A recent advertising campaign has involved some buses having "bas-relief" cars fitted to their sides. A broken plastic 'car' was seen in the Moore Park busway, being driven over continually by buses. Were they angry at the incursion of the airport motorway into their domain?
Brisbane City Council has been testing a system which, among other things, could provide controllers with accurate current information about the location and passenger load of its 600 buses. It may become possible for late-running buses to be ordered not to pick up passengers if, for example, another bus is close behind. Timetables could be planned with reliable information about traffic patterns, possibly leading to more achievable timetables and hence better timekeeping.
The system can also be linked into traffic signals, permitting buses to be given priority at intersections.
APT hope that Sydney Buses are observing the Brisbane trial.
By the time you read this, the Kyoto conference will be happening. Two APT members who have visited USA and Canada recently report that, while it is possible to find people who own and commute in electric cars, it is not possible to find any hint that the American population might accept lifestyle limitations.
The Australian govemment won't reduce greenhouse emissions; will the USA?
PROPOSED MOORE PARK BUS STATION
APT have reviewed a strategy designed to get more people to use buses to get to Sydney's cricket ground, football stadium and Fox Studios at Moore Park. We have found nine major flaws with the strategy, including bus stops being too far from the venue entrances, further fragmentation of the park and destruction of grassed areas, omission of any recognition of the Roads & Traffic Authority's current study into light rail through the area, and no active discouragement of access by car.
LANE COVE ROAD TUNNEL
The Government is deflecting criticism of congestion caused by extra traffic from the M2 motorway onto the preceding government, whose project it was. Meanwhile, an investigation is being made into the feasibility of a four-lane road tunnel under Lane Cove, which would remove the worst bottleneck. However, the proposed tunnel would be funded by a $2 toll; would northwestern motorists accept having three tolls on their trip to the city while western and south-western motorists have none?
JOHN B. COX
This consultant is known for his view that a limited amount of road-building in Sydney and Melbourne would work wonders for the economy. He was engaged by the State Chamber of Commerce as part of the campaign for the now-discredited Eastern Distributor (actually a tollway to the airport) and wrote Driving Ambitions which was used in that campaign to back a claim of $3 billion macro-economic benefits from the project. At about the same time, Cox was on the working party for the Austroads book Economic Effects of Investment in Road Infrastructure which was mentioned in the last issue of this newsletter. The working party found that macro-economic benefits should not be taken into account in assessing road proposals.
CityRail issued a specification of temporary bus services for 1998 that failed to address several matters of concern to APT and people who rely on weekend trains. We have written to CityRail pointing out that:
- choice of bus termini is not always the most convenient for passengers
- capacity problems sometimes arise and are not handled properly
- bus stops are not always clearly marked
- drivers have been known to take the wrong turning
- some buses do not carry clear destination signs
- drivers of some buses play radios or other "entertainment" on the PA system
- buses sometimes cluster into convoys, increasing average wait times
We will be watching CityRail's reaction.
EXPRESS BUSES TO HOMEBUSH OLYMPIC SITE
The Olympic Roads and Transport Authority (ORTA) has called for proposals from the bus industry to provide limited-stop express bus services to the Homebush Olympic Site, commencing with the 1998 Easter Show. The eight routes will commence from Dee Why, Glebe, Macquarie Centre, Dural, Castle Hill, Menai, Miranda and Maroubra, generally serving suburbs which are not on the rail network. Bus services from the north-west will reach the Homebush site via a proposed busway cutting through the heavily ground-contaminated Wilson Park on Silverwater Road at Auburn.
APT are concerned that ORTA intends to hand to the selected operators responsibility for planning and timetabling, but also wants to serve Homebush Bay on a commercial basis. Bus operators may get you to the site during the peak, but will you be able to get home if you decide to hang around the site for a couple of hours after the finish of an event?
Readers would be aware of Easy Share, the new company promoting ride-sharing among motorists. There might be concern that the effect would be to take passengers from public transport, rather than from single-occupant cars.
The points system used by Easy Share requires its members to give about as many rides as they receive. In addition, the marketing is aimed at pollution and delays caused by too many cars being on the road, and should help the public accept that action must be taken to reduce car usage.
The RTA commissioned an investigation of the Easy Share proposal which "concluded that there is the potential for significant community benefits and calculated that fuel and delay reductions would be in the order of $886 million pa (this figure is based on a membership of 100,000 and an increase in current vehicle occupancy rates of 10%)".
The RTA add that "[b]ecause of the nature of the scheme, it is not possible to estimate its impact on traffic congestion other than to say that a successful car pooling scheme will certainly lead to fewer vehicles on the road. The RTA through car pooling is aiming at increasing vehicle occupancies and moderate [sicj the overall growth of traffic. The RTA considers that car pooling will be used in areas where public transport is limited".
BONDI BEACH RAILWAY
Local residents have expressed doubts about this proposal (EIS to be exhibited in January - 1800-064813). Note that there is to be a $2.50 surcharge on trips to that station. The Martin Plade to Bondi Beach single fare would thus be more than double the fare to Bondi Junction. Passengers could save money by transferring to bus at Bondi Junction.
The proposed location of the station right at the water is not ideal. Its entrances encroach on parkland and it is not at the centre of a dense residential area. It is not possible to have businesses above the station whose owners could contribute to construction costs. And there is no intention to have an intermediate station at, for example, Bondi Road shops.
ANNUAL REPORT - APT ACHIEVEMENTS
The year's biggest blow for supporters of sustainable city transport must have been the approval by the Minister for Planning of the Eastern Distributor, or Airport Motorway. One of the anti-freeway lobby's gains was the fact that the infamous roads lobby so feared losing the fight that it was forced to go public. The considerable lobbying power of the so-called Business for Eastern Distributor group and the State Chamber of Commerce were exposed in the Sydney Morning Herald of 11th July. As pointed out in the August edition of Railway Digest, the Carr Government has so far started NO rail projects but has commenced many road projects in the inner and outer suburbs.
Premier Carr has responded to our requests for reform of the transport portfolio by appointing a Minister, Carl Scully, to administer both roads and public transport, and by making the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, rather than the RTA, the determining authority for major roads projects.
The progressive retro-fitting of split hopper windows on the upper deck of CityRail's refurbished Citydecker cars represents a win for passengers after a long campaign. CityRail had denied for years that the full-length hoppers were unsafe.
We were also successful in getting minor modifications to a proposed pedestrian subway under Bathurst Street for access to Town Hall Station from George Street. This small gain is now threatened since the approved redevelopment of the former Regent Theatre site may not now proceed (Herald, 13 Nov).
After prolonged pressure, City Council added the Haymarket light rail stops to its list of sites for new passenger shelters. Actually getting the shelters installed will, however, be vigorously opposed by the city's invisible urban design police, who have also decreed that there will be no waiting shelters on the CBD extension of the light-rail, should it ever be built.
We were successful in getting some minor design improvements to the proposed rebuilding of Ashfield Railway Station, but our arguments for retaining subway access to the platforms have not been supported by Ashfield Council, Council has accepted CityRail's cheaper overhead bridge design, with its much larger number of steps.
This year saw the successful conclusion of a three year campaign to enable passengers' bicycles to be carried on Endeavour railcars. At its lowest point, the debate descended to a total ban on bikes on South Coast trains and physical violence between frustrated cyclist-passengers, train crews, and police.
CityRail grudgingly responded to our safety-related complaints about obstructions caused by retailers on station concourses. This problem has also spanned manyyears and we contiriue to be concerned about CityRail's failure to actively manage its retail leases. Our monthly meetings with CityRail andthe State Transit Authority have continued through 1997. APT acknowledge the valued support of other community groups in achieving these modest goals.
APT members will receive a financial statement with this newsletter.
NEW BUS SHELTERS
Sydney City Council and nine other councils propose to let a contract wherein a supplier of street fumiture of a coordinated design, including bus shelters, would supply and maintain the furniture free of charge in return for massive revenues gained from advertising on the furniture. Prototype shelters from each of the four tenderers, three of whom are associated with world media magnates, were displayed in Martin Place during November. None of the shelters met all of APT's six simple functional criteria. Not one provided sufficient illumination of the timetable display panel to make it legible at night, despite the fact that each incorporated a brilliantly lit advertising poster.
MOTORING FINES v PUBLIC TRANSPORT FINES
NSW motorists owe $235 million in traffic fines (North Shore Times, 3rd October). Meanwhile, CityRail has draconian fare-evasion penalties. We are trying to get CityRail to change its policy so it minimises blatant fare evasion without inconveniencing those passengers who have reasonable excuses for not having a ticket.
FOURTH GENERATION TRAIN
At our request, CityRail is considering bike hooks and in-car electronic information displays on its new Fourth Generation trains to be delivered from 1999. We also sought a design which would permit passengers to view the landscape through the front windows of the train, a feature which contributes significantly to the attractiveness of train-tourism in other countries. Queensland's new tilt train simulates the effect by mounting a CCTV camera in the leading car.
HOMEBUSH BAY LOOP RAILWAY
Special efforts were made to enhance the esthetics of this new railway, to improve the visual environment for both train passengers and other Olympic-site visitors -
- all signal cables have been buried, instead of being carried in the standard line-side troughing
- the palisade three-prong fencing design has been slimmed and rounded to look less like a prison fence
- the concrete facing panels on the reinforced earth embankments have a special pattern
- the concrete girders for the rail bridges have a distinctive sculptured form.
- extensive landscaping is underway. Special low foliage has even been planted alongside the new flyover at Homebush Bay East Fork to enable train passengers to enjoy distant views of the Sydney CEO skyline to the east.
The station will be officially opened in February 1998. State Rail resources will be stretched to the limit during the six-week Olympic/Paralympic period from mid September to end October 2000. CityRail expects to carry l.8m passengers per day, or about double its present patronage. This would comprise 600,000 regular passengers (down from 900,000 a day), 600,000 Games spectators, and 600,000 volunteers and sightseers. The amount of out-of-service rolling stock will be reduced to a minimum. 3 or 4 of the new Fourth Generation trains should already have been commissioned.
Wynyard and Town Hall stations, already frequently congested and almost impossible to enlarge without prohibitive cost, may at peak times become load and unload stations respectively, enabling higher capacity with one-way pedestrian flows. It is unclear how this will affect the Eastern Suburbs Line, which serves Town Hall but not Wynyard. Circular Quay station may be closed to all passengers at peak periods, as has already happened during special events at the Quay.
Facilities for passenger interchange between Central Electric and the adjacent Sydney Terminal Station will be significantly expanded, with the possible use of two overhead Bailey bridges. This will support what CityRail calls its Olympic Metro concept - dedicated trains and crews running between Sydney Terminal and St Marys via the Homebush Bay Loop, and stopping only at major stations. No other trains would use the Loop.
This concept is a departure from the previously promoted plans, in which trains from most outer termini on the network were to access the Olympic Park Station. Olympic Metro trains may have a distinctive livery to assist their identification by passengers.
Thanks to members for the useful feedback, mostly complimentary, from our survey of members in September. If you apologised for not attending meetings, don't. In fact, some of our most influential members do not attend our meetings, which are primarily for coordination purposes. Policy development and campaign management is often done on the phone.
Bus users in outer Sydney suburbs recently complained that they had no central telephone information service. Route and timetable info on CityRail trains, and State Transit buses and ferries is available by phoning 131500. We remind readers that the phone numbers for private bus companies are listed in the back of the relevant CityRail pocket train timetables.
The following officers were elected at our 7 November Annual General Meeting: Convener - Kevin Eadie; Secretary - Jim Donovan; Treasurer - Allan Miles; Management Committee - John Collins, Malcolm Cluett, Graham Taylor, NS.
Australian railways pay $150 million a year in fuel excise, $90m of which goes into roads. (Network Rail, Aug-Sep 97, p5) Why are our railway systems buying the infrastructure for the heavily-subsidised truck industry?
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF LT. RAIL EXTENSIONS
An Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed City and Leichhardt extensions to the Sydney Light Rail (SLR) has been exhibited. In common with a number of other recent EISs for transport infrastructure, the document is very supportive of the proposal. However, some important impacts are not even addressed.
There is no mention of the impact of the high SLR fares, which are presently up to double those of the parallel bus services. The present bus/rail pensioner ticket will not be accepted, even though it is acknowledged that the Leichhardt community is ageing. The EIS claims that the operator "would have to make a commitment to achieving integrated ticketing" (p58). SLR's present progress on this front is less than impressive.
When dealing with the impact on cyclists, the most fundamental impact - that of catching the front wheel of the bicycle in the tram-rail groove - does not rate a mention.
The EIS brazenly states that there will be no shelters or seating at the CBD stops implying that this is a positive thing, as the streets will not suffer clutter, or visual pollution. Ticket machines will be placed under shop awnings if practicable. This is only cursory acknowledgment of the impact on intending passengers trying to purchase tickets from exposed vending machines in teeming rain while supporting a windblown umbrella and protecting attendant children from both the weather and approaching trams. The stops just north of Hay Street and Martin Place on the CBD loop are particularly exposed to weather.
A number of options are canvassed for a stop within the Glebe tunnel, which would serve one of Sydney's most densely populated residential areas. The EIS opts for the cheapest solution - a stop at the eastern portal, requiring a 250m walk up a steep hill to reach Glebe Point Road.
Quite apart from the faulty EIS, there is significant objection to the city loop. Shopkeepers fear loss of business during construction and may have other objections. Others are complaining about the slow speed, high fares, noisy wheels, and lack of through tickets on the existing trams.
Is this privately-owned transit system about shareholders or is it about providing an attractive alternative to the abysmally slow 431 bus service and the environmentally destructive private car?
The system was severely tested on 26 November when free rides were offered to the Sydney Casino's free outdoor opening concert. Long queues formed at Central; both the service and the public relations could have been better.
Meanwhile, the NSW Public Transport Advisory Council has released a draft Light Rail Strategic Plan for NSW. Copies are available from PTAC Secretariat - (02) 9268-2256.
If you've felt uncomfortable on State Transit's Scania buses it could have been because the air-conditioning was not operating. Because the bus body is designed for air-conditioning, none of the windows opens, but the driver doesn't always switch on the air-conditioning. Some drivers open their own windows in hot weather, providing themselves with a current of air but giving the passengers a steambath.
APT's repeated complaints to STA have not solved the problem. We understand the Occupational Health & Safety Act requires that people in confined spaces must be provided with changes of air. In the above case they are not. Is there a sympathetic lawyer amongst our readers prepared to take this up?
STATE TRANSIT EMPIRE EXPANDS
Commencing 16 November, State Transit was to have commenced a new bus service between Circular Quay and Parramatta via Victoria Road. It didn't happen, probably due to the behind-the-scenes activities of the territorial private bus industry. At present, STA's westward reach extends only as far as Lidcombe.
Westbus introduced higher frequencies and weekend services on its north-western suburbs to city express services from 10 November. Info-line 9890-0000 (24 hrs).
BETTER SECURITY ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The ubiquity of mobile phones in the community has the potential to improve personal security on public transport. Even on lightly loaded trains, the chances now are that someone has a phone in almost every carriage - if only everyone knew the appropriate emergency numbers. Here they are. (You should discuss the emergency with the guard before you act, if practicable). Just photocopy this, trim to credit card size and keep in your wallet:
Government services - 131500
Railway security - 1800-657926
Police - 000
The University of N.S.W. announced on 31 October the establishment of a transport reference committee. According to the Vice-Chancellor, the focus of the committee will be "broad and directed to addressing the wider transport issues and related fields which are part of the day to day and future operations of the University". The committee includes staff, transport planning experts and students.
Macquarie and Sydney universities should follow suit.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts will inquire into the regulatory arrangements needed to support a market in greenhouse gas emissions.
Transport is responsible for 14.4% of all greenhouse emissions in Australia. Emissions from transport rose by 11.6% between 1990 and 1994, greater than for any other sector (Herald, 26 November).
For information about the inquiry and how to make a submission, phone the Committee Secretariat on (02) 6277-4580.
The R. T. A. doesn't want to build more roads. We want to make better use of the ones we've got. - Ron Christie, Chief Executive of the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, at the Easy Share launch, 1 October.
PORTLAND PLANS ITS LAND-USE AND TRANSPORT
This U.S.A. city has placed controls on development in outer areas until the inner areas reach a suitable density. Australian cities could take a leaf from Portland's book - see http://www.metro.dst.or.us
FOR YOUR DIARY
Submissions concerning proposed Tilt Train inter-urban and regional services close 12 December. Enquiries Bill Dunbar, 9230-3308.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
The Coming Oil Crisis - new book by C J Campbell et al. Concludes we should be thinking of how we will live with oil at double its present price and rising. ISBN 0-906522-11-0. APT have access to several copies costing about $50.
Australian Transport and the Environment - new book from Australian Bureau of Statistics, $30. ISBN 0-642-18133-0. Recognises and quantifies significant costs for cities which are overly reliant on the private car for transport. Readily acknowledges that roadbuilding leads to increased traffic.
Our Precious Planet - special issue of Time dated November. American-oriented; mentions the importance of public transport in reducing the environmental impact of urban travel. Autogeddon - antt-car book by Heathcote Williams, 1991. Adapted into a play staged at Newtown in September by Night- shift Theatre Asylum. ISBN 0-224026-45-3.
7:30 report on the M2 motorway, 14 November, ABC TV. Includes interview with the Auditor-General, who criticised the project.
FOR YOUR WEB BROWSER
Rail 2000, Inc - Adelaide-based http://www.users.on.net/po1bathic/rai12000/
On-line timetable for British Rail, with good search engine at http://www.railtrack.co.uk/travel/.being extended to reflect train delays etc.
Transport Planning Society of the U.K. http://www.tps.org.uk/.
Queensland's integrated transport planning http://www.qdot.qld.gov.au/irtp/Home.html
N.S,W. P.T.A.C. Light Rail draft Strategic Plan http: //www.transport.nsw.gov.au/lightrail
FOR YOUR ADDRESS BOOK
Safe Women - Liverpool Project (02)9607-7536. Has relevance to public transport patronage.