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).


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.


CityRail intends prohibiting all eating and drinking on Sydney's trains. 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 ten minutes. 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.


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.


Action for Air is a State policy document which sets clear but ambitious targets for, among other things, halting the growth in car usage.

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.


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 to 2003/2004. 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 customers'. 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 more services. There is, however, mention of the Independent Pricing and Revenue Tribunal. 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 of 10%. 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 Greenhouse emissions. 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.


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. In their 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 transitway's purpose. 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.
Cartoon about cars on transitways

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.


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.


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 disgrace. 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.


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 from $260,000-$280,000. 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 traffic congestion.


An advertisement for the Sydney Arena at Town Hall station stated: "20 minutes from CBD" and "10,000 parking spaces". 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 congestion too.


Someone is not telling the truth about the surcharge on rail fares to Olympic Park station. 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?


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.
Cartoon about M5 East exhaust stack

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 motorists. 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.


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.


APT have had further input into the design of the new ticket vending machines for CityRail. Recent improvements have made the machines much more user-friendly, but the large range of ticket types still complicates the selection process.


It's official. 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 services. Questions included respondents' status regarding drivers' licence and car ownership. APT think DoT could draw some very misleading conclusions from such data.


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.


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.


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".


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 jimd@computer.org 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 (allanmiles@hotmail.com) who will confirm membership, then ask committee members to add the member to their lists.


As public transport users we are bemused by motorists' complaints about high petrol prices. 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. Yet it 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.


This new NSW Government policy document has been criticised by cyclists as a sham. 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.)


Moving Australia - Conference. 27-28 March 2000, Melbourne. Enquiries: Meeting Planners (03)9819-3700


The Greening of Urban Transport - book by Rodney Tolley, of Staffordshire University. 2nd. edition, Sept. '97. Environmentally sensitive transport planning in Western cities. UK24365. Email customer@wiley.co.uk.


http://www.occg.nsw.gov.au - NSW Council on Cost of Government

http://www.transscan.com/. Short articles on transport in Western Australia. Unfortunately, their Government doesn't read it!

http://www.131500.com.au/. Home page of the Sydney Transport Infoline.

http://www.arch.usyd.edu.au/dept_ads/ publications-f/annexure/ Several articles by John Goldberg on BOOT motorways.