THEY SAID IT
Seen on a site office near the western end of the M2 motorway, a huge sign reading ABI GROUP - PAVING AUSTRALIA. Only if we let them.
ACCESS TO PARRAMATTA - SYDNEY'S 2ND CENTRE
In November 1996, Parramatta Council surveyed 1000 residents. Asked if there was one thing which would make Parramatta a better place, the most popular choice (19.4%) was better public transport. All other options - safety, facilities, cleanliness, council management etc. - rated lower.
FERRY DESTINATION INFORMATION - HOW BUREAUCRACY WORKS
In our May 1993 newsletter, APT drew attention to the confusion and bewilderment among intending ferry passengers, particularly at Darling Harbour, caused by the lack of on-board ferry destination signs.
Much later, when State Transit fitted prototype electronic indicators to its Rivercat ferries, we were quick to point out that any permanent signs should be placed so they cannot be obscured by passengers standing on the deck, and that, if "rolling" lists of stopping places were to be used, each stop should be removed from the display as soon as it had been visited. Otherwise, intending passengers would wrongly conclude that the ferry had yet to stop at wharves which it had already served.
The permanent indicators are now in service. They ARE obscured by people standing on the deck, and they DO list the wharves which have already been served. We asked Sydney Ferries how they got it wrong, and what they were going to do about it. Their response is that passengers are "not supposed" to stand in front of the destination signs.
The signs will continue to be obscured and the information provided by them will continue to be misleading.
BUSES NEED MORE PRIORITY
Sydney Buses have pointed out to APT that serious delays to their buses are actually worse, in some places, outside the peak hour. The example given was Newtown, which has a clearway (cars etc. not permitted to stop at all) during peak hours but allows some parking during most of the day. Sydney Buses have recently been attempting to improve bus timekeeping by having inspectors call individual drivers and directing them to make up time by shortening their trips.
At about 6:30pm on 10th April, a motor organisation's service van was seen parked outside McDonalds at Railway Square on a crest at a pinch point in the road. The van was occupying a bus lane. The next day, a complaint elicited the information that the driver was not aiding motorists in distress but rather buying his dinner. Needless to say, the flow of inbound bus traffic was badly disrupted by one illegally-parked vehicle which bus drivers found very difficult to pass safely.
This example of blocking a bus is typical of what is happening in
transit lanes and even clearways throughout the inner suburbs.
However, there seems to be little public sympathy for the buses. APT
is pressing for transit lanes to receive more police attention to
enforce penalties on drivers who ought not be in those lanes. We
strongly disagree with motoring correspondent David Berthon who said
on air (2CH, 3rd May) that the traffic problems which were likely to
appear in Lane Cove when the M2 opened should be solved by removing
the transit lanes.
CityRail plans to rebuild Ashfield railway station, using an overhead bridge to replace the existing cramped subway, which will be closed. A development application has been lodged with Ashfield Council. Construction of the $7 million facility is expected to commence in January 1998. The bridge design requires commuters, and people just crossing the railway, to negotiate about twice as many steps as they do with the current subway. Lifts will be provided, but they will be inadequate for most commuters.
We have suggested that Council further explore a subway option. By way of precedent, CityRail many years ago recommended an overhead concourse for Parramatta station. In the end, a new subway was built.
P. T. A. C.
The Public Transport Advisory Council ("PTAC") was created by section 45B of the Transport Administration Act, 1996; it includes representatives of public transport users nominated by bodies such as APT. Its duties include advising the Public Transport Authority and the Minister on community expectations of public transport services.
The PTAC have written to APT and other bodies asking for
(i) opinions about performance targets to be set for public transport services
(ii) opinions about how to incorporate community consultation into public transport administration
(iii) suggestions as to possible light rail routes in New South Wales.
FROM THE PAST
environment questions should be taken into account in the review of alternatives to the Eastern Distributor". - APT (then the Save Public Transport Committee) Newsletter, June 1977.
S.R.A. CORPORATE PLAN
The State Rail Authority has issued a draft corporate plan covering the next five years. It says the SRA will implement the International Standards Organisation 1S09000 series quality standards; much of the rest is in railway jargon such as "the need to overcome the trend of accumulated deferred annual component change outs'.
In other words, CityRail's current late-running train problems were caused by trains which break down because they haven't been maintained properly.
The first test of this road was the morning peak of 27th May. Although the M2 itself was used only lightly, inbound traffic was jammed bumper-to-bumper through Lane Cove from about Pittwater Road to Longueville Road. Much of this stretch has a T2 transit lane which cannot be used legally by driver-only cars (quite a few of them were using it, but police were on hand recording infringers). However, the part from Pittwater Road to Stringybark Creek clearly also needed some kind of priority for buses; this is being provided by new pieces of transit lane. Time will tell whether these are sufficient and, if not, whether additional measures are provided.
Westbus' new services along the M2 from Baulkham Hills to the City and Blacktown to Milsons Point have commenced.
Local opponents of the M2 are monitoring traffic levels on the motorway and on parallel routes so that they can form their own conclusions as to the effects of the road. Note that no NSW roadbuilder has ever admitted that expansion of the metropolitan roads network leads to increased traffic.
Traffic planning in New South Wales is so bad that it is only now the Roads Minister is admitting that a tunnel bypassing Lane Cove is necessary.
2ND SYDNEY AIRPORT
An information day on this subject was held at Petersham on 3rd May. Several expert speakers explained that noise and other problems around airports were inevitable in urban areas. Residents and councillors from many districts presented objections to having a new airport near their homes.
On 12th May, a meeting of stakeholders was told that a draft US for
the second airport was expected to be exhibited from about 5th July.
It was therefore urgent for all interests to join forces. It was
hoped that a combined attack on any new airport near Sydney plus a
push for an airport well away from Sydney to be designed as a
replacement for the current Mascot facility might succeed. However,
the differences between the stakeholders seemed insuperable.
WHERE DOES KNOWLES STAND ON NEW HIGHWAYS?
At a conference about the Environmental Impact Study process organised by the Department of Planning and Urban Affairs on 14th April, the Minister (Hon Craig Knowles, MP) arguably put out a call that he intended to say no to the Eastern Distributor, although interpretations of his words vary widely. He also said he would not be considering the matter until July. The announcement that the matter would be rushed through Parliament (with Opposition concurrence) doesn't seem to have moved him.
Subsequently, the cost estimates were referred to the Auditor-General who then expected to take about six weeks to review them; readers may recall that when examining the M2, the Auditor-General did not accept that motorways generate additional traffic. All that seems to have emerged from the audit is that the contract term might be shortened.
STATE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The pro-urban-car consultant John B Cox was hired recently by the Chamber to produce a report favourable to the economics of the airport tollway, otherwise known as the Eastern.Distributor. His report, entitled "Driving Ambition - The Economic Case for the Eastern Distributor", purports to show benefits of over three billion dollars from construction of the road.
Regular readers would already be aware that the projections prepared by the RTA, which has never missed an opportunity to make roads look favourable, show that the motorway will fill to capacity within a few years, and that therefore the benefits will be limited in amount and duration. In fact, a re-calculation by APT's consultant sharply reduced the RTA's benefit-cost estimate from 2.6 to 0.6.
The figures adduced by Cox are in strong contrast; he cites calculations giving a benefit-cost ration of more than 7. His benefits figure of $3 billion is presumably based on no induced traffic, no saturation of the road, and no adverse local impacts; it is thus pure pie-in-the-sky. APT have a copy of Cox's report, should members wish to see it.
CityRail has removed the two-bikes-per-train restriction on its "Endeavour" railcars serving the South Coast, Southern Highlands and Hunter Valley.
ACCESS TO TOWN HALL STATION
Plans for the redevelopment of the former Regent Theatre site in
George St city near Town Hall station show an underground connection
from the building basement to the station's underground concourse.
The tunnel does not link the station and the western footpath of
George St directly. A direct link, similar to that to the eastern
footpath, is what is needed.
The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WESROC) has formed a public transport review committee to monitor and improve public transport operations in their region. The committee will press the Government to release the Greater Western Sydney Public Transport Strategy, and for funding to implement it, subject to acceptability.
WESROC does not seem to realise that the task of improving public transport in the West is continually being made harder by road 'improvements' which are building a Western Sydney that is too low-density to be amenable to good, but economically viable, public transport.
BLOCKING THE PATH
The matter of stall-holders around railway stations obstructing pedestrian traffic by taking over floor space to display their wares has been raised here before. APT recently complained again to CityRail; we have been told that all stall-holder were to be written to reminding them that they must keep to the area specified in their leases.
If you find any violations of this, please notify us.
FARE REVIEW SUBMISSIONS
AN' have recently made a submission to the Independent Pricing And Review Tribunal ("IPART") in the matter of the annual review of CityRail and State Transit Authority fares. Among other things, the submission said that "if there was a need to increase rail ticket revenue, it would be possible and acceptable to reduce the large discounts granted to purchasers of long- distance periodical rail tickets. This discount is much greater than that available to riders of short distances; there is no real reason for the anomaly."
Another submission wanted the ticketing arrangements for buses varied with a view to increasing the proportion of tickets sold before travel. APT understand from Sydney Buses that the proportion of tickets which are bought before boarding has fallen.
Specifically, the submission wanted single-trip prepaid tickets sold at major stops, by vending machines or queue conductors or both; these tickets would be priced somewhat cheaper than tickets sold on boarding yet not as cheap as Travel-Ten tickets. There could even be a few peak services available only to holders of pre-paid tickets, which would reinforce the message. Note that in some overseas cities, bus drivers accept money but never give change; this gives passengers a strong incentive to carry the exact money!
The purpose of this submission was to pave the way for greatly improved timekeeping by buses in the inner suburbs, where the combined effects of heavy traffic and of delays at stops while drivers sell tickets to some passengers, cause serious clustering. Convoys of buses not only cause great difficulties when they all try and stop together, but also increase the average delay to passengers waiting for their bus to arrive.
The current programme of bus priority lanes might reduce the effects of traffic delays if sufficient attention is given to enforcement of these lanes. But the authorities do not seem interested in reducing the number of passengers who delay services by boarding without a ticket. Note that in 1996, IPART engaged consultants to investigate the elasticity of ticket sales with respect to fares; there was no corresponding investigation of the effects of travel time on patronage.
The Federal Department of Transport and Regional Development has issued a 6-page leaflet (similar to http://www.dot.gov.au/programs /avpol/avstats/sydbasin.htm), backed up by a larger document which can be seen at ftp: //cook.dot.gov.au/pub/avstats/sydpaper.doc, showing Sydney's air traffic growing steadily well into the 21st century. For instance, there are supposed to be over twice as many flights in the year 2025 as at present.
Although there is room for disagreement in projecting as far ahead as that, it is clear that aviation fuel will then cost far more than it does now, and that projections should address the issue of to what extent fuel cost increases will raise fares and the effect this might have on travel habits. Even the oil industry now accepts that Australia's domestic oil supplies will be half-exhausted by about 2002, and that there are unlikely to be major discoveries of easily-recovered oil.
Such gross optimism is not limited to the public authorities.
According to a story in the Herald motoring pages on 11 April, Australia has enough reserves to supply compressed natural gas ("CNG") for the next hundred years.
This is totally wrong. Someone has simply divided reserves by current annual production and come up with an answer that is not relevant. In fact, the production peak for Australian CNG will happen by about 2020, after which prices will certainly rise as the easiest fields are exhausted.
DOT "TRANSIT WAYS"
The NSW Department of Transport hired the consultants Rust PPK to produce a map of "transit ways". Their report shows transit ways all over Sydney plus a few around Newcastle and Wollongong. We fear that they plan to run trucks on them, with occasional buses.
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AUTHORITY
This State agency passes comment on all environmental impact statements for large transport infrastructure projects, such as motorways. It is supposed to protect "the environment" but there is dissent within it. Some staff interpret the term "environment" broadly but with others, including high-placed staff, limiting it to the chemical environment without any reference to urban issues such as the accessibility of essential services.
The result is a fairly ineffective watchdog.
FOR YOUR DIARY
High Speed Trains - conference, including scope as altemative to air travel in the 21st century. June 12-13, Canberra. Enquiries to Aerospace Publication (06)280-0111.
Parramatta Mall - public meeting on its future and a proposed tourist tram service. Parramatta Town Hall, 6 p.m., 9 July.
The Transport Challenge - conference, Sydney, 15-17 Sept. Can the Olympic Games produce a sustainable change in people's perceptions of transport? Enquiries 9241-1478.
Energy Conference 97 - focussing on greenhouse gas emissions, Sydney, 3 November. Further details in Greenhouse Challenge Update available from (06) 271-6400 or email Greenhouse.Challenge@dpie.gov.au
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Sustainability Policy of the Institution of Engineers, Nov 1994. http://www.ieaust.org.au/policy! pol_Sustainability . htm
Travel Demand Management in Urban Area Policy of the Institution of Engineers, Nov. 1996.
Bangkok Traffic - Science Show, 2RN, 3 May. Jeff Kenworthy of Murdoch University discusses what happens when cars take over a dense city.
2020 - A Liberal Vision for The Hills. Monograph about Sydney's outer north-western region, published by local (opposition) MP Michael Richardson. Includes discussion of transport problems. Available from his office 9634-7474. Prepared by a hotchpotch of experts, including several whose views differ from APT's. But has your local MP ever published anything comparable for your area?
Sustainable Energy Policy for Australia - Submission to the DoPIE Green Paper by Fleay and Laherrere. $6.50 postpaid from Institute for Science and Technology Policy, Murdoch 6150.
European Traffic - article in Silver Kris, (the Singapore Airlines inflight magazine), April. Tells how public transport may well be the only answer to traffic congestion in European cities and how the EC is promoting it to city authorities. It's a change of theme for air travellers.
Greater Western Sydney Planning and Transport Review and Priorities Study. Executive Summary issued by Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board. Presses for expansion of the roads network to match demand. But, in APT's view, good yet viable public transport cannot develop in such circumstances.
FOR YOUR ADDRESS LIST
Timetables of non-Government buses around Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong at http://www.businfo.com.au/