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:

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