Sunday, 13 September 2015

Victor is not Victoria

Rozelle Metro station
The CBD Metro was designed to give residents along Victoria Road a rail line to the CBD. There was no rail line to this area of the city. Originally it was conceived to link up with the Northern Line and take pressure of Stratsfield Station and the Western Line. It was then redirected to link directly to Epping station. The project was abandoned when the cost of the first stage escalated out of control but not before the state government had spent almost half a billion dollars on property acquisitions.

When North Shore rump politicians came to power the CBD metro project was revived and the disgraced public servant Rod Staples was brought back from the dead and put back in charge. Ms Berejiklian redirected the line away from Victoria Road to, you guessed it, Chatswood in her electorate. The tunnels would have to pass under the deepest part of Sydney Harbour. Instead of taking a rail line to a part of the city that had never had a rail service, the metro line would replicate almost exactly the existing Chatswood to Central rail line, with subway stations so deep beneath North Sydney and Wynyard Station that there was lift-only access to the surface, a subway station under Pitt Street, directly adjacent to Town Hall station and a subway station deep under the western end of the Central Country Terminal.

Needless to say, no attempt has been made to cost the project. Baird claims he can fund the project by appealing against an independent assessment of power pricing and selling urban electricity distribution assets.

But where does this leave the commuters using Victoria Road to access jobs in the CBD? Baird's ultimate insult to them is to call his proposed station under North Sydney "Victoria Cross". The residents along Victoria Road have been double-crossed.

One-Stop loop

Schematic from Dec 2012 brochure
The original plans announced in Sydney's Light Rail Future showed buses from the Harbour Bridge being given exclusive access to the Druitt Street U-turn. North Shore buses would stop in York Street at Wynyard park and outside the Queen Victoria Building. Passengers wanting to tranfer to a South Eastern Suburbs tram would not have as far to walk to a stop in George Street at Town Hall.

Bus services from Victoria Road would just pass through to William Street. I mentioned in previous posts that this was not credible (Just passing through 11 September 2013).

Currently, bus routes from Victoria Road travel along George Street to Circular Quay ot to the west, after entering the CBD via the exclusive bus lane to Druitt Street from the Western Distributor. The 501 route makes a bee-line to Railway Square along Harris Street and travels north along George Street to a set-down only stop in front of the Town Hall, physically turning round with an east-bound lane in Market Street between Clarence and York Street. This lane is also used by buses that enter from the Western Distributor at King Street, terminating with a stop outside the Queen Victoria Building.
Market Street bus lane eastbound against the flow.
The Metro buses have supplimented the routes to destinations south of Park Street, travelling south along Elizabeth Street. Between these four routes commuters have had it made, despite not having a rail option.

The very expensive alterations to the kerbs in Market Street being undertaken by the Baird government do not in any way change the two-way operation of Market Street west of York Street - there is nothing to show for the expense.

The north-bound routes along George Street will be obliterated from 4 October but the routes (yellow line) entering the CBD at King Street continue as at present, looping to a stop outside the QVB:

Victoria Road bus routes through the CBD
The fate of commuters that use bus services along Victoria Road that currently travel along George Street to physically turn around at Circular Quay is largely determined by how they voted at the state election and whether the bus route passes a Rail Station. Bus routes (red line) from Parramatta that allow passengers to transfer to a train at West Ryde Station and bus routes from Macquarie University continue to Circular Quay, passing through the mother-of-all pinch points at the Old Supreme Court Building and turning around at the hopelessly-overcrowded Phillip/Young Streets loop - the most congested bus route in New South Wales. Any attempt to force them to use a privately-operated tram service that stops only at train stations would just propel them onto the train system.

Priority access lane to Hyde Park bus stops
The return route to Vicoria Road currently requires a right-hand turn into Druitt Street from George Street but Elizabeth Street carries much heavier north-bound traffic so buses will be diverted east to College Street to make the turn into Park Street, along with buses terminated at the Domain car park forecourt. Buses will have to join the queue of private vehicles from King Street headed to the Eastern Suburbs - no going to the head of the queue after passing through the pinch point.

The bus routes that make it from West Ryde to Circular Quay in competition with the railway are relatively well off, inflicting collateral damage on Eastern Suburbs bus transport. Baird's wrath falls mainly on the inner suburbs.


The Bathurst 500s

Kent Street at Town Hall
Baird defines the "core" CBD as being to the east of Kent Street so buses forcibly terminated on the western side of Kent Street are "removed from the CBD". The green route is for bus services forcibly terminated "outside the CBD". Whenever TfNSW sees a triangle of roads they assert this can be a bus terminus. The green route is deliberately deceptive - TfNSW cannot help itself even at the death knock. Victoria Road bus services are to be terminated by entering the real CBD at Bathurst Street and looping to a bus stop in Kent Street adjacent to the Town Hall office block then exiting via Druitt Street, or is that Market Street? At the going down of the sun, buses will loop round the building in Elizabeth Street, approved when the Manly boys were last in power, that casts shadows over the War Memorial.

Kent Street has been reduced to one lane with one lane for parking and left-hand turns by Sydney City Council, so inner-city dole bludgers can hold naked bike runs through the CBD. The pedestrian crossing to the arcades leading to the concourse under George Street has been obliterated. The one lane in Kent Street must not only handle traffic to the cavenous car parks under the Town Hall office block it will also be the preferred route to the western side of the "Berlin Wall" and Harbour Bridge for vehicular traffic from Broadway. TfNSW has opined that vehicles from City Road would turn into Wattle Street and access the CBD west of George Street by linking onto the Western Distributor at the congested Fig Street entry, but why would drivers do this when they have a path along George Street uninterrupted by bus movements and cross traffic at Rawson Place and Ultimo Road.

Hills districts buses, that currently use the Lee Street layover, will be also be forcibly terminated by looping from the from the Western Distributor south-bound into Bathurst Street and Kent Street, when they are not are turned around at a U-turn from York to Clarence Streets across Druitt Street. It is not surprising that the systemically deceptive public servants placed in control of TfNSW should seek to conceal the plans for these routes until the last moment before 4 October.

TfNSW believe that commuters dumped in Kent Street will be forced onto cattle cars to make connections with bus services terminated at Wynyard park and Pitt Street but this is extremely unlikely when they are dumped directly adjacent to the entry to Town Hall Station. Until the trams are running, transferring to a City Circle train will be their only option for reaching destinations to the north or south of Park Street or transferring to bus services terminated at Wynyard park or Pitt Street, other than to trapse across town to hopelessly congested Elizabeth Street bus services. If the rail system south of the Harbour has not collapsed by the time the George Street trams start operating they are unlikely to alter their habits. Bus services in George Street, however slow, have prevented overloading of the Wynyard/Central rail link from the earliest days of the rail system.

The redundant tram stop

Town Hall/Queen Victoria Building stop
The tram stop outside the Queen Victoria Building is now barely a tram's length away from the Town Hall stop. I discussed this in a post on 28 January 2015, We are not amused. Now TfNSW has confirmed that the stop is redundant. The only buses not from the Harbour Bridge to stop in York Street outside the QVB will be the buses from Balmain:
Balmain bus routes
These are infrequent services. Understandably, since the route requires a right-hand turn across Market Street. The only passengers who would conceivably catch a tram north would come from these buses. The trams only take passengers back to Wynyard park.

Passengers dumped in York Street outside the QVB would walk from York Street to the Town Hall tram stop to reach destinations south of Park Street or to transfer to bus services forcibly terminated in Pitt Street.

So the George Street trams will have a redundant tram stop at QVB and no stop anywhere near Martin Place. This ludicrous flaw has been self evident from the earliest manifestations of the project.

The incompetence of the public servants placed in control of TfNSW is beyond belief.

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