Thursday, 28 November 2013

Culling the 20% - it is no joke

Cross section of Ward Park stop from EIS
I gave an account of the establishment of Ward Park and the Northcott housing development and the opening by Queen Elizabeth in an early post. Ward Park was the trade off for living in high rise apartments.

I could not sleep after the Community Forum at Sydney High School in April and wrote to the Minister for Transport the next day. One of the issues raised was the dangers to the public housing residents of trams running past this park. I referred to the closure of the exclusive bus roads in Moore Park for a couple of years following the death of a man hit by a bus late at night and the subsequent erection of the pedestrian barriers. I commented that NSW was the only place in the world that produced politicians insane enough to consider such a system.

As you can see the Minister was mortified and told her department to ensure the safety of public housing residents. The text states: "The stop would require the realignment of the pedestrian footpath adjacent to Ward Park to the south of the proposed stop". Children and dogs are depicted in the park  with just a step down to this footpath. The tram rails run effectively along the northern edge of the footpath and passengers will stroll across the rails to the central platform. The people shown teetering on the edge of the footpath, within touching distance of the trams, appear to be adults but could be children.

Within a couple of days after I posted the letter the news for residents got a lot worse. The Deputy Director General of TfNSW, Chris Lock, told a Randwich business breakfast that coupled cattle cars would shuffle between Chalmers Street and Moore Park, "back and forward, back and forward" and that these would be mixed with regular tram movements, which would presumably stop at the Ward Park stop. Nothing could save anyone who ran behind a stopped cattle car with one-way semi-transparent advertising into the path of a coupled juggernaut.

The so-called Technical Papers contain no information on how long it will take a "light rail" carriage to stop in an emergency. They are as technical as a prospectus for a tech-bubble internet startup company. The EIS is a continuation of the public relations campaign launched on 13 December, 2012.

When the Minister for Transport told the Community Forum in April that no change was possible she was reading from the script. The stop had to be in Ward Park so the rails could encroach on the Park and inbound Crown Street bus services could be looped through the ghetto. The only consideration was to cripple public bus services and maximise transferrals to privately operated cattle cars.
Ward Park - bus to tram transfer station
Marlborough Street looking south from Devonshire
The bus stop in Marlborough Street has, you guessed it, been cropped in Figure 5.34 so it is impossible to make any comments about it. The hook turn at Crown Street has also been cropped, so what can one say? About half of Ward Park will be used as a construction site, then its future as a bus to tram transfer station is completely undisclosed.

No representation made to the Minister or to TfNSW has had any effect on the plans drawn up in secret, without any feedback from independent appraisals.

However, the Minister was disingenuous when she said "no change is possible". She should have said the only change possible is a change of Government in NSW. Ultimately the voters in NSW will decide the future of the Australia's premier city.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Marborough Lights

Deceptive packaging
The EIS (20 CESLR EIS Technical Paper 1) announces significant changes to Devonshire Street:
  • "Delivery of a single eastbound traffic lane;"
  • "Existing right turn movements for vehicles travelling eastbound along Devonshire Street are consolidated to Elizabeth Street and Crown Street only;"
That is, the only access to Surry Hills south of Devonshire Street will be from Cleveland Street eastbound, Elizabeth Street southbound and maybe from Crown Street. Literally, the only possible access to Surry Hills south, an area that includes the Belvoir Street theatre and hundreds of businesses, from the entire Eastern Suburbs east of Crown Street will be via a right-hand turn from Crown Street into Lansdowne Street, if this is indeed allowed.

The Surry Hills qhetto
The section of Crown Street from Cleveland Street to Devonshire Street is the most heavily congested section of Crown Street. In the decades before 2005 the measuring station for vehicle flow data was just south of Devonshire Street. It would be difficult to see how right turns from Crown Street could be accommodated; but this is the only entry road into Surry Hills south from the rest of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and the entire Eastern Suburbs.
Crown Street into Lansdowne Street
Lansdowne Street at Marlborough Street
Marlborough in currently a two-way street, one of many streets allowing access to Surry Hills south, but of course it will have to become one-way north, and there will be traffic lights to cross the tram tracks. The other roads connecting to Devonshire Street will be blocked off.

When a former nazi held a Youth Rally at Randwick Racecourse there was only one legal entry into northern Surry Hills - a right turn from Flinders Street into Short Street - but this was for one day only. O'Farrell's ghettoisation of Surry Hills will last "for a thousand years".

Marlborough Street to the north of Devonshire Street is a short dead-end street so the bus shown in the indicative plan (Figure 5.34) has no where to go except back to Crown Street. Indeed the text states: "The Surry Hills stop would primarily service the local residential, dining and entertainment area as well as a large proportion of Crown Street bus service customers" - whatever this may mean.

Marlborough Street north

The Figure 5.34, indicative plan - Surry Hills stop, is, as we have come to expect, deliberately deceptive. The consultants have tried to conceal that Marlbrough Street will no longer be two-way, showing two cars crossing the intersection from the dead end - the bonnets of the car icons have the stripe down the middle. After all the spectacular failures of transport projects in NSW and Queensland one does not expect consultants to be competent, but it is distressing to observe that they act on the presumption that they will never be held to account. Historically there is a sound basis for this cavalier assumption. The indicative plan does not show traffic lights at this intersection.

The bus shown could only have come from the one entry to the ghetto, Lansdowne Road, so TfNSW intends to loop inbound Crown Street bus services through the ghetto, hoping to turn Ward Park into a public bus to tram transfer station. Transfers from trams to outbound buses in Crown Street  will be much more difficult, since hook turns into Crown Street and traffic attempting to turn from Crown Street into the ghetto will preclude bus stops in this section of Crown Street, which is the main retail centre for southern Surry Hills and Redfern.

TfNSW will be making Marlbrough Street the only exit from the ghetto not only for traffic from the entire Eastern Suburbs but from the north. This traffic will have to join the queue behind the buses looped in from Crown Street to turn into a single lane which fans out into a hook lane and a straight-through lane at Crown Street. Or does it? The hook turn has been cropped from figure 5.34 as has every hook turn in the system.

The EIS refers to the traffic lights at Marlbrough Street as measures to mitigate the lane reductions in Devonshire Street but the only purpose is to give the trams priority over all local traffic movements. The rectangle representing a bus at the bottom of Figure 5.34 supposedly fully informs citizens of the intentions of TfNSW. There is no other information in the so-called technical papers as far as I can tell. The deliberate deception of depicting vehicles from the north entering the ghetto at the Marlbrough Street cannot be dismissed lightly.

This blog has been describing TfNSW and the O'Farrell Government as incompetent but following this EIS this is hardly the appropriate word. An more appropriate word would be "evil".

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A Place to terminate

Chalmers Street is the sine qua non distributor for the people of southern Sydney. The Eastern Distributor and the Western Distributor distribute traffic to and from the north, but there is no alternative route for the functions of Chalmers Street. Chalmers Street distributes traffic via Wentworth Avenue to Oxford Street, Liverpool Street, William Street, Macquarie Street and the Cahill Expressway, with minimal impact on public bus entry to the CBD, and it also distributes traffic to Darling Harbour and to Barangaroo via Rawson Place and Hay Street.
Rawson Place stop
Traffic from the single lane in Chalmers Street will be permitted to only turn left into Eddy Avenue but it can not reach Hay Street as Rawson Place is blocked and there are no right-hand turns from Pitt Street into George Street. Traffic must turn right into Pitt Street across very heavy traffic turning into Eddy Avenue - there is a right-turn lane poking out from the overpass. Traffic must proceed north to Liverpool Street, the only other access route to Darling Harbour and Barangaroo, negotiating the constriction of Pitt Street into two lanes at World Square. This is the point it would have reached travelling along Elizabeth Street and making an uncomplicated left turn into Liverpool Street.

Traffic turning left into Pitt Street must inexorably proceed along Broadway to the intersection with Wattle Street, which it would have reached simply by travelling along Wattle Street.

O'Farrell will be turning the most important, sine qua non distributor for the people of southern Sydney into a rat-run for astonishingly stupid rats. This is more than preposterous, this is ludicrous. If O'Farrell thinks he can get a second term in Office with a Project as patently ludicrous as this he is even sillier than he looks.
The tortuous route of Pitt Street
Liverpool Street is gridlocked five days a week now. It is not only an access route to Darling Harbour and the CBD west of York Street it is the only route back, via the Cross City Tunnel. It is not gridlocked by naughty motorists trying to avoid the Cross City Tunnel toll but by motorists trying desperately to reach the Tunnel.

Liverpool Street will be a preferred route for traffic displaced by the "pedestrianization" of George Street returning to George Street with a vengeance. It just gets worse and worse forever.

Buses turning into Rawson Place have no place to go but back to Broadway immediately. It will be impossible for Parramatta Road and City Road bus services to maintain scheduled services. The only commuters who can transfer "across the platform" will be students from the west and south-west suburbs who did not have good-enough grades to go to a real university and had to settle for a roundhouse/squarehouse (RS) university. Bus passengers forced to travel north on cattle cars will be discharged so far south in Pitt Street the stop has been, you guessed it, cropped.

When Sydney was a working harbour, Hay Street was the outlet for containers from the wharves at the hungry mile to the south of NSW, and the width of the roads between Hay Street and Elizabeth Street reflect this. Hay Street was closed between Pitt and George Street and made one-way to the west when the current tramway was built. Closing Rawson Place is a far greater blow to the people of southern Sydney, and for what?

Before the Harbour Bridge was built people had to travel to Circular Quay to get a ferry to Milsons Point. To travel by private car you would have to be rich enough to have garages and vehicles at Circular Quay and Milsons Point, so everyone used public transport. When the Harbour Bridge was built Park Street and Oxford Street and other roads were widened - by knocking down all the buildings on one side - but George Street north of Market Street and Phillip Street remained the width of the cart tracks laid down at the time of the First Fleet. The factors leading to the dominance of public transport to Circular Quay have remained the same.

Buses travelling to Circular Quay are not carrying hordes of passengers - the trains could do that. Circular Quay is a dead end and one of the few places in the CBD where buses can turn around and maintain schedules. The attempt to turn buses around in Rawson Place is misconceived and fatuous. It doesn't work.

Congestion in bus routes in George Street for a couple of hours a day is a scheduling problem and is ridiculously easy to resolve with the advent of the Oyster (aka Opal) Card, as we shall see, and it costs next to nothing, not $1.6 billion.

This is not to say that tram services in Sydney can not be extended. The Minister has the information on how to extend them without destroying civilization as we know it for the people of southern Sydney.

So how on earth did this come about? There were two Sydney City councillors at the Community Meeting on Thursday night. One said it was the Council that did the traffic modelling for the tramway along George Street and presented this to the politicians who had been festering in the North Shore rump of the Liberal Party for 30 years. The Council must have been using traffic flow data from 2005.

The Minister told the community forum at Sydney High in April that this was her project and the Liberal Party would accept responsibility. Clover Moore's eyes widened - she could not believe her luck. She had a microphone but said nothing. The Councillors at the meeting said Council would not become more involved as they did not want to be held responsible.

So now we face this train wreck in slow motion.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The EIS - really bad news for News Limited and the rag trade

The Harp in-accessible from the South

The 9/11 13 brochure contained this ominous diagram. There was an arrow against the flow of Randle Street with the tag 2, but there was no reference to this number in the text. I commented in that post that this could be the harbinger of the worst possible scenario for Elizabeth Street - the reduction of the city's major traffic artery to the south to two lanes each way.

The 9/11 13 brochure was subtitled "For further consultation", but suppressing this vital information was blatantly deceptive and designed to suppress discussion until the EIS was released and people had only a month to analyze the consequences. As you might surmise the consequences for residents and businesses in Surry Hills west of Crown are dire.

The EIS released two months later contains the details of road lane reductions that make the attempts to force motorists to use the cross City Tunnel by reducing lanes in William Street fade into insignificance.
EIS Chapter 12, page 19

Counting to five

Elizabeth looking north at Randle St
The map in Chapter 12 of the EIS insists there would be two lanes northbound and three lanes southbound in Elizabeth Street when traffic flow in Randle Street is reversed. This is not deliberately deceptive; this is blatantly false. As you can see there is a bus lane and three other lanes (southbound) at present. We can confirm this with Google Earth:
Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills
When Transport for NSW released the 9/11 13 brochure with two southbound bus lanes from Circular Quay and only one northbound bus lane along Elizabeth one might have charitably overlooked this as a lapse, but now it is confirmed: there are no engineers left working for TfNSW who can count to five.
Access routes to Surry Hills from Chalmers Street, from previous post
Chalmers Street stop
But no one would accuse them of not knowing when to crop. The Figure 5.22 in the EIS (left) shows inexplicably, two platforms of Central Station but only a tiny glimpse of Elizabeth Street in the top right corner. Chalmers Street is reduced to one lane of traffic with a lane that can be used for a bus stops when not being used by coupled cattle cars. Figure 5.22 shows the general traffic lane expanding to two lanes shortly before reaching Eddy Avenue with one lane for left-hand turns and straight ahead, and one for traffic proceeding north along Elizabeth Street, but this is contradicted by the text: "A single general traffic lane would be provided on Chalmers Street, with traffic using this lane only (sic) permitted to turn left into Eddy Avenue". The Figure 5.22 shows one only northbound lane in Elizabeth Street. The solid white line in the top right corner is the centre line. This is hard to make out in the PDF - I had to go to the Surry Hills Library in stunned disbelief to see the printed version to confirm this.

So clearly the advice was that three southbound lanes plus the bus stop lane were considered essential for traffic flows to the south in Elizabeth Street. At a very late date O'Farrell decided, stuff the Eastern Suburbs and south Sydney, his vanity project was the only thing that mattered.
Section in Chalmers Street
The text of the EIs is noncommittal and merely refers to additional northbound lanes in Elizabeth Street. So TfNSW is asking the subverted public servants appointed by O'Farrell specifically to approve the EIS, to approve multiple choices so they can continue to make it up as they go along. The NSW public does not know what to object to.

Does the quoted reference in the text of the EIS mean only vehicles in the single lane in Chalmers Street may turn left, or does it mean traffic using this lane are permitted to only turn left? Almost certainly the latter, but with incompetent consultants one can not be sure. This means that any buses continuing north along Elizabeth Street will have to use Randle Street so one of the two lanes in Elizabeth Street will need to be a priority bus lane. Or will there only be the one lane? The corollary of this is that all buses proceeding along Chalmers Street will be forcibly terminated, presumably at Railway Square. These buses will cross the tram rails three times on the way in and twice on the way out - a quintuple crossing - an all time record for TfNSW.

Currently the eastern-most lane in Chalmers Street gives access to the Surry Hills grid south of Albion Street at two places. These are shown by the orange arrows in the Google Earth map (above) from a previous post. The hairpin bend around the Dental Hospital gives access to Cooper Street, thence Holt Street and Kippax Street. This will be obliterated by TfNSW and there will of course be no right turns from Elizabeth Street.
Left-turn Randle into Devonshire
But what happens to the other turn into Devonshire Street? The Figure 5.22 of "Central Station" stop has of course been cropped. The  diagram in Chapter 12 showing the number of lanes in carriage ways adjacent to the tracks is for the "City Centre Precinct" and stops just short. There does not appear to be a similar diagram for the "Surry Hills Precinct". So we must rely upon the text.

Since the fate of Surry Hills depends on this passage I will quote it verbatim: "At the corner of Chalmers Street and Randle Street, the existing footpath would also be extended, as Randle Street would change to two-way traffic movements and the turn into Chalmers Street would be removed". There is no mention of turns from Chalmers Street into Devonshire Street across the rails - which would be difficult. The solitary eastbound lane in Devonshire Street would be just for "property owners" in Strawberry Hills. It will be impossible for vehicles in Chalmers Street to access Surry Hills south of Albion Street. This was inadvertently confirmed by the diagram (above) from the 9/11 13 brochure which shows an arrow (tagged 2) along Randle Street but no spur arrow up Devonshire Street.
The only other access to Surry Hills from the south is from Crown Street, but only Riley Street gives access to the road grid west of Crown Street, and of course all westbound lanes between Crown Street and Riley Street will be obliterated.

It will be physically impossible for a vehicle from the south to access destinations in Surry Hills west of Crown Street and south of Albion Street.

This is a vast area and contains the headquarters of News Limited and the businesses that comprise the rag trade. O'Farrell's vanity is so overweening he is oblivious to the enemies he will be making.

And it is not just big businesses that are affected. There are cultural institutions like the Belvoir St theatre and thousands of small businesses that depend on being accessible from all areas.

Over the last nine months I have done everything possible to find out what would be happening in Chalmers Street. I wrote to my local Member of Parliament asking him to place Questions on Notice to the Minister, and when he was appointed to the "Round Table" I sent an email asking him to find these things out. The only response was a single paragraph in his taxpayer-funded internet news-letter.

The EIS of course does not provide definitive information but confirms the outcomes will be the worst possible for Surry Hills.

There were representatives from TfNSW at a community meeting in Surry Hills last night. They would only lecture the attendees dismissively on how to make submissions to the EIS. I brought up the matter of the deliberate deceptions and contradictions is the EIS and was told that if there were mistakes in the EIS this should be brought up in a submission. Apparently the EIS is just a step in an amorphous process and they will continue making it up as they go along even when the Minister is negotiating with Private Public Partners (PPPs), and beyond.

The founder of PUSH, Venietta Slama-Powell, has taken a year off work and announced at the meeting that she could no longer make the commitment. The Minister has gone out of her way to humiliate the local community and shatter Venietta. But ultimately, the fate of the City of Sydney will be decided by the voters at the next State election and the brochures and this EIS put out by TfNSW over the last year give plenty of ammunition to ensure that O'Farrell will be a one-term Premier.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The last Strachan stop

Anzac Parade at Meeks Street - Strachan Street is in the top right corner
It is not difficult to see why Transport for NSW would want to have force buses to play "chicken" in tram lanes in the heart of the Kingsford retail and civic centre. For historic reasons cross roads to the east and west of Anzac Parade have different names. Meeks Street is to the east and Strachan Street is to the west further south. There are currently four right-hand turn lanes from Anzac Parade into these streets. The tram lines obliterate three of the right-hand turns leaving only a Hook turn into Borrodale Road, as far as can be discerned - you guessed it, the Figure has been cropped.
Right turn into Borrodale Road
On 13 December 2012 the Minister for Transport launched a vicious attack on Infrastructure NSW. The Chairman, Nick Greiner, mulled things over and in an interview said he had informed O'Farrell in early January that he would be resigning despite being only half way through his three year contract. The chief executive, Paul Broad, a career public servant, also resigned. O'Farrell announced the resignations on May 22nd and they took place in early July.

Infrastructure NSW's suggestion for a bus rapid transport tunnel only existed as press releases but two pages of the 13 Dec 2012 brochure were devoted to attacking INSW: "Previous investigations by Roads and Maritime Services in 2010 showed the former underground tram tunnels could only potentially be used by buses in one direction." Trams can be run closer together because they are on rails - their only advantage over buses.

Figure 5.42 shows a bus sharing the tram lane just north of the Meeks Street intersection with a tram bearing down on it. Do cattle cars stop at every stop and open and close their doors regardless of whether anyone will be getting on or off? The EIS is asking for approval for buses to share lanes with the trams for virtually the whole distance between the Strachan Street stop and the Kingsford terminus. Was this the plan when TfNSW launched it's attack on INSW? Probably not: TfNSW has been making it up as they go along.

The drivers of buses forced to travel along the tram tracks would tend to align the buses with the rails, but buses cannot maintain the separation required. They would be playing "chicken" with buses from the other direction throughout the Kingsford retail centre.

More disturbingly, there is a huge disparity between the emergency stopping distances achieved by rubber tyre buses and trams. True light rail systems maintain sufficient distances between carriages to avoid carriages running into backs of one another, which determines the frequency and the maximum capacity of the system. The infantile modelling published in the brochures has been based on these assumptions, so since the modelling assumes that the cattle cars will split alternately between the Randwick and Kingsford exchanges we can assume there would be no problem with a single bus entering the tram lane midway between two cattle cars.

But at least five buses will need to enter the tram lane between each cattle car and the EIS is asking for approval for them to waft into the tram lanes at unspecified places at any time - buses are not on the same schedules as the trams. This is so incompetent and so irresponsible as to be beyond belief. TfNSW is so incompetent and so devoid of any ethical compass one cannot criticize it without coming across as shrill.

Trams and buses on the shared lane have to pass through the Meeks Street intersection which appears to include a hook turn into Borrodale Road, requiring a separate lights phase, then go on to encounter the Nine Ways (now) intersection. The roundabout has been obliterated by the tramway but what has replaced it? The diagrams in the EIS do not show traffic lights and there is no mention of any traffic modelling done on this radically changed intersection. The traffic engineers at the NSW Road and Traffic Authority were renowned throughout the world for their expertise, but the RTA has "ceased to exist" and the engineers have either resigned in dismay or are shuffling paper clips round desks. O'Farrell will not allow any traffic modelling on arterial roads affected by the tramways.

Despite a complete lack of any modelling TfNSW asserts that trams will on average take one minute to travel between the Kingsford terminus and the Strachan Street stop. This is preposterous.
Table from EIS, Chapter 5 page 79
To put things in perspective, it currently takes a George Street bus one minute to get from the last stop on Broadway (across from Railway Square) to Rawson Place. These are physically measured times, enshrined in the expected arrival times on the stops. The buses travel along a dedicated lane with no cross traffic. The buses are not impeded at any time of the day.

The distance between the Kingsford terminus and Strachan Street is around twice as long and has all the obstructions listed above which have never been professionally analysed. The company hired to write the report has made the disclaimer in note 1. The run times quote in the EIS are provided by TfNSW and are based on maximum speed limits for the trams. If the speed limit for trams in pedestrianized areas was doubled to 40 kph the cumulative run times quoted by TfNSW would be even faster, but the trams would still be travelling at less than 10 kph.

The X factor

The bus stop in the exclusive bus lane at the intersection of Gardeners Road and Anzac Parade is a timing point so the run times of buses can be read from the time tables. Express AM peak buses take 18 minutes to reach Bent Street and an extra minute to reach Martin Place. These are physically measured times currently being achieved by buses not fanciful calculations based on infantile assumptions.

Even accepting the bizarre assertions of TfNSW it will take a tram from the Kingsford terminal an extra 10 minutes to reach "Wynyard" (the closest stop to Martin Place) and an extra 12 minutes to reach Bond Street at the lower end of Bent Street. This does not include the time taken to transfer to a cattle car. Commuters are not getting any added value from spending $1.6 billion.

As with the Randwick bus services commuters needing to go the further stop to Circular Quay can, with the Oyster (aka Opal) Card, catch any bus service in Phillip Street. The Oyster card also opens up these express services to commuters who are not adjacent to a "limited stop" - just take a bus to any limited stop and wait for an Xnn bus. Fortunately these express bus services can be readily boosted, and even more fortunately there is nothing O'Farrell can do to prevent future sane, rational State Governments from reintroducing them.

Where to next?

So what happens to the buses when they have supposedly transfered their passengers to cattle cars. They cannot turn around when playing "chicken" in the Kingsford retail centre. They cannot do a U-turn in Anzac Parade because of the tram lines. Like the Randwick bus services, the plan is to send them via the Distributor to Circular Quay - the only place where they can physically turn around. O'Farrell will not allow the buses to set down passengers in Elizabeth Street: the only destination is Manly and their only purpose is to crush the Eastern Suburbs public transport.

Despite the deliberate deceptions of the EIS and the relentless croppings designed to conceal every hook turn and the displacements of bus stops, we can draw definitive conclusions from the EIS and the associated documents:
How many buses will the trams "remove" from Anzac Parade? - Zero.
How many buses will the trams "remove" from the northern CBD? - Zero

The Kingsford Retail Centre
Strachan Street looking south
Currently there is the bus stop at Gardeners Road and a bus stop south of Strachan Street delivering shoppers from Bunnerong Road and Anzac Parade south of Nine Ways into the Kingsford retail centre. Shoppers tend to travel "towards town" to do their shopping. There is off-peak curbside parking.

O'Farrell will obliterate the Gardeners Road stop and the most southerly bus stop in Anzac Parade will be so far north of Strachan Street it has been, you guessed it, cropped. O'Farrell wants to force shoppers to transfer to trams to go one stop. The last bus stop in Anzac Parade south will be so far to the north of Strachan there is no inkling as to where it might be.

Nick Greiner told interviewers for an infrastructure article: "Fortunately O'Farrell sees himself as an 'Infrastructure' Premier". Business owners in Randwick, Kingsford and Surry Hills who have invested superannuation and years of effort into their businesses will be paying a terrible price for O'Farrell's mindless affectations.

Monday, 18 November 2013

What's the point of Nine Ways?

Nine Ways roundabout from previous post
Preferred option
Bus services from Bunnerong Road currently have a privileged entry lane to Anzac Parade and a stop on the northern side of the roundabout that does not obstruct general traffic movements along Anzac Parade (blue line). Buses from Anzac Parade south also access the non obstructive bus stop. I will not insult your intelligence by reproducing the designs for the Kingsford terminus of the tram tracks heroically rejected by Transport for NSW (Chapter 4.4.3 of the EIS). The design for the Kingsford terminus chosen by TfNSW for the EIS obliterates all of the above without explanation and for no discernible reason.
Indicative plan Kingsford stop
Transport for NSW is simply inflicting as much damage as it can on the public bus services it has a statutory obligation to administer.

As in the design for the Randwick terminus the only consideration in selecting the design for the terminus was to try and maximize transfers from the public buses to the privately-operated cattle cars. As in the Randwick terminus there are separate platforms for the AM and PM peaks but unfortunately they are on different levels so pedestrian crossings between the platforms, across the bus lanes, are via ramps.

The bus lanes and tram tracks crisscross one another to the south of the platforms in order to provide "cross the platform" transfers of passengers which TfNSW considers essential to get passengers to switch from public buses to private cattle cars. Then to the north, the bus lanes and tram tracks merge into a single track, like a syringe. The text of the EIS announces blithely: "Option 1 would include shared running of light rail and buses between the Nine Ways intersection and Meeks Street". Buses and trams (which we are told can not stop) will be playing chicken in the heart of the Kingsford retail centre!

We turn frantically to Chapter 5 - Part B for Figure 5.44 Indicative plan - Kingsford stop for clarification. You guessed it, the diagram has been cropped.

To get further clarification one must look further afield to the last tram stop in Anzac Parade south of the Nine Ways intersection. This is a long post - I will split it into two.

Friday, 15 November 2013

A deliberately deceptive EIS - now we've seen everything

There is a whole volume (Volume 1A, 34 pages) in the voluminous EIS detailing how the self-proclaimed geniuses at Transport for NSW grappled with various design options. Apparently some "stakeholders" (a euphemism for eco-nazis) on the Randwick City Council threw hissy fits over the location of the terminus of the Randwick tram rails. But they quickly accepted that the only thing that mattered was the commercial viability of the privately-operated tramway.

Tilted figure 5.34
Currently there is no right-hand turn from Belmore Road into Avoca Street. Belmore Road east of Avoca Street is one-way south-east and the small number of vehicles needing to make the right turn use the right-turn lane into the Cuthill Street slingshot. In order to transfer passengers from buses to cattle cars "across the platform" buses must travel against the flow. This was covered in the post "Houston, we have a problem". This was the option foist on the demented burghers of Randwick.

The EIS states that 85% of passengers on the cattle cars will transfer from buses. But what happens to the public buses when they have discharged their seated passengers onto the privately-operated cattle cars that have 80 seats and standing room only for 220. Believe it or not, they are to be forced to continue to Circular Quay, which is the only place in the CBD where they can physically turn around, using the route of the AM and PM peak X-services, paying the toll to the private operators of the Eastern Distributor. The difference is that O'Farrell will not permit the public buses to enter Elizabeth Street: they must return via the Eastern Distributor.

On their return the buses must make the forbidden right-hand turn into Avoca Street and pick up passengers on the other two sides of the triangle. There are separate platforms for the AM and PM peaks for the cattle cars - they switch tracks at the top of the diagram. I am not making any of this up.

Currently buses from the South-Eastern Suburbs access Elizabeth Street in the AM peak from Bent Street via the Distributor or from Liverpool Street via Flinders and Oxford Streets. Between the two they reach destinations in the central CBD in less than half the time it would take a tram to cut a swath through Surry Hills and China Town even with a multimillion dollar underpass under Anzac Parade. The very small number of passengers that need to go the final stop to Circular Quay can, with the Oyster (aka Opal) Card, catch any bus in Phillip Street. They are are coming through not every three or six minutes but every 10 seconds (bumper-to-bumper) and are at this stage carrying only a few passengers. In the PM peak buses return quickly all the way to Circular Quay using the Distributor before picking up passengers in Elizabeth Street.

So it is easy to see why O'Farrell will do anything to stop the buses from entering Elizabeth Street. But what can he do? Write draconian penalty clauses in contracts with PPPs? Make it a criminal offense for someone from the south-west to set foot in Elizabeth Street?

Street View of Belmore Road from previous post
Which brings us back to the tilted figure. Belmore Road when it passes through the traditional Randwick Civic Centre is a two lane each way road, which is why right-hand turns into Avoca Street are banned. The right-turn lane for buses-only required for the "indicative plan - Randwick stop" has been cropped out of the tilted figure 5.34 (Chapter 5, page 47 of the EIS). But that is not all that has been cropped out.

It does not appear to be physically possible for vehicles other than buses to access La Perouse Road or Coogee Bay Road (a major local arterial) from Belmore Road or Avoca Street. The figure 5.34 in the EIS has been tilted and very carefully cropped to conceal the fact that there will be at most one lane for all the traffic from Belmore Road and Avoca Street to reach the local arterials. The impact this will have, in conjunction with the diversion of pedestrian traffic, on businesses in the heart of Randwick are too horrible to contemplate.

When buses proceed north of the Randwick triangle they have only one destination - Manly. Businesses can forget about dressing up their windows. The south-eastern bus services will exist solely for the benefit of Manly residents.

The Minister for Transport has had Questions on Notice in Parliament about the CLESR Project and has replied that the 13 December 2012 brochure fully disclosed the project and has told questioners to wait for the EIS. For the EIS as well to be deliberately deceptive shatters one's belief in the Westminster System of Government.
It is not just this figure. The indicative plan of the UNSW - Anzac Parade figure reproduced in the last post was cropped to conceal the devastation wreaked on the right-hand turn into Day Avenue used by Kingsford bus services. The next post will deal with a much more important case of cropping.

Deliberate deception is systemic within Transport for NSW. But now we've seen everything. We can die happy.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The EIS - really bad news for PPPs

In the post on PPP's (Private Public Partnerships) I noted how ridiculously easy it would be for future, rational State Governments to restore access to Elizabeth Street for peak AM bus services from Coogee and Randwick. These services deliver commuters from Randwick Junction to Bent Street and Martin Place in less than half the time that a tram would take, not including the time needed to transfer and accepting the infantile assertions about the speed of the trams.

One could not make deductions about the similar Anzac Parade bus services without information on the stops. The EIS reveals that the tram lines will crisscross the southbound lanes of Anzac Parade and undercut the corners of the Square House - the University of NSW is a Roundhouse/Squarehouse (RS) university. Incredibly, the rails cross back to the centre of the carriage-ways just before the crucial right-hand turn into Day Street used by Kingsford bus services.

Right-hand turn into Day Ave
But the good news is that it will be as ridiculously easy for a State Government to restore the AM peak services to Elizabeth Street that travel along Anzac Parade.

The assertions about the frequency, capacity and speed of the trams made in the 13 Dec 2012 and the 9/11 13 brochures are not repeated in the EIS as far as I can gather. They would have to defend these assertions in an EIS. But there are eight volumes in the printed versions of the EIS in the libraries. I have never seen anything like it. One cannot be sure what they contain.

Oops I was wrong, they are repeated in the EIS as well as the diagram of stick figures.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Not just stunned or moribund

Nick Greiner was forced to resign as Premier of NSW when Clover Moore and Tony Windsor threatened to march on parliament and lead a vote by the four independents on a motion of no confidence in the Government. Greiner and Brad Hazzard had admitted their statements to an ICAC inquiry into the offering of an executive position in the Environment Protection Agency to fellow Liberal MP Terry Metherell were wrong. The Commissioner Ian Temby had concluded that Greiner would be seen "by a notional jury as conducting himself contrary to known and recognised standards of honesty and integrity".

In May 2011 O'Farrell appointed Greiner as Chairman of Infrastructure NSW. Brad Hazzard had been appointed NSW Minister for Planning and Infrastructure and Minister Assisting the Premier on Infrastructure NSW. The old gang had been reinstated and would not have to answer to independents in Parliament. Greiner was a public servant O'Farrell would have no trouble in subverting.

Nick Greiner was forthright about his role as unelected Tsar of NSW. In an interview for an article on infrastructure he said they inherited a moribund Public Service. They would resurrect Projects that had been rejected in cost-benefit studies.
Infrastructure NSW made an informed assessment of a tramway along George Street - one of their comments is quoted in the side bar of the blog. The old tram tunnels from the Harbour Bridge to Wynyard Station had been under consideration since tram lines were removed from the Bridge but could not be used for buses as they would not be able to turn around. The CBD bus tunnel project extended the tunnels from Wynyard to the Town Hall, popping up, presumably, in the Woolworths and adjacent buildings in Park Street, that Sydney City Council had been relentlessly acquiring in front of the Town Hall.

Incredibly, there was still no provision for buses to turn around. Buses to and from the Harbour Bridge would presumably continue along Broadway and Parramatta Road or along Victoria Road. Infrastructure NSW proclaimed this as a virtue, asserting that parts of central George Street could be "fully pedestrianized" - no buses from Parramatta Road and City Road would be able to turn around at the Circular Quay dead-end. Why are Liberal Party MPs, and the Public Servants they appoint, unable to comprehend that buses need congestion free roads in order to turn around? Is it because they have never ridden in a bus in their lives? Yeah, that would be the reason.
The diagram left was obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald using a Freedom of Information submission. It was published November 24, 2012. It was from a study by the international consultants GHD commissioned by the previous, competent State Government.

The Infrastructure NSW proposal, and the proposal rejected by the previous Government, merely duplicated the distribution of buses currently performed by York Street, at a cost of $2 billion. The only advantage over York Street was there was only two stops - Wynyard and Town Hall Stations - avoiding the congestion around Wynyard Park. Little wonder it failed all cost-benefit studies.

The Infrastructure NSW proposal only ever existed as a few press releases. Despite this Transport for NSW devoted two pages of the 13 December 2012 brochure to attacking "the bus alternative". When an imbecile can attack your proposal you really are troubled.

Infrastructure NSW also proposed extending the Western Freeway from Strathfield to Port Botany using cut and cover under Parramatta Road. A competent, "moribund" Public Servant would have calculated that this was not practical and would given the government expert advice.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The third bridgehead

The constriction of the lanes in Elizabeth Street northbound at the Old Supreme Court Building has been a fact of life from the early days of the colony, but the other congestion points for bus routes are more recent. The difficulties for buses turning from Druitt Street into Clarence Street arose when a previous, competent State Government established the bus-only lane against the flow, east along the Druitt Street on-ramp. Askin had planned to widen Druitt Street.

The second bridgehead - bus lane from Bathurst off-ramp to Druitt on-ramp
I objected, in vain, to the narrowing of George Street northbound to two lanes in front of the Cinema Complex. Buses returning from the lay-over in Lee Street to the Harbour Bridge are hit with the double whammy of this constriction then the turn into Clarence Street. But this need not be so.
George Street at Town Hall
George and Liverpool intersection
Buses from the Harbour Bridge that turn into George Street in front of the Town Hall on the way south to "Railway Square" and beyond, can turn into Kent Street, which currently carries no bus services, via Liverpool Street and return to the Bridge without adding congestion to the bus services using Druitt Street.

O'Farrell seems to believe that if he hands over George Street to Bra boys and Lycra-shirts the people of the Eastern Suburbs will roll over and let him close Druitt Street at Kent Street to all vehicles except buses from north of the Harbour, and will not object to unlimited bus services from the Harbour Bridge congesting the bridgehead in Elizabeth Street northbound. If there were not obvious alternatives to what is being proposed O'Farrell might conceivably get away with it.

 O'Farrell does not have a mandate to proceed with letting contracts for a Project that has not had any details disclosed, and he should allow the voters in NSW to decide the future of the City of Sydney at the next election in 18 months time. At this time the voters will have had an opportunity to be fully informed as to the irretrievable consequences of his Government's proposals.
Ve Vill hand over George Street to Bra Boys to create a diversion
Then ve vill occupy Barangaroo and take over the CBD bridgeheads