1999 No. 2 - July 1999 - ISSN 0155-8234


Peter H. Edwards describes feelings engendered by dread of "entertainment" in trains - see article below.

   When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
   Is summoned up a loud intruder's shout,
   And raucous music to our ears is brought,
   We ask for condemnation on the lout
   Who sells the private precincts of our mind
   As space for touts, compulsorily acquired.
   Our right to golden silence we now find
   Contemptuously ignored by those who, mired
   In cheapjack commerce, count us all as sales,
   Or tip their trashy muzak in our ears
   Under the false impression, which prevails,
   That otherwise we might be bored to tears.
   Not so. And let us warn the minister
   We find his scheme both vile and sinister.


An APT member just back from Melbourne reports that fare evasion on the trams is now rampant. He was told by a local that he hasn't cancelled his ten-ride ticket for weeks, even though he travels into the CBD by tram every weekday. He also saw housewives trying to sweet-talk their way through the wide gate at Melbourne Central station.

A local identity, known as Super Conductor, will be a candidate in the forthcoming Victoria election. He will campaign on a platform that includes bringing back tram conductors.


Announcements of new public transport routes sometimes attract less-than-credible opposition from Not In My BackYard ("NIMBY") groups. Memorable examples include opposition in Balmoral to a proposed new ferry service from Circular Quay, perhaps because it might have brought ordinary people into their harbourside suburb. Again, when a railway from Chatswood to Warringah was mooted, residents of Roseville Chase objected to a railway bridge across Middle Harbour. The railway would have been parallel to a very noisy road bridge and would have reduced pressure for a new road bridge elsewhere.

In the present case, residents around the West Lindfield campus of the University of Technology mounted a campaign against the Parramatta-Chatswood railway based on exaggerating its impact on nearby Lane Cove National Park. The residents sought support from the broad Green movement. However, APT have reminded several green organisations that the railway will remove much traffic from main roads and hence its benefits exceed its costs.


In a letter to commuters on 23 March (before the election) the Minister for Transport said "A basic tenet of the Carr Government has been that ticket prices only increase broadly in line with the Consumer Price Index".


Bus operator State Transit is hailing the success of recent police blitzes on the illegal use by some motorists of Sydney's Victoria Road "T3" Transit Lane. Police issued fines totalling more than $8000 in one operation on 21 May. Enforcement has been erratic for years, due to a claimed lack of police resources and the absence of suitable lay-by areas to stop and interrogate offending motorists. The recent police campaigns have been attributed to pressure from the bus drivers' union, which had to arrange for the temporary relocation of a bus stop to provide a lay-by. APT find it extraordinary that traffic managers can pride themselves on achieving once a month what should have happened every day for the last twenty years.

In London, cameras have been used for bus-lane enforcement since 1997, and won the prestigious Bus Industry Award in 1998.


Remember to ask your candidates about their understanding of and support for your local public transport services. We acknowledge the commendable record on transport matters of Sydney City Councillor Julie Walton, who is not standing for re-election. Ms Walton is also a board member of the State Transit Authority.


CityRail placed a full-sized mock-up of its new "Millenium" train on public display during July. A market research firm sought passenger comparisons with CityRail's existing rollingstock, surely an unproductive exercise, since one would expect any new train to compare favourably with existing designs when even the newest of them is now more than twelve years old. (A Tangara train mock-up was exhibited in 1986). If Sydney wants to be considered a world class city then its public transport must also compare with that in other "world" cities. Some Asian or European city unveils a new train design about every other month.

The new train has reversible seating, better stairways, and internal destination/next-stop displays. Curiously, the tops of the seat cushions again are flat, the very shortcoming of the Tangara which Cityrail sought to defend in 1989, claiming the seats were designed by an ergonomist. Ultimately, of course, CityRail bowed to consumer pressure and modified nearly all the transverse seats in the entire Tangara fleet. There is no storage space for bicycles, despite it having been government policy since 1995.


City Council is promoting a road tunnel under William, Park and Druitt Streets, half as long again as the Roads & Traffic Authority's November 1998 plan for a similar project. The RTA's proposal is itself a re-hash of a 1989 Kumagai design. A Council brochure issued in April 1999 extols the virtues of its proposal, as compared with the RTA's.

Architect Greg Crone, a member of Council's study team, addressing a public meeting at the Customs House on 3 July, proudly declared that he was passionate about the project, and described, in glowing terms and impressive before-and-after pictures, how it would make a "boulevarde" of William Street, and create "sidewalk cafes", and a "Darling Harbour lifestyle". Apparently the tunnel will somehow enable the dismantling of the Darling Harbour overhead expressway ramps. He also confessed a particular dislike of the queues of buses in George Street and the huge amount of kerbspace taken up by bus stops. He said the tunnel would enable many of those bus stops to be placed underground. The tunnel would magically create a park opposite the Town Hall, and provide a new bus-rail interchange there, (underground and out of sight) providing relief for the heavily congested Town Hall Railway Station.
Cartoon about cross-city tunnel

Mr. Crone did not say whether the tunnel would, by its very existence, generate more traffic on the east-west route through the city, or where any resultant congestion might then manifest itself. He did not predict whether the tunnel might encourage motorists to make more journeys or whether those journeys might be longer than they are now, nor exactly how the Expressway flyovers would disappear. He did not elaborate on what effect the placing of buses underground and out of sight might have on the attractiveness of bus services or passenger amenity. He did not explain how the new underground interchange would relieve pedestrian congestion on the platforms of the station, and he did not explain why this project was more deserving than any other of $400 million expenditure, which could grow markedly.

On the subject of "induced" traffic, the council brochure claims that "a substantial portion of the extra cost (above that of the RTA plan) can be derived from extra toll revenue from additional patronage". It does not recognise such additional traffic as being in any way a problem elsewhere on the roads system.

City Council is an elected government, not a roadbuilding authority. Why isn't it giving more balanced information?


Commuter groups have been invited to comment on the design of new touch-screen ticket vending machines for Sydney's Airport Railway, due to open in early 2000. Not everyone in the community is computer-literate. The wide range of computer literacy skills, and the huge amount of information to be displayed on the screen (e.g. the names of CityRail's 306 stations) present problems. A "Windows" based screen layout would be easy for some patrons, perhaps even a majority, but might generate long queues when presented to a less computer-literate purchaser. To be cost-effective, the machines must process purchasers as quickly as possible. CityRail is considering multilingual capabilities for the machines at the airport stations.


Contrary to what is happening in Victoria, the NSW Minister for Transport has confirmed his Government's commitment to retaining the existing government-owned rail, bus and ferry services in public ownership.


Sydney City Council has amended its planning policy in an attempt to constrain the recent rapid growth in the provision of long-stay commuter car parking in the central business district and to stimulate public transport usage.

The controversial Amendment No. 9 was supported by the government-owned transit operators, the Environment Protection Authority, and the Roads & Traffic Authority. APT and the Bicycle Federation also supported the amendment. No other consumer or environmental group responded to APT's call for support. The amendment was strongly opposed by the city's commercial car-park operators and property owners. Sydney University's transport guru, Professor David Hensher, described Council's approach as piecemeal, and lacking support from scientific evidence and argument.


Sydney Ferries has given us verbal assurance that our suggested design improvements (February newsletter) will be incorporated in its new 300-seat "Supercat" ferries.


There has been passionate support for our condemnation of so called on-board entertainment on long-distance buses and trains in Australia. Our concern was aired in the travel section of the Sydney Morning Herald of 5 June. The banal videos and radio programmes long favoured by the bus industry are now creeping into the lower priced sections of long-distance trains. As one respondent noted, the bus industry judges that the majority of its customers are "box-heads", and it caters to them. This does not entitle the industry to force its customers to consume video and audio material, when many of them clearly do not want it. This is especially true where particular operators enjoy a monopoly on a given route and the traveller simply has no choice of service provider. The long-term solution seems to lie in the provision of headsets for individual audio reception, as used on airlines and on Queensland's new Tilt Train. The bus industry claims it gets few complaints, which proves nothing, but its real reason for not equipping buses with headsets is probably the cost, and the effect it would have on bottom-of-the-market fares.


The state government claims to be working on a plan to extend the present $1 seniors' concession fare beyond the State Transit/CityRail inner suburban operational boundaries to the western suburbs, which are served by privately owned buses. The extension of State Transit bus services into the western suburbs would go partway to achieving that goal. The private operators have been operating through State Transit's territory to the City for years now. What is it that prevents the Minister from getting the long-promised route 510 bus to penetrate "private" territory, from Ryde into Parramatta?


The development of a second city ferry terminal at the foot of King Street has been approved, but is unlikely to be operational before the Olympics. The first priority is to have a new charter vessel facility operational by July 2000. APT are pressing for improved signage and ticket purchasing facilities at the existing Darling Harbour ferry wharf, adjacent to the new development.


Sydney's suburban Ashfield Council was faced with an angry overflow public gallery at its 18 May meeting. The seventy-odd crowd objected to a proposed diversion of the number 472 bus down THEIR street, which would enable it to better serve a retirement home. To escape the heat, Council took the time- honoured course of delegating the matter to a new committee.


APT have objected to a planned refurbishment of the recently-sold Transport House, above Sydney's Wynyard Station, which would prohibit public use of the York Street colonnade, depriving pedestrians of weather protection which they currently enjoy. We have also requested improved access to York Lane, which distributes train commuters to the north and western sectors of the CBD. City Council is about to re-exhibit amended plans.


Standards Australia has entered Stage Two of its Real Time Passenger Information Project, which it is co-sponsoring with the international public transport operators' association, UITP. The project will develop policies, guidelines and technical standards for the provision of real-time service information to passengers. It will aim to ensure that the real-time information systems in use or being developed by the various public transport providers can be integrated to provide easy access to such information for consumers. The project findings will be used to develop Australian Standards for passenger information.


The debacle over Sydney's new architect-designed but non-functional bus shelters continues. Last summer, the glass roofs transmitted so much heat, waiting passengers sought relief by crowding outside the shelters, in the narrow shadows cast by the shelters' steel frames. The shelters in Elizabeth Street and elsewhere have a wall of advertising on the bus-approach side, so the internal seats are unusable. City Council's response to complaints is that the shelters were designed by architect Professor Philip Cox, so they must be all right. Professor Cox's minders have not allowed us to talk to him and City Council has not yet replied to our correspondence of 23 March and 4 June. As a direct result of Council's shelters-for-advertising contract, the majority of the city's bus stops have now been without timetable information for more than six months.

The new $12 million Railway Square bus station has been universally acclaimed by architects and politicians, who probably don't use it, and widely condemned by the people who do. There is inadequate protection from sun, wind or rain, confusing signage, insufficient seating, inferior surface-water drainage, no bubblers, no toilets, and no information at the information kiosk. At one point, rainwater discharges from the roof directly onto a seat. At others, it courses across the paving because there are insufficient drainage grates. Despite the high expenditure, the operational problems arising out of the large number of outbound buses on a variety of routes serving a single stop, have not been resolved. There is now less kerbspace available for buses than there was previously, the internal bus lane having been removed. APT has requested that the shortcomings be immediately addressed. Again, our letters have gone unanswered, but the Government Architect, Chris Johnson, has invited users to make suggestions as to how the building could be made waterproof. His phone number is 9372-8411. APT intend offering a solution, conditional upon our receiving half of the architect's fee, which would have been in the region of $1 million. The building was recently nominated for the Sulman Awards for architecture.
Cartoon about bus shelter

The $22 million Circular Quay ferry wharf upgrade is being carried out by the same managers.

The new temporary bus/rail interchange at Bondi Junction, handling 2500 buses a day, has shortcomings similar to those at Railway Square. The weather protection is inadequate and pedestrian congestion persists. APT are seeking formal user representation in the design of the permanent interchange which is being incorporated in the Meriton residential towers now under construction. The question is: if $12 million of government money gave us the white elephant at Railway Square, what hope is there for a user-friendly solution at Bondi when it is being built at lowest cost by a land developer?

With some irony, the Legislative Assembly's Public Works Committee is preparing a report to Parliament on the acquisition and maintenance of infrastructure, with a focus on project management and technical services. Submissions close 20 August. Enquiries: 9230-3308.


The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 took effect from 1 July. It consolidates the former clean air and water and noise control statutes. Information is available from 131555 or http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au


On both the day before the recent NSW election, and immediately after it (26 and 29 March) developing Sydney's public transport system was mentioned at about 6th in lists of issues in the Herald.


A $60m freight line between Hexham and Fassifern has been proposed. Freight trains could bypass residential areas, permitting 24-hour operation. Such a project would increase Newcastle's status as a port, because all other ports between Melbourne and Newcastle suffer from delays and curfews. - Newcastle Herald, 31 May

APT think this will improve passenger and freight efficiency, in time, emissions and energy.


A bouquet to Kinko's copy service in the former Broadway post office site just past Railway Square. Their extended hours shopfront, with its bright coloured lights, re-humanises an area which has been run-down since the banks and post office moved away. And it illuminates a bus stop.


Rockdale Council has engaged a transport planner/strategist to enable the council to take a stronger role on behalf of local residents. Why not ask your council to do the same?


In the last twelve months, three important reports on rail have been released. The Neville report "Tracking Australia" was discussed in our October newsletter. Next, the Productivity Commission's draft report was released in March. Although the latter recognised that rail reform will also need road reform, it was not too concerned about track quality and did not make a recommendation of what would be an appropriate level of Commonwealth funding of track.

However, the Smorgon Committee whose report "Revitalising Rail - the private sector solution" was released on 31 May also listed the lack of an integrated national transport strategy and "...Substandard national track" as major barriers to improved rail performance. It also recommended that the current allocation of $250 million be increased to $720 million. Even so, the Smorgon report conceded that such an investment is unlikely to bring the national track up to a standard that would meet what Australia's Transport Ministers agreed to at their 1997 "Rail Summit". This would include the average speed goal for intermodal interstate trains of 80 km/h, which was shown at the International Rail Track Conference held in Melbourne in May 1999 to require at least some curve easing and re-alignment in both NSW and the Adelaide Hills.

The Productivity Commission's final report is due in August 1998. Will it be "fair dinkum" and support the Smorgon Committee recommendation for more funding, or will it obfuscate the issue? In the meantime, the Australian Rail Track Corporation is doing the best job that it can within its fiscal and other constraints.


Part of the Democrat amendments to the Goods and Services Tax calls for action to reduce the likely boost to greenhouse emissions caused by adjustments to diesel excise. Accordingly, the Australian Greenhouse Office has been running public consultation forums to collect ideas about alternative fuels.

At the Sydney session, APT pointed out that reducing fuel use was missing from the agenda. Federal attention should be drawn to wasteful policies such as excessive road-building in Sydney.


Readers will be aware that the Carr government intends alterations to the State constitution that will reduce the power of cross-bencher MLCs to influence decisions. Some cross-bench MLCs have been interested in alternatives to the motor car. APT hope this interest will continue; we are not in favour of emasculating the Council


Environmental Law course for green campaigners - 3 evenings in Aug-Sep. Enquiries: Env. Defend. Off. (Debbie) 9262-6989

Pedestrian Summit - toward a charter of pedestrians' rights. 23-24 Sept. - Ped. Council. Enquiries: Ian Napier 9956-7515.

AusRAIL99 - conference for the Australian rail industry. 3rd-5th November, Darling Harbour. Secretariat: 9241-1478.


Urban Transport - Earthwatch debate broadcast on 2RN at 7:30am on 26th June and 3rd July. Features Hensher, Newman, Mees et al. Transcript: http://www.abc.net.au/science

Environmental Criteria for Road Traffic Noise - new booklet prepared by the NSW Environment Protection Authority. How any control is to be implemented is not clear. Copies: 9795-5000.

City on the Move - discussion paper prepared by the City of Sydney. Contains numerous suggestions, many quite innovative and interesting. Copies available from Council, Town Hall.

Sustainability and Cities - Overcoming Automobile Dependence. Book by Newman and Kenworthy yet again emphasising the importance of public transport systems which provide trips at speeds comparable to cars. ISBN 1-55-963660-2.


APT web site is currently at http://www.aptnsw.org.au/ containing policies, newsletter archive, links, campaign stuff etc.

http://www.treasury.nsw.gov.au/bp99-00/bp3/bp3.htm gets you State Treasury Budget Estimates, from where you can select "Minister for Roads" to see in either PDF or Word format just what your government is spending on transport this year.

Mobility for the 21st Century http://www.apta.com/info/online/m21final.htm

Dr. Colin Campbell's speech to the U. K. House of Commons explaining oil depletion, complete with slides: http://www.oilcrisis.com/campbell/commons.htm

Car-Free Housing in European Cities: http://wwwistp.murdoch.edu.au/publications/projects/carfree/carfree.html

An easy way to reach all web sites of Sydney transport operators is to go to http://www.sydneytransport.net.au