Sunday, 29 December 2013

Lies, deception and subversion of public servants at Circular Quay

Circular Quay bus terminals
Circular Quay tram stop
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is currently investigating the awarding of leases for restaurants at Circular Quay without going to tender. This may have resulted in taxpayers missing out on rent collections worth a few tens of thousands of dollars a year, although it is claimed the restaurants are now operating at a loss. A few metres to the south however, a project has unfurled that will cost taxpayers and/or public transport users billions of dollars and will have irretrievable consequences for the City of Sydney. Senior Public Servants have used systemic deceit to promote this project.

The Deputy Director General at Transport for NSW, Chris Lock told the Randwick Business breakfast in April that "we have run out of real estate" - kerb space for bus stops. This is patently untrue. Less than half the kerb space in Alfred Street is currently used to turn buses around. The limited lane space in George Street between Martin Place and Margaret Street is what limits the numbers of buses that can use Alfred Street to turn around. Congestion in this part of George Street is not a result of vast hordes of commuters trying to reach Circular Quay by bus - the buses are largely empty by this stage - it is the direct result of the failure of the O'Farrell government to properly schedule bus services from Broadway. O'Farrell is using this failure to demand carte blanch to obliterate most of the places in the CBD and its immediate surounds where it is physically possible for buses to turn around and maintain scheduled departures.

The 9/11 2013 brochure Sydney City Access Strategy contained a map showing the numbers of passengers currently entering the city centre 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM. The number of arrivals by ferry at Circular Quay was 4000. Most of these would be from Manly and since Manly and the bus routes that feed into it have no proximity to a rail station, most would seek to board a train service.

The EIS confirms this observation. The figure above is an extract from the Sydney Light Rail Round 5.2 Demand Report, 2013 which I have not been able to access. Even on the absurdly optimistic assumptions of Booz & Company less than 500 commuters are projected to transfer from ferries to the trams during the AM peak. This figure would get less in future if a competent post-O'Farrell government established a ferry terminal at Barrangaroo.

Clearly Sydney needs a tram system that (chant) "can deliver up to 19,000 people in each direction" to Circular Quay, like a hole in the head. The big problem for the less than 500 people per hour silly enough to try to catch the trams will be working out which of the three platforms the next tram will be arriving at. Crossing the tracks between the platforms to catch a departing tram could prove fatal.
The figure above is from the same page of the Technical Papers EIS as the first figure. These are the only extracts from the undisclosed 5.2 Demand Report. They confirm that the trams will be running on empty when they pass the trio Town Hall Station stops.

The Results of Gonski's Test - FAIL

Booz & Company explain in the Technical Papers that when the O'Farrell government decided to press ahead with the Project regardless of any criticism, "TfNSW commissioned the development of a demand model specific to the requirements and intricacies of the CSELR project". This model - the Public Transport Project Model (PTPM) - is referenced at various points of the EIS but it has never been subjected to critical analysis. Basically, it allows Booz & Company to make any assumptions it wants.

One of the most bizarre of its assumptions is that the Surry Hills stop will be the most heavily used stop in the system, as you can see from the first figure. Most of the passengers boarding the trams at this stop will be students and staff from the University of NSW who, it is assumed, will exit Central Station via the Devonshire Street tunnel, cross the tram lines and traipse along the northern footpaths of Devonshire Street in sun, rain and sleet to Riley Street, where they will cross the road at the signal-controlled crossings to board the trams. Booz & Company have plotted every step that they will make.

Not only will the residents of Surry Hills have to contend with trams passing through their suburb at 50 kpm, on average every one and a half minutes, they will have thousands of raucous and abusive students forced to walk through their suburb every hour. And their suburb will have been ghettoised to facilitate these movements.

Currently there are express bus services between UNSW and Central Station and Railway Square that travel along established route along Cleveland and Chalmers Streets and deposit students and staff at the entrance to the Devonshire Street tunnel and pick up passengers in Elizabeth Street. I have pointed out in previous posts that there is a much faster route using the bus roads in Moore Park and the under-utilised priority bus lanes in Foveaux Street.

The University of NSW is cited in all the brochures put out by TfNSW as one of the "stake holders" in the project. It must have come as a shock to students of UNSW to realise that they are to be treated by O'Farrell as the second-class citizens they undoubtedly are. We will see after 30 December  if the university or student bodies raised any objections.

The Kingsford tram line was developed by Randwick Council and UNSW to supplement the bus services to Central Station. It was O'Farrell, on a whim, who linked these plans to the City of Sydney's lunatic desire to pedestrianise George Street. It was TfNSW that insisted that the trams must run on their own exclusive lanes with priority signalling in a futile effort to compete with express bus services.

It is inconceivable that any one would use the trams if the buses were able to compete. At the community meeting on 21 November, the pizza boy, Jeff Goodling, was saying that that there was commercially privileged information that was being made available to PPPs. I put it to him that they must be being told which bus services will be terminated. He responded, speaking slowly, that the PPPs were not receiving any information on what bus services would be terminated.

Will the next State Government need to refer this project to the ICAC or set up a Royal Commission to find out what is actually taking place in the Minister's negotiations?

Friday, 27 December 2013

Tram systems of yore

Michell Library published 1907
Screen shot of 1903 map of Sydney (CoS archives)
The Robinson map of Sydney just before the turn of the century shows the tram rails to Randwick. The Railway terminus was at Devonshire Street. There were separate tram rails along Cleveland Street and the extension of Castlereagh Street past the cemetery (now Chalmers Street) to the Railway station and Parramatta Road tram tracks, and to Circular Quay via Flinders and Elizabeth Streets.

The map of Sydney in 1903 which can be downloaded from the CoS archives shows the tram lines in Devonshire Street being built over to establish the steam train terminal at Central. Tram rails in Eddy Avenue maintained the separate tram services to Central Station and Parramatta Road and to Circular Quay. This made sense because Elizabeth Street narrowed to two lanes northbound at the Supreme Court building. In fact, maintaining separate services to Central and Circular Quay from the Eastern Suburbs has been the cornerstone of public transport planning from the second half of the nineteenth century until the election of the O'Farrell government.
Central Square renamed Railway Square
The Devonshire Street tunnel under the railway tracks was for pedestrians only. Tram services from Pitt Street terminated at Railway Square or could could continue along Parramatta Road and City Road. The current bus services from the Eastern and South Eastern Suburbs follow the routes established by the trams.

Steam trams had been introduced to Sydney in 1879, with electrification starting in 1898, and had been extended to become the largest system in Australia. The tram rails south along Castlereagh Street and north along Pitt Street were part of the construction of Central Steam Train Station in the first years of the twentieth century.

Before the Harbour Bridge was built to reach destinations north of the Harbour you had little choice but to use public transport to Circular Quay transfer to a ferry to Milson Point, Cremorne Wharf, Mosman Wharf, Taronga  or Manly and continue the journey on public transport. The tram services had high patronage.

For more than 130 years, the imperative of transport planning has been to minimise congestion in Elizabeth Street northbound. The O'Farrell government is reversing this policy. Services to the south east that avoided carriages dumping passengers at Central and Railway Square and running on empty to Circular Quay are to be given the exclusive right to travel along George Street and the bus services displaced from George Street - the Broadway and Harbour Bridge services - cannot avoid the bottlenecks in Elizabeth Street northbound.

Booz & Company trots out the usual schoolboy howlers about light rail: "A single light rail vehicle can carry the equivalent of five standard rigid buses while using the same road length as just three buses". In fact the road length "used" by the trams and the necessary stops is two times the length of the carriages plus the separation needed to avoid them running into the backs of each other.

Booz & Company do make one pertinent observation, however. The trams will be able to run on empty along George Street more cheaply for the operators since they employ four less drivers than rigid buses or two less drivers than bendy buses. This is the only rational argument offered by TfNSW as to the economic benefits of the Project.

In the past the approach was far more rational - minimise vehicles running on empty. It is ridiculously easy to refine this approach with the advent of the Oyster (aka Opal) Card as I pointed out in my letter to the Minister in April and have reiterated in my Submission to the EIS.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Batteries not included

St Andrews Cathedral stop
Years ago when Clover Moore was with South Sydney Council she mounted a typically strident campaign to have overhead electricity wires removed from the streets. My own terrace was listed as being built in the first Sydney Street Directory in 1857. Gas lighting then electric lights were retrofitted over the years. The electric wiring travels through the first floor to the rear wall then down to the ground floor. Underground wiring would be prohibitively expensive to install for the authorities and for residents.

Clover Moore has never let such considerations worry her. The State Government spent a lot money and did the sums and told her to get stuffed. She has a whole new relationship with the O'Farrell Government.

When the Minister for Transport told the Community Forum in April that the Liberal Party State Government would take responsibility for the Project Clover Moore's eyes widened and she said nothing. The "community independents" who comprise about half of the City of Sydney councillors have maintained that the route through Surry Hills and the CBD was the choice of the State Government and have not expressed any concern about the consequences to the people who elected them. The only concern expressed by Clover Moore has been about overhead wiring in George Street.
The EIS specifically argues against battery operated trams and the indicative sections of the stops show the catenary wires. However the tech guy at the"information session" told me the trams would put up their pantographs at stops and charge their batteries with sufficient power to travel to the next stop. This is the same guy who told me the trams could stop in the same distance or better than rubber tyre vehicles.

The stop outside the Anglican Cathedral is at the start of the pedestrianised zone and the adjacent stop at Market Street, the "Queen Victoria Building" stop, is the only stop between it and the Wynyard stop, which is just before the tenuous Hunter Street connection with the CBD west of George Street that marks the end of the pedestrianised zone. The QVB stop would be the only stop where this phenomenon would be taking place. O'Farrell is apparently prepared to go to any expense to gratify Clover Moore's obsessions.

Battery operation limits the ability of trams to use regenerative braking where trams are most likely to run down pedestrians. This will be another matter for the PPPPs (Potential Private Public Partners) to decide.
The infamous artist's impression of the trams passing Martin Place which appeared on the cover of the 13 December 2012 brochure showed the catenary wires and the pantographs. When a cropped version appeared in the Business Case Summary in November these had mysteriously been removed. This would reflect the intelligence level of the investors the State Government must attract.

TfNSW is telling people anything it thinks they wish to hear and is asking for an open-ended approval that will allow them to continue to make it up as they go along

Saturday, 21 December 2013

By George, I think she's got it

The 13 Dec 2012 brochure showed an artist's impression of the World Square stop showing it to be adjacent to the World Square complex, with separate platforms on both sides of the rails. In the EIS the stop has been moved north of Liverpool Street, without a word of explanation and without forewarning.

Since the northbound lanes in George Street between Liverpool and Bathurst Streets were narrowed to two with the notorious improvements which accompanied the Railway Square improvements, there will now be an island platform with barriers allowing access for passengers at only the lights controlled pedestrian crossings at Liverpool Street and north of Central Street. The width of the platform from the northern crossing appears to be very narrow and the text of the EIS refers to the stop as servicing the Event Cinemas. Indeed, the privately-operated tram company will have the exclusive rights to provide this service.

This stop is now so close to the "Town Hall" stop it takes less than two minutes to walk between the stops. So now people in George Street will have a choice: walk using the crossing or underpass at Bathurst Street; or, walk to the lights controlled crossing north of Central Street, backtrack to the part of the platform where the trams stop, wait three minutes for a tram, pay a section fare then stand.

The three stops, World Square, Town Hall and Queen Victoria Building, are so close together they are practically the same stop. Yet not one of them gives efficient access to the bus services from the Harbour Bridge that will be forced to terminate by making a right-hand turn in Druitt Street.

For centuries George Street public transport has been the main means for moving across town with services turning up all the time. The privately-operated trams will not provide such a service and will obliterate all competition. There will be only one stop between the Town Hall Station stops and Bridge Street - at Wynyard Station.

TfNSW has acknowledged that the trams cannot compete with the express bus services to Bent Street so the stops in George Street are cherry-picked to be only at the most profitable locations. These are  essentially the Rail Stations.

But where does this leave the commuters on Parramatta Road bus services that are forcibly terminated at Rawson Place or forcibly terminated at Chris Lock's son's house in Coogee. They face a long walk through the "pedestrianised" zones every time they commute.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The pizza boy; he delivers

Jeff Goodling came to Australia to work on the MAX light rail project in Perth. He had previously worked on the Portland Light Rail that has never made a profit. He jumped ship to become project manager for the NSW government's light rail project in June.

I confronted him at the community meeting on 21 September about the discrepancies in the different consultant's reports in the EIS. He responded that he was not a technical guy and could not answer those kind of questions; his role was to "deliver the project".

The front page headline in the West Australian today is:
DERAILED Election train promises shunted to distant future

The MAX light rail system had been fully disclosed before the last election and has not led to any major objections from the Perth community. In the election campaign at the last election, Barnett promised to start construction during this term of government. Now the project will not begin until after the next election, if at all. It will be up for debate at the next election.

Contrast this to the situation in NSW where the O'Farrell government is railroading the state into a system that was not disclosed before the last election, and has not been properly disclosed, even with the exhibition of an EIS. The route through the CBD was chosen on the whim of the Premier without professional analysis and has been showed to be catastrophically flawed.

This situation is comparable to what happened with the Republican Constitution - it did not bloody work, no matter how earnestly fringe politicians wanted it to work. The people were given a vote on the Republican constitution and overwhelmingly rejected it.

The construction of tram rails along George Street will have irreversible consequences for Sydney and the matter needs to be taken to the next election. And this matter will be, no matter what contracts and agreements the O'Farrell government signs.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A tale of two ghettos

The SDN Children's Services is a not-for-profit organisation committed to providing high quality education and care for children 0-5 years of age, strengthening families, local communities and the children's services sector - to quote from their response to the discussion paper Statutory Child Protection in NSW. They have 22 centres in NSW, and the centre next to the Cooper Street Reserve has been established for yonks.

There is a high fence along the boundary with the Reserve to protect the children from adult predators. But nothing could protect them from the nastiest predator of them all, Barry O'Farrell, a serial stalker of preschools, primary schools and child minding centres.
The diagram left from Technical Paper 1 by Booz & Company is just one of the multiple choices for the intersection that TfNSW is asking to be approved. The yellow lines are presumably kerbs. I have no idea what the mauve dotted lines represent.

There is a large kerb blister on the corner occupied by the Madison Hotel. It is impossible to tell if it will be possible to turn from Chalmers Street into the single lane that is Devonshire Street or if traffic will be forced to use the right turn lane round the Telstra building feeding traffic into the western lane of Elizabeth Street. Either way traffic from the south will not be able to access Kippax or Cooper Street which have traditionally been the locale for the rag trade in NSW and for News Corp. There are now many more businesses in this area, in the advertising and media fields in particular.

Trucks and other vehicles needing access to this area will now have to turn into the single lane that Devonshire Street has been reduced to, and proceed east to Riley Street. The Cooper Street Reserve will be destroyed to allow rag-trade trucks and other vehicles to back track down Cooper Street. This is bizarre even by the standards of TfNSW.  Booz & Company proclaim this disingenuously: "To mitigate the impacts to local access the following changes are proposed to improve accessibility whilst maintaining the benefits to light rail operation:

  • Reinstate the Cooper Street connection to Riley Street to provide access for local residents"
In order to reach Riley Street, trucks and other vehicles have to pass Holt Street, the address of News Limited, and Waterloo Street which are wide streets that have been blocked off and would give direct access to Cooper and Kippax Streets. The reason they have been closed is to avoid trucks possibly "encroaching on the alignment of the light rail" when turning. The only concern of the O'Farrell government is avoiding any restriction on the speed at which cattle cars will be travelling when passing through Surry Hills.

A road connection through Cooper Street Reserve will be steep and difficult for trucks, as you can see from the photos, and it will not only be the only entry to this area of Surry Hills, between Devonshire Street and Foveaux Street, for traffic from the south - from Cleveland Street to Geelong - it will be the only entry for traffic from the Eastern Suburbs. They will need to make a right-hand turn from Riley Street.

O'Farrell is ghettoizing this section of Surry Hills as callously as he is ghettoizing the public housing sector. If the kids on early intervention programs at SDN have not been traumatised, they will be.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Cutting a swath through Surry Hills

The tree loppers set to work in Devonshire Street on Saturday as scheduled. You can see the huge crane they were using in the pictures. It did not take them long to lop off branches then chop the trunk into segments.

The wood of the cottonwood poplars was perfectly fine as you can see, but it was chopped into segments and lifted into dumpsters. What a waste.

The wood could have been turned into timber and used  to construct rickety pedestrian overpasses connecting the two Surry Hills ghettos; so the residents would not pollute the tramway of the superior race goers of Randwick with their corpses.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Not so urgent

Clover Moore emphatically told the Community Forum at the Sydney High School on 15th April that the cottonwood poplars in Devonshire Street would be preserved. The Minister and Chris Lock had microphones and did not demur. The iconic trees were planted in the 1950s and are heritage listed with the City of Sydney.

The EIS declared that they would have to be removed, so Sydney City Council has jumped the gun and attached notices saying they are at the end of their useful life and will be removed. Clover Moore is 68. It is not the trees that are at the end of their useful life.

The work is scheduled to begin tomorrow and is declared to be Urgent Tree Removal. Saturday was to be two days before submissions on the EIS had to be mailed. But the exhibition period has been extended to 30 December. The need for urgency has been removed.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

How low can a fat turd sink?

One day after TfNSW held an "information session" at the Surry Hills Library the EIS has been taken down from the Transport for NSW website. All attempts to access the EIS result in an error message. I had to go round to the Surry Hills library to see if the printed copy was still on display. It is, and I asked if they could access the information from the website. The same result, so it is not just me.

I had downloaded most of the relevant volumes so it will no deter me from making a detailed submission. It has to be lodged by Monday but the little card "Have your say" does not say by when.

You think that O'Farrell could not sink any lower and he confounds you.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The circus comes to Surry Hills

More TfNSW staff than locals
The TfNSW road show took over the first floor exhibition room at the Surry Hills Library for the last time before the deadline for submissions on the EIS. When I asked if I could take photos I was told that all the wall posters appeared on the web site. Only one of the display panels contained matter related to Surry Hills - the same panels had been used at every one of the "community" exhibitions.

I was eventually able to give my list of unanswered questions raise by the EIS to the "technical" guy at the presentation. I can report back on his responses.

He confirmed that LRVs would be travelling at the speed limit, 50 kph, when travelling through Surry Hills. Since the LRVs will have priority signaling at intersections, this is a voluntary constraint. He said that if Clover Moore lowered the speed limit in Surry Hills to 40 kph trams would travel at this speed. Why?

The response to questions on braking were "don't know". The engineer claimed that the trams could stop as quickly or more quickly as a rubber tyre vehicle but I disputed this - small steel wheels on steel rails have low friction. He said that the trams would have emergency brakes as well as regenerative braking but said it would be up to the PPP to decide the type of braking when ordering the carriages from overseas builders. He said the trams would run on batteries though the pedestrian areas. I pointed out that would limit the use of regenerative braking in emergencies as batteries can not be charged fast enough. He said that the trams would put up their electrical contacts at stops and recharge for the next leg. This means they will not be using regenerative breaking in ordinary operations, which may look pretty but sea levels rise. All this will remain unknown and will be decided by the PPP.

He conceded that a planting buffer would not ensure that pedestrians would use only traffic light controlled crossings and that the displacement of the stop into Ward Park would make it difficult to see an approaching tram from the rear of a stopping tram. He confirmed that ordinary services, which will stop at every stop and open and close their doors regardless of whether any one is getting on or off, would operate in conjunction with coupled carriages which will not stop. He said that safety specifications would need to be developed subsequent to the EIS.

The indicative plan of the Surry Hills stop developed by Parsons Brinckerhoff does not appear to have much relationship with the actual plans. He was unable to explain the bus in Marlborough Street and said the stop was not regarded as an bus/tram interchange. He said the Crown Street bus services would continue as before and I commented that they would be stuffed by the right-hand turn into the ghetto.

He had not seen the map of proposed key south east bus network changes on page 130 of the technical paper 1 or the table on the following page. He said the EIS and plans for changes to bus routes were regarded as separate issues. I was incredulous, saying the trams obliterated most of the "real estate" (Chris Lock's term) for buses to physically turn around in the CBD - at Circular Quay and Randle Street - and the EIS must not be approved until these questions had been resolved.

He could not explain how bus services reported in the table on the following page as being "terminated" at the Kingsford interchange, the Randwick interchange and Todman Avenue would physically turn around. Again, this was regarded as a separate issue to the EIS.

He could not explain how traffic in Clisdell Street could be physically tuned around at the blockage. I showed him a photo on my iPhone of the single lane at the intersection of Butt Street with Elizabeth. He conceded that the balcony of the flats had been damaged by trucks.

We discussed the infamous artist's impression of the Shakespeare Hotel at Steel Street in the original brochure. He agreed that patrons would be crossing Devonshire Street to their homes in the other ghetto. He asked how would this be different from dealing with rubber tyred vehicles at present. I pointed out that traffic at night at present is few and far between, but Saturday night is a peak period for travel between the cinema and night club areas in George Street and Parramatta Road bus services and Central, and the trams must continue to Randwick or Kingsford to turn around. There would be a tram passing along Devonshire Street every one and a half minutes as tired an emotional revellers were heading home. I asked if it was planned to build rickety overpasses between the ghettos. He smiled indulgently.

He was called away before we could clear up the discrepancies between the Parsons Brinckerhoff volumes and the Technical Papers by Booz & Company.

He was intelligent and forthright and he listened to the arguments against the Project and the alternatives and encouraged me to advance the matters I had brought up in my letter to the Minister in April in my submission to the EIS.

I have been waking up at 3 or 4 AM since the release of the EIS and going over the matters in my mind and I have not been able to go back to sleep. This morning I slept in to a quarter to seven. I have more confidence that the EIS will be professionally assessed.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Call me Madame Defarge

Gladys Berejiklian
Actress playing Madame Defarge
 I travelled by train to Newcastle last Sunday. The train was 50 minutes late arriving. There had been no warning of track work and indeed there were lots of men in hard hats standing beside the track north of Gosford and signs of work going on beside the track, but no one was working.

There were no announcements or apologies on the train. We were approached by an Irish lass who wanted to know how far we were from Newcastle. She was being picked up and was afraid they would have left. I lent her my mobile so she could ring her friend without international roaming fees and it turned out all right for her.

There was a report in the evening TV news programs last night that complaints about rail services are at an all time high. This was not an isolated incident.

Coincidentally, I met someone at the lunch at a Hamilton pub who had been a stationmaster at several railway stations in northern Sydney. He had left and was taking a course to start a new career while he was still young enough. The reign of terror at TfNSW continues unabated - experienced staff are passed over and leaving and people with the correct political ideology are promoted.

The Fascists famously made the trains run on time, but this is not part of the present philosophy. O'Farrell will be forcing buses from the south east and from Parramatta Road and City road to turn around where there is no possibility for them to lay over and start on schedule. It will be a fluke if any bus service south of the Harbour is on time.

There is a information session set up by TfNSW in Surry Hills from 4PM to 8PM today. We are told there will be "technical" people here to answer questions from the public. There are hundreds of unanswered questions thrown up by this so-called EIS. I had a lot of time on the train on Sunday to make a list of some of the questions to be answered. You can view them here.

I doubt if there will be satisfactory answers but I will report back. There is only 6 days left to make a submission to the EIS, believe it or not.

The joke of Butt

Clisdell Street in the Surry Hills ghetto
Clisdell Street has split carriageways with the southbound carriageway at a considerably lower level as you can see in the photos. They reach the same level only at the intersection with Devonshire Street.
Clisdell Street at intersection with Devonshire Street
This figure from Booz & Company Technical Paper 1 is impossible to read in the PDF. I had to go to the library to see the printed version and strain my eyes to make out the "Devonshire Place Making Initiatives". The red lines are Local Road Closures and the green areas are "local pocket park opportunities".

As you can see every major road accessing Devonshire Street except Elizabeth, Riley and Crown Streets have been closed. You have to wonder why have an eastbound lane at all? The text from Booz & Company titled Functional Changes says it all:

  • Closure of a number connecting streets (sic) at the intersection of Devonshire Street, including:
  1. Buckingham Street
  2. Holt Street
  3. Waterloo Street
  4. High Holborn Street
  5. Clisdell Street
  • No provision for parking provided along Devonshire Street
The blockage of Clisdell Street is south of a wide pedestrian path. Booz and Company state: "Pedestrians will benefit from improved amenity, particularly where streets are closed at their intersection with Devonshire Street as this presents an opportunity to increase footpath width".

"The closure treatments will need to provide appropriate turnaround facilities or service road access to adjacent streets".

You can see from the photos that it will be physically impossible to turn around from the lower carriageway to the upper. Which brings us to Butt Street.
Off-street parking from Butt St
 All the roads between Clisdell Street and Elizabeth Street are of course westbound with the exception of Butt Street where the direction is undefined. Butt Street is just a single lane at Elizabeth Street, so narrow the first floor balcony of the five story flats building has been damaged by turning trucks. It is an access lane to the off-street parking of the buildings fronting Elizabeth Street and Devonshire Street. TfNSW will be redefining it as the escape route from Clisdell Street. The southbound carriageway of Clisdell Street will be just waste space.
Belvoir Street Theatre
This will spell the death nell of the Belvoir Street theatre, across the southern end of Clisdell Street. The only vehicular access will be from Crown Street into Lansdowne Street - the only entry to the ghetto.

The other consultants refer lyrically to the Surry Hills stop as primarily servicing the local residential, dining and entertainment area, but few businesses will survive the tramway. It is a lot quicker to walk to these venues from the Devonshire Street tunnel exits of the Central rail platforms and from Elizabeth Street bus stops than from the proposed tram stop.

O'Farrell's only concern is with maximizing the profits of the private cattle car company, but he is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

The planting strip

When Sydney Council installed yet another speed hump across the Crown Street bus route they placed planting strips at either end. The planting strip at one end was immediately removed as it was adjacent to outdoor seating of a cafe - Clover Moore spends rate-payers money like a drunken sailor. The other planting strip is crossed by well worn paths as you can see. The speed hump is close to the end of Reservoir Street which is the de facto preferred pedestrian path from Central to Taylor Square. I walk through this planting strip on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day.

It nearly proved the death of me this morning. Some motorists think the speed hump is a crossing and wave you through while traffic is not slowing down in the other direction. I ended up moving further down the road to cross where traffic does not slow down. Traffic is heavy in Crown Street on a Saturday morning. There is a signalised crossing in front of Crown Street Primary to the south but no one uses it.
There are planting strips on just about every second intersection in Surry Hills now and people walk through them as a matter of course.

The indicative plan for the Surry Hills stop shows a planting strip across the end of Riley Street. It even contains "existing trees", believe it or not. TfNSW insists this planting strip will force pedestrians along Riley Street to divert to signalised crossings at either end of platforms rather than walk directly across to the platforms and Ward Park. This will enable the coupled LRVs to pass through Surry Hills with priority signaling, at 50 kph or is that 60 kph, and nobody will get killed.

Other roads with pedestrian traffic such as Little Riley Street featured in the infamous artist's impression of the Shakespeare Hotel have no planting strips to dissuade pedestrians from crossing the at grade tram rails.

The EIS does not contain any data on what kind of emergency braking, if any, will be used on the LRVs, or the stopping distances that the LRVs will need.

What planet are the engineers at TfNSW living on?

Friday, 6 December 2013

The final solution - total annihilation

The 13 December 2012 brochure gave figures of the number of buses that would be removed from the CBD by the light rail. The most disturbing figure was the complete removal of buses from Foveaux Street and Albion Street.

It is easy to see why the private operators of a tramway through Surry Hills would demand this. Buses using the exclusive bus road through Moore Park and turning into Fitzroy Street avoid the traffic using South Dowling Street and entering the Eastern Distributor. They also avoid the southbound traffic from the Distributor without the need for a multimillion dollar tunnel. They can reach Central Station and Railway Square in less time than a tram even if it has priority at traffic lights.

There used to be a stop in Albion Street near Elizabeth Street but this has been removed leaving the new billboard-free stop at the old Children's Court and the stop between Riley and Crown Streets, and there is a stop in Flinders Street. The photos above were taken between 5PM and 5:30PM last Thursday. As you can see the services are well frequented and the bus lanes are not in the least congested. These services can be readily expanded.

There are three bus stops on the inbound services in Foveaux Street. The photos were taken round the same time and the lanes were similarly unobstructed and the stops well frequented.

In fact this route is not used by services to Central Station and Railway Square for reasons that defy rational analysis. These services travel along Cleveland Street and Chalmers Street. The services using this route head for Circular Quay along Elizabeth Street.

The good news for residents of South Eastern Sydney, and bad news for PPPs, is that this route for accessing Central and Railway Square can be reintroduced by a State Government that does not share O'Farrell's obsession with destroying the efficacy of public transport, at a moments notice, no matter how much irreparable damage O'Farrell does to George Street and Elizabeth Street.

We had to wait for the EIS to find out what terrible fate O'Farrell had devised for these services and it turns out to be almost beyond belief.
21 CSELR ESI Technical Paper 1 4.2.2.
Booz & Company proclaims the fate of bus services using the exclusive bus roadway in the usual brusque manner with an entry copied twice into the table shown previously:
"Operates existing route to Anzac Parade, then travels to Edgeclif via Darlinghurst Road and William Street (subject to detailed implementation planning on routing)"

Presumably, buses will turn into Fitzroy Street from the bus road at Drivers Triangle as at present but will be slingshotted into the congested two lanes each way section of South Dowling Street through Paddington. They will be dog-legged along Oxford Street to Darlinghurst Road which takes them to a stop at Kings Cross Station where passengers can transfer to trains with their Oyster (aka Opal) Card. The buses, running on empty, then travel to Edgecliff Station along Kings Cross Road and New South Head Road, never going near William Street despite what the highly paid consultants may say. At Edgecliff Station the buses must make a right-hand turn across the traffic in New South Head Road to reach the bus-rail transfer station on the roof.

The return journey is even more horrendous. The buses must travel along Victoria Road passing though the section in front of St Vincents Hospital that has been reduced to one lane for all traffic in order to provide parking for the BMWs of the plastic surgeons at St Vincents Private.

Of course anyone actually wanting to go to Edgecliff Station would take an Avoca Road bus service to the Bondi Junction exchange and use the Oyster (aka Opal) Card to transfer to the Eastern Suburbs Railway. It is the Bream Street and Bunnerong Road services that do not go past the tram terminals that are singled out for this treatment. The Avoca Road bus route is not congested and can readily be extended to La Perouse.

I said presumably because the map above shows a different route. The rectangular thought bubbles over the map describe the route shown on the map:
"Route 374 would provide access to Edgecliff via Taylor Square/Oxford Street"
"Route L94 now operates to/from Edgecliff via Taylor Square/Oxford Street"
Mitchell Library from Christopher Keating's book
There has been no right-hand turn from Flinders Street into Oxford Street in 46,000 years of human habitation of the continent as far as I can gather. The earliest maps showing the tram lines in Sydney like the one left and the 2003 map of Sydney digitized in the City of Sydney archives show no connection to the east at the Flinders Street intersection. Lanes in the street were not shown on early maps - hardly anyone had a private vehicle.

So will O'Farrell be introducing a right-hand turn into Oxford Street at Taylor Square? Will buses on the return journey dog-leg from Victoria Street to Darlinghurst Road and make a hairpin turn into Flinders Street? Will the pedestrian areas at Taylor Square be obliterated to allow a less acute turn? Is there anything O'Farrell will not do to inflict co-lateral damage on the public bus services to the Eastern Suburbs?

Edgecliff bus/rail exchange from previous post

Will the buses stop at the stop in Bayswater Road on their way through Kings Cross?

The Edgecliff bus/rail transfer station was designed by competent traffic engineers for transfers to buses from the east. It was not designed as a terminus for bus services initially from east of Edgecliff but forced into tortuous routes that make them approach from the west. It was not designed to be a terminus for bus services from the Anzac Bridge.

Edgecliff is being targeted by TfNSW simply because it is one of the few places in or adjacent to the CBD, apart from Circular Quay, where it is physically possible for buses to turn around, and most of the "real estate" for bus terminals at Circular Quay is being obliterated by a tram terminal that does not need space to turn around.

William Street never extended east of Darlinghurst Road, before or after the Kings Cross tunnel. How could Booz & Company and TfNSW be unaware of this and the historic proscription of right-hand turns from Flinders Street? It should be pointed out that the Table and the map containing the wildly conflicting proclamations about the route occur on consecutive pages in the same segment 4.2.2. of Technical Paper 1 Part B, and neither of them give any reliable details.

This can hardly be described as deliberate deception. This is deliberately contradictory gibberish designed to prevent any rational discussion of TfNSW's Project.

I am sounding shrill again. The human brain cannot really deal with professional incompetence on the level exhibited by TfNSW and its consultants.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Day is done

I presumed before the release of the EIS that there was too little wriggle room between the sheer glass facade of the foyer of the NIDA theatre and the University of NSW building to provide for a hook-turn lane into Day Street and maintain two lanes of traffic around the tram stop. It turned out I was right.
I did not believe that anyone in their right mind would eliminate the turn into Day Street from Anzac Parade. Day Street is the sine qua non route for the Kingsford bus services which go along Eastern Avenue, and are also the mainstay of the bus services along Crown Street and Campbell Street in Surry Hills. The main parking area of NIDA is also accessible from Day Street.

 I probably got that right too; but none the less TfNSW will be eliminating the right turn into Day Street. Booz & Company proclaim it bluntly in Technical paper 1 5.4.4. Functional changes:

  • The right turn from Anzac Parade into Day Avenue will be banned. This will require rerouting of bus services that currently make this manoeuvre. Pending further Council approval and investigation of impact to bike lanes this route will likely to be via Doncaster Avenue.
That is to say the buses will crisscross the rails northbound as well as southbound.
21 CSELR EIS Technical Paper 1 5.4.4.
There will be no right-hand turns allowed from Day Street into Anzac Parade so the parking area shown in the Figure left will be accessible only from rat-runs through Kensington and Kingsford. The Day Street intersection has been cropped in this Figure.

In fact Kingsford is to be ghettoized; with the only access from the north to the entire Kingsford grid north of Gardeners Road being a single hook turn lane at Barker Street. The main retail strip will not only lose all bus stops except for a stop so far north of Strachen Street it has been cropped from the data in the EIS, it will lose curbside parking and customers will need navsat to reach off-street parking areas.

The ghettoization is not as overwhelming as the ghettoization of Surry Hills as there are tortuous rat-runs through Kensington, but I would not like to be in the position of someone who has superannuation invested in their business in Kingsford.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Terminator 4

Anzac Parade north of Todman Avenue
There is no right-hand turn from Anzac Parade into Alison Road, understandably. To turn right drivers must think ahead or use navsat, and turn into Ascot Street then make the right turn from Doncaster Avenue. Ascot Street also gives access to the car park of Randwick Racecourse - to be obliterated. There is no right-hand turn from the northbound lanes of Anzac Parade into Todman Avenue so this traffic does not circle past the Kensington Primary School.

O'Farrell may be full of shit but he does not give a shit what happens to primary school students. He demonstrated this at Ward Park and Bourke Street Primary so at least he is consistent. The right-hand turn into Ascot Street is to be obliterated and a (presumably) hook turn introduced at Todman Avenue.
21 CSELR ESI Technical Paper 1 p 164
This information is provided in the Technical Paper 1 written by consultants Booz & Company. The text announces bluntly:
Right turn movements that provide access to Doncaster Avenue will be consolidated into a single right turn at Todman Avenue, as illustrated in Figure 5-13.

This was the first that residents of Kensington got to know of this. The EIS legislation requires that an EIS be exhibited for a minimum of 30 days and up to 90 days. The Minister is exhibiting this 3,000 word plus EIS for 32 days.

The wicked witch of the north has sprung another of her nasty surprises. This time it is the residents of Kensington that are her victims.

It gets worse, much worse. One has to deal with the usual deliberate deception that is systemic with this EIS.

The earlier diagrams of the Project from the 13 December 2012 brochure onwards showed the dot representing the "Todman Avenue stop" well to the south of Todman Avenue, which was consistent with the infantile modelling that required the dots to be roughly evenly spaced.

Now the other consultants, Parsons Brickerhoff, have produced the Figure 5.38 showing the stop to be to the north of Todman Avenue. There was of course no consultation with the local community or businesses about the move.

The "indicative plan" of the stop shows a bus icon (the light blue rectangle) on the westbound carriage-way of Todman Avenue. It could only have got there from Doncaster Avenue and it could not have reached here because the only right-hand turn is at Todman Avenue. This is deliberate deception designed to conceal the intentions of TfNSW.

The lanes at the intersection just reflect the existing situation and there are no arrows on the lanes. TfNSW is intent on concealing the intention to introduce hook turn lanes as they have at every intersection in the system. The usual method to do this is by cropping but this is not possible here so we have plan B - remove all lane markings.
21 CSELR Technical Paper 1 p 131
Getting back to TfNSW's Boozy consultants. The Table 4-1 details the fate of bus services when commuters are forced from the public bus services onto the privately operated cattle cars.

The La Perouse and Little Bay services operating along Bunnerong Road and Anzac Parade alike share the same fate:
"Operates existing route to Todman Avenue, Kensington and terminates". The consultants have copied the same words into five of the table entries - ain't word processors great?

You have probably spotted the obvious flaw in this scenario: It is physically impossible for buses to terminate at Todman Avenue. The only right-hand turn is into Todman Avenue and buses cannot do a U-turn in Todman Avenue. The Liberal Party curse has struck again - they can not comprehend that buses need space to turn around.

It should be noted that this table appears in the same volume of the Technical Papers as the disclosure of the right turns that will be permitted from Anzac Parade. This is not a case of different consultants coming up with contradictory plans.

So what are the residents and businesses of Kensington to make of all this? There is utterly no disclosure of what is meant by "terminate".

It probably means dump all passengers and proceed via the Eastern Distributor to Circular Quay, the only place where the buses can physically turn around. This was the qualified planning released before the exhibition of the EIS, reproduced (left) again from a previous post.

But it could mean dump passengers in the middle of nowhere south of Todman Avenue and turn left into Todman Avenue. There used to be tram sheds at the north west end of Todman Avenue but this is now a Supa Centa.

The citizens of Kensington had 32 days to find out.