Monday, 23 June 2014

Like father, unlike son

👍father   👎son
Bruce Baird was Minister for Transport in the Greiner government from 1988 to 1995. He was a self proclaimed member of the God Squad in the parliament. Public transport particularly trains had been allowed to deteriorate during the Askin era and Baird wanted to reassure the electorate after the Party had suffered landslides against it. Unfortunately he was not very intelligent.

He put up schemes that were ridiculed in Parliament. He wanted to close down Museum Station and establish a station under the Goulburn Street car park. It was pointed out the there was no room for platforms in the narrow site. Another brainwave was to close the Country Steam station built in the first years of the 20th Century to country trains. These services would be relocated somewhere else. Fortunately he had Public Servants to advise him on his follies.
Central Station
Central Electric had been built alongside the Country Rail terminus when the underground rail loop was built over an 8 year period up to the opening of the Harbour Bridge. The plan was to make more platforms available for suburban train services. This plan was also howled down. There are in fact a large number of greater suburban train services that terminate at central as can be seen in the aerial shot. Commuters terminated here flood down the escalators to the City Circle and Harbour Bridge platforms and cram onto the City Circle trains. This is not what was planned when the Central Rail terminus was built in the first years of the 20th Century.

The tram colonnade was an integral part of the design of the terminus and the tram loop distributed train passengers to the rest of the CBD and to the ferry wharves at Circular Quay which gave access to the rest of Eastern Australia north of Kirribilli.

Tram tracks of 20th Century Sydney
The tram loop up Castlereagh Street and south along Pitt Street was the last of the tracks to be laid in the CBD and Central Station was as much a source of civic pride at the start of the 20th Century as the Opera House is today. Not all trams went all the way to Circular Quay; some looped back to Pitt Street at Bent Street. Before the Harbour Bridge was built most trams would have gone to Circular Quay but even the wildly-optimistic figures for passengers transferring to trams at the designated stops generated by TfNSW for the EIS concede that hardly any passengers will transfer from ferries to trams. A tram stop in Spring Street is as far north as the tram stop in in George Street between Bond and Bridge Street and just a stone throw from the bus set-down stop in Bridge Street for George Street bus services terminating at Circular Quay.

Spring Street into Bent Street
There are a plethora of train and bus services that pick up passengers at the ferry wharves. In this day and age there is no valid reason for a tram service to have a terminus at Circular Quay although it is possible for some trams to loop from Pitt Street to Young Street or Loftus Street. The tram track alignment along Pitt and Castlereagh Street does not degrade any existing bus service into the Sydney CBD.

Locating a three-platform tram terminus for 45 metre long trams that are carrying negligible numbers of passengers in the heart of one of the most internationally famous tourist precincts in the world is so mindlessly destructive that it brings the sanity of the Public Servants and North Shore politicians responsible into dispute.

Alfred Street is another pedestrianised zone where pedestrians are blindsided as at the exits from Central Station. This was as usual concealed by cropping in the EIS - another killing field in a tourist mecca. Tourists will not have encountered anything as callous towards human life anywhere in the world. The revised EIS (Preferred Infrastructure Report) did not change a thing about this terminus or the Rawson Place stop and only the Sydney City and Randwick Councils were allowed to make a submission.

I have published posts on this stop on this blog as information became available (see Lies, deception and subversion of Public Servants at Circular Quay 28/12/2013) which will remain archived on Google servers. They are freely available to contingency law firms.

Change of plans

The exhibited EIS published figures of projected passenger transfers at tram stops and projected loadings of trams between stops in an attempt to show the trams would have sufficient capacity at least up to 2021 - i.e. the loadings would be beneath the infantile claim that the trams could carry up to 9,000 passengers per hour. The Preferred Infrastructure Report (PIR) admitted that figures were erroneous and had new figures. Both figures confirmed that, even with the ludicrously optimistic assumptions of TfNSW, the peak number of passengers on the trams at Circular Quay, even with the obliteration of the George Street bus services, is negligible.

The revised figures for intermodal boardings at stops do not reveal whether they are for outbound services only or both directions but the PIR insists the figures in the Central Station Precinct Access Plan were correct:
Table 7-11: Central Station Precinct Access Plan
The 2387 passengers transferring from the trains is less than the 2669 passengers that are projected to get on the outbound service in Chalmers Street in the AM peak. That is to say, TfNSW projects that a negligible number of the rail passengers terminated at Central Station will walk past the City Circle platforms where they can continue their journeys to destinations in the CBD for nothing extra and instead leave the station to catch a tram a long way down Chalmers Street that accesses only three of the destinations of City Rail and shuts down for an indefinite period every time a bus passenger is slaughtered or injured. This is an unexpected acknowledgement of reality. The George Street trams will do nothing to alleviate localised congestion in the City Circle and Harbour Bridge trains!

On the other hand, restoration of the Pitt/Castlereagh Streets tram route provides a short walk across the Central Station concourse, under cover and with complete safety, to catch a tram with as many stops as a bus route in the CBD. The trams provide additional capacity for Public Transport to the northern CBD and do not degrade any existing bus service.

I will reiterate in more detail in this blog how a tram service to the South Eastern Suburbs would be integrated with this tram route. I outlined all this in my letter to the Minister for Transport in April 2013 and in my submission to the EIS. The Secretary's Assessment did not acknowledge that such a route exists.

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