Saturday, 29 November 2014

SCATS assault from the North Shore Rump

World Square stop
The length of the trams would have little impact on traffic flow at the Eddy Avenue/Pitt Street intersection - even a 57 metre tram should just be able to cross the intersection in the minimum time allowed for pedestrians to cross - 26 seconds. However we have to consider impact on the routes that vehicles displaced from Rawson Place have no alternative but to take: Liverpool Street and Bathurst Street. The closure of Rawson Place turns these into arterial routes.

At Bathurst Street a tram movement shuts down all traffic movements other than pedestrian crossings in parallel with the trams and once again pedestrian densities are among the heaviest in the state. The cumulative run times in the EIS asserted that it would take 1 minute for a tram to set down/pick up passengers and pass from the "World Square" stop to Town Hall stop. The stops are literally a stones throw apart - it takes less than 2 minutes to walk the distance as pointed out in a post on 21 Dec 2013 By George, I think she's got it, but since it takes a five-segment trams 87 seconds to pick up a couple of passengers this is hardly credible. It is physically impossible for the trams to accelerate to the 60 kpm speed limit, hit the pedestrianised zone at this speed then abruptly slow down to a stop - drivers would travel the distance at little more than walking speed. The question that needs to be asked is: would trams travelling at little more than walking speed be given priority by the traffic lights? That is to say, would trams from both directions trigger a change in the signal phasing? That is the 2.2 billion dollar question.
The "mesoscopic modelling" undertaken by TfNSW in 2013 which forecast peak hour intersection performance over the broad CBD clearly assumed that SCATS would continue to control traffic light phasing at Liverpool Street, Bathurst Street and Goulburn Street intersections with George Street - improvements in level of service (LOS) at these intersections in the 2021 light rail scenario compared to 2021 Do Minimum scenario were +2 (off the scale).

The modelling was infantile and based on preposterous assumptions and the conclusions drawn by Booz & Company published in the EIS are risible but we can conclude that there was no intention to give trams priority at intersections in the CBD.

In fact the intersections of George Street with Liverpool and Bathurst Streets would operate much the same with trams as they do now. There is now a bus (and left-turn) lane and two general-vehicle lanes south-bound from Bathurst Street and a bus lane and two north-bound general-traffic lanes to Liverpool Street. The significant difference is that the trams obliterate the second general-traffic lanes. This second general-vehicle lane allows buses to leapfrog buses at stops and pass through intersections two at a time (as you can see in the Google Earth snapshot) and to achieve capacities far in excess that which the tram service can achieve.

At present most of the vehicles travelling north of Bathurst Street are buses heading for the Harbour Bridge or running on empty to Circular Quay in order to physically turn round. If Baird wins the election on 28th March there will be only trams from Kingsford and Randwick, running on empty to Circular Quay, north of Bathurst Street. There are very few private vehicles travelling in parallel with the buses south from in front of Town Hall during the pm peak - mainly there are just taxis from the Hilton and the hotels at the Rocks - as you can observe any evening. With good reason: there is very little parking along George Street north of Bathurst Street and the parking is very expensive. Only buses can turn into George Street southbound south of Grosvenor Street and no driver in his right mind would use George Street to access the southern half of the CBD rather than use the Western Distributor.

The expensive off-street parking along George Street will continue to exist if George Street is pedestrianised. Drivers displaced from George Street will be forced to take tortuous routes crossing the dual tram tracks at least two times each way and more likely three times. This traffic will return to George Street southbound with a vengeance at Liverpool Street and will have been forced into one lane. This is effectively the only change to the traffic flows at the intersections, along with the additional traffic displaced from Rawson Place.

Bathurst Street, pm peak
Traffic flows along Bathurst Street and Liverpool Street become gridlocked at the George Street intersections during the pm peak and SCATS takes over, co-ordinating the traffic-light phases to give  continuous streams of traffic along George Street during its phase. Between 4:20 and 4:50 pm on Friday 28 November 2014 SCATS was allocating about 40 seconds to east-west flows and 1 minute and 9 seconds to George Street flows.

The traffic lights at Goulburn Street/George Street intersection are not co-ordinated with the lights further north and take between 50 and 56 seconds in each direction tallying up to 1:47 during the evening peak.

Bear in mind that the buses are carrying much higher loads of passengers than trams running largely empty from Circular Quay will ever carry - they must have capacity to pick up the bulk of their passengers at Central. There are very high volumes of pedestrians crossing Bathurst Street to and from the Town Hall station concourse.

Crunch time at the pincer movement of death

Trams at the Pitt Street/Eddy Avenue intersection can not be given priority signal phasing without creating intractable congestion in traffic flows to Parramatta Road and City Road and crippling every bus service to the Inner West and the southern suburbs. So trams after spending one and a half minutes setting down and picking up passengers could be held up an average of (1:47 - :27) minutes = 1 minute and 20 seconds. In the worst-case scenario the tram could have been held up an additional 40 seconds at each of the intersections at Bathurst Street, Liverpool Street and 50 seconds at Goulburn Street and it could have taken longer for passengers with mobility problems to embark or disembark from the tram. It is the worst-case scenario that determines the safe spacing of trams.

Spacing of trams is the only mechanism for stopping a following tram from crashing into the tram ahead. Railways run on tracks that have sensors and signalling but this not possible on trams travelling on public roads and through pedestrianised zones. If a tram that has had a clear run (no delays at intersections) arrives at a stop before the tram ahead has moved out from the stop it will smash into the back of the stationary tram. This would occur in an area with large numbers of pedestrians and with passengers on both trams standing without bracing themselves.

Here the length of the trams has great significance. Nine-segment trams will be 12 metres longer. The rear of the tram will be an extra 12 metres from where the driver of the following tram was expecting to stop so it will be moving faster. The trams are heavier so the following tram has more kinetic energy and the stationary tram more inertia.

At the Rawson Place stop the driver would not see the stationary tram until he is passing through the pincer movement of death - buses queued to pass through the pincer movement block his view. TfNSW insist that the trams will be travelling at the speed limit (60 kpm) between stops.

Finally making up time
The consequences are so horrendous we must assume that the trams will have sufficient spacing when they are dispatched from the three platforms at Circular Quay, carrying negligible numbers of passengers. You can do the maths. The timing between trams when dispatched will have to be a minimum of 5 minutes. This does not take into account any delays that may occur in the George Street pedestrianised zone. This is the timing between trams from day one of the tram services and it never gets any better. It gets progressively worse throughout the future life of the City of Sydney.

The frequency of at least 5 minutes between the nine-segment trams is significantly different from the frequency of 1 minute and 44 seconds that would be required to achieve the capacity of 13,500 passengers per hour claimed by Ms Berejiklian.

Trams would be arriving at the Randwick and Kingsford terminuses more than 10 minutes apart.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Hills hoist with their own petard

The end of Hillsbus services
When I was going to Sydney University I would walk from the Engineering Department through Chippendale to Pitt Street to catch a 378 bus to my flat in Paddington. When the Lee Street bus layover was built Railway Square buses no longer circled the Square in order to terminate and the Pitt Street stop fell into disuse - it was difficult for drivers to reach the right turn lanes into Eddy Avenue.

It appears that the stop was handed over to the privately-operated Hillsbus for their express services to the CBD. These services travel along the busway in the M2 motorway then the Lane Cove Tunnel, the North Sydney expressway and the Harbour Bridge to York Street.
Hillsbus express routes to Lee Street
These services as well as bus services to the Northern Beaches use the exclusive bus right turn from York Street into George Street at Druitt street to access the layover at Lee Street. The northbound route from Railway Square uses Market Street to make a right turn into Clarence Street to return back over the Harbour Bridge, avoiding the congestion in making right turns from Druitt Street.

All the bus services from northern Sydney north of the North Shore to Railway Square will be obliterated by trams from Kingsford and Randwick running on empty along George Street after dumping passengers in Chalmers Street.

The Brown Peril
Hillsbus provides services to Parramatta and the CBD from the suburbs to the north of Parramatta - West Pennant Hills, Baulkham Hills to Rouse Hill up the Old Windsor Road - hence the name. Voters in these suburbs and the Northern Beaches put the North Shore bozos into office.

The alternative routes mooted by TfNSW terminate the bus services to the CBD from the whole of Sydney north of the North Shore at the hopelessly congested Wynyard Park, at Druitt Street (requiring a right turn into Clarence Street) or dump buses into Castlereagh Street forcing them to return through the mother of all pinch points in Elizabeth Street northbound. I discussed this in the post The Brown Peril (8 May 2014). The Baird government has now divulged inadvertently the extent of the congestion they will be causing in bus routes in the CBD.

The Pitt Street maul

Every bus from the Inner West and every bus that lays over at the capacious Lee Street terminus must inexorably pass through the intersection of Pitt Street and Eddy Avenue coming and going. Every one of these bus services will be crippled by the trams running on empty to George Street.

We can put some figures to this from the brochures issued by TfNSW. The Dec 2012 brochure stated that 175 buses travelled along Broadway into the City in the am peak hour and claimed preposterously that light rail would reduce the number of these buses entering the City by 33. This is of course physically impossible. It is physically impossible for a bus once it has entered Broadway to turn around before it passes through the Pitt Street/Eddy Avenue intersection. The incompetence and contempt for the intelligence of the public shown by public servants put in control of TfNSW is beyond belief. They do know that they will never be required to defend their figures. The only way to reduce the number of buses in Broadway is to reduce the frequency of the services, which are packed during the am peak. Assuming that there is a public servant at TfNSW that can count to 175 then 3 buses from Broadway alone and three returning buses must pass through the Pitt Street/Eddy Avenue intersection every minute during the am peak.

The number of buses accessing the Lee Street terminus from north of the Harbour is obviously constrained by the number of buses that can pass through the mother of all pinch points. This is unknown since the number of Broadway bus services to be sent on to Circular Quay has not been disclosed.
When a tram is passing across Pitt Street no other traffic movement at the intersection can take place other than pedestrians crossing Pitt Street in parallel with the trams. The right-turn lane from Eddy Avenue into Pitt Street northbound is strictly only a rat run for extremely dumb rats as pointed out in previous posts.
Eddy Av/Pitt St intersection, phase two
Westbound traffic in Eddy Avenue has four lanes at the intersection with Pitt Street - two turn into Pitt Street southbound and two cross into Rawson Place. There is an additional lane for regional buses and taxis from the third arches. These vehicles have priority access to the intersection - pedestrian crossings and westbound general traffic movements are delayed. Right turns into Pitt Street northbound are forbidden except for buses and taxis.

Traffic into Rawson Place would be heading for Darling Harbour, Barangaroo and Piermont via Hay Street. The only other route for traffic from the eastern suburbs south of Old South Head Road (Oxford Street) is via Liverpool Street. The Rawson Place route is far less disruptive to George Street bus services than the Liverpool Street would be to Oxford Street bus services. It takes less than a minute for a bus to get from the Broadway stop to the stop south of Rawson Place at any time of the day. They then move into the bus-only second lane avoiding traffic turning left into Hay Street.

Traffic in the reverse direction would be from Bathurst Street turning into George Street. The right turn into George Street could be banned but, once again, the traffic is less disruptive in the three southbound lanes of George Street than it would be to Elizabeth Street bus services. To access the Cross City Tunnel traffic to the eastern, southeastern suburbs must drive past Bathurst Street and loop into, you guessed it, Liverpool Street, as discussed in a previous post Last Exit from Barangaroo (17 October 2013). The traffic to and from Barangaroo will be boosted massively when the car parks in Crown Casino come on stream.

The traffic light phases are controlled by SCATS mainly using the loops in the road to sense when queues of vehicles have emptied. Phase 2 does not vary throughout the day however. Vehicles queue and pass through the intersection five at a time. The queues are exhausted well before pedestrians have crossed the intersection. I do not have access to SCATS data but have measured the phases with a stop watch app. The walk sign remains on for close to 6 seconds then the don't walk sign flashes for around 20 seconds. This would be the absolute minimum time required - pedestrians become frantic if don't-walk signs flash immediately after the walk sign comes on.

Eddy Av/Pitt St intersection, phase 1
The other two traffic light phases vary throughout the day according to demand. The main phase 1, the arterial vehicle flows between the Eastern Suburbs and the rest of Sydney south of the Harbour, generally takes between 40 and 55 seconds including the orange phase. The effects on these vehicle flows from the dumping of traffic from the WestConnex tunnels into Parramatta Road and Enmore Road have never been factored in. The east bound lanes of Eddy Avenue become gridlocked around 5:20 pm. Vehicles queued in the right-turn lanes in Pitt Street do not clear the intersection and SCATS takes over and co-ordinates the traffic lights at both ends of Eddy Avenue.

The third phase for north-south traffic movements in Pitt Street generally take around than half a minute. The traffic for this phase will be increased by the vehicles displaced from George Street by the trams.

The frequency of trams

Five-segment tram
The five-segment Bombardier trams being assembled in a factory in the Dandenongs for the Melbourne tram system are 33 metres long and will carry 210 passengers. They are the longest trams in Victoria. There are no trams longer than this in Britain.

The seven-segment Bombardier trams being imported from Germany for the Gold Coast are claimed to carry 229 standing passengers as well as the 80 seated, which tallies with the claims of TfNSW of 220 standing passengers and 80 seated for the George Street trams which would be 45 metres long.

Segments must be added two at a time as you can see from the diagram above so a nine-segment tram would be 57 metres long, 3.5 metres longer than the longest road trains permitted on the Stuart Highway - the longest in the world. A Google search for nine-segment trams or light rail carriages mainly throws up references to this blog - they don't exist anywhere in the world. It is Connecting Sydney consortium that will choose from where to import the trams but we can deduce that each segment pair carries about 90 passengers so a nine segment tram would be assumed to carry 390 passengers.

Ms Berejiklian announced that the light rail would have capacity of more than 13,500 passengers per hour in each direction in response to demands by the preferred bidder for nine-segment trams, that is 225 passengers per minute. Nine-segment trams carrying 390 passengers packed like sardines would have to pass through every intersection in the route every 1 minute and 44 seconds in either direction. If the trams have priority signalling, necessary to achieve this capacity, a tram from either direction would be passing through the Pitt Street/Eddy Avenue intersection on average every 52 seconds. The pedestrian crossing requires a minimum of 26 seconds so that leaves 26 seconds for every other traffic movement at the intersection. In the words of Joe Biden: "Not physically possible". Bear in mind that an additional phase will be necessary for at least 3 buses per minute to turn right into Rawson Place so they can pass through the pincer movement of death at George Street, and an additional phase for right turns into Pitt Street northbound.

Ms Berejiklian went on to say: "The proposal offers services that from day one carry up to 15% more light rail passengers in peak hours, and 33% more seats (sic) across the day. The 33% figure would appears to mean that TfNSW is asserting that 100 extra passengers can be crammed onto a nine-segment tram. The 15% figure, 45 passengers, indicates that the frequency of peak hour tram services would be reduced by more than 18%. That means that the frequency of trams arriving at the Kingsford and High Cross park terminals will be reduced by twice this amount.

The patronage guarantee

Passengers per hour inbound
Ms Berejiklian claimed all along that the seven-segment trams would carry 9,000 passengers per hour, that is 150 passengers each minute, to and from Circular Quay at peak periods. Elementary maths showed that this was impossible but Berejiklian has refused to respond to any questions. That would require trams carrying 300 passengers packed like sardines to pass through every intersection in each direction every 2 minutes - a 45 metre tram passing through the Pitt Street/Eddy Avenue intersection every minute. This leaves 34 seconds for every other phase at each intersection. Not quite as ludicrous as her present claims but still so utterly ludicrous it brings the sanity of the public servants she put in control of TfNSW into question.

TfNSW published one diagram of the passenger loadings they expected at different stages of the journey in the EIS. These figures assume that bus services along Anzac Parade would be terminated at Todman Avenue although they refused to respond to objections asking how the buses would physically turn around without traumatising students at Kensington Primary for life. The figures for percentage of capacity used at day one of operation of the trams assumed that the maximum capacity was indeed 9,000 passengers per hour.

The social devastation of the need for speed

So did the EIS assume that trams would have priority at the signals at the pedestrian crossings in Chalmers Street, Eddy Avenue and Pitt Street? Obviously the public servants at TfNSW did assume this.
Run times?
The table of run times in the EIS asserted that it would take 2 minutes for a tram to discharge and load passengers in Chalmers Street and travel to the next stop at Rawson Place, and the same time for the reverse direction.

We can get a some idea of the time it takes for a tram to load and unload passengers from the five-segment trams to Dulwich Hill at the Central station stop.

Dulwich Hill line Central stop
The 8:40 am tram from Dulwich Hill cruised into the Central stop after turning from Hay Street at about walking speed despite complete segregation from pedestrians. There is a solar-powered sign that tells drivers how fast they are leaving the stop and to slow down, but it is about walking speed. At the stop it took 24.8 seconds for passengers to disembark and a further 57.4 seconds for the last passenger to board the tram. It took a further 6.9 seconds for the doors to close and the tram to set off at about walking speed a total of 1 minute 29 seconds. Trams currently have conductors on board to collect the fares. With the Opal card it will take longer for people to tap on and tap off.
Transport for NSW refuse to reveal the distances between stops saying it is Cabinet in Confidence. We don't know exactly where the lengthened stops will be in Chalmers Street and Rawson Place but we can get a good idea of the distance between the stops with Google Earth - a tad less than half a kilometre. So the public servants employed at TfNSW are calculating that the trams will travel half a kilometre in half a minute - an average speed of 60 kph, the speed limit.

The Dulwich Hill trams do not have priority at traffic signals - it took only 87 seconds for a few passengers to board behind the Capitol theatre but the tram was held up at the lights for more than half a minute - no-one complained. The public servants at TfNSW and Planning and Environment are requiring priority signalling for trams at intersections at Elizabeth Street, Chalmers Street, Eddy Avenue and Pitt Street.

So the EIS was completely fraudulent:
  • The capacity of the system was far less than the 9,000 passengers per hour in each direction claimed in the EIS and the Assessment Report by the public servants at Planning and Infrastructure;
  • The frequency of services will be less than that claimed, from day one;
  • The accumulated run times are a ludicrous fabrication;
  • The trams will be more murderous with pedestrian crossings of Eddy Avenue and Chalmers Street not being co-ordinated with and overridden by tram movements.

Huge failure
The Deputy Director General of TfNSW Projects Division told the Randwick business breakfast in April last year: "Here it is fast" - no doubt pointing at Moore Park. Trams run on rails and cannot leapfrog trams. If they are fast "here" and really slow "there and there" they will run into the back of the tram ahead. Spacing of the trams is the only mechanism for avoiding such a catastrophe - they cannot stop. Eddy Avenue is not the only place in the system that reduces the frequency that trams can reach. There are the shared bus/tram lanes at the Nineways intersection and the branch in the tracks where trams can arrive simultaneously - one has to be delayed to establish sufficient spacing.
Connecting Sydney consortium has determined that the only way it can reach the capacity demanded for the patronage predicted by TfNSW is to introduce nine-segment trams to narrow streets that have never carried trams. Nine-segment trams are not seen anywhere in the World. They are demanding that the taxpayer take all the risk for patronage not reaching the outrageous projections of TfNSW.

The project is a dud.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Missing in inaction

Where's the Central Station bus stop?
The EIS for the Sydney City Centre Bus Infrastructure showed the existing bus stops on the northern side of Eddy Avenue and in Pitt Street and Chalmers Street but the very highly used stop on the southern side of Eddy Avenue adjacent to the pedestrian crossing from Belmore Park to the concourse of Central Station is conspicuous by its absence. The pedestrian crossing is shown dog-legged, inexplicably.

This stop sets down passengers from the Bronte via Oxford Street route (378), the Kings Cross/Elizabeth Bay route (311) and the Mascot via Chalmers Street route (305) as well as the south-eastern suburbs bus services to Railway Square via Chalmers Street (372, 393 and 395). Are these services to be obliterated as collateral damage in order to force passengers from public buses and onto the privately operated trams?

Passengers set down at Central Station
This mainly set down only stop would be the busiest stop for the Bronte bus service. The stop would also be crucial if Clovelly (339) and north Coogee (374) bus services were squeezed out of Elizabeth Street. The stop was seen to be under dire threat when Sydney Council inadvertently released Worksite figures after the exhibition period which did not show the pedestrian crossing and the threat was compounded when the traffic lane giving access to the stop was converted into a bicycle path in the never-exhibited EIS.

The reason Baird is hell bent on crippling the south-eastern suburbs bus services to the Devonshire Street tunnel entrance to Central Station is obvious. The bus services run the pants off the privately operated trams, and most passengers have a seat. Buses forcibly terminated at the Kingsford tram terminus have to travel to Todman Avenue Kensington at least in order to physically turn around. They have then travelled a third of the distance they would travel to Devonshire Street. What is the point?

It should be pointed out that if the Pitt/Castlereagh Streets tram loop was restored this stop would allow more bus services from the south-eastern suburbs as well as from Clovelly and north Coogee to terminate at the Lee Street layover using the under-utilised Foveaux Street bus lane as well as Chalmers Street. Passengers would transfer to the trams in complete safety. Restoring the tram loop would cost less than a quarter of what the George Street trams will cost.

Notley-Smith & friend
It should also be noted that the Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith was in on it from the get go. He was listed as one of the members of the Round Table in the Dec 2012 brochure. On March 1, 2013 he posted comments on his taxpayer funded web site: "Just in time for Mardi Gras, NSW Labor has finally come out of the closet with their position on one of the NSW Government's key transport projects. In a speech on Thursday, the Labor Leader John Robertson told a rail conference the NSW Government's light rail from the Sydney CBD had 'dubious public benefit' and Labor would prioritise the Hunter and Western  Sydney over parts of the city that are comparatively well served".

There were no people or authorities with expertise transport planning or town planning consulted by the "Round Tables" or present at meetings. There were just minor politicians and their public servants. From the very beginning the project was set up for party-political point scoring.

Notley-Smith has never shown any concern for his constituents:

  • He has never questioned what was planned for the Bronte bus services.
  • He has never objected to the only arterial road into Coogee being reduced to one lane with an inescapable right turn at the end.
  • He has never objected to buses being run down by now-nine-segment trams in High Street.
  • He has never given out any information on how buses will physically turn round after being forcibly terminated at High Cross park.
He has been in on all the decisions that will create traffic congestion on access roads into Coogee and cripple bus services from Bronte, Bondi and Clovelly that run along Elizabeth Street.

Fortunately residents in the Coogee electorate will be able on 28 March 2015 to correct the mistake they made four years ago when he was elected.

Friday, 14 November 2014

The beginning of the end for Broadway bus services

Buses terminate in Pitt Street
Buses terminate at Circular Quay
Buses terminate at Coogee Beach
The EIS contained deliberately contradictory figures for the Rawson Place tram stop. Parsons Brinckerhoff showed southbound buses in Pitt Street going straight ahead across Eddy Avenue. Booz & Company showed the buses turning right into a setdown-only lane in Rawson Place then creating a pincer movement for passengers set down from buses or trams at the George Street pedestrian crossing:

The Booz & Company figure was extracted from the worksite diagrams which were inadvertently released by the City Council after the close of the exhibition period providing confirmation. This was discussed in a previous post on June 13 Triple cripple. Now the government has confirmed the route to be taken by buses terminated in Pitt Street in order to physically turn round and will start work constructing and demolishing bus stops on 3rd December 2014 with work to take four weeks. The work is being funded by Roads and Maritime Services as is the pedestrian overpass in Moore Park.

9.3.4 Health and wellbeing

The bus stop at Belmore Park that I have used to catch a bus to Newtown since moving to Surry Hills in 1986 is to be obliterated, without explanation. It has been savagely crossed out with a red cross. I will have to walk further to the existing stop CS29 in Pitt Street. I am assured by Parsons Brinckerhoff Volume 9.3.4 in the EIS for the CSELR that this is in the interests of my health: "Research also indicates that people would walk longer distances to catch light rail than to catch a bus". The Business Case puts a figure on the resulting expected benefits to public health of $308 million. I kid you not.

The EIS does not reference who did the research or what it cost the taxpayer but since the tram stops are at a much greater distance apart no one would dispute the research. But the Baird government will be shutting down bus stops so public bus services will not be competing effectively with trams if elected on March 28. The bus routes specifically singled out for decimation of bus stops after the election do not actually compete with the trams. These are the Bondi bus services along Oxford Street and the bus services from the rail/bus interchange in West Ryde to Parramatta and to Sydney Town Hall along Victoria Road.

The healthy way to travel
Concerned citizens at Randwick  Community meeting
After the well-attended community meeting at Randwick Boys High Andrew Roydhouse organised audience members into the aisle to demonstrate how passengers will be forced to travel in a segment of the trams for them to meet the claimed capacities - packed like sardines.

The Son taketh away, The Son giveth
While the bus stop I have been using is being exterminated a new bus stop CS32 is being created across the road on the northern side of Hay Street at the expense of parking spaces. The problem is: Son of Bruce Almighty only knows from where the buses would be coming. There is however only one place where they could be headed: Elizabeth Street northbound.

The mother of all pinch points

Elizabeth St. stops
Another bus stop savagely crossed out is the set-down-only stop outside David Jones. Buses from Oxford Street and south and southeast Sydney avoid the stop HP2 in Elizabeth Street just north of Park Street like the plaque with good reason. Buses, from local inner city routes turning from Park street, that use the stop get trapped by taxis turning left into Market Street. The drivers have to wait for a bus in the second lane, which is the de facto bus lane, to take pity on them and let them out. I observed and photographed the situation in the morning peak more than a year ago - the post 10 September 2013 How do you solve a problem like Elizabeth?

Now TfNSW will force buses to use a new stop even closer to Market Street. Baird is not only trapping buses from Botany Road and Bunnerong Road in the bus stop south of Foveaux Street he is trapping them south of Market Street.

Elisabeth Street northbound narrows to two lanes north of David Jones - the mother of all pinch points (at the top of the figure). Traffic in the central general-vehicle lane, which the EIS acknowledges will be increased drastically by the George Street trams, will have to cross the privileged bus lane in the midst of the pinch point in order to legally proceed north. The mind boggles at the congestion that will eventuate in all but the wee hours of the morning. The public servants put in control at TfNSW have never had any input from anyone who has driven a bus and would not be seen dead on a bus.

"Up to 220 buses"
The EIS for the redesign of bus stops in the CBD reiterated the original chant of removing 220 buses from the CBD which has been totally discredited and was withdrawn in the TfNSW response to the Independent Review of Traffic & Transport Assessment released with the Secretary's Assessment Report in June. The public servants at TfNSW are devoid of any sense of shame.

Elizabeth Street is by far the most congested bus route in the CBD. This was collaborated by the figures for delays in bus schedules during the AM peak period given in the EIS. The 13 December 2012 brochure chirped:
  • "Elizabeth Street will be the main north-south bus route, featuring dedicated bus lanes and stopping lanes and with car access available in both directions".
Booz & Company asserted in the EIS for CSELR 4.2.1:

  • "About 50% of Inner West bus routes will terminate after stopping at the Rawson Place light rail stop and in Campbell Street north of Belmore Park. The remaining Inner West bus routes will continue to northern end of City Centre via the Elizabeth Street/Castlereagh Street couplet".
This is a bottom-of-the-beer-coaster figure and is not backed up by any analysis. The proposition that bus services displaced from George Street could be diverted into Elizabeth Street northbound assumed that changes to the lane colourings and stop locations in Elizabeth Street by the self proclaimed geniuses at TfNSW would accomplish dramatic increases in traffic flows. This has now been exposed as delusional: traffic flows in bus lanes will be drastically degraded.

The advantage of being an imbecile is that it is easy to believe you are a genius. The advantage of being an imbecile in the public service or a consultancy firm to the public service is that no one has ever been sacked for incompetence.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Terminator 3 - The end of civilisation as we know it

Screen shot from WestConnex the video, June 2014
Baird never intended the six extra lanes of the M5 motorway to terminate at Euston Road and Campbell Road in St Peters. The plan was always to dump six lanes of freeway traffic into Parramatta road somewhere to the west of the junction to Pyrmont Bridge Road. Here the traffic would merge somehow with six lanes of freeway traffic from Parramatta road (the surface road) and six lanes of freeway traffic from the tunnel replication of Parramatta road. At the end of June 2014 he abruptly announced that a further four lanes of freeway tunnels from the Glebe Island bridge would be added to the mix. Taxpayer assets would be privatised to pay for this - North Shore motorist would not be paying anything for their trips south via the Anzac bridge. The carriageways would appear to cut a swathe through Whites Creek Valley Park.

The computer-graphics generated videos released by Baird in June showed a change of plan. Traffic from the six extra lanes of the M5 would be dumped into Enmore Road to the southwest of King Street Newtown (as far as can be made out from the vague maps) instead of or as well as Parramatta Road.
Enmore Road Newtown
Six lanes of freeway traffic dumped into the two eastbound lanes.
Traffic for six lanes must enter from the west-bound lanes.
Will the Enmore Theatre (left corner) survive?
Now four months later Baird and Abbott have come together with the Roads and Maritime Services Minister Duncan Gay to stand in front of a poster that revises the plans yet again. Not minor revisions but revisions that destroy the arguments advanced for the WestConnex project from the very beginning. The public relations spin for the project was no different from those advanced for the Cross City tunnel and the Lane Cove tunnel. The number of traffic lights avoided by replicating the surface roads with tunnels were counted and claims were made as to the time savings that would ensue for motorists using the tunnels. I won't insult your intelligence by repeating them. Now Baird and Abbott have proclaimed that the road tunnels will remain deep under the Princes Highway to the west of the Cooks River rail terminal. The only places where traffic can enter and exit for the six lanes of the "New M5" will be Enmore Road and Euston Road - a binary choice. This is forever.

Duncan Gay boasted that they were not making the mistakes of the old M5, which had steep gradients as it kept returning to the surface to provide connections to the surface road system. The "New M5" would have slight gradients for 9 kilometres from its start in Kingsgrove until it reaches St Peters. Not surprising as, in plane English, WestConnex does not connect with anything.

Mr Gay denied flatly that dumping traffic in St Peters would overload roads in St Peters and Newtown. He did not mention plans to also dump traffic into Enmore Road. He insisted that traffic would make a right-hand turn from Euston Road into Campbell Street, cross Alexandra Canal by a new bridge and percolate through chronically congested roads north of the airport to the terminals rather than use the existing M5 tunnels which provide direct uncongested connections to the terminals. This is "absurd" as the former Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese has pointed out. The existing M5 also gives direct access to the container berths at Port Botany.
Access routes to the airport terminals from the M5 (yellow arrows).
The interchange at the bottom right corner gives access to Port Botany.
Euston Road feeds traffic from the "New M5" into Botany Road, Elizabeth Street and Crown Street only. Traffic heading for destinations east of Crown Street would use the existing M5. Yet Baird is crippling traffic flows in these traditional arterial distributors between the Eastern Suburbs and the rest of Sydney south of the Harbour with the George Street trams.

The Melbourne Cup day trifecta

You would have noted the common denominator in all the roads targeted by Baird on Melbourne Cup Day 2014: they carry all the bus services from the western, south-western and southern suburbs of Sydney into the CBD. 

The never-exhibited amended EIS for the CSELR project conceded that the pedestrianisation of Chalmers Street would result in congestion at the intersection of Elizabeth Street, Eddy Avenue and Foveaux Street that was off the scale: a level of service rating of D, as bad as it can get. I discussed this in a post on June 6 Level of Public Service: D. The underlying assumptions used to predict the traffic flows in 2021 were never revealed and cannot be disputed as the RTA stopped publishing traffic-flow data in 2006. However some of the assumptions were clearly preposterous. They were claiming that traffic to the CBD would be reduced because people would find the transfers from buses to trams so attractive they would stop parking in the CBD.

The predictions of traffic flows in 2021 could not have factored in the effects that dumping traffic from the tunnels of the "New M5" into King Street, Botany Road, Elizabeth Street and Crown Street would have on bus services south of the Harbour and congestion at both ends of Eddy Avenue. There was no warning that Baird would do this until his announcement on Melbourne Cup day 2014. There must be an independent and public assessment of the congestion caused by the trams before any contracts are signed for the project. The inquiry could also consider the effects of trapping buses in a bus bay at the Foveaux Street intersection.

The WestSouthwestNorthshoreDumpz project

The grey cliffs of Parramatta Road
Motorists intending to use the Cross City Tunnel or the Harbour Bridge or with destinations in the the northern CBD use the City -West link road and will continue to do so. Traffic dumped from the tunnels into Parramatta Road has nowhere to go except Pitt Street. There is literally no parking east of Pyrmont Bridge Road and no possibility that there ever will be except for a small amount of parking on the ground floor under Broadway Shopping Centre, accessible only from a tortuous route from Bay Street. The strip of Parramatta Road to the west of Pyrmont Bridge road will be devastated by the property resumptions required to bring the traffic to and from the surface.

The intersection of Pitt Street and Eddy Avenue was also given a level of service rating of D but this would not have factored in the effects of the revised plans for the "New M5" and the increased length and frequency of trams demanded by Connecting Sydney consortium.
Road train on Stuart Highway, 53.5 metres long
Ms Berejiklian refuses to reveal the length of the trams that Connecting Sydney consortium insists on running. The trams will be longer than the maximum length of the road trains that are allowed on the Stuart Highway and outback highways in WA and Queensland. The coupled Juggernauts will be twice as long.

The trams will be travelling slowly through the intersection of Pitt Street and Eddy Avenue as they come into or out of the stops at Rawson Place even if they are given priority at the lights. They will be crossing on average every minute at peak periods we are told. Pedestrians will be blindsided at every crossing to and from Central Station making it even more unlikely that they will reach the speeds of sixty kph between stops used by TfNSW to calculate vehicle flows through intersections and for calculating the capacities of the tram services. Buses terminated at Pitt Street will require a separate phase to make a right-hand turn into Rawson Place in order the pass through the pincer movement of death at the George Street pedestrian crossing which also has a level of service D. It is worth pointing out that the trams passing through Eddy Avenue will be largely running on empty after dumping passengers in Chalmers Street. They will be all but empty when they reach the terminus at Circular Quay.

A proper independent assessment of the impacts of the revised-since-the-EIS trams on congestion in bus routes from south of the Harbour into the CBD must be made before any contracts are signed. This can of course only take place when it is known whether traffic from the "New M5" will be dumped into Parramatta Road as well as Enmore Road and what will happen to traffic from the Glebe Island U-bend if this ever goes ahead.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

North Shore politicians give nothing away

North Shore politicians announce another row of dots
The start of something really big
Baird and Abbott have finally made an announcement about plans to add six more lanes to the existing four lanes of the M5 motorway. There are startling differences to the original motorway which provides direct connections to the Port facilities at Port Botany, to the International and Domestic terminals at Mascot and to the Sydney Harbour tunnel via the Eastern Distributor as well as access to the Eastern Suburbs.
The end of the Edgeware Road
The six extra lanes do nothing but dump uncontrollable volumes of vehicles into narrow local roads: Euston Road, Edgeware Road and via a new bridge over the Alexandra Canal to Bourke Road.

The schematics and CG videos for WestConnex all showed the motorway travelling along the surface after passing under the King Street with silly little arrows signifying exit ramps directly to the airport access road Airport Drive and direct access to Gardeners Road and to the Princes Highway but this has all been scrapped for access only to Euston Road. Eighty homes will be demolished to widen Campbell Road to carry traffic to Edgeware and Bourke Roads. Duncan Gay stated that only 100 homes would be forcibly aquired for the WestConnex project. This was clearly untrue.

All 5 eastern light-blue little arrows are fraudulent
The North Shore politicians Abbott and Baird are competing with one another as to who can lie the most blatantly before an election.

The dark blue little arrows will require massive resumptions of property and nothing has been disclosed. The residents of St Peters got as much warning they were to be targeted as an Iraqi villager hit by a remotely-controlled drone strike.

Presumably there will be tolls on the existing lanes of the M5 which have never had tolls but there is no information on what the tolls will be if Baird wins the election. The only information the public has about the project which was an election promise at the last election is the usual lines of dots on vague maps that are deliberately contradictory. All the North Shore politicians have achieved in four years is to put public servants who are devoid of any ethical conscience in control of Departments and order them to churn out deceptive computer generated videos.
New M5 press release
I have finally found a copy of the press release that was blown up into a billboard for Abbott, Baird and Roads and Maritime Services minister Duncan Gay to posture in front of. If you click on it it blows up to full size but don't bother: it is deliberately deceptive and designed to conceal the failure of the "new M5" to meet any of its design objectives.

On every motorway in the state traffic enters a carriageway from the lefthand side. The public servants who produced the billboard have the southbound carriageway of Euston Road, widened by demolishing homes, extended south across the waste transfer station to tunnel under Canal Street and under or over the blue-line tunnels. Then we are asked to believe the on ramp would tunnel back over or under the blue-line tunnels to feed traffic into three-lane "New M5" tunnels before the proposed split to a Southern motorway.

The drawings deliberately conceal if the Euston Road on and off ramps pass over or under the blue-line carriageways that end in a blank wall. However Baird announced in June that he would build "rapid transit" rail tunnels under the existing rail tunnel under King Street, and the road tunnels of Stage 3 line up with these tunnels like astrological points presaging doom. If the "rapid transit" rail tunnels had to pass under the road tunnels even single-deck trains would be battling to make it back to the surface in time for the residents along the Bankstown rail line to be handed over to a Chinese communist corporation.

The plans above are flagged as "indicative". This is the standard method of public servants and the highly-paid foreign-based consultancy companies employed by North Shore politicians to absolve themselves of any professional obligation. All the figures of tramstops in the EIS for the light rail produced by Booz & Company were flagged as "indicative" and we now have had confirmed that they were all deceptive and deliberately contradictory.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

North Shore filth clogs the U-bend

Glebe Island U-bend
The Western motorway east of Parramatta carries the most traffic of any road in the state. Nick Greiner recognised this when he placed the toll booths to pay for the extension of the motorway west of Church Street onto the existing motorway to the east. Bob Carr promised to refund the toll paid by private car owners from general funds and won the election in April 1995 by one seat. Now Baird will reintroduce the toll on this stretch of the motorway to fund the construction of a tunnel under Parramatta Road.

Placing the toll booths to the east of Church Street had unexpected consequences which I pointed out in a submission to the EIS of the M7 motorway: "No power in the known universe can prevent motorists from transferring to the M4, travelling to the Prospect Highway for free and reaching the M2 motorway in half the time". I discussed this in a previous post in February The power of pricing. The M7 retained its planned alignment but the second half of the motorway from Liverpool north of the western motorway was for free. The deliriously incompetent public servants put in control of TfNSW were oblivious to the compromises taken when waxing lyrically on the future of NSW roads but evidently there were former officers of RTA who had retained a memory of what is now referred to as toll capping because it is now described as successful - the M7 did not file for insolvency before being taken over by Transurban. Previously toll capping was used to solve a particular problem created by Greiner but now it is being used in a particularly nasty example of class warfare.

The Greiner stratagem returns with a vengeance

M4 extension beyond Concord Road
All the way to Wattle Street, Ashfield
Plans for the extension of the M4 eastward from just east of Concord Road to the start of the City-West link road at Wattle Street have long been on the drawing board. Attempts to press ahead have been vigorously resisted by residents along the link road. North Shore politicians have countered this by not disclosing any details, just dotted lines of the route with silly little arrows suggesting on and off ramps.

Unlike previous plans there is now an intention to replicate Parramatta Road with tunnels with three lanes in each direction leading to ramps back up to Parramatta Road somewhere to the west of Pyrmont Bridge Road in a Stage 3, in the same manner that William Street and Epping Road were replicated. The PPPs that built the previous schemes filed for insolvency and the backers lost everything. This time it will be an "availability PPP" where the NSW taxpayer is sure to be the loser.

As with the previous Greiner stratagem it is motorists using the existing roadways east of Church Street that will pay for the tunnels under Parramatta Road. These roads are currently free now that the contracts with the PPP that built  the missing link in the M4 have expired. Now motorists will be slugged $3.90 to drive to Homebush Bay Drive with a minimum cost of $1.50 for one small section. Driving further to the City-West link would cost a further $3.60 with a minimum cost for one leg of $2, a total cost of $7.50, except there will be a maximum cap of $7.35 for a journey. Motorists who decide to drive to the CBD (i.e. Pitt Street) rather than use public transport or who drive to the airport will pay less than nothing for the rest of their journey. These figures are for 2013 and are already being indexed for inflation.

So who pays for the insanely expensive tunnels of Stage 3?

It is of course the Tradies and the working poor of Western Sydney who have to use the local roads to get from job to job who will pay for the free ride of commuters to the CBD (i.e. Pitt Street).

The people of western Sydney won't just be paying for the tunnels with the tolls. Baird and Abbott will be tipping $1.8 billion and $1.5 billion of taxpayer's money (or rather deficit spending to be paid off by tax rises in the future) into the project. This is money that would otherwise fund schools, hospitals and aborted bombing missions over Iraq. The $1.8 billion announced by the state government is just a token amount for a project that has not been designed, costed, disclosed or subjected to any kind of feasibility study. The Baird government has promised that the NSW government will provide unlimited taxpayer's money to fund a project estimated to cost well in excess of $11 billion.

It gets worse

Screenshot of WestConnex the computer generated video
Electoral fraud
When Baird announced his plan to pay a Chinese communist corporation to bombard Town Hall station with 40,000 passengers an hour, forever, he also announced plans for a extension from Anzac bridge to the Stage 3 tunnels. The project had not been designed, costed, disclosed or subjected to any kind of feasibility study but was given a cost of $7 billion. As always the project is just a string of dots with two little arrows at the end.

Currently the City-West link road gives traffic from the west free access to the Anzac bridge and thence the Cross City Tunnel and the Western Distributor and the Harbour bridge. They need a tunnel from Parramatta Road like a hole in the bedrock.

Currently motorists from the North Shore travel for free from the Harbour tunnel to the south via the Eastern Distributor. The sole purpose of Baird's project is to give them the choice of travelling via the Harbour Bridge and the Anzac bridge. Motorists who choose this route will be clogging both these bridges which cannot be increased in capacity. They will be clogging two vital arteries to the CBD and the Eastern Suburbs forever.

Albert the Magic Pudding
No toll can be placed on this northern extension as the alternative routes are free. So Baird will fund it by selling taxpayer assets, the "poles and wires" of the electricity distribution network - the Magic Pudding of North Shore residents. So residents of the Northern Suburbs will be driving their multiple cars per household to their holiday homes on the south coast for free. The whole cost of building the tunnels of Stage 3 will fall on the tradies and working poor of western Sydney who have no alternative but to use the local roads to go from job to job. Unlike the Greiner project Baird has not set any date at which the tolls would be ended.

The North Shore filth looks after the North Shore residents at any cost.

The case against the WestConnex project is covered more extensively at

A message to the people of Western Sydney
from the self-proclaimed Minister for Western Sydney
Ask not for whom the road toll
The tolls for you.