Sunday, 6 October 2013

A lone voice in the wilderness

Sibling rivalry
When the Sydney City Council was being pressed to commit funds for works on George Street for the tram lines one of the councillors asked for the Council to close down the roads that would be affected by the project to judge what the consequences would be before irreversible changes were made. She was howled down by her fellow councillors, who committed $180 million to the project, sight unseen, and increased this by $40 in May. No details of the Project had been released other than the brochure in December. At the meeting in May, Clover Moore said the Federal Transport Minister Albanese had advised her that he was yet to receive a (sane or rational) request for federal funding. OK, he is to much of a gentleman to use the words sane or rational. The NSW Minister for Transport tried to score political points, saying she had sent a letter and a submission for funding to the Federal Transport Minister one month after the release of the brochure on January 14. Now there is an Abbott government to deal with.

The Sydney Morning Herald has published an article by an investigative journalist in this weekend's (October 5-6 2013, Page 9) News Review, about the use of consultants who were former Liberal Party aides and are employed at $4400 a day. Despite the Minister's denial, their initial engagement had come from her office, and their role is reported to be to act as conduits to her office and report on which public servants would follow the Party line. The article is required reading for anyone who wants to understand how staff at Transport for NSW are promoted far beyond their level of competence. But back to the subject of this post.

Unfortunately for Clover Moore, the Council closes down George Street every year for a Chinese New Year Parade. Chalmers Street is not reduced to one lane so the effects are much less severe, but we can make assessments of the impact on traffic. The Parade does not take place on the Chinese New Years Day but on the Sunday evening afterwards. This is presumably when the impact on traffic will be the least.

I was returning from a bike run on one of these Sundays after 5PM and traffic had slowed to a crawl in Parramatta Road from beyond Sydney University. It took hours to reach Surry Hills. When Broadway is gridlocked the bus services from Parramatta Road and City Road are effectively shut down.

The RTA stopped publishing vehicle flow per hour (vph) data after 2005 but traffic in Broadway would not have gotten any less. The vph data for east-bound traffic in Broadway are on page 17 of the file k5sy3a.doc downloaded from the Transport for NSW website.

Gridlocking Broadway is quite a feat
Chinese New Year is not an unexpected event. The moveable signs and overhead signs were saying to expect delays, so everyone who could have avoided Pitt Street would have.

The metering station in Broadway is to the east of Harris Street. On the Sunday of the sample week the vph traffic flows were 1178 vph between 5-6 PM and 1169 vph from 6-7 PM, so a 1170 vph traffic flow will gridlock Broadway and Parramatta Road back to to grey cliffs of Parramatta Road.
Parramatta Road gridlocked too

Needless to say, the vehicle per hour flows during the AM peak from 8 to 9 AM on weekdays are twice the levels that produce gridlock in Broadway and Parramatta Road, but the gridlock extends far beyond this peak. In fact, traffic flows are above 1170 vehicles per hour on week days from 6AM to 7PM or 8PM from Monday to Thursday, from 6AM to Midnight on Fridays, from 8AM to Midnight on Saturdays and from 10AM to 7PM on Sundays.

The data that is available to us dates from 2005 and cannot be used as a smoking gun. The RTA has all the data it needs to assess the consequences of O'Farrell's decision, on a personal whim, to run trams down George Street. They are not being allowed to run these programs. What can one do?

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