TOWN HALL STATION
This station, the busiest on the Sydney system, is barely adequate for the passenger traffic it carries. There are too few seats now on several platforms, especially Platform 3 which often sees large numbers of people waiting for delayed evening trains.
It is planned to re-unite the concourses and install two lifts, which would between them reach all six platforms. However, the lifts are likely to see a reduction in seat capacities on platforms. CityRail contend that no more seats would fit; APT are discussing the matter with them.
The 1997 Annual Report of the N.S.W. Roads and Traffic Authority does not mention travel demand management as such. However, it states RTA activity in 1996/97 to moderate (reduce) demand for roads focused on teleworking and carpooling.
Most authorities take "travel demand management" to mean actions intended to reduce, or to reduce the growth in, the demand for travel. However, the RTA. s interpretation seems to evade the point of whether road expansion causes extra traffic.
Road travel demand cannot be moderated effectively by merely offering minor alternatives to motoring, as the space freed soon fills up with other motoring. In any case, teleworking does not necessarily reduce travel demand, as it can increase dispersion of the workforce, with the result that other family members need to travel longer distances. The report also neglects to mention Australia's limited oil reserves and broad environmental issues such as the greenhouse effect.
The Web page of the RTA is also biased. It claims that the Harbour Tunnel saves l3M litres of fuel per year. Wrong - freeway projects increase our fuel consumption.
STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Each second year, the NSW Environment Protection Authority releases a report on pollution, soil degradation, etc. The 1997 report, at http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/soe/97/ is being promoted by the E.P.A. as essential to everyone concerned with "the environment" yet it is manifestly biased and incomplete. In the urban context, it confines itself to the physical environment ignoring the human issues of the greater urban environment. Readers will recall how the U.K. Royal Commission into Environment Pollution in 1994 produced a strongly-worded report urging that over-use of the motor car be resisted. Approximately two-thirds of the British motorway programme was abandoned.
In 1997, the Royal Commission re-visited the question of transport and the environment (see page 4). Their latest report states clearly that not enough has been done in the U.K. to counter the car. New South Wales has done much less!
The U.K. report stresses the need for moving to an integrated transport system, "created through a cumulative process of change over a period of at least ten years through the consistent application of coherent long-term policies".
FEDERAL INTEREST IN SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT
The Commonwealth Department of Transport has begun to investigate sustainable transport, both in cities and rural areas, with a view to developing a national policy. Their working party has been interviewing various stakeholders. APT met them in February. We told them that transport's mission must be to provide access for everyone at minimum total cost. We also told them of the strong influence of travel time on travel behaviour and that the "cost" of congestion ought not to be regarded as something to be reduced.
With regard to re-shaping cities, they pointed out that state governments have total control overland-use, which restricts Federal influence. We reminded them that tax policy was one Federal lever which they could pull.
SUBMISSION TO FEDERAL TREASURER
A submission has been made to the Federal Treasurer, by transport expert Phil Laird, pressing for policy changes for intercity land freight transport, urban public transport, and greenhouse gases. Briefly, the submission touches on:
BOUQUETS AND A BUCKET
To State Transit, for their full-page advt. in the daily press
detailing service changes for the 28 February Mardi Gras parade.
To State Transit and Cityrail for advts in the daily press specifying special services for New Year's Eve and Australia Day.
In the week 29 December - 2 January, all train travellers but particularly New Year's Eve revellers were needlessly confused by timetable changes. Special timetables, in force on all lines on weekdays, were dubbed "Saturday" and "Sunday", which is stupid as CityRail uses identical timetables for Saturdays and Sundays.
STATION ACCESS - BRIDGE OR SUBWAY?
A reader has challenged our implication (December newsletter) that subways are better than bridges for access to railway platforms because the subways have fewer steps. Not always, we agree. So we will make another claim. Pedestrian bridges could be lower, requiring fewer steps, if the railway electrical engineers would agree to reducing the depth (height) of the overhead wiring where it passes under the bridge.
CAR PARKING CONTROL IN RYDE
Car parking requirements in the Ryde area have been altered to reduce the number of car spaces in new buildings within 400 metres of public transport stops. Most new commercial buildings are within 400 metres of bus stops!
Other councils should be encouraged to do likewise.
PASSENGER ACCESS TO STATIONS
CityRail's larger stations have costly automatic fare collection ("AFC") systems arranged so that entry to the platforms is always through the AFC bathers.
At Lindfield, which does not have AFC, there are turnstiles permitting entry to one platform from the adjacent street. Revenue Protection officials reportedly ordered these turnstiles closed, forcing some passengers to walk up to 100 metres further up a ramp, across a bridge, and down 30 extra steps. The decision to close the turnstiles was rescinded following passenger outrage.
Other stations which stand to lose convenient entry points include Sutherland, Gordon and West Ryde. If you see this happening anywhere, APT would appreciate being notified so that resistance can be organised. It would be preferable to structure fare collection (and overhead power wires!) to the advantage of the service, rather than structuring the service for the convenience uf railways staff. APT suggest that fare evasion should he attacked more directly, with measures such as on-train ticket inspections.
PARRAMATTA'S TRANSPORT FUTURES:
Premier Carr has announced a discussion paper containing accessibility strategies aimed at providing for future transport links to Parramatta. Stakeholder workshops were held during November and December 1997. The document was due for release for community review in February ( Open Road. Feb.).
On his last day on duty, State Rail.s departing Chief Executive, David Hill, recommended substantial expansion of the Sydney rail network, citing Parramatta to Rouse Hill, Parramatta to Hoxton Park, Parramatta to City via Olympic Park, Five Dock and Balmain, and Rouse Hill to Epping via Castle Hill as routes worth serious investigation. Opposition transport spokesman, Michael Photios, said Mr Hill's plan would fall on deaf ears.
PROPOSED BONDI BEACH RAILWAY
APT understand that the Premier thinks it's a great idea, despite its hefty fares and its irrelevance to Bondi's needs. Hence, it may very well be approved. NRMA's Clean Air 2000 Task Force says the project has nil priority for new public transport measures.
After much discussion, APT'.s management committee have supported the project, subject to the proviso that all existing travel options must remain. Note that .station access. charges, such as the substantial $2.50/trip planned for Bondi Beach, put pressure on the zonal Travelpass system by destroying the simplicity at its heart.
MOORE PARK - ACCESS TO MAJOR EVENTS
Further to our December newsletter, the Moore Park Trust has more than doubled the fee for parking on the grassed areas adjacent to Anzac Parade, despite political objections from those with financial interests in the Cricket Ground and the Stadium.
The Trust and the Minister have finalised the Plan of Management for access to major events, and detailed design is about to commence. APT are far from satisfied that the proposed design will adequately serve the travelling public.
The NSW Legislative Assembly Public Works Committee held a public hearing in January on the potential of .tilt. trains. The main points were that the Rail Access Corporation said a target was being considered of a Sydney-Gosford transit time of 50 minutes, and a Sydney-Newcastle transit time of 90 minutes, requiring both a track infrastructure upgrade, and tilt trains. With a track upgrade only at a cost of $600 million to $1.2 billion, the XPT time could be potentially as low as 53 and 86 minutes, which is attractive. Countrylink referred to the tilt train trial in 1995, stating that they are .a marginal operator., and that the economic life of an XPT could be another 15 years, so it may be better to spend the money on track.
P.T.A.C. IN TROUBLE
The Public Transport Advisory Council, created by statute to represent the public transport consumer, has been operating for one year. Sydney.s Daily Telegraph reported on 27th February that the Council was in turmoil amid claims of a lack of money, ministerial interference and internal squabbles. The Chairman, Les McDonald, has resigned and the Deputy Chair, Caron Morrison, has threatened to follow suit.
Public comment on the Council's 130-page Light Rail Strategic Plan closes on 5th April. The document was publicly circulated in late January but by the end of February, Ms Morrison, Chair of the Light Rail Working Group, had not received a copy.
SLOW LEARNERS IN OIL INDUSTRY
There is to be a conference entitled .Petroleum Products: Challenges and Opportunities. in Melbourne in April. It is organised jointly by the Australian Automobile Association and the Australian Institute of Petroleum.
The agenda covers almost the whole gamut of the oil refining and distributing industry. But why does it not touch on the impending exhaustion of Australia.s domestic crude oil supplies?
DE FACTO ROADS COMMISSIONER
Following incidents in which fire engines travelling to the Menai bushfires were caught up in traffic around Sutherland, Bushfire Commissioner Phil Koperburg called for construction of the abandoned high-level Woronora road bridge. The Premier immediately granted the $30M request!
Not to be outdone, the local branch of the Liberal Party called for the new bridge to be widened from two to four lanes.
FEDERAL RAIL INQUIRY
The House of Reps Committee inquiry into rail has received over 90 submissions and from 17 to 25 Feb held hearings at Newcastle, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Committee Chairman, Mr Paul Neville MP, noted in a statement of Feb 20 that .Rail is poised on the brink of a new era or perhaps on the edge of a precipice.. Several submissions have noted that millions of dollars in infrastructure investment is needed, and "Major change is required or else our railways will continue to lose business and our roads will become more crowded than ever"
On Thursday afternoon, 19 February 1998 members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communication, Transport, and Micro-economic Reform and the Standing Committee on Public Works of the Legislative Assembly of NSW travelled on a tilt train trial from Brisbane to Nerang. Earlier that day, the House of Reps Committee had taken evidence in Brisbane for its inquiry into the role of rail in the national transport system. During the trial, the QR tilt train, as a recently assembled six-car set, reached a top speed of about 144 km per hour. The train performed much better on the new track south of Beenleigh, than the older section with more curves between Brisbane and Beenleigh. The QR tilt train is due to enter service between Brisbane and Rockhampton about October 1998.
MOTORISTS - OVERTAXED OR SUBSIDISED?
NRMA Public Policy manager Alan Finlay (letter to SMH, Jan 10.) notes all taxes and charges paid by NSW vehicle users exceeds the current $1.8 billion a year on road works.
However, when we include an annual cost of some $2 billion of road crashes in NSW, plus $2 billion of Sydney congestion costs, and several hundred million for noise and air pollution costs, road vehicle users as a whole are being subsidised. In particular, Sydney car commuters, and freight moved by long distance heavy semitrailers and B-Doubles, are being heavily subsidised.
Meantime, whilst the Carr Government continues each year to allocate record road budgets, there is increasing evidence that road traffic problems cannot be solved by ever more highway construction. Some vehicle demand management, and better off-road options are urgently needed. These include congestion pricing for pea hour car usage in Sydney, plus miss-distance charges for tucks (which New Zealand has had for 20 years) and much improved rail and urban public transport.
Except during clearway hours, buses have been taking up to 25 minutes to travel through Newtown This is not only unacceptably slow, but also makes services unpredictable. Sydney Buses are pressuring South Sydney Council to clear King Street for buses.
IPART PUNISHES OPERATORS
Readers will recall that the Independent Pricing And Review Tribunal in its 1997 determination of transport fares rejected CityRail's request for a fare increase in line with inflation on the ground that not every possible cost-cutting measure had been taken. Needless to say, CityRail services are inadequate in some areas and are getting worse because of shortage of money.
APT understand that a similar reason will be given to disallow a fare increase for Sydney Buses this year. However, inflation is currently so low that most bus fares would not have risen anyway.
APT has identified a number of faults with CityRail's plans for upgrading Lidcombe Station. The existing ramps will go, modern standards for reduced grades on ramps having made their - replacement prohibitively bulky and expensive. Direct access from the side streets to the adjacent platforms, once a great time- and effort-saver, will also be lost, thanks to the dictates of modern automated ticket systems. Passengers will also be denied the current facility of monitoring the arrival of City-bound trains from the overbridge. CityRail is considering other design changes which would reduce walking distances for passengers and facilitate pedestrian flows.
OLYMPIC TRANSPORT .STRATEGIC PLAN
If any reader has been able to glean any useful information from the Olympic Roads and Transport Authority's Strategic Plan could s/he please enlighten us?
The report requires that the bus fleet be adequate and modern but makes no corresponding requirement of the rail fleet, which is the lynchpin of the Olympic transport plan. Readers would be aware that CityRail is short of rolling stock and that the situation can only worsen when the airport line opens.
Meanwhile, Auburn Council has supported APT's objection to the alienation of a large tact of Wilson Park for a busway to connect the western suburbs to the Olympic site (Dec. 97 Newsletter). Council has twice refused a Development Application for it.
Not to be frustrated by a mere elected body, the Olympic Co-ordination Authority has since lodged an application with the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning to have the busway approved without the prior consent of Council.
It appears that Sydney will not have a new integrated public transport ticket system in time for the Olympics. The Public Transport Authority.s grand scheme was to have covered trains3 public and private buses, light rail, ferries and taxis. According to some transport bureaucrats, time has run out. Prepare for a foreign invasion of fare evasion.
WHAT HOPE FOR URBAN PUBLIC TRANSPORT FUNDS?
Today's Australian Governments talk a lot about discouraging car dependency and improving public transport, but rarely allocate mainstream budget funds to it. Too often, money for new public transport infrastructure only becomes available when a politician sees the opportunity to build a personal monument with money from a special fund. You will recall that it was federal .Better Cities. funding which enabled the construction of the Sydney Light Rail. Now the NSW Government has announced (SMH. 8 Dec) that the Dapto to Kiama railway will be electrified. the Wollongong - Picton railway will be completed, and new rail links to Parramatta will be built. It seems that all this can only be made possible by funding from the Commonwealth's $1 Billion Federation Fund, However, Prime Minister Howard doesn't think such pathetic projects are worthy of his Federation handout (SMH, 24 Jan).
The same Governments claim their urban transport policies are encouraging people out of their cars and onto public transport. Those policies are clearly not working. According to a recent survey, the number of motorists who drive every day or most days is now 87%, up 4% since 1995. The number using public transport at least once a week is down 5%. The number who said it was unlikely they would use public transport has grown from 59% in 1995 to 65% in 1997 (SMH, 23 Jan). Perhaps if Governments attached some dollars to their rhetoric ...?
131500 PHONE INFORMATION SERVICE
This service is handling 9500 calls per day with 70 staff. One wonders how we ever got along without it.
State Transit has taken delivery of two hybrid electric-diesel buses
for use in the Ryde area.
Now that the RTA has won the right to complete the most controversial eastern half of its so-called Sydney Orbital freeway network, what further new freeways will it now claim are essential? Will it be the Cooks River Valley Freeway, rejected by the landmark Kirby Inquiry of 1980, or will it be the M6 between Brighton-le-sands and Sutherland?
The owners of the M2 Tollway have mounted an advertising campaign to increase their profits by increasing traffic. This flies in the face of reason and government policies worldwide, which try to reduce the use of cars in cities. APT predicts that one day, such promotion of car use will be controlled in much the same way as tobacco advertising is today.
FERRY USERS COME BEFORE OLYMPICS
We're so used to priority being given to Olympic projects, it's a relief to see the following in Architecture Australia: A proposal to convert Circular Quay's 5 ferry wharves to 4 wharves and a waterfront square in time for the Olympics has been rejected by this Government on the grounds of cost and pre-election inconvenience to ferry passengers.
FERRY CUTBACKS UNWELCOME
At a time when the need and the desirability of public transport should be obvious to all, Sydney Ferries can think of nothing better to do than plan cutbacks. What sort of reasoning are they using? Obviously one in which public transport.s only goal is to make a profit, and if this is not possible, then it serves no practical purpose and should be eliminated. Meanwhile, the residents of Neutral Bay and Mosman will have to fight to keep their early-morning and late-night services.
ADDRESSES OF KINDRED ORGANISATIONS
APT have particulars of similarly-minded organisations in many places, including overseas. If you would like to contact a pro-transit group somewhere and don't know the address, ask us.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Road Pricing - feature articles in The Economist, 6-12 December. This
technology has the potential to reduce traffic in cities.
New Age of the Train - feature article in The Economist, 21-27 February. Railways are reviving, thanks to technology and road congestion.
Transport and the Environment - Developments since 1994. Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (U.K.) 1997. ISBN 0-10-137522-0
A hard day's training - opinion by Jim McClelland in Herald 23 February. Delightful story of what happened when his train service was replaced by supplementary. buses. Send a copy to your local M.P.
Roadblocks Ahead - article saying how closing roads actually reduces traffic. New Scientist, 24 January.
FOR YOUR WEB BROWSER
Home page of Nick Possum whose specialty is exposing corruption in the politics that pervade the provision of transport infrastructure: http://www.brushtail.com.au/nick.possum
FOR YOUR DIARY
BOOT: In the Public Interest? - the Australian Experience of
Private Infrastructure. Conference, 20-21 March, Sydney. Are
Build-Own-Operate-Transfer projects desirable? Enquiries:
Shirley Jones, 9514-2488.
Turning the Corner - a vision for a car-free Brisbane. Conference, Brisbane, 15.April. Enquiries: Smogbusters, (07) 3221-0188.
Moving Smarter - challenges in Traffic and Transport. Conference, 4-5 June, Sydney. Enquiries: AITPM, fax 9875-2855
International Symposium on Travel Demand Management. Newcastle-on-Tyne, 8-10 July. Information: http://www.nci.ac.uk/~nwsl/
International Conference on Transportation into the Next Millennium. Singapore, 9-11 September. Information: http: //www.ntuedu.sg/cts/conference
22nd ATRF Conference - Transport - Getting it Right. Sydney, 30 Sep to 2 Oct. Information: Transport Data Centre, NSW DoT, 9268-2873.
Beyond Oil - Transport & Fuel for the Future - conference, Launceston, Tasmania, 4-6 November. Information: Conference Design. (03) 6340-2786.