Friday, 31 January 2014

The Green and Black

The Green and Black
I confronted the Project Director, Jeff Goodling, about the contradictions in the various plans in the EIS at the community meeting shortly after the EIS went on exhibition. The Lord Mayor of Sydney and the Member for Sydney were conspicuous by their absence at the meeting, so they may not have been aware of the contradictions and deliberate deceptions in the EIS.

I am not alone in drawing attention to the many contradictions in the EIS, this is an extract from the submission of Kingsford South Precinct, one of the resident groups sponsored by Randwick Council, on page 22 of website submissions here
Note that Randwick Council sponsored community groups to examine the EIS. Clover Moore has embarked on a campaign of letter drops with false information and has maligned community groups with unsubstantiated claims about alternative routes.

Which brings us to the City of Sydney's hysterical response to the the EIS.
Surry Hills ghetto encircled
The Technical Papers state: "To mitigate the impacts to local access the following network changes are proposed: Reinstate the Cooper Street connection to Riley Street to provide access for local residents." This is disingenuous. If Cooper Street reserve in not obliterated the only entry for rag-trade heavy vehicles to the Surry Hills commercial ghetto, from the south, is to circle the entire ghetto - the yellow line on the Google Earth map above. Traffic from Chalmers Street must thread along the single lane of Devonshire Street past the pocket parks closing off Holt and Waterloo Streets and enter from the northern end of Waterloo Street, where it has narrowed. This is simply to avoid the possibility that turning heavy vehicles may "encroach on the light rail alignment" - limiting the speed at which trams can travel through Surry Hills.

This provoked an hysterical response from the City of Sydney. Their submission refers to a table in volume 1A which is a cut and paste of the passage in the Technical Papers. They shriek: "The Proponent should consider that opening Cooper Street will help local circulation but will provide a by-pass from Elizabeth Street to Crown Street."

The recommendation is: "That the reopening of Cooper Street only proceed if the Proponent demonstrates that it is essential to traffic flow and local access."

Neither TfNSW or City of Sydney show any concern for the Child Care centre adjacent to the reserve, that was the subject of a previous post. City of Sydney's only concern is to stop evil motorists from avoiding blocking the only exit to the north from the other Surry Hills ghetto.

A year ago, when it had become a "stakeholder", the Council amended the Local Environmental Plan 2012 to change the zoning of land adjacent to the reserve, resumed for road widening, from General Residential to Public Recreation. O'Farrell could have a fight on his hands.

The obvious solution to all these problems is to leave Holt Street and Waterloo Street open at their southern ends and to slow down the trams in Devonshire Street so they can cope with the odd turning truck. Even better, to not run trams along a road that is too narrow to accommodate them.

Clover Moore's only concern is the maximise the profits of the the privately-operated tram company by letting it ride roughshod over Surry Hills. She is backed up by her acolyte Alex Greenwich (get it), the Member for Sydney, who opines in the submission posted on his web site: "Pocket parks at road closures - These closures must provide high quality plazas and pocket parks at intersections to help green and pedestrianise the area and add to the village atmosphere".

The EIS shows no concern for the employers in this major commercial area of Sydney; only for local residents, who vote at elections. O'Farrell is apparently prepared to do to the rag trade and News Ltd and all the other smaller businesses in the area, what his Federal colleagues are doing to the car industry and the Goulburn Valley.

The community independents have a long history in this area. When they controlled South Sydney Council the area had one of the highest unemployment rates in Australia. When South Sydney was merged with Sydney they took control of the goose that laid the golden eggs. Now, sure enough, they are killing the goose.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Public Service prat

At a community meeting in Surry Hills after the EIS had been released, residents were lectured at length by officers from TfNSW on how their objections should be framed. They should be short and not deal with matters like the proposed Parramatta Light Rail! The officer pictured suggested: "For example, you may wish to object to the right-hand turn from Devonshire Street into Crown Street."

Why would anybody object to this right-hand turn - the only one apart from Devonshire into Elizabeth Street? Since this intersection had been cropped from the figures shown in the EIS, there was no information on which one could base a comment. Now Sydney City Council has inadvertently released alignment diagrams that explain this little mystery.

There is only one lane of traffic in Devonshire Street all the way to the intersection with Crown Street. One vehicle waiting to turn right will block all traffic movements in parallel to tram movements which we are told will be occurring on average every sixty to ninety seconds. There will be vehicles wanting to turn right during most phases when the trams are running - 5am to 1am, supposedly. The only traffic movements in parallel to the trams will be to fill the lane to the intersection. It will take only eight or nine vehicles to block the only exit to the south from the public-housing ghetto - to exit, traffic from Marlborough Street must turn left into Crown or Bourke Streets. This happens often during the weekday evenings, without any trams.
Marlborough Street exit from ghetto blocked, 5:30pm
Not that O'Farrell gives a shit. The alignment diagrams confirm that half the area of Ward Park will be used as a construction site, but holds out the tantalising prospect that this area could be reduced, by a sliver, by blocking off Marlborough Street. This would mean, of course, that there was literally no exit to the north from the Surry Hills ghetto.

The green patch encompasses the church hall of the Roman Catholic St. Peters Church. This building, built in 1880 had its slate roof repaired after the super cell. The tag says Property Adjustment TBA - that is presumably, To Be Announced. Not to be discussed or negotiated with the Church authorities, who first learned they would not be able to conduct funerals when the EIS was released.
O'Farrell has as much respect for his Church as he has for the intelligence of residents south of the Harbour.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Global Sydney

I am a Liberal lady from the North Shore,
If you have to ask what it will cost you can't afford me

The Sunday Telegraph 09 September, 2012 commented: The O'Farrell Government has spent 18 months and more than a million dollars developing a transport masterplan only to present a grand design that is almost identical to the one prepared for the former premier Nathan Rees.

When this was pointed out by Labor MP Ryan Park, Ms Berejiklian said the new initiatives introduced in the masterplan included a second Harbour crossing, 46 corridors and a "strategic network heirarchy". "Another difference between Labor's transport plans and this one is we will deliver."
The yellow blob
The second Harbour crossing (a tunnel for trains) has not been designed, let alone subjected to a "pre-feasibility study" or costed. The route for the tunnel under the CBD shown in the 9/11 2013 brochure is a yellow blob covering the whole of the CBD.

The cost would be many billions of dollars and there does not seem to be any reason why this could succeed where the more modest Balmain to Sydney University Metro was abandoned without explanation after half a billion dollars had been spent on property acquisitions and compensation.

The three American-based global consultancy firms commissioned by TfNSW to sign off on the EIS would have cost the tax payers a fortune, particularly if they were being paid by the word. We don't know at what stage they were commissioned or what actual work they were contracted to do apart from signing off on the EIS. It may require a Royal Commission to find out what was taking place at TfNSW the past year.

AECOM seems to have produced some of the figures for parking restrictions in the "light rail corridor". Parsons Brinckerhoff may have some responsiblity for cropping the deliberately-misleading figures for the tram stops in Chapter 5 of the EIS and co-authored chapters 1 to 5 with TfNSW. Booz & Company who co-authored the "Technical Papers" with AECOM is a "management  consulting" firm with no engineering background. The technical papers are meticulous in ascribing the figures and tables reproduced for the EIS to TfNSW. It appears that all three consultants were given access to all the draft plans and alternative plans supposedly considered by TfNSW  and were allowed to come up with wildly contradictory plans for the Project.

You can Google the three consultancy firms to find out their backgrounds. Parsons Brinckerhoff was taken over by a British company in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. It was announced on October 30, 20013 that Booz & Company would be taken over by the global accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and it was not a hostile take-over - it was accepted two days before Christmas. It is difficult to see what synergies there could be for the merger, but whatever difficulties Booz & company may have been in when it signed a contract with TfNSW there can be excusing the mindless acquiesce exhibited in the EIS. I will cite one example.

In the EIS Technical Paper 1 - Part B page 205 there is a segment:

Traffic flow changes
"These traffic pattern changes can be summarised as follows:

  • Traffic accessing the CBD from Parramatta Road/Broadway is likely to divert to Wattle Street/Harris Street to access the city via the Western Distributor/King Street, William Henry Street/Pier Street and Ultimo Road to avoid George Street/Pitt Street where capacity has been reduced due to light rail."
This is gibberish. There will be two lanes of traffic along George Street to Hay Street which leads to Darling Harbour and Barrangaroo, as at present, but there will be no bus priority lane and Rawson Place will be closed, cutting off access to Hay Street for traffic from the south and south east. Traffic will be less likely to divert into Wattle Street, much less.

  • Kent Street, Sussex Street and Clarence Street (for buses) will take on a higher order role for access to the northern CBD as well as access to the Harbour Bridge.
  • Kent Street will take on a more important access role for the Rocks, Dawes Point, and Barrangaroo.
  • Castlereagh Street and Elizabeth Street will be subject to significant increased usage by general traffic and buses ...
  • A (sic) east-west diversion to Cleveland Street is forecast which will call for a management plan to further improve the operation of this already congested corridor.
And so on. Booz & Company, or is that AECOM, have confirmed that no modeling has been done on traffic flow in and around the CBD. This should have been done before O'Farrell made his whimsical decision to run trams along George Street. This is what determines if the Project is viable, not estimates of how many passengers can be forced to transfer from public buses to privately-operated trams.

In fact, it can easily be shown that congestion in bus lanes in Elizabeth Street northbound becomes intractable with pedestrianisation of George Street, and this will get progressively worse for the rest of the life of the City. Ditto congestion in Cleveland Street.

Booz & Company conclude, speaking for TfNSW:
"To address the effects of these potential changed traffic patterns, TfNSW and RMS (thats Roads and Maritime Services - O'Farrell's other monster bureaucracy) are working together to identify appropriate upgrade measures. This work is on-going and includes additional modelling assessment at the strategic and operation levels to refine the optimal solution."

In other words, TfNSW and RMS have not got a clue what to do. They are asking Planning and Infrastructure to give approval to a project that has not been established as a viable proposition - it is not viable.

I did not comment on this in my submission to the EIS. What can one say in the face of a mea culpa as comprehensive as this.

Booz & Company conclude: "This work will be completed prior to construction of the CSELR commencing."

Pig's arse it will. The Minister and her Pizza Boy, Jeff Goodling were openly negotiating with PPPs before the exhibition period for the EIS ended. If Planning and Infrastructure give approval to the EIS none of the unanswered questions will be dealt with before contracts are written. All that will be established in the assessment process is whether O'Farrell has subverted the Planning and Infrastructure ministry as comprehensively as he has subverted TfNSW and RMS.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Duh Clover, Moore confusion

Chalmers Street alignment diagram

The City of Sydney submission to the EIS makes the stipulation (recommendation 47) that the work site shall be defined as per the attached plans (appendix B) produced by TfNSW.

These plans were never disclosed until now, after the close of submissions, and they explain things that TfNSW officers refused to discuss.

The text of the report by consultants Parsons Brinkerhoff (Chapter 5 -Part B page 34) states: "At the corner of Chalmers and Randle Street, the existing footpath would also be extended, as Randle Street would change to two-way traffic movements and the turn from Randle Street into Chalmers Street would be removed." This does not make sense and it was not possible to work out what was meant, as the figure 5.22 in the report was cropped so as to not show the intersection. The figure was displaced to show two platforms of Central Station but only a glimpse of Elizabeth Street, but enough to confirm only one north-bound lane in Elizabeth Street. The "single general traffic lane provide on Chalmers Street" is just a rat-run for very stupid rats, as pointed out in a previous post.

Now City of Sydney has inadvertently released documents that show what the consultants were describing. There is indeed one lane of traffic turning into Randle Street from Chalmers Street, across the tram lines with priority signalling, where trams are slowing to come to the stop.

During construction it will be impossible for pedestrians from the Eddy Avenue station entrance to access the eastern side of Chalmers Street as the pavement comes to a point at the crossing. What happens after construction cannot be determined as the crossing has been cropped.
TfNSW's other consultants, Booz & Company came up with a radically different design which is also included in the EIS, in its Technical Papers (, without explanation. Booz & Company assert baldly, without any data on building alignments and kerb alignments and lane and footpath widths: "provision of two northbound lanes could be provided with the loss of only one southbound lane through kerb and lane adjustments". Note that the consultants say could not would. The yellow lines in the diagram are presumably the kerb and centre-line alignments and the width of the footpaths on the western side of Elizabeth Street appear to be close to zero. Elizabeth Street south of Foveaux Street is the main pick-up bus stop for buses to southern Sydney whether they travel to Circular Quay or terminate at Central and congestion on this section of footpath would be among the highest in the CBD.

I commented in my submission on the EIS that TfNSW has a history of making convenient assertions and asked for this latter-day assertion to be properly assessed. The EIS is asking for approval of multiple choices. This makes it impossible for anyone to make constructive criticism of the plans, particularly since there are no details or data to work with.

Not that the nutters at City Hall are capable of making constructive criticisms. They seem to be oblivious to the discrepancies in the designs of the different consultants. Perhaps their officers were intimidated by the word technical and failed to read the documents prepared by Booz & Company. The City of Sydney has been working all along with the assumption that the vehicle flows in Chalmers Street would be forced into one lane.

More disturbingly, despite having access to detailed alignment diagrams, the officers and politicians at City of Sydney have failed to pick up the obvious flaws in the plans of both the consultants for the Central (nee Chalmers Street) tram stop. Passengers from the Surry Hills side of Elizabeth Street have to cross to the western side of Chalmers Street then walk south, in order cross the tram lies again to catch an outward bound tram. Extra crossings are provided - like anyone is going to use them. The TfNSW tech guy kept asking how is the situation with this system different from Melbourne. The island tram stop in Flinders Street and the outside tram stops in St Kilda Road at Flinders Street Station are indeed accessed from the pedestrian crossings.
Flinders Street Station, Melbourne
Currently Elizabeth Street bus services conveniently deposit passengers directly at the Devonshire Street Tunnel entrance to Central, and pick up passengers at the Foveaux Street stop. In the modelling of passengers expected to use the tram stops, Booz & Company assumed that people would find catching an outbound tram at the Central stop so difficult they would walk to the Surry Hills stop, except of course for events at the SCG.

Fortunately, if O'Farrell does not return for a second term, the trams will actually have to compete with bus services. Passengers will be able to choose whether standing on a tram with priority signalling and walking long distances to stops, is an advantage over the convenience of the bus services. Voters will be voting for their feet.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

It's been done

Infantile paralysis
The brochure Sydney's Bus Future contains hypothetical diagrams designed to impress readers with the intellectual brilliance of the public servants involved. Like in the two previous brochures in less than a year, the argumentation is remarkably infantile.

Priority signalling at intersections is expensive and useless if buses are behind vehicles turning left or heading straight ahead at intersections (figure A), and pointless if the bus is heading to a bus only lane across the intersection (figure B). Figures C and D are the existing situation in countless six lane arterial roads.
Taylor Square bus priority lane (from previous post)
Fortunately, previous, competent State Governments have installed successful measures to speed the operation of public buses. The outward bound bus priority lane at Taylor Square is not obstructed by buses at the stop and takes buses to the head of the queue of vehicles waiting to enter the more restricted lanes in Oxford Street, Paddington. Left turning traffic use the bus stop lane. Oxford Street is a main road so the nutters at City Hall have not been able to introduce bus-calming measures.

More than 10,000 passengers use the Oxford Street bus services every weekday, so needless to say, everything that could be done to tweak the services has been done over the years. Oxford Street would be the oldest established retail strip in the colony with old established church sites and pubs, and it is fully developed - there are no possibilities for bus bays.

Every weekday commuters on the North Bondi to Elizabeth Street route are given a choice of boarding a limited stops service (333) which leapfrogs many of the stops or the ordinary full services - the 380 and 378 and the 381 service that terminates at Bondi Junction. They get to vote with their feet, and they overwhelmingly use the ordinary services. During the AM peak the frequency of services would be based on demand. Bus drivers have to be employed on either side of the peaks so demand is less relevant. From 7 am to 8 am buses depart from the Bronte terminal about every 6 or 7 minutes; 380 services depart from North Bondi around every 5 minutes and 333 services around every 5 or 6 minutes. The all stops services are twice as frequented as the limited stops services. After the peaks the limited stops services are much less popular, with the frequency dropping off to around 10 minutes.

If O'Farrell gets a second term on March 28, 2015, Eastern Suburbs commuters will lose the choice of walking further to a limited service stop or catching a full service bus. As pointed out in the previous post on Ryde buses, with the Oyster (aka Opal) Card passengers enter buses by any door, and the time saved in not requiring limited-stop buses to leapfrog stops would not be significant.

Eliminating bus stops does not only affect merchants, it creates problems for people with mobility disabilities, and makes it less likely that patrons of the many pubs, nightclubs and restaurants along Oxford Street will catch a bus to and, significantly, from the venue.

Be careful who you vote for.

Shoots through the foot like a Bondi tram

The former Albury Hotel, Oxford Street
The Albury Hotel was an iconic gay hotel famous for its drag shows. The art deco facade inspired the facade of the adjacent St Vincent's Private Hospital. It was closed down and the ground floor was converted into retail shops in 2000. This has not turned out to be a propitious move. Retail establishments in Oxford Street, Paddington, once the most fashionable retail strip in Sydney, have been struggling since the opening of the Westfield centre at Bondi Junction - all the premises in the former hotel are up for lease.

Now the O'Farrell government has decided to deliver the coup de grace to this century-old retail strip with a stroke of a purple texta on a map. The modus operandi of the government is well established. A brochure is published two weeks before Christmas with lines and dots drawn on indiscernible maps. In this case, the publishing date was particularly auspicious - two days after the last "information session" on the EIS and two working days before the cut off for submissions. The maps are prepared without any consultation with anyone who will be affected by the decisions and decisions will not be open to change.
I have another whim
To wipe out the Paddington shopping strip
Just as there had been separate tram services to Circular Quay and Railway Square more than 130 years ago, there have been separate bus services along Oxford Street. Commuters from Bondi and Bronte have been switching destinations at Bondi Junction for generations. With the opening of the Eastern Suburbs railway commuters to the east of Bondi Junction have had fast direct routes to more destinations. The Oyster (aka Opel) Card makes switching destinations much easier. For commuters who pass through Bondi Junction, the 378 service to Railway Square would be used only to transfer to the Broadway bus services.

The Oxford Street bus services are needed by commuters whose journeys begin or end in Darlinghurst/Surry Hills, Paddington and Waverley west of Bondi Junction. Most journeys can be made on whichever bus turns up first. The 378 service to Bronte from Lee Street reduces by about a third the number of Oxford Street buses passing though the mother of all "pinch points" in Elizabeth Street northbound, and the Phillip Street terminus.

If O'Farrell gets a second term on March 28, 2015 that will all change. TfNSW has declared a presumably end-to-end BRT from the Manly ferry terminal to Bondi beach. In fact, the purple line is obscured by the yellow blob of "global Sydney" but the text in the 9/11 2012 brochure, SCCAS proclaimed that all bus routes that service the South-Eastern suburbs will only use Elizabeth Street en-route to and from Circular Quay.

Declaring a "rapid bus route" from the Manly ferry wharf to North Bondi means

  • "wider spaces between stops - bus stops generally every 800 metres to one kilometre. All buses travelling on a rapid route will only (sic) stop at the new rationalised bus stops".
  • "Average five minute wait for the bus, all day every weekday" and they all pass through the "pinch points" in Elizabeth Street northbound.
TfNSW's insistence that a "rapid" bus service from Bondi Junction to Circular Quay will compete successfully with the Eastern Suburbs railway is preposterous, but merchants in Paddington will be callously wiped out without a second thought. The 380, 381 and 378 services which serve the local communities are effectively wiped out, leaving only the limited stops 333 service between Circular Quay and North Bondi. I will break this post into two.

The Member for futile petitions

Businesses in Oxford Street, Paddington approached their local Member of Parliament, the Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich (I did not vote for him). He was asked to lobby the Transport Minister to have the hours of operation of the bus priority lanes in Oxford Street reduced to allow kerb-side parking to operate for longer. He set up a petition. Nothing more was heard until two weeks before Christmas when the Minister published the brochure indirectly outlining the planned fate for Paddington.

Greenwich was an activist for marriage equality for homosexuals before joining Clover Moore's ticket for the Sydney City Council elections - in which he was unsuccessful. He won the by-election for Moore's seat when she was forced to resign. Now the High Court has unanimously ruled that this is a matter for the Federal Parliament, leaving him a one-issue politician without a purpose.
 Greenwich's submission on the EIS is nowhere to be seen on the Planning & Infrastructure NSW web site which is now listing the submissions received: CBD and South East Suburbs Light Rail. Did he request anonymity or fail to lodge the submission or have I just failed to see it in the 19 pages with 22 submissions each page? The relentless push-polling TfNSW engaged in for months failed to elicit much support.

Greenwich has published his submission on his taxpayer-funded web site. He starts with the assertion that congestion in the CBD costs business around $4 billion a year and by 2020 that cost is expected to double to $8 billion. The Clover Moore ticket belongs to the Bjelke-Peterson school of politics - think of a number then double it. In fact, the EIS (3.1.2) states, without any data to back it up, that this is the cost of congestion across the metropolitan area.
AM peak timetable variance
The figure left from same segment of the EIS (chapter 3.1.2) confirms that the Flinders Street bus services are the least affected by congestion of the services entering the the northern CBD - except for the express services from the south east that are even less congested. The most congested route is Elizabeth Street northbound. Clearly forcing bus passengers from the least congested route onto trams that have exclusive access to George Street and displace buses that cannot avoid using Elizabeth Street northbound will dramatically increase bus congestion in the CBD and the "cost to business". But if Community Independents were capable of elementary arithmetic they would be productively employed.

So where did the push to eliminate bus stops in Oxford Street Paddington, where he has his taxpayer funded electoral office, come from. The EIS submission from Sydney City Council explains everything.

The "Executive Summary" at the head of the submission states:
"The following outcomes have been agreed with Transport for NSW in the Development Agreement.
"The Project will provide:

  • The project design will not preclude future expansion of the Light Rail network to Oxford Street, Walsh Bay/Barrangaroo and Green Square".
In fact, TfNSW has no intention of ever running tram tracks along Oxford Street. Chris Lock ruled this out in front of Clover Moore at the Community Forum in April. The third brochure published two working days before the cut off for submissions makes it clear: In the longer term there could be investigation of Bus Rapid Transit for the route.

TfNSW are just humouring the bitches. The elimination of bus stops in Oxford Street is just to keep them in a state of delusion. O'Farrell does not care at what cost this will be to businesses in Oxford Street and to the local communities.
In fact the project design does preclude expansion of the tram network along Oxford Street. Tram services from Oxford Street and Flinders Street have always travelled along Elizabeth Street to Circular Quay. Liverpool Street west of Elizabeth Street never needed to be widened, and now can't be widened.

It can not carry two rails without pedestrianising the street. The ludicrous maps that TfNSW produced to convince people of the Herculean efforts it had made to consider alternative routes for the light rail showed one rail going west along Liverpool Street to George Street and the return rail going west along Goulburn and Campbell Streets.

The closure of Rawson Place makes Liverpool Street west of Elizabeth Street the only entry to Darling Harbour for vehicles from Sydney's south, and the pedestrianisation of George Street would make Liverpool Street the preferred route for displaced traffic to return with a vengeance.

The capacity of Clover Moore and her community independents for self delusion is breathtaking. We are not dealing with sane, rational human beings.

If O'Farrell is not returned for a second term on March 28, 2015 the charade is over. The City of Sydney is saved from destruction and the damage can be repaired.

If the voters in the Sydney electorate elect a representative who will look after their interests and not the interests of people who only want to pass through the area as quickly as possible, then Greenwich will not qualify for the generous superannuation and pensions that politicians award themselves.

As the saying goes they will have shot themselves in the foot.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Why no trams in Military Road?

Wynyard Park bus terminuses
The Deputy Director General TfNSW, Chris Lock, told the Randwick Business Breakfast in April that "we have run out of real estate" to justify the pedestrianisation of George Street. This is clearly untrue at Circular Quay, but it is obviously the case at the Wynyard bus terminuses. The picture below was not taken at a peak hour but the stops and lay-over lane in Carrington Street are fully occupied.
Carrington Street
With the pedestrianisation of George Street, life gets even tougher for buses exiting to the Harbour Bridge via Margaret Street, as there will be a right-hand turn into George Street for general traffic and Hunter Street becomes two-way.

There is of course a tram terminus at Wynyard for trams from the Harbour Bridge. It is currently used for parking. Infrastructure NSW wanted to use the tunnels for a bus tunnel to Park Street. Nobody from the Northern Beaches wants to use the terminus for trams.

Mona Vale BRT
The O'Farrell government commissioned a pre-feasability study in June 2011 into a BRT from Mona Vale to the city and a second from Dee Why to Chatswood. The study was completed in March 2012 and published in June 2012. It can still be viewed on the Transport for NSW web site. The study considered terminating the services from Mona Vale at Wynyard or North Sydney and, bizarrely, in the western distributor between Martin Place and Druitt Street. All the options required extensive property requisition or tunnels and the government did not proceed with the proposals. Yet the brochure published on 12 Dec 2013 includes the BRT on its vague wish list.

The difference is that, this time, the terminus is obscured by a huge yellow blob that covers the Sydney CBD and North Sydney CBD, that TfNSW refers to as "Global Sydney". TfNSW is asking once again for carte blanch to do whatever it likes.

Ominously, the government is promising an average five minutes wait for the bus, all day every weekday on all "rapid routes" - the AM and PM peaks will last from 6 am to 7 pm. TfNSW insists that the O'Farrell Pseudo BRTs will be 5 new "end to end" services and 6 new "centre to centre" services - the distinction is unclear.

But where will it all end?

The terminus mooted for North Sydney is a new BRT station called "Victoria Cross". The buses appear to travel down Miller Street from Falcon Street to a dot on top of North Sydney Station. This part of North Sydney is fully developed and the government lacks the exceptional valour that would be required to terminate buses here. The government line is that a bus terminus would have to be associated with a rail tunnel under Sydney Harbour that has not been designed, let alone subjected to a "pre-feasibility" study. And where in North Sydney is there space for a bus/train interchange?

As Sherlock Holmes observed, when you have eliminated all the alternatives the remaining option, however improbable, must be the answer. Wynyard Park must be the projected terminus of the Mona Vale BRT - and the Epping Road BRT.

Edgecliff derailment
O'Farrell has fanciful notions of terminating the Parramatta-Ryde BRT somewhere in the Eastern Suburbs - presumably Edgecliff Station - but this would require extraordinary complaisance from residents in these suburbs. The chances of their acquiescence decreased markably a couple of days ago when there was yet another derailment on the suburban rail system. So buses from the Parramatta/CBD BRT will be terminating at Wynyard Park as well. All bus services to the city from north of the Parramatta River will be terminating at Wynyard Park or Druitt Street.

At the Randwick business breakfast in April, Chris Lock bemoaned the queues of buses in York Street that, he said, stretched to the other side of the Harbour Bridge. With the BRTs the queues will stretch to Falcon Street, from 6 am to 7 pm!

The Elizabeth Street "pinch point"

Currently some bus services travelling the route from the city through Mona Vale terminate at the Lee Street lay-over (Railway Square), taking pressure off Wynyard Park. This route up George Street from Railway Square is one of the routes that will be obliterated by the pedestrianisation of George Street.

The only alternative route to George Street proffered by TfNSW is Elizabeth Street northbound, inexorably passing through the mother of all "pinch points" (their words) between the Old Supreme Court Building and the St James building. The only response of TfNSW to the congestion it is creating at Wynyard Park is to create intractable congestion in Elizabeth Street northbound, inflicting unimaginable collateral damage on the public transport of the Eastern Suburbs.

O'Farrell's contempt for the intelligence of people south of the Harbour knows no bounds.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Big Picha

The big picha - Sydney's bus future
The Deputy Director General TfNSW, Chris Lock told the Randwick business breakfast in April that the Minister had told him to take a Sydney wide view of public transport - the big picha!

The picture above from the brochure published one year after the infamous 13 Dec 2012 brochure is so big it could not fit onto one page of the PDF - it sprawls over two adjacent pages in the printed version. Submissions to the EIS had to be as a PDF so I downloaded a trial of Acrobat XI Pro to convert my 11 page Word Doc submission - Adobe is now owned by Microsoft. I have been unable to get Acrobat XI to display two adjacent pages together, so I will not be completing the purchase - the trial period ends today, one week ahead of schedule.

The jpeg picture above is a collage produced by exporting the figures to Picasa. Making the switch to Apple and Google in 2008 was a smart move.

Sydney already has two Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes: the Parramatta to Liverpool past Prairiewood route completed in 2003 and the Parramatta to Rouse Hill route completed in 2007. The Parramatta Liverpool BRT has attracted less than half the projected numbers of passengers, despite running for much of its length from Prairiewood to Parramatta in its own carriageways.
Start of exclusive bus road at Victoria Street, Wetherill Park
Despite the economic and social failure of these BRTs, O'Farrell is intent on converting existing arterial bus routes into pseudo Rapid Bus Transit routes. The two existing BRTs built by previous competent state governments are in the far west. The sea of purple to the right of Parramatta in the picture above are the pseudo rapid bus routes that O'Farrell has committed to implementing.
Victoria Road bus service future
The third brochure, published on 12 Dec 2013, gives but one example of an O'Farrell BRT - the Victoria Road route through Ryde. As you can see, more than two stops in three between Parramatta Station and Ryde are eliminated.

With the Oyster (aka Opal) Card passengers can enter and leave buses from all doors simultaneously at stops. The time taken per passenger to exit from a bus and touch a pad with his card or enter the bus and press a pad with his card is about the same regardless of whether passengers are forced to accumulate at a just a few stops. The only improvements in run times for full routes would come from buses not having the decelerate and accelerate as often, and they only do this when signalled by passengers.

TfNSW cheerfully acknowledges that people will take much longer to walk further to a bus stop, but that is the price you pay for not having a chauffeured limousine service like the Minister. People with disabilities are proportionally the highest users of public transport, for obvious reasons, and will be the most disadvantaged by the longer distances between stops.

I have no idea what modelling was used for the Parramatta- Liverpool BRT, but it is easy to see why it  was out by more than a factor of two in estimating passenger numbers. Anyone at Liverpool station has a choice of travelling by rapid bus or rail to Parramatta Station, and commuters in between can make a beeline to a another rail station. And this BRT really is rapid!

O'Farrell clearly believes that claims of reduced journey times, however outlandish, will be a vote winner amongst commuters to the CBD from Parramatta Station who choose to take a Victoria Road bus service that deposits them in Wynyard Park or onto the roof of Edgecliff station rather than take a train. He could be right; but anyone as stupid as that would be unlikely to cast a formal vote.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Subject to refinement

Refined Liberal lady from the North Shore
On 12 December 2013, almost one year to the day from the release of the brochure Sydney's Light Rail Future, Transport for NSW released a brochure Sydney's Bus Future. The format was almost identical to the earlier brochure, and to the 9/11 2013 brochure, and the similarities did not end there. There were the same infantile argumentation, the same maps with multi-coloured lines drawn across them, the same total lack of disclosure of plans and the same lack of consultation with bus passengers and local councils and community organisations prior to the announcements. There is obviously an entrenched group within TfNSW that churns out these brochures in isolation from the real world.

The basic plan of TfNSW is to eliminate bus stops on major routes - bus stops will be 800 metres to 1 kilometre apart instead of an average 400 metres apart. The Oyster (aka Opal) Card allows people to mount and dismount buses from  all the doors so there will be little advantage from this in vehicle run times and it will not ameliorate the time needed for passengers to walk to the stops.
Maroubra CBD bus services
The motivation is of course to destroy the advantage public buses have over privately-operated trams. This is demonstrated in this figure from the 12 December 2013 brochure that details the fate of the bus service from Maroubra Junction to the northern CBD. Bus stops that do not coincide with tram stops are eliminated as a precursor to what will befall commuters when the bus services are forcibly terminated.

But how will the buses be terminated? The "Future" figure shows the purple bus route abruptly stopping at the Kingsford bus/tram interchange, but it is physically impossible for buses to turn around here. They must carry on empty along Anzac Parade until they reach, typically, a triangle of roads that TfNSW considers to be suitable for a bus terminus.

The only such terminus shown in the EIS was the Rawson Place terminus. These triangulated terminuses do not have any provision for lay over of buses and it will not be possible for bus services to maintain scheduled services.The tech guys at the "information sessions" held by TfNSW refused to discuss these matters saying the relocation of bus services as a result of the tramway was considered to be separate from the EIS and were "subject to refinement".

Commuters using public bus services in Western Sydney and south of the Harbour will be "subject to refinement" by a north shore political rump, and will not have any say in what is being done to their services - until the next State election. This must be held on 28th March 2015. The four independents, including Clover Moore when she was still compos mentis, forced the Greiner government to agree to fixed term elections.

The big question is will the EIS for CESLR be approved without any disclosure of where bus services will be terminated? And how much will have been disclosed before the next State election?

Friday, 3 January 2014

Randwick cries "hold, enough".

Randwick tram reserves, Kynaston Avenue
More than 30 years ago Professor Stephenson mentioned at a community meeting in Surry Hills that he had to attend another meeting in Randwick. This was the first that I was aware that there had been concern in Randwick as well as Wolloomolloo and Surry Hills. Randwick was way out in the sticks.

In 1999 a friend was diagnosed with leukaemia and without hesitation opted for chemotherapy at the oncology department at Prince of Wales Hospital. I rang the trip finder line to find out which bus to get to go to the hospital. The operator told me which stop in Albion Street to go to. I figured out for myself that a Flinders Street service was the best way home. I was spoiled for choice. O'Farrell will be obliterating these services - you will be told in the future to walk almost the entire length of Surry Hills to catch a privately-operated tram.

My friend did the whole course of chemo and attended Sunday Mass, where he was singled out by the priest for returning to the Church and experiencing a recovery. He celebrated with a few drinks that afternoon and was dead that evening. But that's another story. In the meantime I had made many trips to Randwick. Rather than just wait for a bus I sometimes explored the shopping and civic centre along Belmore Road, catching the bus further on. I recall noting the number of traditional church buildings that had closed down and been recycled by cult institutions.

Historically, the old tram lines went along Cowper Street and an exclusive tram reserve (shown on maps as Kynaston Avenue) to Belmore Road, and this would have led to the main retail and religious buildings in Randwick developing along Belmore Road. The bus services that replaced the trams replicated this route, along Cowper and Cook Streets. The Randwick retail strip has continued to thrive for the 60 years since the replacement of the trams.
Thriving Belmore Road shopping strip
Randwick Junction
O'Farrell will be changing all that. After transferring their passengers to privately-operated trams public buses will travel on empty along Belmore Road to make a right-hand turn into Alison Road where they will terminate or carry on to inflict co-lateral damage on the Eastern Suburbs bus services at Bondi Junction.

The trip finder will tell anyone wanting to reach destinations in the CBD from places in Belmore Road to walk south the entire length of the road to catch a tram at the southernmost end. Commuters realise full well that the time a trip takes is the time taken to reach a stop plus the time spent on the vehicle. Priority at traffic lights will not make trams competitive with the excellent bus services to Randwick, so O'Farrell will have to terminate them.

Businesses in Belmore Road will not only be affected by the diversion of bus passengers; vehicle flows in Belmore Road will be affected by traffic making right-hand turns at Alison Road and Avoca Street for the first time.

Randwick Council has responded to the howls of protest from their constituents and has made much the same objections raised by this blog. You can read the Randwick Council submission to the EIS here:

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Thou shalt not covert thy neighbour's Elizabeth

The Deputy Director General, Transport for NSW, Chris Lock, at the Randwick business breakfast in April bemoaned the fact that in the AM peak buses in York Street queued back to the Harbour Bridge. TfNSW's only response to this was to divert some bus services onto the Cahill Expressway. This had been announced in the 13 December 2012 brochure which proclaimed these services would terminate at Bridge Street, and this was reiterated by Chris Lock. This initiative by TfNSW has disappeared without trace.

TfNSW has declared that the EIS is a separate issue to the questions of where bus services to the CBD will terminate. It clearly hopes to have the EIS approved and presented as a fiat accompli before there is any disclosure of its plans for bus routes in and around the CBD. This is a travesty of the EIS legislation. It also ensures that the pedestrianization of George Street, and the obliteration of most of the places in the CBD where it is physically possible for buses to turn around, will be a matter for voters to decide at the next state election.
Wynyard bus terminuses

The biggest losers

The infamous CBD bus route map
It turns out, the biggest losers from the pedestrianization of George Street are, ironically, the bus passengers from the North Shore suburbs of Sydney. Bus services entering from the Anzac Bridge currently have terminuses in Alfred Street via King and George Streets. Passengers can transfer to the Broadway bus services in George Street.

Alternately these services could terminate efficiently at the Queen Victoria Building and make scheduled returns along Druitt Street. But TfNSW has declared loftily that these services will be terminated at Wynyard or carry on along William Street to an unspecified terminus in the Eastern Suburbs (i.e. Edgecliff station) - the QVB terminus is to be the exclusive domain of buses from the North. This is a purely political decision.

The state government says this may not happen and therefore it is not open for discussion. It will not happen if O'Farrell is a one-term Premier.

The consequences of terminating these bus services at Wynyard are dire for bus passengers queued back to the Harbour Bridge in York Street. The only access route to the Wynyard Park bus terminuses is east along Erskine Street shown by the yellow line.
Erskine Street into York Street
Buses exit via Erskin Street

Currently Erskine Street is the exit route for bus services with terminuses on the western side of Wynyard Park. The eastbound carriageway is mainly used by taxis. Bus services that use this route will delay the exit of these buses.

The queues of buses in York Street are of course caused by buses turning into Wynyard Street in order to reach the stops in Carrington Street on the eastern side of the Park. Buses from Erskine Street go to the head of the queue, and make more demands for "real estate" in Carrington Street. Adding insult to injury they rejoin the queue in York Street when they exit from Margaret Street.

Buses stopped and laid-over in Carrington Street
13 Dec 2012 bus route map
It gets worse for bus passengers from north of the Harbour. The original plan for bus routes to Barrangaroo and Walsh Bay showed a dotted yellow line passing through Paddy's Market. This has been abandoned unsurprisingly, and the current "thinking" is to run these services from Wynyard and the QVB needing a right-hand turn from Druitt Street. There will have to be separate services for bus passengers from the north and people transferring from trams and buses at Town Hall. These services have to terminate the same way as the Anzac Bridge services. Bus services from north of the Harbour will face additional competition for "real estate" and lane space where-ever they terminate.

Metro bus services and bus services from the Harbour Bridge that terminate at Railway Square have a stop J at Wynyard Park south of Erskine Street where they tend to get trapped by buses turning into
Wynyard Street. The services to Railway Square will be eliminated by the pedestrianization of George Street - more buses terminating at Wynyard and Druitt Street.

The only plan that TfNSW can come up with to mitigate the congestion that they are creating in York Street is for bus services from north of the Harbour to dogleg across the Cahill Expressway and take over Castlereagh Street. The only return route will be Elizabeth Street northbound.

This will be the defining issue in the New Year leading up to the next State Election. The EIS for CSELR is so preposterous it will be hard to sustain as an issue. We will have to bide our time until details of the changes to the bus routes are disclosed.

I wish the followers of this blog a happy New Year or, if the State Government proceeds with the project, a politically-active New Year.