MEDIA RELEASE - NEWSLETTER
1999 No. 1 - February 1999 - ISSN 0155-8234
The new marginal electorate of Ryde will be contested on March 27 by the
current Opposition's spokesman on transport, Michael Photios, and Labor's
John Watkins. The candidates have been fighting a war of words, both promising
the electorate better public transport. A recent letter to the editor
of the local Northern District Times from an Eastwood commuter of 12 years
complained of train service disruptions. The editor ruined everything
by noting that the letter was written by Photios' campaign manager.
APT have told the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) safety think tank "Road
Safety 2000" that we no longer wish to be associated with them. This is
because they were using safety as a reason for building more roads whereas
we think that safety is an argument for reducing over-reliance on the private
The NSW government's Staysafe parliamentary road safety committee has released
its report on child pedestrian safety. The report criticises the RTA for
its failure to disseminate relevant research findings on children and road
safety. It accuses the RTA of suppressing studies which showed the RTA
safety education programme in a poor light, and exposes the RTA's attempts
to change the publication date on various reports from 1996 to 1994.
State Transit has called tenders for up to 12 new 300-seat "Supercat" ferries
to replace its "First Fleet" catamarans. Two prototypes will be similar
to a RiverCat with the addition of an upper deck, and should enter service
just prior to the Olympic Games. APT have initiated discussions on the
number of gangways to be provided, weather protection and stair access
for passengers on the upper deck, air conditioning, bicycle accommodation,
and destination signs.
Readers will recall how proud the transport authorities were last year
over the success of the Easter Show public transport arrangements. So
much publicity was given to the shortage of parking that many people who
might have driven used public transport (there were direct buses from many
trainless suburbs). The few parking spaces available were underutilised.
This year, more spaces have been constructed (9000, up from 5000) and the
parking operators want them used. Daytime parking during the Show will
cost a commendably-high $25 per vehicle. It will be interesting to see
how the roads system copes with the heavy demand that may well be placed
on it by Show patrons arriving in cars. And it will also be interesting
to see how public transport revenue suffers.
WHO WILL YOU VOTE FOR?
Prior to the last State election in 1995, the Labor Party promised, among
other things, reform of the Roads & Traffic Authority, including the creation
of a Board of Directors and the stripping of its road planning powers,
the end of the "Los Angeles style road expansion mentality", a review of
the contract for the M2 motorway (North Ryde to Seven Hills), direct train
services from Hurstville to Bankstown, a shift in emphasis from road transport
to public transport, the minimisation of car travel, "much needed railway
line expansion", provision of a transport system which would be environmentally
sustainable, introduction of intermodal tickets during its first term,
the restoration of late night trains, more "nipper" (small vehicle) bus
services, timetables to be posted at all "Government" bus stops, resumption
of construction work on the Maldon to Dombarton railway (a freight line
connecting Campbelltown to Port Kembla directly), rail improvements to
reduce trucks on the Pacific and Hume Highways . . . . . . . . .
It hasn't happened. Like the Coalition government before it, the Carr
Government's public transport improvements have been overshadowed by its
tollway building, which has not only been ecologically unsustainable but
financially and economically suspect. Premier Carr has knowingly betrayed
his personal expertise (he used to be Minister for the Environment) by
authorising the construction of the Airport Motorway. The public pressure
for this tollway would not have arisen had not a previous Labor government
proceeded with the Harbour Tunnel - a financial disaster for taxpayers
which simply shifted a traffic jam from the harbour bridge approaches to
the village-atmosphere streets of the inner eastern suburbs. Carr has
further damaged his credibility by approving the M5-East motorway, and
resurrecting the 10-year old plans for the totally unjustified east-west
city road tunnel.
rail expansion projects commenced under the Carr administration have been
the short Flemington freight bypass tunnel (cost-shared with the federal
government) and the Lidcombe to Olympic Park shuttle. Of the seven PROPOSED
rail projects announced in Labor's much-publicised "Action for Transport
2010" transport plan ( Herald, 24 & 28 November), two won't
open till 2010, three won't even start construction
till 2010, and one, Bondi Beach, has already been aborted, leaving one
(Hornsby - Warnervale) to be operational by 2007.
APT have called on the Opposition to match the Labor plan. A vote for
one of the minor parties on March 27, with your preference directed to
either major party, might send those major parties a strong message.
BUS CUTS COMING?
State Transit is planning bus changes in the area served by its Kingsgrove
Depot but is deferring any detailed announcement until after the State
election on 27th March.
That can only mean the changes are for the worse.
The new Federal Transport Minister, John Anderson, now has some big decisions
to make in the near future about Australia's transport. One is what to
do about a second airport for Sydney. Another is what to do about Australia's
crumbling railway infrastructure. As stated in the October issue of this
newsletter, the Neville report revealed that Australia's railway infrastructure
is in a critical condition and badly needs the injection of considerable
funds which can only come from Canberra.
Austrlia's railways have been rationalised over the last several years
and rail freight services are much more efficient than they were a decade
ago. But at the same time there have been a number of measures which have
allowed road freight to keep ahead of rail freight. Ssignificant among
these has been the widening of the areas in which road trains and particularly
B-double semitrailers can operate. Ten years ago in New South Wales, B-doubles
could operate only west of the Darling River, but now can operate on all
the major highways. This has allowed road vehicles to take a lot more
of the medium heavy freight from rail. There is a clear danger that the
more environmentally- friendly rail freight services will be sacrificed
in the interests of short-term economic rationalism. Let us hope that
Anderson might take some notice of Paul Neville's report and improve at
least some of the more critical rail corridors.
Sydney's Nightride buses, which replace trains from midnight to dawn, have
been around for nearly ten years now. In that time, the routes and schedules
have barely changed at all. Consequently many timetable displays on posts
around the suburbs have suffered the effects of vandalism, weather and
age and are now unreadable. APT requested the controlling body, the Department
of Transport, to replace the signs. The department's response was that
they will commence a replacement programme based upon information supplied
by the Nightride service providers.
Your correspondent can just imagine the contract driver on route N50 jumping
off the bus at Stanmore station at 3 o'clock one winter's morning to check
on the condition of the timetable on the post, and note it on his log!
TRANSPORT A MAJOR ISSUE WITH AGED
The overwhelming issue which emerged from the 1998 Premier's Forum on Ageing
at Bankstown on 29 September was access to public transport. Workshop
outcomes called for greater regulation of, and subsidies for, privately
owned bus services, the breaking of bus service monopolies in the Sydney
metropolitan area, a regional approach to transport planning, government-supplied
buses for community groups, improved physical access to public transport,
and extension of the geographical range of the $1 pensioner ticket. This
last item included an acceptance of a commensurate price increase to $2.
The recent push for a common fare for senior citizens across the whole
of Sydney seems to have overlooked the higher rents paid by seniors in
the eastern and northern suburbs. These higher rents can be partly attributed
to the higher quality government and other services available, including
There has been a rash of closures of transport libraries over the last
ten years, the latest considered for closure being the former State Rail
library. The library has been transferred to Rail Services Australia,
which is commercially oriented.
This library has the best collection in NSW of current railway journals
and directories, with a massive collection of books and back issues of
journals. The intention seems to be to kill it by gradually destroying
its functions, until its users all go away. Its closure would be a serious
blow to local railway planning, and a permanent loss to all who are working
on railways such as engineers and students.
Sydney Ferries know how to charge. A new service from Circular Quay to
the Fish Market at Pyrmont runs at weekends via North Sydney and Balmain.
Pensioner Excursion tickets, FerryTens and TravelPasses can not be used,
and the adult single fare is an exorbitant $4.00.
Are they trying to discourage people from using public transport?
G S T
APT made a submission to the Democrats' inquiry into the proposed Goods
and Services Tax. Like several submissions which received more publicity,
we concluded that the GST had been made-to-order for the trucking industry,
and needed considerable adjustment in order to be fair to the public transport
Readers may be aware that the Fringe Benefits Tax treats the company car
very favourably; FBT is effectively an unjustifiable subsidy to the company
car. See, for example, The Australian of 23 Feb.
The tax system should be used to produce revenue for public
purposes and to implement desirable policies. We must not let it be captured
by the roads lobby.
Given the choice, would you have a used-car salesman run your bus and train
services? The Motor Traders' Association has a seat on the NSW Public
Transport Authority board. The users do not.
FREE CASINO BUSES REDUCED
Many readers will have seen the "free" Star City casino buses which collect
gamblers from various suburbs and take them home afterwards. Passengers
pay fares but most are "re-imbursed" with gambling chips of the same value
as the fare paid.
These services lost many patrons when casino management put up the fares.
Services were then cut back.
LOBBYISTS NEED MORE TIME
Lack of time, not money, is what prevents voluntary transport lobbyists
from achieving more of their goals. That's one of the preliminary findings
of a survey of transport activists and lobby groups conducted by the School
of Geography at the University of NSW in November. Sixteen transport,
bicycle, and commuter groups were surveyed. The results suggest that further
research and analysis might be of interest to public sector organisations
which seek community participation in their activities.
STATION SIGNAGE TRIAL UNDERWAY
CityRail's trial of station signage (October '98 newsletter) has been confined
to three stations, Circular Quay, Wynyard and Redfern, instead of the original
eight. The trial, including user surveys, will be complete by the end
of March. Signage text will be in English only, but extensive use will
be made of pictograms.
CONSTRAINTS ON CAR PARKING IN CBD
Draft amendment No 9 to the Central Sydney Local Environment Plan 1996
proposes to limit opportunities for growth in public car parking, establish
criteria for the assessment of such car parking, reduce the amount of commuter
parking, and restrict the leasing of tenant-related car spaces to non-tenants.
The plans were on display at City Council's One Stop Shop at Town Hall
House. Enquiries - David Snoswell, 9265-9679. Car parking spaces in the
CBD have recently been selling for $80,000 to $90,000 each.
Meanwhile, one of Sydney's first multi-storey car parks, the Kent St parking
station, is to be demolished . . . to build a car park. The existing building
has 1010 car spaces; the proposed one will have 1276. The proposal includes
residential towers. It is also planned to widen yet another expressway,
the Western Distributor (which passes overhead), from 6 to 7 lanes. Where
will it all end? Well, in a watershed advertisement for a large function
at the Homebush Bay Olympic site on 21 February, the RTA said "This Sunday,
there will be no car parking at Homebush Bay".
Our planned metropolitan election campaign ground to a halt in November
when we found we were unable to enthuse other lobby groups (October newsletter).
Those groups who did participate were unable to agree on strategies and
so the impetus was lost. Better results were enjoyed in regional NSW,
particularly in the Blue Mountains-Central West.
For the record, the three issues most wanted by respondents to our mid-'98
First - Reform of the Roads & Traffic Authority - principally the withdrawal
of its stranglehold on transport planning and funding. (We note that the
RTA is to provide most of the funds for the Liverpool to Parramatta Transitway.)
Equal second - Opposition to metropolitan toll roads, a preference for
freight to be moved on rail instead of road, and an improved public transport
telephone information service, to include the provision of information
on privately-owned bus services.
Equal third - Integrated (multi-modal) public transport tickets, and lower
speed limits on roads.
The Department of Transport has recently called tenders for the provision
of an Integrated Transport Information Service (ITIS), which will include
the privately-owned bus services, and is to be operational by November
1999. Incidentally, the current "Infoline" information service (131500)
gets 20,000 complaints annually about bus and train services,
about equally divided.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT DIRECTORY
During December last, the Department of Transport's new Sydney Public Transport
Directory was distributed, or supposed to have been distributed, free to
every household in Sydney, all 1.3 million of them. Another 500,000 copies
are available for sale at tourist offices, all RTA offices and "selected
Only twelve Sydney councils accepted the Department's invitation to sell
the directories. They are Bankstown, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown,
Hawkesbury, Hunters Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Mosman, Leichhardt, Manly, Ryde
and Woollahra. It is irresponsible of the other 30-odd councils that they
could not see fit to participate in this attempt to increase public transport
usage. If you live in one of those areas, why not ring or write to your
council and ask them why they don't sell the directory at their offices
BLOWING IN THE WIND
At the first 1999 meeting of the Transport Panel of the Institution of
Engineers, speakers from the Department of Transport and the Roads & Traffic
Authority described NSW's freight transport strategy. They showed why the
strategy is so important to Sydney.
Limiting growth in road freight is an important objective of the strategy.
However, the Government shows no sign of giving the strategy any priority
over granting political favours to its mates in the roads and trucking
industries. Until it does, the talents of such experts are wasted.
BRITISH ANSWER TO TRAFFIC CONGESTION
In a bid to ease highway congestion and improve bus and train services,
the U.K. Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has released a discussion
paper advocating charges on motorists for access to highways and town centres.
Initially, the funds raised would be put into public transport improvements
PARRAMATTA - CHATSWOOD RAILWAY
The Department of Transport has engaged Kinhill and ERM Mitchell McCotter
to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement for this proposed railway.
Kinhill was roundly criticised for its EIS on Sydney Airport's third runway.
ERM was responsible for a glowing, but inadequate, Statement of Environmental
Effects for a proposed 10-metre-wide public TV screen outside Sydney Town
Hall. The SEE did not properly address the psychological effects on pedestrians
and workers who might have been irritated by the accompanying sound broadcast.
City Council rejected the screen proposal.
NEW TRAINS FOR SYDNEY
The State Rail Authority has told the cycling group Bicycle NSW that it
has taken the needs of the mobility- and visually-impaired, the elderly
and frail, parents with strollers, and cyclists into account in the design
of its new "fourth-generation" train which will enter service in late 2000.
A mock-up of the interior of the train will be publicly displayed in May
The "Cockatoo Run" tourist train, whose demise we reported in our October
newsletter, re-commences on 15 March. It will operate a modified once-daily
return service Thursdays to Sundays between Unanderra and Robertson, laying
over at Robertson from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Enquiries: 1800-64-3801.
NEW PASSENGER FACILITIES
The Olympic transport organisation, O.R.T.A., has called tenders for concept
designs for bus terminals at Olympic venues and bus/rail interchanges at
railway stations. They will need to be better-designed than the new Moore
Park bus station, which has all the ambience, colour and facilities of
a temporary gaol.
WAITING (FOR) SHELTERS
In August 1994 we were concerned to find that there was no intention to
provide waiting shelters at the CBD stops on Sydney's then proposed light
rail line. Believing that such shelters were as essential a part of any
modern, civilised, public transport system as the vehicles themselves,
we decided to take up the cause on behalf of prospective passengers. We
thought that, as the need for shelters was so obvious, we would soon get
agreement from the various parties involved in approval and construction.
Many letters, phone calls and meetings later, we came to realise the power
of the city's aesthetes, who placed much more importance on the appearance
of the city streetscape than on the basic needs of those people, whoever
they were, who used public transport. We got lots of promises but no shelters.
Imagine, then, our surprise when shelters appeared at the light rail stops
in November 1998. We have no doubt that they're there principally for
the advertising revenue they will generate - part of the controversial
advertising-posing-as-street-furniture contract between City Council and
a consortium associated with media magnate Kerry Packer and advertising
personality John Singleton. (There will be 150 new bus or tram shelters
in the CBD alone, with a similar number to be provided in other Local
Under the same contract, most of the CBD's old bus shelters and their accompanying
timetable displays had been removed by mid-December. Most of the new shelters,
already adorned with their advertising posters, appeared very promptly,
but by late February, none of the timetable displays had been replaced
and some stops still had no shelter. Despite promises from City Council,
the timetables at the new shelters may not be readable at night. They
will be fixed to the back wall of the shelter instead of to the roadside
post, where previously they were at least occasionally illuminated by passing
APT have identified a dozen design faults with the new shelters. Many
of them might have been avoided had the prototype shelters been subjected
to service trials as suggested by APT in July 1998.
Ryde Council has also earned criticism for its shelters, supplied by a
different manufacturer. Rain is blown onto the occupants through the gap
between the walls and roof. Council has asked the supplier to modify the
CENTRAL COAST FERRY
A fast ferry, linking Circular Quay and Ettalong in 40 minutes, is planned
to commence service in early 2000. Fast Ships Pty Ltd plans six return
trips each day, charging a one-way fare of about $6. The rail journey
between Woy Woy and Sydney Central currently takes 66 minutes.
MISSING THE BUS
Missed train/bus connections have been the bane of Sydney commuters for
years. In Belgium, 50 bus/rail interchanges are to be equipped with a
computerised display which discourages bus drivers from leaving the terminal
before a late-running train has arrived. The computer calculates a revised
departure time, using a previously-agreed bus waiting time, then generates
a random number which the bus driver must write down. In any dispute over
missed connections, the driver must be able to produce his departure number
to prove he had permission to depart. ( IRJ 2.99)
We apologise to supporters for having produced only three newsletters during
1998. There was simply insufficient newsworthy material toward the end
of the year. The following office bearers were elected at the Annual General
Meeting on 13 November - Convenor, Malcolm Cluett; Secretary, Jim Donovan;
Treasurer, Allan Miles; Management Committee, Graeme Taylor, Kirk Bendall,
Graeme Hoskin, and Kevin Eadie.
The commencement time for our weekly meetings has been changed to 5:30
pm, Fridays. The venue is the level 3 Concourse (lower ground floor),
University of Technology, Broadway, between Harris and Jones streets.
FOR YOUR DIARY
World Sustainable Energy Day - March 4. Enquiries Kathy Fook 9299-0189.
- seminar, 11 a.m., March 13, Granville. Enquiries: Nature Conservation
Train tour to Griffith
March 13-14. Enquiries St James Rail Tours, 9436-2394 or 0412-611-343.
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
Greenprint for Sydney
- policies book from Total Environment Centre. Includes chapters on transport.
Priced $14 from T.E.C., level 2, 362 Kent St, phone 9299-5599.
quarterly. It must be saying something right - the Herald's resident car
fanatic has dubbed it "totally evil".
How Will Transport Adapt? - paper by Brian Fleay delivered at Chartered
Institute of Transport in Australia National Symposium, Launceston, 6-7
- article in The Australian,
19 Oct. Shows how influential this well-known bus proprietor and his
Bus and Coach Assoc. are in the affairs of western Sydney and its transport.
First Abolish the Customer
- 202 Arguments Against Economic Rationalism. Book by Bob Ellis cites
many stupidities caused by blind pursuit of economic rationalism, including
several from the public transport arena. ISBN 0-14-028123-1.