Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Do something-else scenario

The Final Secretary's Environmental Assessment Report reported that "more than a quarter of all public submissions received (26%) raised issues about the preferred route, indicating a preference for different route options".
Route options assessed
Planning and Infrastructure dutifully assessed the ludicrous route options considered at Round Tables of stakeholders and shown in the figure (left) reprinted from the EIS. The blue route options were presented to Community Forum at Sydney High School in April 2013 and were howled down at the packed meeting. I could not sleep after the meeting and the next day wrote to the Minister outlining a route option that had never been considered by the Knutters of the Round Table and had none of the obvious flaws of the chosen option. You can read my letter to the Minister here. I had no idea at this stage that the bus terminus at Randle Street would be obliterated along with all the bus terminuses accessed by George Street.

The Minister's response was to declare the proposal to be State Significant Infrastructure and critical State Significant Infrastructure on 20th May 2013. Under this amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 brought in by the O'Farrell government in 2011 there can be no appeals to the Land and Environment Court against an Assessment. Public Servants are licensed to do as they like.

I described the route option in more detail in my Submission to the EIS. This has been in the public domain on the website along with all the other submissions but I do not know for how much longer. I have provided a link from this blog here

My Submission was closely worded and stretched to 11 pages and I was only getting started but I was wasting my time. None of the matters raised by me and all the other people that made submissions about the route were assessed by the Department. The Consideration in the Assessment Report dismisses all objections and comments in the submissions with a single paragraph. "Overall, the Department considers that that Applicant has undertaken an appropriate and comprehensive route selection and evaluation process to identify the preferred alignment. The department notes that investigations were undertaken to identify possible route alignments at both a macro and micro level, with appropriate criteria and objectives guiding the process. The Department is satisfied that the Applicant's selection process has been rigorous, and that the optimal alignment has been identified".

Are we not stakeholders?

On 28th March 2015 we the people are the stakeholders. We have the opportunity to put a stake through the heart of an infantile reincarnation of the Askin Government from the North Shore rump of the Liberal Party. The Baird government are the most incompetent, callous and self-centred politicians to emerge from the North Shore rump, ever. They came to power through a corruptly funded election process and act as though they are answerable to no one. If Beard is not sent packing back up the North Shore rump on March 28th the City of Sydney that we have built up over 200 years will be made unworkable and the States assets will have been squandered of ludicrously expensive infrastructure projects that create more problems and do not address the needs of the city. To this end I will outline on this blog how the light rail alignment I described in my letter to the Minister and in my Submission resolves most of the transport problems faced by the City of Sydney.


The EIS contained figures and tables purportedly showing the deterioration in the Level of Service of intersections if the tram system was built compared to a Do-min case if the tram rails were not built. The deterioration of the Levels of Service at the crucial intersections at both ends of Druitt Street when the revised figures given in the Preferred Infrastructure Report are included will cause a devastating degradation in the performance of every bus service that enters the CBD from south of the Harbour including the Eastern Suburbs, especially where there is little opportunity for bus layovers. Hilariously TfNSW assert that the figures for traffic flow will be 7% higher if the trams are not built and only 6% higher if they are built because people leave cars at home and use buses. This preposterous assertion formed the basis of the Business Case.

In my submission to the EIS I pointed out that "there is a ridiculously simple way of testing these assertions. TfNSW has number plate recognition. If they lack the competence to do this work their consultants Sky High would be able to do it. By mounting in George Street ,say at Martin Place, and a camera in Anzac Parade they could count the number of cars that enter all day car parks in northern George Street from the 'catchment area'. This is the maximum number of commuters who could possibly decide to leave their Maybach convertible in the garage and catch a bus then a tram." I asked the assessors to do this work - to no avail. So the disparity between the projected traffic flow figures in 2021 for the Do-min and With-trams cases will be substantially in the other direction. The deterioration of traffic flow in the historically sine qua non main traffic arteries between the Eastern Suburbs and the rest of Sydney south of the Harbour will be far greater and the degradation of all the bus services from these areas to the CBD will be far greater than the figures from TfNSW predict. There is a vicious circle and the situation will get progressively worse for the rest of the life of the City.

Do something else

Doing nothing to improve the movement of buses in the CBD was never an option. A competent feasibility study would have compared the George Street tram alignment with the other options. These would have included the options outlined in my letter to the Minister and my submission to the EIS - using the Opal card to limit congestion in the northern half of the CBD during the few hours of week days when there are problems with scheduling can be implemented immediately and adds very little to the cost of rolling out the cards.

Brown peril
If it is necessary for buses from Parramatta Road and City Road to travel north to Hay Street in order to physically turn around there is no rational reason for trams to enter the CBD to the south of here, other than to blindside pedestrians using every crossing to and from Central station. There is no rational reason to create a killing field from Crown Street to George Street. There is no rational reason for forcing tram passengers into a pincer movement in order to transfer to a bus service along Parramatta Road or City Road.

The tram alignment outlined in my letter and my submission to the EIS:

  • Does none of the above.
  • Provides additional capacity to Public Transport in inner Sydney not the reverse.
  • Does not substantially degrade any existing bus service to the CBD.
  • Does not degrade traffic flow in the arterial roads connecting the Eastern Suburbs with the rest of Sydney south of the Harbour.
  • Makes a ludicrously expensive and yet to be shown to be financially viable Metro tunnel under Sydney Harbour unnecessary.
  • Can probably be extended to Sydney University.
  • Can be extended to the development at Barangaroo.
  • Mitigates the problems for North Shore bus services in York Street.
  • Relieves congestion in bus routes in Elizabeth Street northbound rather than make it intractable.
We the people of New South Wales can achieve all this if we
Send Baird packing on March 28

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