Thursday, 27 June 2013

Betrayal of Trust

The Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1983 and is a Government agency responsible to the Minister for the Environment, but the land had been set aside for the grazing of cattle by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. A former Lord Mayor of Sydney, Charles Moore campaigned successfully to have the land set aside as a green lung and a recreation area for all the people of Sydney.

The Parklands are readily accessible from bus routes along Oxford Street, Anzac Parade and the exclusive bus roadway through Moore Park. Yet the Trust is listed as one of the members of the Light Rail Round Table and enthusiastically endorsed the Project even though it was just a line of dots on two road maps. One thing is certain, there will be at least three stops inside the parklands and the land between the rails and Anzac Parade and Alison Road will be ghettoised. Local residents adjacent to the Parklands will lose their ready access to the park.

Now the Trust has published land use proposals for a permanent asphalted car park to the east of the rail lines, initially for 2000 vehicles but there are lots more playing fields that can be asphalted over. The Trust's chief executive, Kim Ellis, has said the "facility would be a 'park and fly' carpark for commuters using the light rail", his exact words. He is away with the fairies! These are the petty bureaucrats who have set themselves up to irretrievably degrade public transport in and round the City of Sydney, and who will not accept any professional help.

It costs between $18,000 and $19,000 a year to park all day at public car parks in the CBD adjacent to the George Street rail route, and private parking spaces in buildings in the CBD are strata-titled and sell for hundreds of thousand of dollars. If Bra Boys had this type of money they would probably prefer to spend it on recreational drugs. We can safely assume that almost none of the vehicles in Anzac Parade and Alison Road during the morning and afternoon peaks are heading to or from car parks in the CBD. The Trust will be providing much cheaper all day parking for commuters heading for the CBD and will be adding to the vehicle counts in the south-eastern suburbs crucial main arterial roads.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday (25/06/13) that the Lord Mayor Clover Moore had railed against the plan. I can no longer say that she has not had a rational thought in her life.

Tuesday was a big day for news reports about Light Rail in Sydney. I was on a 5 hour flight to Broome in the Kimberley. I will continue to keep track of developments in Sydney. This blog has is in for the long haul.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

"Hold! Enough!"

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday (26/06/13) that the State Government would not be considering any proposals for cycleways until the Light Rail Project has been finalised. The plans for the Campbell Street bike path which were open for submissions until 3rd December 2012 gave a schedule of a review in February, State Government approvals early 2013 and estimated construction commencement mid 2013.

Adam Lander, who is "Community Engagement Co-ordinater of the Chief Executive Officer" with the City Council, had the responsibility for summarising the submissions in January. My own detailed submission, which I attached to a previous post, and those of other residents failed to get a mention. It appears that "The Community" is outraged that there was only a oneway bike path and was demanding exclusive bike lanes on both sides of Oxford Street.

The State Government set up a six member committee with three members appointed by the Council and three by the State Government to assess bike paths and their impact on traffic movements, last year, and the three government members have evidently said "OMG" and stalled on holding meetings. Now it has been officially announced. Clover Moore's ambition to turn the Central Business District into an adventure park for the unemployed has been put on hold.

The ride just keeps getting bumpier

Emergency vehicles calmed
The trams that went up Crown Street made a turn from Oxford Street but buses have not had a right hand from Oxford Street in living memory. Bus routes to Crown travel along Campbell Street which is in the jurisdiction of Sydney Council. This intersection of Campbell Street is the Council's latest assault on buses.

Buses, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles have to mount the raised central kerb of the round about producing more wear and tear and for what reason. The mental processes of the people responsible for doing these things are a complete mystery. Bus routes and traffic arteries to the CBD are used by thousands of people who work for a living but they have no vote in elections for the Sydney City Council. The State Government must accept responsibility for looking after the interests of people in productive work. 

Bus calming is not initiated by local residents who are vehemently opposed to them. The solution is to place bus routes to the CBD under the authority of Roads and Traffic.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Crown of Thorns

The old tram rails still run down the middle of Crown Street south of Oxford Street. They were covered with a layer of asphalt when the tram services were ended. Crown Street was never pedestrianized - the tram lanes were shared with other vehicles, as they were throughout the traditional electric tram systems of Sydney which date back to just before the start of the 20th Century. From time to time the rails used to break through the asphalt in the heavily-used section in front of the Crown Street Public School and were resurfaced with fresh layers of asphalt.

Crown Street was under the jurisdiction of the Roads and Traffic Authority and has always been a major route for the bus services that replaced and extended the tram routes. The UBD road map of 2000 shows its state just before the Eastern Distributor was completed. When the Eastern Distributor was opened, Crown Street and Bourke Street were transfered to South Sydney Council. Nothing could save them.

The latest UBD map shows 10 speed humps across the bus routes in Crown and Baptist Streets, and I have lost count of the pedestrian crossings and flashing lights used to calm buses. The brochure for Sydney's Light Rail Future cites smooth services as a reason for spending billions of dollars to force passengers from public buses into privately-operated trams, where two thirds will be made to stand. A far cheaper way to achieve smooth journeys would be to transfer the authority for all roads carrying buses to the CBD back to the Roads and Traffic Authority and to require councils to remove the speed humps, round abouts, lane narrowings and sharp corners used to calm buses.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Lest we forget

With the going down of the sun two times a day, and in the morning, we will remember them

The building on the corner of Elizabeth and Park Streets was approved by the Liberal Party government despite a great deal of understandable opposition before losing power in May 1975. Neville Wran won with an historic victory by one seat with thin margins in two seats. The Wran government cancelled contracts for building overpasses in Darling Harbour which were to be the start of twin freeways across Glebe and the inner west. The Liberal Party government had pressed ahead despite local opposition with the idea that if the start was built the freeways could not be stopped. However it was possible to redirect the freeways to Glebe Island and Victoria Street and Sydney was saved from a catastrophically misconceived road system. Everyone accepts this now.

Now the O'Farrell government has in the State Budget, allocated $34 million to a Project that has only been disclosed as a string of dots on two road maps. All attempts to obtain more information have been rebuffed. Presumably the money will be used for compulsory property acquisitions, as the O'Farrell government intends to hand over the land and exclusive access to George Street to a private company.

This mirrors the actions of the Liberal Party when it was in power for the 10 years from 1965 to 1975. During the period vast areas of inner Sydney were acquired for the ever-changing freeway projects. It was probably inevitable that the Liberal Party would revert to the property-developer dominated Party it was in the 1960s, but the speed at which this has happened is breathtaking.

Monday, 17 June 2013

This woman will stop traffic!

Buses travel in convoys because this is the only way to avoid them filling up at the start of the route, with passengers further out being unable to board. This does not normally cause any problems as buses can leap-frog one another at stops. But nothing is normal with Clover Moore.

Sydney Council has arranged things so that bus stops completely block the flow of traffic in one direction. The pictures above show two buses queued up and forced to block traffic. The cycle paths were, as always, deserted. The bus drivers have to wear the approbrium from the public but the Councillors are proud of their achievement. Pictures of this stop were included in their plans to do the same to the much more important traffic route along Campbell Street. Campbell Street is the critical connection for east-west traffic between Goulburn Street and Flinders Street then Anzac Parade and Moore Park Road.

The tram project will create innumerable opportunities for the eco-Nazis on the Randwick City Council to emulate this agenda for deliberately creating congestion to further their objectives.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Allan with two ls

Allan Jones has one of the highest paid sinecures in Australia. He should not be confused with Alan Jones who relentlessly exposes Clover Moore as a fraud on his radio programme and has campaigned for her political opponents.

Allan Jones lost his job when voters ousted Ken Livingstone as Lord Mayor of London and was flown to Sydney at ratepayers and taxpayers expense to give lectures on "Green Transformers". He was appointed to his present post, "Chief Development Officer, Energy and Climate Change", a sinecure created specifically for him, by the City of Sydney in 2009.

The City of Sydney announced quietly in a press release on Tuesday that the agreement with Cogent Energy that he had negotiated with great fanfare in April 2012 had been dissolved. The agreement had been to install "Trigeneration" of electricity in the Council's residential areas.

There is nothing new about trigeneration which uses hot water for cooling! Absorption cooling was of course used in the kero refrigerators marketed by Electrolux and others in the 1930s. Vapour compression cycle refrigerators and air conditioners almost completely replaced these because they had a very low coefficient of performance, were unreliable, difficult to regulate and expensive to maintain. But property owners were to be given no choice, and would have to live with the exhaust gases from the generators.

It turned out the mathematics being used was ridiculously out, and the costs could not be sustained despite the huge planned subsidy of $25 "per tonne of CO2 saved", whatever that may mean. The Council spokesperson called for evermore elaborate subsidies from the State Government to make the plan viable. And when Clover Moore says jump O'Farrell says "how high".
Allan Jones in Sydney

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Not In My Back Yard


The route of the tram lines quite literally passes through the back yards of the three-storey apartment block called Olivia Gardens. A resident was mowing his back lawn when I took these photos. The Deputy Director General of TfNSW Chris Lock told the Surry Hills forum that the Department was still working on alignments and he would not say if all the apartments would be demolished. If they were not demolished they would presumably be added to the large stocks of public housing in this area of Surry Hills. The future of Surry Hills remains in the balance to this day.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The expensive Golden Mile

Follow the grey brick crossing
At the end of February this year the roadway of a minor one way street leading off the part of Oxford Street referred to as the Gay Golden Mile had been torn up. A few days before the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade it was resurfaced with asphalt and all the barriers and equipment were removed. After about a week later the equipment and barriers were back and the roadway was torn up again.

We eventually got to see the purpose of this activity. The painted pedestrian crossing was replaced with a cobblestone painted pedestrian crossing. But it turned out that this was just a minor squandering of ratepayer and taxpayer money.
Friends of Clover 
Before the Mardi Gras Parade, Sydney City Council, without seeking permission from Main Roads who has authority over this road, arranged for coloured stripes to be painted over the zebra crossing at the other end of this section of Oxford Street. It was conceded that the crossing was a danger to pedestrians and drivers with people posing for photographs on the crossing as shown above, but most likely in the early hours of the morning when the pubs were closing.

It cost the taxpayers an estimated $110,000 to strip the asphalt from the crossing and then replace it, so the zebra markings could be restored. And the taxpayers got off lightly. Clover Moore was demanding that the State Government employ lollypop officers for 24 hours a day to patrol the crossing.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The mystery of the extra dot

When the Environmental Impact Statement for the final design of the Eastern Distributor was exhibited concerned citizens were calling for the closure of the exclusive bus roadway through Moore Park. Fortunately the study was open to ridicule as a cross-section of the tunnels showed a bus stopped as Drivers Triangle, and the bus roadway was saved. It proved to be a Games saver in September 2000.

Special Events buses which include bendy buses, loop round to stops outside the SCG adjacent to Driver Avenue. Different stops take bus passengers to Central, Circular Quay and parking areas at the University of NSW and Goulburn Street. The buses to Central loop back to stops in Chalmers Street along Foveaux Street, Elizabeth Street and Randle Street. Special Events in general do not clash with peak hours so there are lots of buses to spare.

The brochure on Sydney's Light Rail Future, the only information we have been given, did not include a dot at the SCG as you can see in the right-hand map in the Header. However a dot has appeared on subsequent fliers and Chris Lock has said that there could be a spur rail or loop but this still has to be designed. So what prompted the change of heart?

In fact, O'Farrell has secret plans for the loop used for two hours after Special Events and he is desperate that no information comes out before the ESI for The Project has been released. Attempts by PUSH to gain information under the Freedom of Information Act have been rebuffed by the Minister on the grounds that "the Government has released detailed information about our light rail project in [the] Sydney's Light Rail Future [document] ... and at community meetings and events held since".

Sydney Swans' morning training session
The oval in the centre of the bus loop is readily accessible through the bus stops and is just across from the first floor gym at the Swans' headquarters. How much of it will remain after Moore Park has had trenches dug through it and has bunkers for drainage water and sculptured hillocks for the excavated soil as at Prince Albert Park wont be known until the end of the process. Now that Sydney Council is involved we can expect delays and endless redesigns.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Eastern Suburbs, Botany Aquifer

Lost vistas

Act II: Neverland

Last view seen by Elizabeth Street bus passengers before being terminated
Prince Alfred Park was gazetted as a public park in 1865 and an Olympic swimming pool was opened there in 1958. It closed for a time when the lease was linked to Abe Saffron. Then Lord Mayor Frank Sartor wanted to replace it with a parking lot - it was used by residents in Surry Hills and Redfern but lay over the boundary in Sydney City. I had been swimming there four or five times a week but would have no say. When South Sydney was remerged with the City of Sydney all candidates promised to keep the pool.

Sydney Council exhibited plans to redevelop the pool and closed it down, then reopened it for a summer while new plans were developed, then closed it down in 2009 with an expected reopening in March, 2010. The pool finally reopened four weeks ago after a series of redesigns and opening dates. The estimated cost had risen from $10 million to $18 million.

Every drop of rain that falls on the park seeps through to the aquifer that stretches from Surry Hills to Botany Bay and has traditionally been pumped up the water the lawns. The design for the pool placed the pool in a concrete crater, with runoff being collected in a large concrete bunker south of the pool. Vast amounts of CO2 would have been generated building the bunkers and water still has to be pumped from them. The rubble excavated for the bunkers is piled up to form the other side of the crater. The only parts of the original pool retained was the bottom slab of the pool and part of the wall at the deep end.

The park had been one of the few open vistas in the city and the lawns have been used for active recreations such as soccer practice. Now most of the Park is a bog for collecting water for the bunkers - if you stray from the asphalt paths you had better be wearing galoshes.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Moore Park is lessened

Moore Park was viewed as "a kind of heath, poor, sandy and full of swamps" when the First Fleet arrived in 1788. The land that now forms Moore and Centennial Parks was the aquifer for the early settlement. Streams cascaded down the escarpment to Darling Harbour, the most significant being through Frog Hollow. Governor Lachlan Macquarie set aside 1,000 acres of land for grazing stock in 1810 and Charles Moore, Mayor of Sydney from 1867 - 69 fought for the land to be dedicated as a leisure area for the people of Sydney.

Sydney's first zoo was established on what had been known as Billygoat Swamp in 1879. Billygoat Swamp was a small lake of clear potable water and had been used for swimming and catching fish and eels but was built over by the zoo. The zoo became Sydney Girls High School in 1921 when the zoo moved to Bradley's Head, and was joined by Sydney Boys High School in 1928.

The route of the tram rails is between Sydney Boys High and the playing fields to the north and a Community Light Rail Forum was convened there in The Great Hall on the 15th April. The Transport Minister told the Forum that they were looking into the possibility of sinking placing the rail in a trench after it has crossed Surry Hills. At a breakfast of Randwick stakeholders a week later the Deputy Director General of Transport for NSW was keen to establish his tree-hugging credentials and said that Moreton Bay Fig Trees along Anzac Parade could be preserved by placing the tram-lines in a trench. So where does this leave the spur line to the Sydney Cricket Ground?

I have been caught in a downpour in Moore Park west of the Entertainment Centre. Ground water covered the park, ankle deep in the more sunken areas. The water eventually seeps into the Eastern Suburbs - Botany Bay aquifer but it takes quite a while. I thought about getting a photo of this phenomena during last Sunday's downpour, but why ruin a new pair of shoes - it is just a park covered with water.

Trams cannot travel down slopes greater than 6 metres in 100 metres and the overhead lines have to go down as well and have to be isolated from passersby. Open trenches for the trams go on forever and have to be drained - electric trams cannot operate when tracks are covered with water.

The Project can not be costed while so little is known about the routes through Moore Park and the impact on the Park and on Sydney High is unfathomable.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Roll out the Juggernauts

Pedestrian traffic in Eddy Avenue
Pedestrian traffic in Chalmers Street
These photos were taken with an iPhone before yesterday evening's sell out game between the Sydney Swans and Essendon at the SCG. The weather had set in and it would rain throughout the game, so not all the seats were occupied. The weather was gloomy but the Swans shone - at times the crowd was chanting Goodesy instead of Sydney.

Information on walking to the SCG from Central suggests a marked route along Foveaux Street which is quite steep. Too steep for trams and they have never used this route. There is a shorter route for those with local knowledge. Leave the rail platforms from the Devonshire Street tunnel end and walk up Devonshire Street and along Parkham Street in front of Olivia Gardens then cross South Dowling Street using the pedestrian crossing and bridge. Public-spirited students at Sydney High have removed a panel in the pedestrian barrier along the centre of Anzac Parade in order to access a Randwick-bound bus stop in Anzac Parade, then a pedestrian crossing of the exclusive bus roadway places you right outside the SCG.

Stakeholders in Randwick put on a breakfast for the Deputy Director General of Transport for NSW, Chris Lock at the end of April. The brochure on Sydney's Light Rail Future asserts the potential to physically couple two carriages would double the capacity to 18,000 passengers per hour in each direction, exposing the infantile modeling that has been done for this Project. Chris Lock told his hosts that there could be a spur line or a loop in Moore Park - they are making it up as they go along.

Two carriages coupled together would create a silent juggernaut almost the length of an Olympic swimming pool. Chris Lock said these behemoths would operate "as well as the normal services", and they would reverse direction, presumably in Chalmers Street or Eddy Avenue, and cycle back at speed. He said of the tram system in this part: "It is fast".

Reversing rail carriages along a track that is carrying carriages passing in the correct direction is mind-numbingly irresponsible and this will take place in streets that carry some of the highest pedestrian densities in the State. Pedestrians wont know if they are coming or going. They will not know which side of the tracks the next tram will be leaving from until the last minute.

We have not been informed if the reversals will take place in Chalmers Street or Eddy Avenue - they are working on this as well. In any case, any signaling will be in a public street and will be vulnerable to vandalism and tampering, and a driver will not be able to see what is coming round the corner.

The coupled carriages will not stop at Ward Park and woe betide anyone who walks behind a regular service tram when a juggernaut is passing through. We have no information on the weight of the carriages so can not calculate the minimum stopping distances but they would be between 400 and 600 metres. Things could get sticky for emergency workers who come to the assistance of people.
The missing panel in the pedestrian barrier