor's electoral promise to remove the tolls on various Sydney tollways is foolhardy. At a time when the conservatives are at last talking about getting people out of cars and into public transport. Labor unveils a pork-barrel which will guarantee the opposite!
A recent newspaper story told of a CityRail executive who drives daily into the CBD despite policies that rail staff should use trains where possible He says this is because he often goes home late and because he needs to use the telephone in his car.
APT suggest that he might like to replace his car phone by a hand-held, as used by many train commuters nowadays. Then, if he regularly rode in and after peak hours, he would eventually get caught in some major delay and experience for himself the lack of co-ordination which lesser commuters have been trying to tell his organisation about for years!
FOR YOUR DIARY
World Consumer Rights Day 15 March.
Ticketing Technologies conference, Darling Harbour, 5-6 April. Modern developments for urban transit. (02)210 5777.
Integrating Rail: a Land Transport Strategy - conference, Adelaide, 27-28 April. Organised by consumer group Rail 2000. (08)4101766.
N.S.W. Pricing Tribunal determination of maximum government public transport fares. Public hearing, Ultimo, 8 May. (02)290 8484. Written submissions close 7 April.
World Conference on Transport Research, University of New South Wales, 16-21 July. Enquiries (02)385 3175.
Declining Oil Reserves - talks by Brian Fleay. Various venues, August. If interested, contact APT for details.
AUSRAIL 95 conference, Brisbane, 22-25 August. Finance, logistics, technology, customer service (I), exhibition. (075)45 2555.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Resumed In Protest - The Human Cost of Roads. Book by Nathalie Haymann describing the fight for the Hale Street area of Brisbane. Describes in detail the extended drama which saw the residents evicted and their community killed. Should be read by all ministers of transport and their servants. Published by Bungoona Books. Available from A.P.T, $14.95 plus $2 postage.
Travel Times Australia - new periodical containing timetables for surface public transport all over Australia (city services given in outline only). $4.95 from good newsagents. Very handy for planning car-less holidays.
Trunk Roads and the Generation of Traffic - report from the U.K. Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment 1994. UKP24 from HMSO, ISBN 0-11-551613-1. Suggests that there is a propensity for new trunk roads to generate new travel, especially when the old road was running near capacity and/or where the scope for saving travel time or costs is greatest. Vindicates APT's position on this point.
Transport Access for All - article in Current Affairs Bulletin, Dec-Jan, by Peter Vintila (Murdoch Univ). History of disabled people achieving accessible public transport.
Norwegian Trial Scheme papers as described above.
Annual Report of the R.T.A., 1994 Presents the view from behind the wheel. Pays lip service to environment questions but does not canvass travel demand management. Gives statistics, but not on public interest issues like overloaded trucks.
Warringah Transport Study review by John P. Gerofi. Article in Transit Australia, February. Gives a history of the section 22 Committee convened last year; favours light rail and the Mosman corridor.
Car-Use Reduction Strategy paper published by Total Environment Centre, Shop 1, 88 Cumberland Street, November. 247 4714.