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.

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