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.

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