In case you thought that the Sydney public timetable enquiry phone line was the only one which gave wrong advice, note what happened to one of our members who wanted to go to Castle Hill.
He rang Westbus' enquiry number and asked when buses went from Lane Cove. "Our buses don't serve Lane Cove" said the operator. "What about the M2 routes", he replied. "Oh! ... Longueville Road and Epping Road ... is that Lane Cove?" was the response.
The Circular Quay road/rail monolith is to be "opened up" at ground level to provide better views of the harbour. APT have recommended particular attention to weather protection for ferry passengers, additional ferry wharf turnstiles, and abandonment of a proposed restaurant at the George Street end. The sought-after vistas may also be compromised by moored ferries.
Intending ferry passengers at the intensively used Darling Harbour Aquarium wharf now receive quality ferry destination information via a wharf-mounted public address system, radio-controlled from the approaching ferry. Back in May 1993 APT complained about the unprofessional way in which State Transit failed to convey ferry information to its customers, describing it as an insult to the travelling public.
Sydney Buses plans to introduce Airport Express services direct to Glebe and Bondi using new Mercedes midi-buses and charging premium fares. Two new, smaller (150 passenger) catamaran ferries are scheduled to enter service in July and August 1998.
Any member with archival skills is invited to compress our 25 years of records, now more than 5m thick, to a more manageable dimension.
The Concord West derailment, which took about 0.5% of the fleet out of service (most will be repaired soon) highlighted the issue of when the "fourth generation train" will enter service. This new train was originally intended to be in service by early in the year 2000 but has been delayed. One factor in the delay is that the contract is to include fifteen years' maintenance, which is complicating negotiations. Readers will be aware that more services will be needed as soon as the New Southern Railway (the airport line) opens early in 2000. The present carriage refurbishment programme, which now includes the 1960s painted trailer cars, should by then be nearing completion, permitting higher utilisation levels.
Bicycle storage spaces will be provided on the new trains.
Readers who have had dealings with the Public Transport Users' Association in Melbourne will be saddened to learn that Patrick O'Connor died in March.
Patrick had been an active member of P.T.U.A. for many years. He had helped APT on several occasions.
A report in the Autumn issue of the Australian Automobile Association's Motoring Directions gives a summary of the federal Labor party's motoring-related policies as approved by their Hobart conference in January. New policies include supporting public transport in urban areas and (separately) restoring road funding to previous Labor government levels and expanding the national highway network to include critical freight routes such as port access roads and urban ring roads.
The AAA fails to point out that these policies are antagonistic toward each other, in that to support public transport encourages denser cities whereas supporting ring roads fosters sparser road-dominated cities.
With a state election due on 27 March 1999, now is a good time for all public transport proponents to be pressing for public transport improvements in the following marginal seats - Drummoyne, Heathcote, Blue Mountains, Parramatta, Kogarah, and Bathurst (all held by Labor) and Maitland, Georges River, Menai, and Strathfield, held by the Liberals. All are held by a margin of less than 3%. The May state budget allocated $90 million to station upgrades, security fencing, and ferry wharves. Six million dollars will go toward the first stage of the $100m Liverpool to Parramatta busway. More than 45% of the rail capital program will be spent on the new airport railway and the connecting East Hills line. Thirty-eight million dollars will buy 124 buses for the State Transit Authority. Transport Minister Scully said the Budget would lead to better integration of roads and public transport, there being a new emphasis on seeking alternatives to road-building.
The next Government should work towards a greater Sydney with less need to travel, and with longer trips generally carried by high-speed public transport. Progressive large cities try to contain travel demand and reduce the need to travel long distances by road.
The Minister for Urban Affairs & Planning has granted consent to the controversial redevelopment of the Westfield and Grace Bros shopping centres at Bondi Junction. Conditions imposed include reduction in the width of an overhead enclosed bridge, reduction in the number of on-site parking spaces from an ambit 2900 to 2600, and set-backs to the Oxford Street building lines. The number of car spaces at present is about 1800. APT and other community groups had submitted to a Commission of Inquiry that the intensively used eastern suburbs bus services would be undermined by this car-oriented shopping development. Cynics hinted at a possible conspiracy between Westfield and the developer promoting the Bondi Beach railway extension, to reduce the quality of the bus service in order to divert patronage to the higher-fare, privately operated, railway extension.
The biggest problem with Sydney's CBD bus priority lanes, implemented in July '97, is enforcement, according to the City Council's traffic planner. Police are still required to stop offending vehicles and interrogate the driver. They are therefore unable to take advantage of the high-tech camera equipment which is now used to record traffic offences. NSW police are slowly coming to terms with an owner-onus penalties system, which would not require police to stop offending vehicles.
The Bathurst Street bus lane is to be moved from the second lane to the kerbside lane. APT had complained to the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) about the bus passenger safety aspects of large trucks parking in the kerbside lane and protruding into the second lane.
The success of the 1998 Easter Show transport arrangements may have raised community expectations for solutions to Sydney's transport problems to unattainable heights.
Having got up to 85% of show patrons onto public transport, pressure will now be applied to politicians to achieve similar improvements for regular commuter travel to central business districts like Sydney and Parramatta. APT are full of praise for the Easter Show transport arrangements, but warn that their success was only made possible by an unprecedented advertising and signage budget, near-draconian restrictions on car use, and meticulous attention to bus and train coordination and operational details.
Previous attempts at getting people to travel to major events by public transport have failed because of a lack of funding, or authority, to effectively manage the whole transport task. The Olympic Roads and Transport Authority (ORTA) had both the money and the power. APT commend the amount of radio, TV and press advertising, and the professional signage at railway stations and show-route bus stops.
The Western Suburbs Courier of 16 March reported that Strathfield MP, Bruce MacCarthy, had been concerned that Easter Show bus routes would run through the middle of Strathfield, adding traffic to already congested roads. His feelings, if he had any, about a similar number of show visitors using their private cars for the same journey, were not reported.
APT have suggested that more station identification signs, ticket machines and seating should be provided at Olympic Park station. CityRail should also recognise that many thousands of Show patrons would have experienced their first rail trip; CityRail should implement marketing strategies to retain them.
APT have criticised the Olympic authorities and CityRail for increasing the train fare to Olympic Park by stealth. A new ticket surcharge of about $1 is charged for using Olympic Park station. ORTA publicity material claims, incorrectly, that ordinary train travellers to Olympic Park "will pay normal rail fares". CityRail gives a number of arguments to justify the surcharge, but no satisfactory explanation for not publicising it. Similar surcharges will apply to rail fares to the privately owned stations on the Airport railway when it opens in two years' time.
We may never see public transport patronage like this again. A 3500-space car park now being built at Homebush Bay will be one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. However, ORTA is no longer talking of a total 10,000 car spaces on the site.
CityRail will build a new platform at Lidcombe to terminate trains operating an Olympic Park shuttle. Construction of the $12 million, 6000 passengers-per-hour link will commence in September. This tiny embellishment to the CityRail network is the first to be announced by the Carr Government, now in the fourth year of its four year term.
The rail inquiry of the House of Reps Committee on Transport etc. is drawing to a close. Some frank assessment of the main issues was made at a hearing by former Federal Treasurer, Mr Ralph Willis, on May 5 at Canberra: "I must say that what has come out of the inquiry to me is just how bad the system is. I am sort of shocked to realise just what a terrible state the railway system is. It is a national disgrace.
"Obviously, if we are to have a viable industry, it needs a hell of an application of effort by government to bring that about, and a lot more than we look on track to be doing at the present time. In particular, I am really worried about the future viability of rail in the north-south corridor.
"[I]t seems to me that there is a real need for government to think very seriously about where policy is going. This is so especially as, on road, we have more money being poured into the Pacific Highway and money now being put into the Newell Highway, as part of the national road highway, giving a direct link from Melbourne to Brisbane. All that makes road transport more efficient.
"In our circumstances, it seems to me that there needs to be something pretty dramatic done to rail if we are going to have it, or else we should decide not to have it."
We are pleased the the superior design of Olympic Park station has been recognised with an architectural award. Let's hope that future station upgrades match the new standard. It would help build pride of ownership in our community facilities.
On 23 and 24 March, the Sydney Morning Herald ran a feature dubbed "Going Nowhere - Sydney's Transport Nightmare", based on new reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the motoring organisation, NRMA. The Herald printed over 30 reader responses, many of them coincidentally from APT members. One respondent, the Minister for Transport, claimed that public transport usage was increasing, which proved that the government's transport policies were correct. Apart from his crazy logic, the Bureau disagrees with his premise. The Bureau says public transport use has actually fallen by more than 13% since 1991, while car use has jumped 10%. The Herald's letters editor summarised the reader responses, reporting that many unkind thoughts were being expressed about the planners at the Roads & Traffic Authority, and about the air pollution caused by car exhaust emissions. The NSW Year Book reveals that 69% of NSW people are concerned about the environment, 40% thinking air pollution is the main problem. But 71% of them still drive their cars to work.
State Transit's 1998 - 2002 Corporate Plan should be publicly available in July 1998.
Sydney City, South Sydney, and Randwick Councils, and the Darling Harbour Authority, have all awarded their bus shelter contracts to the French Decaux company. APT found the prototype Decaux-brand shelters did not provide adequate weather protection, nor readable timetable displays. Sydney Council promised to address our concerns.
CityRail has introduced a new type of weekly ticket for students at University of Western Sydney's Macarthur campus. The ticket functions as an ordinary point-to-point ticket on Mondays to Fridays but allows unlimited rail travel in the Sydney suburban area from 5.30pm Friday to midnight Sunday. Good idea!
The May federal budget provided $1600M for roads, but only $250M for railways.
APT have suggested to Prime Minister Howard that he consider funding the Sydney - Canberra high-speed train, Goulburn international airport, the Parramatta - Epping - Chatswood railway, or the Liverpool - Parramatta busway out of his so-called Federation Fund. The Prime Minister had previously ridiculed the State Government's nominations for grants from the $1 billion fund.
A UK Royal Commission has suggested doubling the price of fuel over ten years and the imposition of tolls to enter central business districts, in order to restrain traffic growth. The Deputy PM, John Prescott, has agreed in principle. Parisian authorities have resorted to odds-&-evens registration plates on alternate days in order to combat motor vehicle pollution. The tactic reduced traffic by thirty percent on the trial day. Meanwhile, the newly-elected president of the Paris region has declared that "absolute priority will be given to public transport by assigning two-thirds of the budget to it, instead of only half up till now".
Singapore has introduced an electronic road pricing system along the East Coast expressway. As each car goes under a gantry, an in-vehicle unit deducts a toll from its account. The system will be introduced all over Singapore this year. Motoring is still popular in Singapore, despite the high cost of cars (much higher than in Australia) and petrol ($1.60 a litre).
As frequently stated here, car traffic is much more responsive to time pressure (i.e., delays) than to monetary pressure.
The Department of Transport is preparing a summary guide for all Sydney public transport services, for release later this year.
An existing parking station in Kent St Sydney is to be redeveloped with FEWER car parking spaces. Has the tide turned?
North Sydney Council has installed four extended-kerb bus stops, where the footpath protrudes to meet the bus instead of the bus having to pull in to the kerb. Council Engineer, and bus advocate, Tony Lehmann, is working on designs for a traffic-calming chicane which forces cars to zig-zag, but allows buses to go straight through.
APT support the new, much higher, fines for driving offences. Too few motorists acknowledge that the public street should be shared fairly with pedestrians and cyclists. We condemn those NSW Labor Caucus members who tried to stop or defer the new penalties, which are as high as $5500 for repeated unlicensed driving.
To help you understand and deal with the NSW railway hierarchy, here is the current management structure - Chief Executive, Simon Lane; General Manager, Countrylink, Tim Poulter; General Manager, CityRail Stations, which includes ticketing, service information, marketing and security, (Mr) Kim Finnimore; Chief Operations Manager, Arthur Smith; GM Business Development, Dick Day. The public transport information phone line is 131500.
Transport Minister Scully has announced a busway on what was to be the Parramatta - Hoxton Park light rail corridor. No Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared. However, there is to be a Planning Overview released in August, which will be followed by consultation with interested parties, and an EIS will follow. In announcing the project, the Minister offered no explanation as to why years of planning and community consultation, based on light rail for the corridor, appear to have been dumped. APT's efforts to seek an explanation were given what is colloquially known as the mushroom treatment. The influential private bus lobby will have been involved in the change to buses, but will we ever know to what extent?
Leichhardt Council's Light Rail Working Group has released a discussion paper on the proposed light rail extension to Leichhardt. It was on display in the area till 17 June.
The Minister for Transport has rejected outright our representations on behalf of the large number of otherwise-honest train travellers who have been treated like common criminals for travelling without a valid ticket, even though they had what we consider were reasonable excuses. There are many ways in which CityRail can and should change its policies on fare evasion in order not to alienate its honest patrons but still catch the villains. The Minister's blunt refusal to discuss the possibilities is an affront to loyal CityRail patrons, sustains a policy which is a marketing disaster, and is not helpful to his re-election on 27 March 1999.
On 26 April a meeting organized by the Labor Party was held at St Peters Town Hall to discuss the Party's position on Sydney's second international airport. The meeting was addressed by Lindsay Tanner, Labor's federal transport spokesman, and Alex Sanchez from Liverpool Council. Most of those attending were from suburbs hard hit by aircraft noise.
The former Howard Government Minister for Transport, John Sharp never disguised his preference for Holsworthy as the site for Sydney's second airport. With Holsworthy having been ruled out by the government's consultants Rust PPK, the Government has avoided making a decision, and seems likely to lean in the direction of building further runways at Kingsford-Smith.
Both Tanner and Sanchez put strong cases for continuing with the Badgerys Creek option. Opposition to Badgerys has been magnified by the number of possible options for its alignment, and environmental opinion has tended to shift towards locating the second airport near Goulburn. But as these speakers pointed out, there are strong environmental and logistic reasons for choosing Badgerys. The biggest risk is that Goulburn will simply be judged as too far, and a government with the attitude that Sharp displayed over Holsworthy is likely to favour constructing further runways at Mascot.
Badgerys Creek Airport would put limits to Sydney's urban sprawl, and with the excellent transport services proposed by the two speakers would also revitalize the south-west region in the same way the new Southern Railway to Kingsford-Smith is revitalizing South Sydney. Without a good transport system and without the limitations of a new airport at Badgerys there is the certainty of further urban sprawl, and a horrifying increase in car-dependent suburbs and exhaust emissions over the south-west.
Figures from the 1996 Census show that the number of people living within 10km of Badgerys is very small compared to those living within 10km of Kingsford-Smith. (14,900 against 829,000). The number of these affected by noise from Badgerys would be still smaller when non-preferred runway options are ruled out. The disadvantage for Badgerys exists not so much for the present population but for the numbers who will live in the 10km zone if urban sprawl continues. The biggest losers would be the developers, some of whom lobbied Sharp to drop Badgerys in favour of Holsworthy. Their schemes, if they went ahead without government commitment to improved transport, would make the social problems of Green Valley look trivial by comparison. An airport at Badgerys would save us from that prospect and would give improved transport for the area, especially the suburbs of Edmondson Park, Austral and West Hoxton.
We have asked the RTA to preserve rail access routes to existing traffic lanes 7 and 8 as part of its conservation plan for the Bridge.
The Commonwealth Bank recently ran newspaper ads depicting aged public transport users as seriously short of money, with no choice but to use the bus. APT challenged the bank's ill-informed assumptions. We know, as aged folk do, that Sydney's best public transport services are in its most affluent suburbs, partly due to quality community services enhancing the value of real estate. APT suggested the bank change its ad. agency. The bank explained that its campaign was based on "concepts tested by an external marketing research company", adding that "this campaign is by no means an attempt to comment on public transport or create a negative perception of its use, but rather to represent what in reality is a perception that exists within the consumer mindset". Public transport providers and marketers please take note.
The station stopping indicators on Sydney's Town Hall Station platforms now inform passengers that trains stop at "Central - change for airport line". The first airport train does not leave Central until early 2000. Station staff chose not to correct the false information, but to blame the installation electrician. Not good enough, CityRail.
Sydney's State Transit Authority has called for Expressions of Interest to supply an on-board entertainment system for buses and ferries. The system is to be at no cost to State Transit. It must not intrude on the personal privacy of non-participating passengers, and must be "totally vandal resistant". State Transit says the system would only be used on special services, not on route buses. Some years ago, similar proposals for on-train "entertainment" were strongly rejected by rail commuters.
APT have objected to proposals for audible advertising on Sydney's buses.
Regular APT meetings are held at 5:15 p.m. on Fridays, starting at the lower concourse, tower building, University of Technology, Broadway. All are welcome.
http://www.suffolkcc.gov.uk/travelwise/route66.html - an interesting example of real-time information on bus services in regional England.
Special feature on world oil supplies - in Scientific American March issue, including an article by Petroconsultants experts Campbell and Laherrere, who argue that cheaply-recoverable oil is quite limited. Other experts counter that recent developments in recovery and refining processes remove the difficulty. The point is of vital importance to transport services.