THEY NEED RAILS
Drivers of supplementary bus services getting lost - two services from city into Chatswood on 8 Feb separately took wrong freeway exits and arrived from unusual directions - one via Lane Cove shops, one via Victoria Ave east. Fortunately, no-one seemed to mind very much.
STILL MORE MOTORWAYS
Sydney's radial motorway system seems likely to be completed with the airport motorway (officially but inaccurately known as the Eastern Distributor) and the M5 East due for determination soon. A new player in the car lobby is the Infrastructure Trust of Australia, which presented its view of roads investment opportunities in a prospectus issued in November. The prospectus did,not mention oil supply questions, nor the question of whether roads were economically viable (which is different from being financially viable). However, it described the whole Orbital road-plan as dating from Roads 2000, which was issued during the Brereton ministry in 1987; it ignored later documents which acknowledged the need to reduce dependence on motor vehicles.
The proposed airport tollway has been examined by APT's consultant and found to be totally uneconomic. Unfortunately, its promoters have made considerable strides by dividing its enemies into those opposed to all of it and those who would be mollified by making the Woolloomooloo end less intrusive. Simply, there's too much talk about burying it and not enough about killing it.
Constructing it will require an Act of Parliament in order to alter Moore Park; an early return of Parliament has been requested by Hon Ian Cohen, MLC, who is strongly opposed to the proposal.
The MS East motorway, although not as economically undesirable as the airport tollway, is little more than a huge public subsidy to two private roads (the present MS and the airport tollway, which is in turn a boost to the Harbour-Tunnel). APT lodged submissions opposing each.
There is a scheme which will extend bus lanes to a number of streets in the Sydney CBD and enable through-routing of buses from suburb to suburb without them terminating in the City. The scheme is to be implemented progressively from mid 1997.
We have managed to get enforcement onto the agenda. Lack of enforcement of Sydney's transit lanes and clearways has rendered them ineffective, at times of peak congestion over a number of years. Ironically, tow-trucks are often seen removing cars from the out-bound clearway lane in City Road past Sydney University (which is not a serious bottleneck) while enforcement though the narrow Newtown stretch is erratic. Our appeals for improved enforcement have been dismissed by police authorities, who refuse to accept our rationale that increased surveillance is justified. (Sixty to eighty percent of vehicles in transit lanes are there illegally.) Never let it be said that the Traffic Police indulge in revenue-raising, for here is one sure revenue raiser, which they ignore.
A similar plan in Brisbane has been criticised by the conservative RACQ motoring lobby as "traffic management by congestion" (Bris. Courier-Mail, Dec). Regular readers of this newsletter will be aware that congestion has a positive value!
APT would also like to see other measures taken to improve bus time-keeping, such as reducing delays at busy bus-stops.
Sydney Ferries plans to introduce a fleet of small high-speed catamarans on its inner harbour services to replace its current fleet. The attraction for Sydney Ferries is that these vessels can be operated with two crew, whereas their current fleet require three. There are many problems with smaller vessels, including:
As noted last year by the Pricing and Review Tribunal, ferries carry only about 6000 people to work-each day yet are famous. Boats won't last forever - the Lady class must be replaced soon, the First Fleet catamarans will follow and the Rivercats must go by 2005. Ferry services are heavily subsidised, especially the Parramatta run which ought to charge $5 each way (whereas many passengers pay only $1 return) and whose wash causes damage, nearby in both mangroves and marinas. Fast travel seems to be held in high regard by Sydney Ferries because it attracts passengers. However, fuel consumption increases sharply as speed increases, much more than it does for trains or road vehicles.
Sydney Ferries has ordered new touch-screen ticket-issuing machines, to be in operation by May 1998. The complicated 1988 machines, you may recall, were blamed for a permanent fall-off in patronage.
This new road, which will increase car dependency in Sydney's north-west, is now set to open on Monday 19th May. There is to be a charity walk along the road early on the Sunday following a low-key media opening on the Saturday. All three days offer obvious opportunities for anti-M2 protesters outside the fence.
The scope of the works suggested by consultants Connell Wagner to ease the traffic problems around Lane Cove which will result from the M2 opening has only recently become public; they should manifestly have been taken into account in budgeting but weren't, because the RTA denied that there would be any new traffic problems. Interestingly, Connell Wagner did not assume that the airport tollway would be built (it would increase M2 traffic), perhaps because their report was delayed for more than a year.
The matter of bus services along the M2 has been considered by
Rust-PPK in a report M2 Transit-Way Demand Study with
Plans of Management for the M2 Transit-Way.
It seems likely that many buses will want to use the M2 east of Epping,
provided that the Lane Cove transit lanes permit them to move freely;
however the transit way was designed so that buses using it must exit at Epping.
The road is being altered there to permit buses to continue east.
Buses will operate on the M2 busway from opening day.
WORLD BANK SPONSORS WORK ON CITIES DATABASE
Murdoch University's Peter Newman has just returned from presenting his latest research on transport efficiency in cities to the World Bank in Philadelphia. He reports that, in large cities, car dependence reduces city wealth, contrary to the professed beliefs of many politicians and financiers. He asserts that the need for subsidies can't be used as an argument against expand in a big city's transit systems, because larger transit systems need less subsidy, not more. Nor can road expansion be claimed to reduce road accidents, because it leads to more driving and hence more accidents. He repeats his earlier finding that rail ser vice attract more investment to nearby land, than do buses.
STATION ENVIRONMENTS AND AESTHETICS
There are plans to build a shopping centre over Campsie railway station. APT urge anybody with an interest in urban design to help us ensure that we don't get a repeat of the drab dungeons of Kogarah, North Sydney and Hurstville stations.
There are also plans to build bus-train interchanges at Merrylands and Liverpool.
APT are commencing negotiations for better bus-rail transfer at Redfern. We would appreciate input from users of this interchange.
INFORMATION FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT USERS
You're not the only one to have difficulty getting public transport information. The transport authorities' infoline 131500 takes about 9000 calls per day. The telephone switchboard computer crashed one day recently when it received 153 calls in one minute.
APT have found a bus in current use with not only a rear route number, but a rear destination sign! It's a minibus run on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland). Is it the only one in Australia?
REVIEW OF STRATEGIC TRAVEL MODEL
Consultants for the Transport Data Centre of the NSW Department of Transport are redesigning the 1971 Sydney Strategic Travel Model, with a view to improving the predictive capability of the travel demand model used by the TDC. Several government, professional, academic and community representatives, including APT, attended recent stakeholder workshops to discuss it. We pressed for the model to recognise the effect of relative speed on choice of travel mode e.g. car versus public transport.
Unfortunately, funds are limited, which will force some approximations to be made.
SCULLY MEETS A.P.T.
APT met with the Minister for Roads, the Hon Carl Scully, M.P., at Merrylands on 18 February.
We showed the Minister our proposal to stimulate interest in public transport in and around his electorate in the industrial heartland of Sydney's west. We will research and promote a transit system connecting the Smithfield area with both Liverpool and Parramatta, unlike major roads in the local network which bypass such centres.
Mr Scully helpfully provided APT with some contacts.
STATE TRANSIT CORPORATE PLAN
State Transit has release a draft of its 5-year Corporate Plan. Public submissions have been called for (closing 21 March); copies can be obtained by ringing 9245-5777.
The draft makes no mention of land-use issues. It discusses bus priority as a means for speeding-up bus services but does not suggest that any attempt will be made to reduce the proportion of passengers who buy tickets from bus drivers. Nor does it indicate that any other steps will he taken to reduce delays at bus stops, which is a significant factor in the bunching of buses along trunk routes in the inner suburbs and hence in poor timekeeping.
CAR PARKING IN INNER SUBURBS
Leichhardt Council is letting car parks run to excess, apparently because of pressure from shopkeepers who say (falsely) that their trade depends on car parking. (The work by Newman quoted above is relevant). This over-reliance on cars works against public transport. Leichhardt has excellent bus services; why weaken them?
The larger proposals include: Gladstone Park reservoir (160 spaces),
Grace Bros. site (1900, plus more across Bay St), Balmain Woolworths
(320), Beatty St (90), the Leichhardt former Italian Forum site
(800), the Medich site also in Norton St (600), adding up to about
4000. The above should be seen in the perspective
that the four business centres in the municipality have only 614 car
spaces at present.
CITY INFO SYSTEM
Sydney City Council is planning for electronic information kiosks to be installed in bus shelters and similar sites in mid 1998. APT will be expressing our views, given the problems we've experienced with CityRail's electronic train departure indicators, and State Transit's electronic Airport Express bus information panels (at Eddy Avenue and the airport).
ANOTHER WAY TO INCREASE ROAD CAPACITY
On Sydney's Fitzroy-Fouveaux Streets corridor, State Transit carries over 65% of the travellers on just 19% of the vehicles.
The observer could be pardoned for wondering exactly where the NSW
Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, under minster Knowles,
stands in relation to the urban environment.
After all, Mr Knowles is the minister who is supposed to oversee the
Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, and has express duties under that
Act. Section 7 provides:
[...] the Minister is charged with the responsibility of promoting and co-ordinating environmental planning and assessment [...] and, in discharging that responsibility, shall have and may exercise the following functions:, and disseminate information including the issue of memoranda, reports,
(a) to carry our research into problems of environmental planning and assessment and disseminate information including the issue of memoranda, reports, bulletins, maps or plans relating to environmental planning and assessment,
(c) to promote the co-ordination of the provision of public utility and community services and facilities within the State,
(d) to promote planning of the distribution of population and economic activity within the State,
(e) to investigate the social aspects of economic activity and population distribution in relation to the distribution of utility services and facilities,
(f) to monitoring progress and performance in environmental plan ning and assessment, and to initiate the taking of remedial action where necessary.
While no-one could say that the DUAP doesn't issue plenty of memoranda and maps (most of them showing "travel demand lines" precisely where the RTA wants to build new roads), there is a distinct absence of guidance towards policies like reducing Sydney's current over-reliance on the motor car. In particular, no visible steps whatsoever have been taken by DUAP or its antecedents towards remedial action in environmental planning since 1987, when the then Department undertook the job of assessing the then Department of Main Roads' statement of the environmental impact of the Harbour Tunnel; (With admirable candour, they described their sister Department's statement as "a sales document"!). Unrestrained, the RTA has gone from strength to strength in twisting the facts and rules in assessment of its roads proposals.
DUAP sometimes runs large meetings where lots of noise is made but nothing is accomplished. A good example is the "Metro Forum" on 6 November which was supposed to discuss the problems of the Sydney metropolis. However, the huge guest list and vague agenda ensured that nothing could be accomplished; for example, two Port Stephens councillors were there enjoying DUAP's hospitality. What do the affairs of distant Port Stephens have to do with planning a city of over three million?
An election promise of the Carr government was to stop the rort of organisations assessing their own pet projects, such as the RTA awarding itself the right to decide whether roads should be built. Lip-service was paid to this policy by providing that the Minister for Planning should assess and determine such projects. However, the minister has not been exercising the power thus given to him - e.g. on 5 September power to determine the Elizabeth Drive upgrading was effectively restored to the RTA when the Minster gave permission for the RTA to determine the project and proceed with it if thought fit.
Recently, DUAP took positive action to simplify the approval process for a major road. On 3rd January, the airport tollway route was brought under a new State Environmental Planning Policy. According to the Minster, the road was "critical to the completion of the Sydney orbital link road" (Herald, 4 January). Well, blind Freddy could see that the so-called Orbital road is not "orbital"; building it would make Sydney the only city in the world with an "Orbital" road passing through its centre! Our Orbital is actually two radials (the M2 and the M5) connected by the airport tollway et al in the east and by Elizabeth Drive in the west. Even if it was orbital, other cities with well-known (and true) orbital roads, like London's M25 or Paris' Peripherique, have discovered that orbitals do not solve all the transport problems, but rather that they create and/or worsen some problems, and that they cost.
The U.K. Government has acknowledged that roadbuilding creates new traffic, which must be allowed for in planning. Also, they have issued a planning document PPG 13 (Planning Policy Guideline 13, 1995, ISBN 0-11-752586-3) which advises local authorities to reduce growth in the length and number of motorised journeys, to encourage alternative means of travel with less environmental impact, and to reduce reliance on the private car. However our N.S.W. DUAP has done nothing as useful. Why do we keep them? Similar remarks could perhaps be made about the new Ministry of Urban Infrastructure and Management, who after several months seem to have done nothing. Time will tell.
The federal Department of Primary Industry and Energy has issued a green paper called Sustainable Energy for Australia available from them at GPO Box 858 Canberra 2601 or at http://www.dpie.gov.au/resources.energy/energy/greenpaper/greenpaper.html Submissions, closing on 31 January, were called for.
APT and several kindred interests lodged submissions attacking the green paper, which seems to be an ill-informed attempt to let wasteful practices continue for the sake of business profits.
Plans have been put on display for a major revamp of Railway Square and for adjustments to George Street as far north as Bathurst Street. They can be inspected at Sydney City Council until 3 April. APT suggest that your submission should include a request for tram-style shelters at the George-Hay bus interchange stops.
The Department of Transport has begun an investigation to see what is desirable and feasible. Three-quarters of STA bus trips are prepaid somehow but private bus systems generally take cash fares on boarding, so integration will take considerable effort.
Increasing road capacity to cater for traffic growth should be considered a short term solution only - the NRMA's Roads and Environment manager, quoted in SMH of 20 Jan.
Sydney will be in for a chaotic Olympics unless the Carr Government recognises that public transport must be made its number one priority - Peter Collins, NSW Opposition, 13 Jan.
The Eastern Distributor will [...] improve urban amenity - RTA advt. in SMH of 8 Feb.
FOR YOUR DIARY
MS East Motorway submissions closed 4th March with the RTA's Blacktown office. This radial freeway is inimical to good public transport development. It's not too late to write to the Premier urging him to call off the airport tollway and the MS East and instead spend the money on public transport where it's needed.
Winning Back Sydney - the transport crisis. Public meeting, Sydney Town Hall, 6pm, 6th March. Enquiries 9247-4080.
Fares Review of CityRail and State Transit - submissions close 7th April with I.P.A.R.T. Enquiries 9290-8400.
New Airport - putting it outside Sydney - conference, 3 May all day, Petersham Town Hall. Enquiries Ms Cornwall, Total Environment Centre, 9247-4714.
Pathways to Sustainability - conference, Newcastle, 2-6 June. http: //www.iclei.org/1a21/nc_conf.html organised by the Nature Conservation Council.
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Public Transport Alliance (Brisbane), 7 Marston Aye, Indooroopilly 4068. Convenor Michael Yeates (07)3371-9355.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Victorian Transport Externalities Study - 1994, 4 volumes. ISBN 0-7306-2813-2. Shows clearly that they accept as given that expanding road capacity to relieve congestion will generate traffic. Available for $35 posted from Environment Protection Authority, 477 Collins St, Melbourne.
Benefit Cost Analysis Manual AP42 - published by Austroads, written by a committee including NSW RTA representation. Recognises that road amplifications generate traffic, such as trips diverted from public transport, and provides a basis for costing it. ISBN 0-85588-473-8, $30 from the RTA.
PPG13 - Planning Policy Guidance note on transport (U.K.), March 1994. Aims to reduce growth in the length and number of motorised journeys and to encourage alternatives to the private car. ISBN 0-11-752941-9, available from HMSO (which will in future be known as The Stationery Office).
PPG6 - Planning Policy Guidance note on town centres and retail developments (U.K.), June 1996. Its aims include ensuring that new retail developments are accessible by a choice of means of transport. ISBN 0-11-753294-0, available from HMSO.
Hell on Wheels - anti-motorway newspaper published occasionally. Two recent issues concern the airport tollway and the MS East respectively. Copies available from APT free.
The Case for Electric Vehicles - article in Scientific American, November. States that "it is unlikely that oil prices will remain at their current low level or that other nations will accept a large and growing U.S. contribution to global climatic change" (how about the Australian contribution?) Does not show where the energy for a whole fleet of electric cars will come from.
Land Transport Infrastructure - Priorities and Reform. Paper by Nelson English in AAA Motoring Directions 4:2. Unusually, the motoring clubs publicise the opposite view to their stock line. Available from the Australian Automobile Association, Canberra.
Mixed Use Developments - an information paper. $25 posted from Queensland Dept. of Tourism, Small Business and Industry, Explores possibilities for reducing our travel needs, and hence car ownership, consistent with New Urbanism. GPO Box 1141, Brisbane 4001.
Car-free Ottawa - several relevant papers. http://www.flora.ocunix.on.ca/afo/
Bus industry's vital role in Sydney Olympic Games - article in Truck & Bus Transportation, January.
Words alone will not clear smog - article in New Scientist, 26 October. The real unanswered question is how to get people out of their cars.