CITYRAIL TRACK WORKS
Some CityRail stations now offer a sheet showing planned track-works. The sheet covers one calendar month; look for it early in the month. It is very handy when your planning weekend trips if these can be adjusted to avoid trackworks.
If you haven't seen these, enquire at your station.
DoT ON ACTIONS TO IMPROVE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
On 5th August, John Smith, who is the head transport planner with the NSW Department of Transport, spoke at the Institution of Engineers. He presented the government's visions for public transport, including a desire to increase ridership. He said that the public transport system should help achieve desirable urban structures and land use patterns and that urban development and growth should support public transport provision and use. He did not seem to regard the current road-building thrust as inconsistent with or working against the policies stated.
He set out the strategies which the Department is preparing or assisting in. He described particular lines which are being built or are under investigation, including the Hoxton Park to Parramatta corridor.
APT have a copy of the 4-page notes he distributed.
Newspaper articles when the recent State budget was brought down were unclear about its effects on CityRail. A story in the Daily Telegraph suggested that Mr Hill had, through his close connections with the Premier, been able to ensure that extra efforts were being made to support essential services. However, the Sydney Morning Herald said that CityRail finances had been cut to the bone. Readers will be aware that the recent fares determination limited fare increases to a small amount for inflation, citing the unreliability of services as a ground for not permitting higher fares.
APT subsequently asked for clarification of CityRail's financial position. In reply, Kevin Moss MP said: "Public transport budget allocations incorporated a 36.6% increase in capital works spending for the variou rail entities which include CityRail. This $732.9M rail funding allocation in the 1997/98 financial year covers works such as access and security upgrades for various stations, the upgrading of carriages, and an allocation for the provision of new rolling stock."
More detail should be made public, especially in view of the recent announcement (on the occasion of Cabinet meeting at Penrith) of a large push for public transport in the Labor heartland in Sydney's west. There aren't enough carriages for reliable services on the Hill (current) timetables let alone when the Olympic and airport lines open.
One useful item to come out of the Airport Motorway decision was a consultant's finding that any extra traffic likely to he generated by the road could be nullified by arranging bus priority that resulted in the average bus trip becoming five minutes faster.
This provides a convenient standard against which the measures
recently installed in the CBD to commence from 21st July can be
compared. At time of printing, there had been some improvement in bus
reliability. But bus drivers report there are enough infringing cars
to prevent the desired effect being achieved. No measurements are yet
available of time saved but Sydney Buses say that they are collecting
statistics and will press for more enforcement when they have
evidence to warrant it. Will the authorities put their enforcement
where their policy is?
One feature of this tolled road from North Ryde to Seven Hills was a central busway from Epping to Windsor Road. There was even to be a bus interchange at Epping station, to be built by Hornsby Council, construction of which has not been started.
Shortly after the M2 opened in May, the Bus and Coach Association was quoted in the Northern Herald as saying that M2 bus services were very successful, and indeed had required more vehicles to be run. In fact, these trips are prone to traffic delays in Lane Cove which can easily amount to ten minutes. Should M2 traffic increase, the delays in Lane Cove will increase in frequency and severity, greatly increasing the variability in trip times. The traffic authorities need reminding that the Epping Road transit lanes in Lane Cove (and extended to North Ryde when the M2 opened) require constant policing, just like the CBD bus lanes.
HOXTON PARK TRANSPORT CORRIDOR
In 1968, it was decided to reserve a corridor connecting Parramatta with Hoxton Park for public transport. The official identification happened in 1989 in S.R.E.P. number 18. With an election coming closer, the state government and local councils have commissioned a study to examine public transport needs and opportunities generally along the 26 km southern section (a section from Parramatta northwards to West Baulkham Hills was also in S.R.E.P. 18).
A first workshop was held at Merrylands on 18th June for stake-holders including some residents. Consultants noted that:
ECONOMICS OF TRANSPORT
APT have obtained a copy of the recent Austroads Report 123; Economic Effects of Investment in Road Infrastructure.
The Report is primarily a defence of cost/benefit analysis (CBA) and its focus on microeconomic efficiency against claims by some road supporters for recognition of macroeconomic benefits of new road construction due to growth and redistribution effects. The Report argues that limitations on the effectiveness of CRA lie more with the simplified approach generally adopted for project analysis rather than with any fundamental matter. The Report also, interestingly, notes that CBA would be unnecessary if road capacity was properly priced, and that the lack of such pricing mechanisms make it difficult to assess, on efficiency grounds, if road infrastructure investment is too high or too low.
APT have a macroeconomic concern which is the opposite to that expressed by road supporters. Noting that transport lies at least partially within the non-traded sector; facilitating trarisport (and particularly road at the expense of rail along defined corridors) can lead to wasteful domestic consumption as well as supporting useful economic activities in the traded sector, through induced traffic. This concern arises particularly because induced traffic appears to be more a response to savings in time rather than to pecuniary costs, and time savings tend to dominate the economic benefits claimed for new road infrastructure. Road pricing alone would not significantly affect this high elasticity with respect to travel time savings, as changes to land use, vehicle occupancy and modal split also occur. Correspondingly, time budgets, rather than pecuniary cost budgets, are more likely to act as a constraint on individual mobility.
APT believe that, as with any other business, a macroefficiency goal needs to be applied to the transport sector with the mission of meeting the access needs of the community at the best possible social, economic and environmental cost. Management techniques and targets would then be applied to fulfil this mission; partially through limiting the consumption of wasteful mobility.
Given that the RTA is a member of Austroads, one wonders why none of
the above is evident in its practices.
CBD STREET FURNITURE
The city intends having hundreds of street furniture items installed and/or replaced throughout the CBD, including 168 bus shelters. These will be privately operated, with the owner entitled to have advertising on them.
The detailed plan displayed at Council's office lacks shelters for the pair of light rail stops near the Entertainment Centre. APT are asking Council to extend the project to include such shelters.
LIGHT RAIL EXTENSIONS
Readers will be aware of proposed extensions of the all-too-short Pyrmont light rail northwards through the city to Circular Quay and westwards under Glebe to Lilyfield. The line would be greatly improved by extensions, particularly the northern, because it would form a base from which radial extensions could grow in various directions. However, at time of writing, the western extension seems the more likely, mainly because of concerted opposition by Pitt St shopkeepers and their landlords who clearly don't want trams passing their shops.
At a public meeting held on 7th August in the CBD, a significant change in the tone of the opposition could be noticed. Some detractors of the proposed City extension seemed to be tarring it with the brush of "yet another profit-otiented transport project", clearly associating it with the poor public image of Sydney's private motorways. However, local member Sandra Nori attended and is supportive of the City proposal.
NEWS FROM U.K.
On 16th June 1997 the U.K. Department of the Environment and the Department of Transport merged to form the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). Some further information is at http: //www.open.gov.uk/dot/dothome.htm. The new Road Traffic Reduction Act became law late in March. Its movers intended to provide that plans be drawn up to reduce road traffic to 95% of 1990 levels by 2005 and to 90% by 2010 but for expediency they let it be passed without these numbers.
TIMETABLE PHONE ENQUIRY SERVICE
Following some experiences of incomplete or downright wrong information being given, APT have written to the Minister asking when the standard of service will be improved. You could do the same. This service is contracted-out to Serco Australia.
Readers may have noticed a story in the Daily Telegraph of 15th May saying how residents of the western suburbs were asking for many local people to call 131500 complaining about the lack of a similar service for most of the private bus lines which comprise much of the public transport in the west. Westbus has its own 24-hour service on 9890-0000.
TOWN HALL STATION
People who were complaining five years ago about this station were fobbed off with the stock answer that it was about to receive a major upgrade, and so there was no point in spending any money on it. With the upgrade now deferred, we can once again call for a few simple things like more seats on the platforms.
OLYMPIC GAMES TRANSPORT
The new Olympic Roads and Transport Authority held a two-day workshop at Merrylands in July to which they invited many parties with an interest in transport. The programme of the event was to describe to these people the transport task faced for the Olympic Games and the work done so far in planning to carry out that task. Delegates were then asked to assist in strategic planning.
Although many delegates were amateurs at transport planning, the Authority probably killed two birds with one stone at that workshop. In the first place, it was a major piece of public consultation. Secondly, the combined wisdom and practical experience of those present probably contributed many ideas that the professionals would not have thought of in a reasonable time.
On the particular question of integrated ticketing for the Olympic Games and Easter shows, ORTA held a one-day Value Management Study at Harold Park in June. APT look forward to passenger-friendly integrated ticketing being well-established before the Games.
APT have copies of papers from both of the above.
PROPOSED SECOND AIRPORT
An environmental impact statement on the site of Sydney's second international airport is due to be released soon. The Howard Government, soon after it was elected, suddenly resurrected the option of siting the second airport at Holsworthy despite the findings of the 1985 Kinhill study which had placed Holsworthy in ninth position out of ten suggested sites, and despite the earlier decision to locate the airport at Badgerys Creek. Holsworthy was never mentioned during the election campaign, but information now obtained shows that Mr Howard and Transport minister John Sharp were considering Holsworthy before the election was held.
From a public transport point of view, Holsworthy has few advantages.
A rail link to Badgerys Creek would allow for direct benefits to
public transport similar to those which will be available when the
new Southern Railway to Kingsford-Smith Airport is finished. One of
the advantages of this new railway is that areas in the central
industrial area which do not currently have a rail service will be
provided with stations at Mascot and Beaconsfield. Similar stations
could be constructed on a rail line to Badgerys in the areas of
Edmondson Park and West Hoxton, giving valuable commuter access to
the urban sprawl areas west and south-west of Liverpool which
currently have seriously deficient public transport services. No such
populated areas would be served by a rail link to an airport built in
the Holsworthy military reserve. In the meantime, the Federal
Govemment should consider improvements to the rail system which will
limit the growth of air traffic, such as a faster rail link to Canberra.
DARWIN - ALICE SPRINGS RAILWAY PROPOSAL
The publicity recently given this project should serve to remind us that much needs to be done to the standard-gauge Melbourne-Adelaide and Melbourne-Albury lines, and to the Albury-Sydney and Sydney-Brisbane lines. The Australia-Asia line will one day be, but is not yet, needed.
3x3 PETROL TAX
The former Liberal government introduced a tax of 3 cents per litre on petrol for three years, to be spent on roads via a special fund. The current Labor government has varied this, permitting some of it to be spent on public transport facilities such as parking near railway stations. APT strongly approve of the variation, because of our preference for public transport and also because good public transport actually improves things for the remaining motorists. However, the Liberals announced that, upon re-election, they would restore 3x3's hypothecation to roads.
In view of the the recent High Court decision that will make some State taxes unconstitutional and hence uncollectable, it will be interesting to see what happens to 3x3.
"With the Olympics fast descending on Sydney. transport has emerged
as the most contentious planning issue.
It is very tempting to use the Olympics as a catalyst for funding the pent-up infrastructure desires of many interested parties, with ideas of grandeur emerging in the realm of public transport, such as the promotion of light rail.
While I am the first to suggest that we should support greater use of public transport, I am [..] realistic about the merits of throwing large sums of money at transport plans to cater for the extraordinary peak that Sydney will witness for a period not exceeding 4 weeks in September 2000."
- Professor David Hensher in Sydney University News, 7 August, in an
article questioning the significance of trams to Sydney's real needs.
Very similar remarks could be made about the rash of road projects
which have been "justified" by the Games, like the Eastem Distributor.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
We are writing to clarify some points of detail with regard to an item in your June 1997 Newsletter. The item entitled, "D.O.T. Transit Ways", indicated that Rust PPK had been hired by DOT. to produce a map of "Transit Ways". The map referred to was in fact compiled by Rust PPK on its own initiative and addressed only the Sydney Metropolitan Area.
The map and accompanying discussion paper were produced by our Transport Planning Group as a means of promoting discussion on ways of achieving practical improvements to Sydney's public transport system. We believe that the challenges facing this city in bringing about significant changes in people's travel habits are considerable and that improvements will only come when the public transport system meets people's travel needs in a realistic and practical way.
As part of the solution there is a need to address what we perceive to be a missing tier in the transport system, linking our regional centres and catering for trips that are neither exclusively local or Sydney CBD-oriented. It is held that in order for this tier of transport to offer a competitive choice, it must be:
We hope this clarifies the intent and role of Rust PPK in preparing the paper.
Principal, Public Transport
Rust PPK Pry Ltd
18 June 1997.
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Rail 2000 Inc, P.O. Box 8229, Adelaide Station Arcade 5000, or Suite 404, 23 Peel St. (08)8410-0024.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Inner-City Resurgence special report in Australian Financial Review, 26 August. Includes an article by architect Stephen Buzacott describing the RTA's highway scheme as "Jurassic" and strongly criticising the lack of planning by state and local government in consolidation areas.
Economic Effects of Investment in Road Infrastructure - new book published by Austroads. Reviewed above. Available from the RTA. ISBN 0-85588-485-1.
Paradigm Shift: from automobility to accessibility planning - article by Robert Cervero in Urban Futures 22, June.
Factor Four - Doubling Wealth - Halving Resource Use: New Report to the Club of Rome. Book by von Weizsacker & Lovins. ISBN 1864484381. Contains a chapter about transport. Also, chapter 5 discu1ses price-fixing to achieve social targets; it should be required reading for members of I.P.A.R.T. There is also considerable discussion of how useful GDP is as a measure of the quality of life.
Dirty Little Secrets - Web page about USA tax policies pushing investment the wrong way. It calls for the elimination of subsidies that work against environmental principles. Contains matter of interest to Australian transport activists and tax reformers. http://www.foe.org/DLS/
Benefits of Private Sector Involvement in Road Provision- working paper 33 published by Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics, Canberra. Benefits were found in contracting road works out. But evidence on the benefits of private investment in roads is very limited - private toll roads require agreements between public and private sectors that can be costly to negotiate and that impose other social costs through loss of government flexibility. Order from BTCE on (02)6274.6846.
Monster Trucks coming to Victorian roads. Article in Network Rail, Aug-Sep, describes plans to legalise B-triple trucks exceeding 33 metres long.
FOR YOUR DIARY
New rail timetable, 19th October.
Travel Smart Day, 5th November. Enquiries to Australian Conservation Foundation, 9247-4285.