MEDIA RELEASE - NEWSLETTER
1999 No. 3 - December 1999 - ISSN 0155-8234
The 23rd annual Australasian Transport Research Forum opened
in Perth on 29th September.
It was officially opened by the W.A. Minister for Transport,
who spoke of the need to prefer public transport over roads.
This is particularly true in Perth, which has been building too many roads
for many years, and now has more road per head than any other
city in Australia and nearly every other city in the world.
The minister then moved on to a press conference, where
he announced the widening of a section of the Mitchell Freeway
(which runs alongside and competes with the Joondalup railway).
FARE RISE NOT JUSTIFIED
The Minister for transport has failed to justify the fare rises of July
1999, which broke a long tradition by exceeding the increase in the
Consumer Price Index.
APT wrote to the Minister in May, asserting that the reasons
he had given to justify the rises were invalid.
His reasons included new vehicles and ferries, improved accessibility,
and safety and security initiatives.
We argued that these kinds of improvements are introduced in
many walks of life, and particularly in public transport's main competitive
field, private motoring, without any increase in user charges.
Such improvements are usually just the result of asset replacement.
In his reply, which took six months to prepare, the Minister reiterates
the new vehicle and safety and security improvements, without explaining
how they justify fare increases.
He also leans heavily on the July IPART determination.
He has failed to acknowledge even the existence of subsidies to
private motoring, as requested, let alone the extent of them or
what the government might do about them.
There is now no alternative to using the pay car park when picking people
up from the International arrivals lounge at Sydney Airport.
The minimum fee is $5, just for driving through the car park.
The airport derives about 45% of its revenue from car parking.
PUNISH THE INNOCENT
CityRail intends prohibiting all eating and drinking on Sydney's
This edict is intended to make trains cleaner by reducing the
amount of food-related garbage left in them.
It sounds extremely difficult to enforce.
Why doesn't CityRail punish the guilty, instead of making rules
which mess-makers will ignore but which will intimidate decent travellers?
A similar remark could be made about enforcing the rules against
fare evasion, but we've run that one before.
On Saturday 6th November, an organisation called
Reclaim the Streets held its sixth Sydney rally
and the third to block Newtown Bridge to all road traffic.
Normally, 28 buses use the bridge every hour on Saturdays.
The rally received acquiesence from shopkeepers and police,
although police support may have been due to a lack of resources
to clear the sustained blockage.
It is clear that bus passengers suffered more than did motorists,
who had more alternative routes from which to choose.
APT estimate that the average bus trip was lengthened by about
And presumably many travellers had to wait at bus stops for longer than
normal before their buses came, even if they knew where to wait.
It is regrettable that professed lovers of public transport
like Reclaim the Streets can't find a more positive way
to express their support.
BUS PRIORITY OPPORTUNITY MISSED
Readers should be aware that new Federal road regulations
apply in all States from 1 December, replacing long-standing
State regulations which were not quite uniform.
Some publicity has been given to a "new" provision (paragraph 77) that
buses drawing out from the kerb have priority over cars.
Many bus stops are on busy roads, with marked lanes
covering the whole width of the road.
Those buses are unlikely get priority when they most need it
because motorists are not accustomed to give way to other
vehicles changing into their lanes.
Unless there is active enforcement of this rule, which has actually
been law in NSW for some time, there will be no benefit to bus speeds.
It's about time that buses received real priority over cars.
INACTION FOR AIR
Action for Air is a State policy document which sets clear but
ambitious targets for, among other things, halting the growth in
The Action for Air Senior Officers' Group is a group of director-level
officers from Premier's (chair), EPA, Dept of Transport, RTA,
Dept of Urban Affairs and Planning, Cabinet and Treasury.
It has been established to oversee the implementation of
Action for Air, ensure coordination and review progress.
The group met with the Nature Conservation Council on 11th October and were
firmly told that they would need to do far more than they are doing if we
are to meet our air pollution targets.
STATE TRANSIT PLAN
The State Transit Authority has released a new 1999-2000
Corporate Plan. The CEO, John Stott, writes: "[the plan]
sets out our objectives and expected performance through
Over the next five years we intend to encourage public
transport use by delivering better quality services, ...."
On reading the plan itself, one finds that it has been
written more from State Transit's viewpoint than the
There is no mention, for example, of attracting
passengers by reducing average waiting time even though
there are ways of reducing waiting time without running
There is, however, mention of the Independent Pricing and
IPART is known to have a preoccupation
with revenue at the expense of other issues.
The Plan states "[IPART] recently recommended a series
of improvements to the way we deliver our services, and
we will pursue these during the life of this plan."
The things which IPART regards as "improvements" have
nothing to do with passenbers.
The Plan expresses keenness to have more bus lanes provided
in main roads for State Transit services.
However, there is
no mention of increased policing of these lanes against abuse by
other vehicles, nor of improving the extent of the priority
accorded to buses.
The Australian Democrats have produced a short booklet justifying the
deal they made with the Howard Government to allow the passing of the GST.
Called A Fairer, Greener Tax System - Delivered
the booklet points to the concessions the Democrats won from the Government
but fails to mention glaring failures.
The Democrats did gain some concessions on diesel fuel, including $75 million
to convert buses and light commercial vehicles from diesel to gas (CNG)
and the removal of diesel excise from rail which will give rail
an advantage over road, mainly for freight.
But the Democrats irresponsibly caved in to the Government over public
transport, allowing it to be subject to the GST.
The result is that public transport fares will increase by the best part
The system which is already biased against public transport will be much
more biased against it after the GST is introduced.
The cave-in by the Democrats was quite unnecessary considering the desperate
state the Howard Government was in after months of negotiations with Senator
Harradine produced the Harradine "I cannot" decision.
Harradine and the much-maligned Senator Colston both voted against the GST.
The resulting deal is bad news for the urban environment and makes a mockery
of the commitments by both Government and Democrats to the reduction of
In a letter to an APT member, the Democrats said that although they
tried to persuade the Government that public transport
should be GST-exempt the Government would not budge, and it was not a matter
the Democrats had demanded during the election campaign.
They have contented themselves with the argument that there have to be both
wins and losses in any deal and that fares will probably increase
by about 7% or 8%.
The haste to make a deal seems to have caused the Democrats to
forget that they held the whip-hand after the Harradine rejection of the GST.
It is incumbent on them to do better in the future if they are to claim
to be an environmental party.
CARS ON TRANSITWAYS?
The Carr government's policy Action for Transport 2010
shows a network of proposed transitways running from Rouse Hill
in the north, to Liverpool in the south and Strathfield in the east.
For the time being APT's concern is focussed on the transitway
proposed to run north-south through the current Boral quarry site at
Greystanes, just east of Prospect Reservoir.
redevelopment application for the site, Boral and its contractors ERM
have altered the original proposals, now to include a road
called the "M4 connector", parallel to the transitway
and which links the M4 to the Wetherill Park industrial area.
We maintain that this new proposal runs entirely contrary to the
Not only would the transitway's usage be lowered with a competing
roadway running right beside it, but traffic would be increased at
both ends and so directly affect bus travel times.
The area will also lose any environmental benefit which public
transport would bring.
APT, along with ROBSHAFT (Residents of Blacktown and Seven Hills
Against Further Traffic), are keeping a watchful eye on developments.
We will continue to remind the transport Minister of his government's
commitment to construct the bus-only transitway system, with all its
attendant benefits to the people and environment of Western Sydney.
APT are concerned that the RTA has advertised for a Manager of
Transitways, whose qualifications are to include that of
a roadbuilder but is not required to have expertise in
operating public transport systems.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT OPINION POLL
The NSW Government's Council on the Cost of Government recently
conducted an opinion poll on the activities and performance of the
NSW Department of Transport.
The survey related particularly to the DOT's Development,
Co-ordination and Planning Program.
APT was not among those whose opinions were sought, so CoCoG may
never know that, above all, the Department of Transport is mis-named,
and that its relationship with the private bus industry is so "cosy"
that its task of industry regulator is seriously compromised.
WASTEFUL GLORIFICATION OF ANZAC BRIDGE
The Roads & Traffic Authority's $250,000 plan to floodlight this bridge is a
cynical attempt to iconise an RTA edifice which is really a public-expenditure
The bridge, when built, was too high, too wide a span, and at
$170 million, too expensive.
There are much more worthwhile projects
deserving of taxpayer funds.
PENSIONER FARE CONCESSIONS
We have told the Public Transport Authority's Review of concession
fares, that if the government genuinely wishes to address imbalances
or unfairness in current transport subsidies, then it should quantify
the current subsidies to motor car users.
These subsidies far outweigh those to public transport users.
We also reminded the Review that on 21 September, the
Minister declared that the current $1 pensioner concession ticket
would not be means tested.
The Review's September "Issues" paper had hinted that
means testing might be used as a means of reducing the cost of the
subsidy to government.
The Productivity Commission has just released a report
on the taxi industry in Australia.
The report recommends de-regulation of taxis.
At present entry into the industry is very tightly controlled by
the issue of taxi licences and number plates which in New South Wales cost
Anyone trying to set up his own service in
competition with the regulated service will be hit by a $10,000 fine for
a first offence.
The regulations are so restrictive as to make organized
car-pooling schemes ineffective despite the Government giving
lip-service to such schemes.
The report confirms our worst suspicions that the inflated cost of taxi
licences is eventually borne by consumers.
It estimates that fares would
drop by 30
It also confirms studies
that the hardest hit by the high costs are low-income households.
This would be especially the case in the urban sprawl areas of Western
Sydney where public transport is inadequate.
Reform would have to be phased in or else those who have already paid
the inflated costs of licences would be very hard hit.
In the meantime the NSW Government could permit multiple hiring.
It was permitted for the day of the last rail strike, but why not all
the time - that is if the Government is sincere about reducing
An advertisement for the Sydney Arena
at Town Hall station stated: "20 minutes from CBD" and "10,000
There was no mention of public transport.
In view of the traffic chaos on the first night of a production at the Arena
where the show started an hour late because of
traffic congestion, perhaps Arena should not mention that there is any
carparking available at all.
After all, it is likely that bus services were caught up in the traffic
FARES TO OLYMPIC PARK
Someone is not telling the truth about the surcharge on rail fares to Olympic Park
In TV news reports on 2 September, CityRail said it was a
carry-over from the former separate train and bus fares to the Olympic site,
before the station was built.
But in May last year, CityRail told APT that
the fare surcharge was being applied by the Olympic authorities, and was
being paid to them, in return for their contribution to the cost of building
the new station.
Someone in CityRail is not telling the truth.
The real question is, why?
CROSS CITY TUNNEL
Readers may recall that the pretext for not conducting an
Environmental Impact Study into a CBD light rail loop from Central
to Circular Quay was that it would have too much impact on traffic
congestion and that it should be postponed until after an east-west
road tunnel had been built.
The latter has been approved for EIS.
The latest RTA proposal is about 2 km long, connecting the Airport
Tollway and the current Kings Cross Tunnel to the Western
Distributor near Darling Harbour.
The RTA assure us that the new capacity will not induce
any extra traffic, because the roads at each end (through
Darling Harbour and Rushcutters Bay) are already so congested
that no capacity is available for further traffic.
This might be the case in peak hours.
However, the RTA's credibility has been weakened
by their refusal to explain why exhaust from the tunnel will
not be treated before being discharged into city air.
Turrella residents are currently agitating for exhaust from
the M5 East tunnel to be treated.
The prime traveller beneficiaries of the
new tunnel will be cross-city motorists, who will be happy to
pay a toll because they avoid waiting at up to 18 signalled intersections.
The proponents say that considerable benefits will be realised by
public transport users because bus services will have the traffic
that hampers them taken away.
There will be other benefits in the CBD to pedestrians and other
However, the project is essentially a gift to big business.
The issue of re-opening studies of the light rail CBD loop,
suspended "until the cross-city tunnel is built", is not
mentioned in the RTA's pro-tunnel leaflet.
RAILWAY SQUARE BUS STATION
The Minister for Public Works has finally acknowledged that there are faults
with this building, has given up defending it, and has referred us to the
Government Architect, who designed it.
APT have met with the G.A. and are
pleased to report that our complaints about the lack of weather protection,
seating, and toilets will be addressed, as will the problems of surface
water drainage and heat transmission through the glass roof.
We have identified eight design faults, affecting passenger convenience, in
State Transit's new Mercedes buses.
All the faults might have been avoided
had STA sought passenger involvement in the design process.
Our July 1998 request to view the designs was never acceded to by STA.
NEW RAILWAY TICKET MACHINES
APT have had further input into the design of the new ticket vending machines
Recent improvements have made the machines much more user-friendly,
but the large range of ticket types still complicates the selection process.
FERRY TIMETABLES USELESS
You cannot use a Sydney Ferries timetable and expect to catch the ferry.
That's because, under Sydney Ferries policy, the time
shown on the timetable is the time that the ferry LEAVES the wharf.
Now, since crews have to withdraw gangways, cast off, and perform other safety
and operational duties, you must be on board between one and five minutes
before the time shown in the timetable.
The period depends on the type of ferry, which wharf you are at, and a
myriad other operational factors.
Only Sydney Ferries knows the complexities of those issues, so you,
the intending passenger, have to guess how soon you must board the ferry
before the advertised time.
We have pointed out the passenger frustration aspects of
this policy to ferries management, to no avail.
To add to the risk, ferries
frequently depart wharves before the advertised time, and management simply
wouldn't know, unless someone made a specific complaint.
On a brighter note, Sydney Ferries has agreed to curtail on-board "muzuk",
to investigate the feasibility of later-evening Parramatta River services,
and has agreed to progress our design recommendations on the new Supercat
ferries, currently under construction.
In mid October, Tavener Research was conducting a telephone survey on
behalf of the Department of Transport regarding Parramatta River ferry
Questions included respondents' status regarding drivers' licence
and car ownership.
APT think DoT could draw some very misleading
conclusions from such data.
TRANSPORT SAFETY ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Minister for Transport has extended APT's representation on this
committee for another twelve months.
At APT's AGM on 12 November, Kevin Eadie was elected Convener,
Jim Donovan Secretary, Allan Miles Treasurer, and Kirk Bendall,
Matthew Bogunovich, Graeme Hoskin and NS now constitute
the Management Committee.
We meet every Friday at 5.30pm in the Lower Concourse, University of
Technology, Broadway, Sydney, to handle mail, exchange information,
receive reports, and to develop policies and discuss strategies.
WHAT WE HAVEN'T DONE
We occasionally receive complaints about our failure to address certain
shortcomings of Sydney's transport system.
We are the first to acknowledge that our lack of resources
prevents us from doing all that we would like to do.
It is for this reason that we have not been able to pursue, among other
things, the Government review of public transport concession fares, the
Senate inquiry into global warming, and discrimination in job vacancy
advertisements where applicants are "required" to have a car.
NOT BUS SHELTERS AGAIN!
Yes, at last, a few more intending passengers can now sit down and
wait for their bus, now that vision-obstructing advertising panels
have been removed from nine of the Decaux / Packer "advertising"
bus shelters at the major
city terminals in Alfred St. and Carrington St. (Newsletter, July 99).
Oblivious to the obstructions to pedestrians caused by its
"street furniture" advertisements and the sheer impracticality of its bus
shelters, Decaux has applied to Standards Australia for a design
award for its "furniture".
READER PARTICIPATION VIA THE NET
Readers can now view APT's weekly meeting agendas, and even submit new
items, via the Internet.
To see the agenda for the next Friday, go to
To add an item, send an email to
clearly describing your item.
You should do this by noon on Thursday.
As most meetings have at least ten agenda items, you will need
to attend in person to ensure your item is addressed.)
The net now also enables members to be better informed
about our activities, without attending meetings.
Members who would like to receive copies of emails
circulating within APT management should email Allan Miles
who will confirm membership,
then ask committee members to add the member to their lists.
THE PRICE OF PETROL
As public transport users we are bemused by motorists' complaints about high
The distillation of petrol from crude oil, itself a finite
resource, consumes vast amounts of energy.
Expensive safety regimes are
required to transport, store and distribute it across the globe.
sells for half the price of soft drink, a totally benign, totally renewable,
locally produced mixture of sugar and water.
Please use the enclosed postcard to send a short note to the Premier or your
local Member about your major transport concern.
Your MP's address is on page 2130 of the 1998-1999 L-Z phone directory.
"ACTION FOR BIKES"
This new NSW Government policy document has been criticised by cyclists as a
It devotes less than 1% funding to bicycles.
Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon said Perth spent as much on
cycleways, but had only a third of the population of Sydney.)
FOR YOUR DIARY
Moving Australia - Conference.
27-28 March 2000, Melbourne.
Enquiries: Meeting Planners (03)9819-3700
FOR YOUR LIBRARY
The Greening of Urban Transport
- book by Rodney Tolley, of Staffordshire University.
2nd. edition, Sept. '97.
Environmentally sensitive transport planning in Western cities.
FOR YOUR WEB BROWSER
- NSW Council on Cost of Government
Short articles on transport in Western Australia.
Unfortunately, their Government doesn't read it!
Home page of the Sydney Transport Infoline.
Several articles by John Goldberg on BOOT motorways.