Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Total subversion of the Public Service

The Public Service derives its sovereignty from the Sovereign - the separation of powers under the Westminster System that Quentin Dempster goes on about. Public Servants make an oath to the Queen to give impartial independent advice to the government.

The Independent Review_Traffic and Transport Assessment prepared for Planning & Infrastructure was not written by career public servants but by consultants who are not bound by ethical restraints. Their only concern is to tell the Senior Public Servant appointed by the government what they want to hear in order to justify their enormous consultancy fees. The stratagem of using consultants to write reports using diagrams and data supplied by the department was used to chilling effect in the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement when the three consultants produced deliberately contradictory descriptions of the project design to conceal the intent of the design - it turns out a murderous intent.

Samsa Consulting Pty Ltd is an internationally recognised Transport Planning/ Traffic Engineering consultancy specialising in Road Safety according to its web site. It is named after its founder Alan Samsa who makes similar claims about himself. Samsa appears to have been totally nonplussed by trying to assess the EIS.

The general comments 3.2 in the assessment are:

  • There appears to be significant work remaining during later detailed design to enable a full understanding and meaningful assessment of the Projects environmental impacts to be undertaken.
  • There are numerous generalisations with non-specific / non-binding terms used within the assessment. This is coupled with the reliance on other strategies including the Sydney City Centre Access Strategy (SCCAS), CSELR Network Management Plan (NMP), etc. This results in minimal meaningful and detailed discussion on the Project implications if the proposed measures are not met, which leaves unknowns in the assessment that would need to be resolved at a later date. The measures proposed need to be definitive and able to be evaluated objectively.
  • TfNSW response: Implementation of the CSERL project will require whole of government collaboration to minimise impacts and maximise benefits. In other words: get stuffed, we will do whatever we like. Samsa does not comment on the response.
  • The assessment of the light rail service assumes minimal delay through signalised junctions with respect to travel / service times, i.e. optimal operating conditions. However, at major junctions in particular, wait times will be controlled by the coordinated traffic signal system (known as SCATS). These potential delays have not been quantified and may change during further design development, thus affecting stated service times / headways, etc.
  • TfNSW response: Operational modelling for the light rail has been prepared in consultation with RMS and the Transport Management Centre (TMC) and incorporates signal delays. The modelling is considered conservative in terms of level of priority that the service will receive. Yet, incredibly, TfNSW uses the figure from the Dec 2012 brochure of up to 9,000 passengers per hour to counter arguments that the leg from Central to Anzac Parade will not have sufficient capacity.
  • The EIS states that as a result of the CSELR, there would be 180 to 220 fewer peak hour buses (8 am to 9 am) entering the CBD from the south-east. Based on 60 passengers per bus, this equates to some 10,800 to 13,200 passengers that would need to transfer to light rail. The lower figure equates to some 36 light rail trips (based on a 300 passenger capacity per light rail vehicle), which would require a headway of 1 minute 40 seconds. However, maximum headways are proposed to be between 2.5 to 3 minutes during peak periods, which equates to a maximum light rail capacity of approximately 7,200 passengers, equivalent to only some 120 buses.
  • TfNSW response: There are a couple of assumptions in this comment that are incorrect. Specifically, the average loading on these buses is less than 60, it includes bus savings in both directions and the 180-220 reduction includes other bus network enhancements identified in the SCCAS as a result of the CSELR such as through routing across the CBD and nearside termination at Central Station.
Samsa Consulting continues to list the many issues that had not been dealt with in the EIS but the two last issues demonstrate the naivity of the consultants, the deliberate deceptions included in the EIS, the impossible task that the consultants were given to assess the EIS, the very limited resources given to the assessors and the infantile argumentation used in the Assessment.

The figure of 180 to 220 buses "removed from the CBD" during the am peak first appeared in the brochure Sydney's light rail future released on 14 December 2012. It was chanted by Deputy Director General TfNSW Chris Lock relentlessly in his appearances at the Forum at Sydney High School  and the Randwick Business breakfast in April before he became a recluse. PUSH asked for information on which bus services would be "removed from the CBD". TfNSW refused to give any information saying remodelling of bus services was still continuing. The figures for buses "removed from the CBD" was quoted in numerous journalist's reports on the trams and was included in the EIS by TfNSW, to the bewilderment of the consultants employed to write the assessment. The figures were not corrected until a response was given to the assessment, which under state law cannot be disputed. The EIS was an infantile con job.
If fact the figures given in the 14 Dec 2012 brochure and reiterated in the EIS were never anything more than political sloganeering as has been pointed out in previous posts. Bus services from the southeastern suburbs that terminated at Railway Square ("nearside termination at Central Station") were deemed "removed from the CBD" - the 49 buses per hour removed from Chalmers Street. Bus services in Foveaux Street were to be obliterated and include the services to Clovelly. God only knows what was to happen to the 33 buses per hour "removed" from Broadway. Less than half the buses per hour "removed from the CBD" would have entered the CBD north of Market Street where congestion was cited inexplicably as the raison d'etre for expelling buses from George Street. Only a Royal Commission into TfNSW would uncover the reasoning that went into the oft repeated claims of buses "removed from the CBD".

The recommendations

The so called peer review concludes:
The following Draft Conditions of Consent or commitments from the proponent are recommended:
Prior to Project implementation, detailed impacts of potential changed traffic patterns and operations need to be determined and appropriate detailed upgrade measures identified to the satisfaction of RMS.
As part of the above design development and prior to Project implementation, the further resolution and finalisation of the CSELR Network Management Plan (NMP) and CBD Bus Plan is to be undertaken to the satisfaction of RMS and Councils.

I do not know what status the recommendations have legally and whether the Minister for Transport can ignore them or which Minister will sign off on the Project. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure has ceased to exist as Brad Hazzard said of the RTA. The minister for Planning is Pru Goward and the Premier has appointed himself Minister for Infrastructure.

The CBD Bus Plan does not exist - it is political sloganeering. It will not be disclosed before the next election so if the recommendations are followed the "Project implementation" would not be before the election. There is no definition of what Project implementation means!

I confronted the Project Director Jeff Goodling at the meeting in Surry Hills after the EIS was exhibited and he said, speaking slowly, that PPPs were not being given information on which bus services would be "terminated". If indeed PPPs are being given assurances about bus services being terminated, god knows where, and if compensation penalties are being written into contracts then this would constitute corruption as defined in the charter for the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

There are no recommendations in the assessment as to the speed limits at various sections of the route so this would be a matter that could be determined by a future government. There will be two elections before the trams go into operation.

Voodoo economics

Baird at press announcement
Fish out of water
The Premier announced that he will regard winning the next election as a mandate to sell the electricity wires and poles, converting a public utility into a private monopoly. The proceeds from selling 49% of the electricity infrastructure built up over 200 years of European settlement would be deposited in banks and eventually squandered on infrastructure Projects that benefit only people living on the North Shore. The people of NSW will be paying more for electric power for 99 years at least and more for public transport.

The Projects announced have not been designed, have not been costed, have not been subjected to feasibility studies or cost benefit studies. I wrote a post in February "Gladys' bottom of the Harbour Scheme" which is archived on Google's servers probably in Iceland. I have nothing to add to this post. We have no more information on this Project other than it is intended to drill tunnels through the bed rock under the most famous deep-water harbour in the world rather than use the much cheaper trench method used for the Harbour Tunnel. There is no information on the fate of the Eastern Suburbs railway.

This is not the way that the Westminster System was meant to operate and has operated throughout the history of NSW. In the past, infrastructure was designed, costed and subjected to cost/benefit studies before decisions were made about funding it.

There is a lot at stake and a lot to lose for the people of NSW at the election on March 28th 2015.

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