Friday, 27 September 2013

Breaking News Corp

|  News Corp          Surry Hills
___ priority bus lane
___ right-hand turn lane
News Corp announced at the beginning of August that it would consolidate its Sydney area offices to create a central media precinct in Surry Hills. "The media precinct location provides employees with easy access to public transport links and all the amenities of Surry Hills including restaurants, bars, cafes, parks and theatres."

The corporate accounts released on Monday reveal the urgency of the moves. The newspaper advertising revenue had fallen by $US350 million and this was in addition to a $US1.4 billion write down of  mastheads and goodwill. It would not be until 9/11 2013 that they would be made aware of what the O'Farrell government had in store for them.

It is not just News Corp that relies on the right-turn lane in Chalmers Street for vehicular access from South Sydney and Botany Road. Surry Hills is still the centre for the rag trade in NSW. I bought my house in Surry Hills because family members had clothing shops in Bunbury, Perth and Port Hedland, and it was a convenient place to stay. The warehouses in Kippax Street and the surrounding area are now mainly Chinese owned but they still need access for trucks and vans. There are thousands of small businesses in Surry Hills west of Crown Street that need to be accessed from all directions.

But News Corp is the most influential of the businesses in Surry Hills. O'Farrell has seen how Rudd was treated by News Corp newspapers, on the instructions of Rupert Murdock, during the Federal Elections. He is either astoundingly brave or astonishingly stupid. He can explain what he is doing and you can decide which is the case.

Ve vill dramatically increase traffic flows in the Elizabeth Street, Wentworth Avenue arterial, then reduce the number of lanes and force Public Buses to negotiate through this traffic.

Currently there are at least two lanes in Chalmers Street for traffic to enter the critical section of Elizabeth Street between Eddy Avenue and Wentworth Avenue. Buses entering the CBD are unaffected by this traffic, having a priority lane to themselves. There are bus stops south of Devonshire Street for transfers to the railways using the Devonshire Tunnel entry to the platforms, then a stop north of Albion Street, so buses can leapfrog stops. Left-turn traffic is cleared from the bus lane by a phase in sync with right turns from Eddy Avenue to Elizabeth Street, and can turn two by two from the adjacent lane. It works impeccably. There is a separate lane for parking and right-hand turns into Surry Hills.

O'Farrell will change all this. The only access to the CBD north of William Street will be from Elizabeth Street or Macquarie Street via the arterial, throwing all the traffic from Lee Street/George Street into Chalmers Street. In Chalmers Street the bus stops are adjacent to the Dental Hospital, forcing this greatly enhanced traffic flow into one lane - the crucial right-hand turn lane into Surry Hills.
Intersection Eddy Avenue and Elizabeth Street
The RTA stopped publishing hourly traffic flow volumes in 2005 but the traffic volumes would not have diminished. The traffic volumes in Chalmers Street sampled over a week in May 2005 are on page 35 of k5sy4.doc downloadable from the Transport for NSW website. On the Tuesday, for example, the traffic flow peaked at 1420 vehicles per hour between 8AM and 9AM, was 1325 vph the following hour, and stayed around 1000 vph until 7PM. Even without additional loadings from the closure of George Street, funneling this traffic into one lane would make accessing Surry Hills from Chalmers Street difficult throughout the day.

The RTA collects vast amounts of data now and has up to date traffic flow data and the expertise to process it. We rely on the ethics of the Public Service to do what it is paid to do, and without published data to verify the problems this tramway will create, we are pretty well stymied.

Ve vont just terminate bus routes ve vill double-cross them and degrade them

Elizabeth Street bus services that are terminated at Central Station will be forced to cross the tram lines, deposit their passengers in the middle of Chalmers Street and force their way into bumper to bumper traffic in the general vehicle lane in order to make a hairpin turn around the Dental Hospital. There will be no bendy buses for South Sydney and Botany Road. There is no provision for terminated buses to wait for the start of their scheduled run and the first stop will a considerable distance south of Eddy Avenue. Then they cross the tram lines again.

The attempts of Transport for NSW to design bus/tram transfers at Kingsford and the Randwick triangle were so deliriously incompetent they were laughable. This interchange doubles the delirium. The interchanges at Kingsford and Randwick could largely be ignored and only damaged a few hundred businesses in Anzac Parade and Belmore Road.

The Elizabeth Street-Wentworth Avenue-College Street arterial is only peripheral to the CBD but is crucial to the entire Eastern Suburbs and to the southern suburbs of Sydney. The damage that O'Farrell is doing to the inhabitants of these suburbs is irreversible and can never be mitigated. The thousands businesses in Surry Hills west of Crown that depend on being accessible to customers from all suburbs will sustain losses. This is no laughing matter. A lot of pain for no conceivable gain.

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