Friday, 28 March 2014

Out damned spot!

Gladys Berejiklian
Actress as Lady Macbeth
Shakespeare Hotel,  Devonshire Street
The "artist's impression of light rail on Devonshire Street, Surry Hills" in the December 2012 brochure left me appalled. The brochures were thrust upon everyone attending the Community Forum at Sydney High School and this computer-generated view of the Shakespeare Hotel at Steel Street was used in countless ratepayer-funded letter drops from Clover Moore.

The Minister for Transport and Moore sat alongside the Deputy Director General TfNSW Chris Lock as he explained at great length that trams could not go down slopes greater than 7 metres in 100 metres because they "could not stop". Neither of them showed any signs of twinges of conscience about the situation the innocent pedestrians depicted would be forced to face.

I was surprised that I have not included this figure in a post and since this is a blog of record I will do this now. The white line across the road is the artist's standard way of depicting a pedestrian crossing and is where the current zebra crossing is situated. There can never be barriers to block off this crossing as they would be demolished by trucks turning left from Steel Street into the narrow single lane of Devonshire Street - it will always be a de facto crossing.

The tech guy at the final "information session" was embarrassed by this notorious figure and asked: "How does this differ from the current situation?" I pointed out that there was now very little traffic at the time when people are wending home from the entertainment ghetto to the dormitory ghetto but trams and coupled juggernauts would be passing through every two minutes in either direction - on average one every minute.

AFL games are held to meet television schedules. Friday Night games start at 7:50 pm and end around 10:30 pm which coincides with the peak period for bus services in the cinema/night club strip in George Street and trams have to travel to the Randwich or Kingsford terminuses to turn round. The trams and juggernauts would still be running at their peak until 12:30 am at the least.

The artist erred in not erasing the trees from his figure. Clover Moore told the forum that these would all be retained but the EIS has singled them out for removal.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The dark side of girl power

The revised design of the Ward Park stop is described cursorily in text only. Apparently the legal advice is that it encroaches only upon the footpath described in the EIS and the EIS had stated that all street trees in Devonshire Street would be destroyed so there was no need to give details of the changes. It appears that the EIS only has to deal with the life of trees: the hazard to the lives of human beings is not a matter of concern.

Diagram from SCCAS
The pedestrianisation of Chalmers Street is such a radical departure from the contradictory designs exhibited in the EIS that there is a whole new set of cropped figures and tables. The text asserts that: "the use of Elizabeth Street as a traffic bypass is consistent with the approach to the broader road network within the city centre (as oulined in the Sydney City Centre Access Strategy (NSW Government 2013a)).

This is blatantly untrue. The SCCAS brochure released on 9/11 2013 contained the figure left which had an arrow pointing along Randle Street with a tag "2" but there was nothing in the text referring to this tag.

Two bus stops are shown in Chalmers Street in circle "1" and the text states: "It is likely that only two lanes will be available for general traffic and bus operations in Chalmers Street based on the needs of light rail operations".

Diagram from SCCAS
The figure showing the "future city centre bus network" in the SCCAS brochure showed, believe it or not, an arrow pointing against the flow of traffic along Chalmers Street.

This figure was reproduced with inexplicable alterations in the EIS and again in the brochure "Sydney's bus future", released a couple of working days before the deadline for making submissions closed. All the available information for people making submissions on the EIS has shown bus routes into the city along Chalmers Street.

No Government Information released before the the EIS was exhibited or at the end of the exhibition period, and none of the contradictory descriptions and deliberately cropped figures included in the EIS would have caused anyone to suspect that:

  1. Chalmers Street would be "pedestrianised"
  2. A "pinch-point" for bus routes from the south would be created in Elizabeth Street
  3. Buses would be trapped in a bus bay at the Foveaux Street intersection
  4. People exiting from the Devonshire Street tunnel and the Eddy Avenue entrance to Central Station would be forced to cross tram tracks blindsided to approaching trams
  5. Pedestrians waiting to cross the tram lines would be broadsided by cyclists from a two-way cycle path.

The SCCAS document and the EIS itself were designed to deny people making submissions to the EIS in good faith the opportunity to object to the outrageous flaws in the system. The only rational explanation for pedestrianising Chalmers Street is that the Wicked Witch of the North has gotten together with Clover Moore in a conflagration of Evil.

TfNSW is asking the Department if Planning to give its approval to the project without releasing any information about the effects it expects upon bus routes to the CBD. It would be a travesty of the EIS legislation for approval to be given before anyone has been in a position to independently and properly assess the consequences for the CBD.

The Good Side of Girl Power

The NSW premier before O'Farrell, Kristina Keneally told the Independent Commission Against Corruption that "corruption had ultimately been thwarted because two women in powerful positions said 'no'". She was referring to herself and to the former head of Sydney Water, Kerry Schott. The Channel 10 news segment was labelled Girl Power:

In her evidence she referred to a cabinet minute that wouldn't die until she "drove a stake through its heart". Her government had also rejected the idea of running trams along George Street but O'Farrell would revive this, make the rails two-way and pedestrianise most of George Street, on a personal whim. The ICAC inquiry has emphasised the importance in the Westminster System of having Public Servants with integrity and who give independent advice to the government ministers.

It will probably fall to Penny Sharpe to finally drive a stake through the heart of this preposterous project.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Not just sociopathic - psychopathic

Ward Park alignment diagram (superseded)

Superseded stop
When I came home from the Community Forum at Sydney High School in April I was unable to sleep. I had looked into the jaws of death and seen callous indifference to the lives of others.

The following day I started composing a letter to the Minister. I wrote: "Running these behemoths through a shared/cyclist precinct that runs at least 40% the length of George Street can only be described as insane. Running them besides children's playing areas in Ward Park is even crazier. There is no precedent for such a system anywhere in the world. Only New South Wales produces politicians insane enough to even consider such a system."

A couple of months later, at the beginning of June, I and everyone else who had written in to express their concerns received a standardised letter thanking us for our interest. Chris Lock would become a recluse and the Minister would refuse to answer any questions in Parliament on the project.

Booz & Company modelling
Booz & Company in the Technical Papers expected vast numbers of train passengers to walk to the Ward Park stop to catch a tram rather than risk live and limb crossing the tram tracks blindsided at Chalmers Street - a reasonable assumption. Now TfNSW is claiming this was a terrible mistake, or as Pizza Boy Jeff Goodling would say "an inadvertent mistake". They have produced a "corrected table":
Revised peak AM boardings
Every figure except three in the diagrams is different, although some are startlingly similar - projected boardings at Moore Park change from  216 to 215 despite the stop being moved substantially to the south. TfNSW claim to be able to predict passenger numbers in 2021 to the last passenger. The Opal Card would provide origin/destination data on a daily basis, but without such data the figures bandied about by TfNSW and its consultants are just gibberish.

Proposed design change of Surry Hills stop

I would like to show a figure of revised plan of the Ward Park stop but it does not exist. The changes are just described cursorily in text in section 6.6 in the Preferred Infrastructure Report. Instead of an island platform "the new platform configuration would provide two 2.8 metre wide, 45 metre long side platforms". TfNSW falsely claims the design is similar to the design in the EIS in providing "a pedestrian crossing at each end of the stop and would be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA)". In the design in the EIS, the alignment diagrams released inadvertently after the close of submissions show that the space between the rails is reduced to a point before reaching the Marlborough Street crossing - a disabled passenger would need a very narrow wheelchair to avoid being crushed between trams departing and arriving at the stop!
The problem with both designs is that the crossings are designed solely for the benefit of the tram operator and have no relationship to established pedestrian movements in Surry Hills. The current crossing is of course at Riley Street and the platforms lie across it. The EIS assumed a planting strip would deter people from crossing here and force them to dogleg to the prescribed crossings!

The provision of a platform between the rails and the single vehicular lane will make it much more likely for pedestrians to cross across the platforms. The vehicular lane will be grid locked all day and most of the evenings because movements are blocked by any vehicle turning right at Crown Street. Pedestrians will just have to walk through stationary vehicles.

People waiting for a tram to pull out from the platform so they can walk behind it, regardless of whether they alighted from one of the five doors of a tram or are pedestrians trying to cross between the Surry Hills ghettos, will be blindsided to a tram or juggernaut passing through in the other direction because the tracks curve into Ward Park. I asked the tech guy at the "Information Session" how far from the side of a tram would someone have to stand to see an approaching tram. He said the Private Partner would have to produce a safety plan before beginning operation - this was reiterated in the EIS.

The revised design exposes people crossing the tracks to far greater danger since there is now no buffer between the tracks - the moment someone steps out from behind a tram, splat. They won't hear it coming as trams are noisiest when accelerating from rest. There is no way that people can be dissuaded from crossing the tracks to get to the outbound platform or to get to the northern Surry Hills ghetto. The EIS states that heavy rigid vehicles would encroach on the light rail alignment in making left-hand turns at the few streets where this would be allowed. With the revised design they will be encroaching on the platform and they would demolish any pedestrian barriers designed to  prevent crossings at Riley Street.

The section figure prepared by Parsons Brinckerhoff shows children and dogs frolicking in Ward Park with just a step down to the footpath separating them from the tram rails. The revised design reduces the width of the footpath by around one metre we are told and ensures there can never be barriers to stop children running across the platform and onto the rails.

It is physically impossible for a PPP to reduce the dangers to pedestrians and passengers in Devonshire Street, Chalmers Street and Eddy Avenue. There will be a continuous killing field from Crown Street to George Street.

So, will the O'Farrell government indemnify the Private/Public Partner that knowingly constructs and operates a tram system that exposes pedestrians and passengers to levels of hazard that are not considered acceptable anywhere in the world from being sued by people injured or the relatives of people killed? Will it provide the PPP with an Ellis defense exonerating it from the acknowledged faults in the system? Would this expose the NSW taxpayer to an open-ended liability to litigation?

Government Information requests refused on grounds of commercial confidentiality.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Events NSW: the running of the juggernauts

Eddy Avenue tram rails
The third rail in Eddy Avenue begins as soon as the tracks emerge from the rail overpass - there are three tracks crossing the heavily-used pedestrian crossing. The alignment diagram for Randle Street continues the plan but there is little point in reproducing it as it has been established that the plans released to SCC have been over-ridden. I will describe it: The third rail at the Moore Park end just ends but the third rail in Eddy Avenue ends, merge left or right. TfNSW has plans for the third rail too diabolical to be disclosed.
Current Eddy Avenue bus set down stop
Setting down
Buses set down on both sides of crossing if necessary

Currently, bus services from Foveaux Street, Elizabeth Street and Chalmers Street set down passengers to the west of the crossing officially, but on either side if necessary. The 378 buses in particular are packed to the rafters when they reach here in contrast to the 380 and 333 buses which are almost empty at the Phillip Street terminus. I will include a Google Earth satellite view so you can make comparisons with the all that we know of the plans of TfNSW.
Eddy Avenue/ Elizabeth St. intersection
The revised plans of the Chalmers Street stop have been cropped so we do not know how far the duel bike lane extends along Eddie Avenue, but the figure of bike routes in the Sydney City Access brochure shows bike routes through Belmore Park which would have to be to the west of the slope up to the tram overpass. That is to say the two-way bike lanes would broadside pedestrians waiting for an opportunity to cross the tram rails as at the Chalmers Street crossing.

Gilligan's Island

Buses will be forced to set down passengers to the west of the tram overpass which is to the west of the pedestrian crossing to Central Electric Station - how far west is impossible to know since the plan of the bike lanes have been cropped. Incredibly, the alignment diagram prepared by TfNSW does not show any pedestrian crossings across Eddie Avenue despite this being one of the most heavily used crossings in NSW.

Eddy Street pedestrian crossing
The alignment diagrams appear to show a crossing of the tram rails to the east of the sandstone pillars of the tram overpass but bus passengers dumped on the island to the west of the pillars would cross the tracks where they alighted, at their own peril. Open ended pedestrian barriers are eschewed in the civilised world since pedestrians can be trapped and forced to try and outrun the trams, to the amusement/horror of onlookers, but O'Farrell is not bound by the mores of civilised society - anything could happen.


The invalidated alignment diagrams released to Sydney City Council confirm that when a juggernaut is inching slowly onto the third rail in order to turn around pedestrians from Central waiting to cross behind it will be completely blindsided, as they say in North America, to trams zipping out from under the colonnade, as mentioned in the last post. But pity the poor people on the Eddie Avenue traffic island, whether they arrived there by bus or a deleted pedestrian crossing. They must wait for the juggernaut to make its way fully onto the middle rail, wait with growing impatience while the driver opens the doors and descends on to the track (hopefully not into the path of a tram from Rawson Place), walks to the other coupled tram to the jeers of the onlookers, opens the doors of the other tram (presumably with a remote), settles himself back into the drivers seat and sets off again in the other direction. Only then can the crowds that have accumulated on the island during this charade begin to cross the tram rails behind the departing juggernaut. They will of course be completely blindsided to trams travelling from Chalmers Street to Rawson Place while the juggernaut is inching from the third rail to the outbound rail!

Events NSW

The Dodgers/Diamondbacks game on Saturday night provided another demonstration of how well the events' transportation put in place for the Olympics works. I said in the previous post that events at the SCG and Football Stadium seldom took place at the same time as peak commuter loads but that could change with the State Government spending undisclosed amounts to bring out overseas teams. The first Major League Baseball game took place at the usual times for Sydney games. The game was scheduled to start at 7:15 but was half an hour late and finished at 10:50 pm when George Street buses would have been at peak demand.
Buses fill up three at a time
 Buses were filled with passengers three at a time, and set off immediately when they were full. Most people would have had a seat when they were taken express to bus terminal directly at Drivers Road - no traipsing along narrow zigzag  ramps and across fields used as car parks. As the full buses moved off they were immediately replaced by the next three buses queued behind them.

Buses in queue
The factor limiting the number of people that could be moved in a given time was time taken for people to board the buses and show their tickets. A juggernaut with 10 doors and just one driver cannot load passengers any faster unless people going to events (many, we are told by the Premier's Department, from interstate or overseas) are forced to use Opal Cards.

Manageable queues at 5 PM
Return adult tickets cost $6 and were purchased from a caravan before joining the queue, which was easily managed on the Chalmers Street concourse. If it ain't broke don't attack it with baseball bats.
If you have balls you walk
As with local games lots of fans saved $6 and walked to the ground. The good news is that nobody was killed or seriously hurt. O'Farrell's legacy will be to make this a remarkable sporting statistic for the rest of time. It won't matter if you walk or catch a tram, everyone leaving Central Station will have to run the gauntlet of crossing the tram tracks.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Blue murder at Central Station

Original plan
The original plan according to Parsons Brinckerhoff was for there to be three tram rails in Chalmers Street. The third rail would double as a double as a bus stop lane when coupled juggernauts were not travelling non-stop through Surry Hills - most of the time. The figure was of course cropped so it was not possible to determine if inbound juggernauts could cross the outbound rail then back out from the platform after picking up passengers, but it looked unlikely.

The alignment diagrams released inadvertently by Sydney City Council reveal that indeed they could not - juggernauts have to turn into Eddy Avenue and use the central third rail to turn round. There was no conceivable need for the third platform in Chalmers Street. It was just designed to deceive people making submissions to the EIS as to the intentions of TfNSW. In a rare instance of clarity, the submission of Sydney City Council raised an objection to this.

Plan C
Now TfNSW has fessed up and removed the third platform from the amended plan being submitted for assessment. Now the plan is to pedestrianise Chalmers Street north of Devonshire Street. There was no inkling of this in the multiple-choice plans described in the EIS.

The latest design is completely at odds with the alignment diagrams given to the Sydney City Council and released inadvertently in their submission, yet the text implies that Council is complicit in accepting the new plans after the close of submissions.

The text says: "Overall, the revised design would provide a safe environment for all users, accommodate emergency vehicles and provide a low speed limit (approximately 10 kph) in the shared zone to provide access to existing private properties." No speed limit is proposed for the trams and juggernauts, this will presumably be decided by the PPP.
The Moore Park end
The juggernauts travel barrel through Surry Hills with stops only at Moore Park and Chalmers Street. At the Moore Park end, passengers are to be forced to zigzag up ramps to prevent them polluting the tramway of the superior race goers of Randwick with their corpses, but the numbers of passengers at all times other than when there is an "event" is very small. At the Chalmers Street end the pedestrian crossings are arguably the most heavily used in the state, at both ends of the platforms, and it is open slather.

Now it's open slather

The original plan in the EIS was cropped so as not to show the crossings, but the alignment diagrams show that the crossing across Elizabeth and Chalmers Street was traffic-light controlled, but with no centre-island as at present. In the revised plan submitted by TfNSW pedestrians are to be dumped on the eastern side of the rails and are left to run the gauntlet of crossing the tram tracks anywhere they choose at their own peril.
Five pm on a Monday, every phase has the same pedestrian volumes

Pavements in Elizabeth Street are narrow, pedestrians spread out
Pedestrian view from the edge; trams will be the length of 4 buses
Cyclist rides across pedestrian crossing
Pedestrians are dinged at if they try to cross the rails in front of a tram so they must wait for the rear of the tram to pass them. Pedestrians crossing the rails to get to the Surry Hills side of Elizabeth Street will have Buckley's chance of seeing a tram zipping round the corner from under the arches of Eddy Avenue and they will not hear it either. Their chances will be even less when coupled juggernauts are running on completely empty onto the third rail in Eddy Avenue in order to turn round, passing back and forth empty through two of the most heavily-used pedestrian crossing in NSW.
Tram driver's view
The tram drivers will have no chance to see pedestrians emerging from behind a tram or juggernaut and this can occur anywhere along the Chalmers Street route. Attempts to force pedestrians to use signalised crossings only would only result in them moving along the platform to cross. Tram passengers from the south-east heading for Surry Hills will alight from any of the five doors and wait for the rear of the tram to pass before crossing the rails. Chris Lock repeatedly told the community meeting in April that trams cannot stop.

4:40 pm at Devonshire Street Tunnel
It will be even more murderous for pedestrians emerging from the Devonshire Street tunnel entrance of Central Station (the rectangular structure to the south of the platform in the revised plan of the stop) and crossing the tracks to catch a tram or juggernaut to the south-east, or to get to Surry Hills. When a tram or juggernaut is slowing in to the stop from Devonshire Street it will be physically impossible to see a tram or juggernaut which has left the stop and is accelerating into Devonshire Street. The plan is for the rails to cut into existing pavement to the west of the present bus lane.

View from top of the steps

Steps go to front of canopy

Onslaught of the lycra-shirts

Pedestrians headed towards the two entrances to Central Electric will have more chance to see trams and juggernauts coming, but nothing will save them from Clover Moore's lycra-shirts. The green strip at the top of the figure of the revised stop is, believe it or not, a two-way bike lane. Bicycles using these lanes will barrel into pedestrians waiting for an approaching tram to pass, from either direction. Woe betide a pedestrian bumped into the path of the tram. Bicycles are not registered, so the cyclist can abandon the bike and disappear into the crowd. Meanwhile the CBD is effectively shut down for an indefinite period. There are signs on poles and on the footpaths saying CYCLISTS DISMOUNT but as you can see in the pictures above and below they ignore these signs. With two-way cyclist lanes they will be able to pick up speed before ignoring the signs and ploughing into pedestrians waiting to cross the tram rails.

I have yet to see a cyclist dismount.
Fortunately they are few and far between
People trying to get to an event at the SCG, Football Stadium and Entertainment Centre will have to run the gauntlet of crossing the rails from either exit of Central Station when the juggernauts are operating at their maximum frequency. TfNSW chants that coupled trams could move up to 18,000 passengers an hour, using infantile modelling. This would require a juggernaut every 2 minutes in each direction and would shut down tram services in George Street, unless you are prepared to have trams running into the back of juggernauts and severely injuring the 220 standing passengers. This situation is pictured in the plan of the revised stop!

The Business Case for the EIS stated that the seven-segment trams will employ four less drivers to carry the same maximum passenger loads. This will undoubtedly boost the profits of the Private Partner when trams are running on empty to Circular Quay but will not be of benefit to the taxpayer if tram drivers are on Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder pensions for the rest of their lives.

The Summer Olympic solution

Heading for Swans game in June last year
The transport system in place for the Sydney Summer Olympics is currently used to handle events at the SCG and Football Stadium. It worked impeccably during the largest event on earth and it still does. Passengers transferring to
trains at Central are picked up and returned to the concourse on the western side of Chalmers Street in complete safety - they are not exposed to traffic at either end. Buses also head to other destinations.

Events seldom occur during commuter peak periods so the buses and drivers would otherwise be idle. It would have to be a nice little earner for public transport - travel10 cards are not accepted. The number of buses required would be small since it is a very short loop, using the bus lanes in Foveaux and Albion Streets and Randle Street. I walk a similar distance to Swans Games from northern Surry Hills and many other patrons prefer to walk to the SCG from Central. The operation of the services does not impact on any other bus services operating at the same time.

In contrast, the juggernauts will be operating during peak periods for the nightclub/movie theatre strip in George Street and trams transferring patrons to bus services along Parramatta Road and City Road and Central Station have to travel on empty to the terminuses at Randwick and Kingsford in order to turn around. This is a crazy situation that TfNSW has not thought through and it places everyone leaving Central Electric Station in jeopardy. O'Farrell and TfNSW have been made aware that there are alternative light rail systems that do not have the defects of the system in the EIS.

Seven-segment trams do not run along city streets anywhere in the world, for obvious reasons. Running seven and fourteen segment trams through narrow city streets is so far beyond the accepted standards of civilised society as to be all but unthinkable.

The heavily-used pedestrian crossing in Eddy Avenue has been cropped in the figure by Parsons Brinckerhoff as usual. The situation for pedestrians and buses in Eddy Avenue will be just as bad as in Chalmers Street. I will make this the subject of another post.

Friday, 14 March 2014

O'Farrell's ideological imperative

Sydney at end of 19th century
During the 19th century the rail terminus was at Devonshire Street which was the main route between George Street West (now Broadway)and the south-eastern suburbs for traffic and trams. Castlereagh Street south of the cemetery (now Chalmers Street) and Elizabeth Street were the connection with Cleveland Street. When Central Steam Station was built around 1903 Eddy Avenue took on the functions of Devonshire Street when it became a pedestrian tunnel.

Eddy Avenue became the main distributor between the western suburbs and the rest of the Eastern Suburbs when Wentworth Avenue was built between Elizabeth Street and the intersection of Oxford and College Streets. Wentworth Avenue made Chalmers and Elizabeth Streets the main distributer between the southern suburbs and the Eastern Suburbs and it has been thus for more than a century.

1903 City of Sydney
There is no alternative for this distributor. Traffic using this distributor have a minor impact on bus routes along George Street from Broadway and Elizabeth Street. It all works impeccably.

One should point out that the Eastern Distributor Motorway is now the main connection between NSW north of Kirribilli and the Princes Highway and will remain such if O'Farrell goes ahead with the ill-considered Westconnex project. It is not a local road to gratify the obsessions of lunatic-fringe politicians elected to the Sydney City Council.

Now O'Farrell has appointed senior Public Servants to Ministries he set up who are proclaiming a Sydney Access Strategy which has never been published or submitted to independent scrutiny and is patently absurd. TfNSW is asking approval for the EIS without any disclosure of this "strategy".

Chalmers Street was always my main area of concern because of its importance to the southern suburbs and the whole of the Eastern Suburbs. As described in previous posts I wrote to my Member of Parliament asking him to put a Question on Notice to the Transport Minister as to whether there would be one lane or zero lanes in Chalmers Street for general traffic. He declined saying the Minister would refuse to answer saying this would be revealed in the EIS.
Pizza boy Jeff Goodling
I confronted the Project Manager Jeff Goodling about the deliberate contradictions in the EIS at a community meeting shortly after the EIS went on exhibition. I pointed out that the cropped figure in the Parsons Brinckerhoff document showed one northbound lane in Elizabeth Street north of  Randle Street whereas Booz & Company stated that two lanes could be provided with the loss of only one southbound lane; and there was only space for four lanes. In my submission I said that TfNSW had a history of making convenient assertions that can be shown to be physically impossible and asked the assessors to properly assess these assertions and for the effects on traffic flow in Elizabeth Street to be properly modelled. And Glory Be, look at what has eventuated!

Preferred design of Chalmers Street stop
TfNSW has conceded to the assessors that there are only four lanes possible in Elizabeth Street but now in the Preferred Infrastructure Report, which they are asking to be approved as a modification of the EIS, they are proposing to reduce Elizabeth Street southbound to two lanes from the four currently operating at capacity in the morning and evening peaks. They are creating another "pinch point" to  rival the "mother of all pinch points" between the Old Supreme Court Building and the James Centre which actually has five lanes. I had an appointment in the city last Wednesday at 10:30 am in Market Street and was trapped on the bus for ten minutes getting from the stop south of Bathurst Street to the set-down-only stop at David Jones. This additional "pinch point" for bus services from Botany and South Sydney traps buses before passengers have any opportunity to transfer to other services or even walk.

Currently bus services in Chalmers Street stop at the Devonshire Street Tunnel entrance to Central Station then there is a bus-priority lane to the next stop south of Hay Street. Now the Wicked Witch of the North will be obliterating the Devonshire Street stop with a massive kerb blister for no sane reason. The bus priority lanes in Elizabeth Street north and south bound are obliterated and there will be a bus bay in Elizabeth Street south of Foveaux Street. The footpath alongside the Dental Hospital appears to be virtually non-existent and buses in the bus bay will be trapped by queues of general traffic waiting at the traffic lights.

This is a continuation of the murderous ploy of the Wicked Witch to induce passengers to transfer to privately-operated cattle cars rather than public trains to the same destinations - an exercise in futility. In fact the exercise will be a lot more murderous. I will deal with this in the next post.

This is not a competently designed tramway. O'Farrell has an ideological imperative to cripple Public Transport south of the Harbour in order to force people to transfer to privately-operated services.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Wrong side of the tracks

Alignment diagram Moore Park
Moore Park stop

In September 2000 Sydney hosted the largest event in the world, the Summer Olympics. Fortunately NSW had a competent state government and they were hailed as the best ever. The bus stops built for this event functioned impeccably and still operate during events at the SCG and the adjacent football stadium. Barry O'Farrell claims to be a member of the Sydney Swans AFL Club but I have never seen him at a game, and I have been going to games since they moved from South Melbourne.

I have been to enough sporting events to realise that some spectators emerge from games somewhat the worse for wear. The bus stops adjacent to Drivers Avenue, which is closed to traffic during events, transport them safely to where they wish to go - those heading for Central or Wynyard Stations do not have to cross traffic at either end.

The indicative section of the tram stop in the EIS by Parsons Brinckerhoff shows a shoulder-high pedestrian barrier preventing tram passengers to events at the SCG, the Sydney Football Stadium and the Entertainment Centre from disembarking to the east and walking straight to their venue. Instead they are forced onto the island platform and have to ascend by "lift/platform access" to a massive 100 metre long concrete slab running parallel to Anzac Parade, supported on stilts. How they get down from this "concourse", with a "canopy" with extraordinarily high clearance, has been cropped.

The plan shows a tram visible through the canopy: there is no indication how people can get from the western side of the concourse to the eastern side. The section evidently faces to the south and shows a glass balustrade which would prevent people from accessing the down ramp to the north of the platform. Plans submitted to councils or to builders have to show the lines where sections are taken, but the rules of draughting evidently do not apply to Parsons Brinckerhoff or TfNSW - their incompetence and contempt for the public and the Assessors is almost beyond belief.

The pedestrian barriers would continue from the tunnel mouth to Cleveland Street as they are needed to stop passengers crossing the tracks to reach the island platform. Coupled juggernauts have to travel past the platform to reach the third rail to the south of the platform in order to turn around and travel "back and forward" through Surry Hills. The one exception is a extremely narrow pedestrian crossing between the "new pedestrian path" and the old pedestrian/cycleway on the eastern side of Anzac Parade just to the south of the platforms. Passengers would be cleaned up here by juggernauts coming and going, but most would find it preferable to using the lifts, especially when an event beginning at the SCG coincides with the end of an event at the Football Stadium or Entertainment Quarter.
Gap in pedestrian barrier from early post
I took this photograph of a panel removed from the pedestrian barrier in the middle of Anzac Parade by public-spirited students at Sydney High School so those heading south could access the bus stop in Anzac Parade. Students and staff heading north or to Central Station never had to cross Anzac Parade. The EIS stated that Public Bus services to Central would be eliminated to force students onto privately-operated cattle cars. Not only would they have to cross Anzac Parade they would have to cross the exclusive bus road and the tram lines to reach the island platform.

Ludicrously, the bus services along Cleveland Street to the Chalmers Street entrance to Central Station would increase in frequency when Parramatta Road bus services were to be terminated at Coogee Beach. Like, the students and staff would be stupid enough to trek north to catch the cattle cars. TfNSW have said bus stops would be "rationalised" along this route but bus stops can easily be restored by a competent state government.
Relocated Moore Park stop
The penny has finally dropped. Parsons Brinckerhoff and TfNSW have released a further three volumes titled "Submissions Report incorporating Preferred Infrastructure Report". It can be downloaded from the Major Projects website
Section diagram of revised stop

The stop has been moved to the south but nothing else has changed. The plan diagram is not as cropped and the very narrow access ramp is shown to zig zag back and forth to the northern end of the platform. The plan now is to force pedestrians to use a pedestrian bridge over Anzac Parade rather than the existing signalised crossing. There is still no details of the lifts that would be required to get people down to the platforms.

The design is even more visually confronting and disruptive to Moore Park. The suspended slab will be the length of an Olympic swimming pool. Picture the concrete-cancer riddled slab on top of the Phillip + Cook pool in front of the Roman Catholic Cathedral suspended on stilts.

Both the designs of the stop beg the question: why cannot the rail stay in the trench instead of rising abruptly as soon as it is under the bus roadway? There could then be separate platforms for crowds arriving and the crowds leaving the venues. This was incorporated in the design of the internationally-acclaimed station at the Olympic Stadium. NSW is so fortunate to have had a competent state government in the lead up to the Olympics. There would be no grotesque structures hovering over Moore Park and the rails could pass under Lang Road for little extra expense.

O'Farrell's only concern is to maximise the profits of the private operators of the cattle cars. Passengers are not to be given any choice. Unfortunately for any PPP silly enough to go ahead with the project, the bus loop will remain in place and buses will be competing for passengers. Buses will have delivered passengers to Central along the bus lanes in Foveaux Street before tram passengers have made it up the ramps and down the lifts and rickety stairs to the platforms.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Return of the living dead

Attack from the north
They must eat the brains of Southsiders to survive
Sydney Region Outline Plan 1968
Old Freeway Reserves
This is not the first time the North Shore rump of the Liberal Party has tried to ride roughshod over the Inner West and Surry Hills. Forty five years ago the government of Robin Askin, the Member for Manly, set up a committee of "experts" to draw up plans for linear radial freeways that would over-ride the Cumberland Planning Scheme. The black lines ending in arrows on the "Outline Plan 1968" were the proposed motorways.

The main roads of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and most North American cities had been laid out in orthogonal patterns and the mathematical implausibilities of the radial motorways superimposed on the grids of North American cities were impossible to deny by the late 1960s. However, Sydney had always had a radial highway structure because of the limited routes out of the Sydney Basin.

The Pacific Highway was the only route to northern NSW and had been directly linked to the Harbour Bridge with the first Sydney motorway, the Warringah Freeway, and hence to the Cahill Expressway and the Eastern Distributor. The proposed Newcastle motorway, which replicated this route, circled through Darling Harbour and dumped traffic on the western side of the CBD into east/west roads that had never been widened because they lay between the Darlinghurst escarpment and the deep-blue Darling Harbour. The proposed Western motorway, which replicated the Parramatta Road/ Great Western Highway route through the Blue Mountains, did the same thing.

The Eastern Distributor passed between Crown and Bourke Streets before running east along Moore Park Road alignment, cutting a swathe through Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. The designs of the Eastern Distributor and the Western Distributor went through many iterations from the time the Harbour Bridge was built but the CBD and Surry Hills were always the meat in the sandwich. I read through the various designs for the Distributors, which were archived in the Engineering Library at Sydney University, when mounting a case against the design Brereton had "pulled out of a draw and said build it" - they would still be archived in the Fisher Library.

The Sydney Region Outline Plan 1968 was never Gazetted or discussed in Parliament and never had any legal status. It gave carte blanche to developers and Sydney is still dealing with the consequences. The motorway designs were utterly insane, they were never costed, they would have had a devastating impact on public transport in the CBD and they were unworkable; but they were published and fully described.
1973 Road Map

The Liberal party government was forging ahead with the first stage of the Newcastle motorway, the carriage-ways across Darling Harbour, in the belief that the rest would have to proceed, when Neville Wran won a narrow victory in the 1976 state election and terminated the contracts. The carriage-ways were redirected to Glebe Island, the Cumberland highway was cobbled together to give a direct link between the Newcastle motorway and the Hume Highway and the Eastern Distributor provided a link to the Princes Highway under the runways of Mascot Airport. Sanity had been restored and Wran went on to record Wranslide victories. Sydney has ended up with a vaguely orthogonal motorway system.

Westconnex, O'Farrell's tunnel vision
Now the North Shore rump is back in power and we are once again facing uncertainty and confusion. The diagrams released by the government for the multi-billion dollar Westconnex project have stylistic similarities with the diagrams produced by the Askin government - lines with arrows superimposed on indeterminate maps - but there is now a complete lack of detail.

Plan released to ABC News
There is however a startling difference between Askin's plans for the Inner West and O'Farrell's: there is no longer any connection between the Western Distributor and the southbound tunnel. The eastbound tunnel runs under Parramatta road, as proposed by Infrastructure NSW when it wanted to use cut-and-cover construction, then pops up into Parramatta Road east of Pyrmont Bridge Road and west of Sydney University. At this point traffic has nowhere to go except to dogleg into Cleveland Street at City Road or plow on through Pitt Street which will be crossed by trams running on empty to Circular Quay for the first time in history.

The only connection between the Western Distributor and the southbound tunnel will be via Harris Street and Broadway/Parramatta Road, assuming there is an on ramp to the southbound tunnel. The northbound route is along Wattle Street and through the Fig Street bottleneck.

Needless to say, these traffic movements will not auger well for Parramatta Road and City Road bus services. This is the main focus of this blog. There are blogs and websites that deal with the Westconnex project:

On Tuesday 4th March 2014 the Shooters Party and the Labor Party supported a Greens' motion in the upper house giving the O'Farrell government 21 days to release all draft and final versions for the project. The Roads Minister Duncan Gay said: "This puts at risk the biggest road project in the country... It destroys our economic position in getting the best deal for the state."

This kind of motion was discussed at meetings of PUSH but Surry Hills residents did not have the political clout to get it through parliament. The release of the documents will finally give an insight to the workings of the O'Farrell Government.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Tripping the light rail fantastic

"There are Winners and there are Losers"
Pizza Boy, Jeff Goodling

There are two long-standing bus section boundaries within easy walking distance of my house - the stop in Oxford Street in front of the Supreme Court and the stop in Campbell Street before Riley Street for the Mascot routes. The sections are clearly shown on the stop signs. I know the stops where I can use a Mybus 1 ticket to get to the CBD or Kensington or Bondi Junction. If I used an Opal Card I do not have a clue what would be deducted from my account at Bondi Junction or where I would have to catch the bus to be within the 3 km limit - I don't have GPS embedded in my brain. It seems that repeated trial and error is the only way to figure this out. I will not be getting an Opal Card any time now.

James Packer of Palm Beach
There are big winners though; James Packer for example. James Packer and his neighbours at Palm Beach have a bus route from Railway Square to Palm Beach - 29 Mybus sections. I do not know the straight-line distance in kilometers (it doubles back at Palm Beach) but it is a hell of a lot more than the 8 km which sets the Opal Card fare where you no longer have to worry about where the trip will end.

James Packer and neighbours will pay $4.50 with an Opal Card for a trip to the CBD. He will be able to get off any number of times for coffee, fast food, meet and greets or any other purpose so long as he gets back on a bus with the same route number within an hour. Route numbers are the same coming or going, so the Transport NSW web site implies that if he concluded his business within an hour he could return, and the straight-line distance travelled would be zero. Would he be charged zero for the journey or would only the return trip be free? The success rate of the Packers' lawyers with the Taxation Office is formidable.
Lee Street to Palm Beach bus route
If George Street is pedestrianised this route will be diverted to Elizabeth Street and the return trip will be via the Premier's special right-hand turn in Phillip Street. He will be able to make a brief call on the NSW government ministers and public servants and thank them for their extraordinary largess without breaking his trip. This is, of course, hypothetical. There is no reason to believe the largess bestowed on the Northern Beaches would induce him to leave his big-boys toys on his yacht and catch a bus.

Then there are the really big losers in the Inner West. To get from, say, the Sydney University to Rushcutters Bay a commuter would be expected to catch a bus to Rawson Place (less than 3 km = $2.10), a tram to Town Hall (less than 3 km, change of mode, unknown cost) then a Victoria Road service to Rushcutters Bay (less than 3 km = $2.10); total cost probably $6.30 plus. This is the cost of a journey each way.

Double Bay/double pay.
A journey to Double Bay from, say, Sydney University would take four trips or so the usual kamikaze Private/Public Partners (PPPs) are expected to believe. That is an extra $2.10 by bus from the roof of Edgecliff Station or an extra $3.50 for destinations along New South Head Road further than 3 km from Edgecliff station.

Like that is going to happen!
Sydney University students and staff, and most residents in the Inner West are smart enough to catch a bus terminating at Circular Quay (or Coogee), disembark at the stop in Eddy Avenue then catch a train to Edgecliff Station. Buses will then travel on empty to Circular Quay inflicting collateral damage on Eastern Suburbs bus services in Elizabeth Street northbound.

The double whammy
So there you have it, trams running on empty along George Street and displaced bus services running on empty through the "pinch points" in Elizabeth and Phillips Streets. Bus passengers from south and west of Newtown can make the inevitable transfer to rail at Newtown Station leaving the buses running on empty along King Street.

PPPs are expected to subscribe to the fantasy that trams can compete with with subway rail in delivering passengers to the same destinations. Project director Jeff Goodling has the job ahead of him.

Will the trams only accept passengers using Opal Cards?
If not, fare evasion will reach new heights with passengers boarding the trams at five doors and the driver isolated at the front. The London light rail through Canary Wharf has Oyster Card readers on platforms and station announcements reminding passengers to go back and tap off. If so, the compulsion to use trains will be more compelling.

Government Information requests are denied on grounds of commercial confidentiality.