Sunday, 25 October 2015

Necessity knows no law

For a post more than two years ago, How do you solve a problem like Elizabeth? 10 Sept 2013, I observed and photographed the congestion in Elizabeth Street during the morning peak. Transport for NSW had released figures confirming that bus routes in Elizabeth Street were the most congested in the CBD. I will re-blog one of the photos so you can compare it with the situation after 4 October 2015.
Elizabeth Street at Market Street, Sept 2013 
Elizabeth Street at Market Street, Oct 2015 6:53 pm
Elizabeth Street at Market Street, 15 Oct 2015 8:37 am
Glory be! Nothing has changed. Well actually a lot has changed - note the big gaps in the bus priority lane. Something is causing congestion in the priority bus lane further south.

I observed two years ago that the second lane from the kerb is the defacto bus lane as buses that set down passengers at a stop south of the Sheraton on the Park must merge right to get around vehicles queued in the kerbside lane to turn into Market Street. The bus drivers would move forward slowly and wait for a fellow bus driver to take pity on them and let them move in front. I predicted that painting red lines on the second lane would not change the situation one iota.

However TfNSW has made other changes that actually reduce the capacity of Elizabeth Street to carry buses.

The riffle shuttle that doomed a City

When Chris Lock told a Community Forum it Sydney High that Elizabeth Street would be the axis for north-south bus routes in the CBD alarm bells rang.

The Dec 2012 brochure distributed at the meeting listed: "Key features of redesigning the bus network in the City Centre
  • "Elizabeth Street will be the main north-south bus route, featuring dedicated bus lanes and stopping lanes..."
The narrowing of Elizabeth Street at the Old Supreme Court Building had been the main problem for transport in the CBD for two centuries and had occupied the greatest minds of the 19th and 20th Centuries. When a doddery old fart insists that 200 years of history are wrong and he is a genius who will redesign the bus network he is almost certainly delusional.

Elizabeth Street reborn
It would be another two years however before the plans for the redesign of bus routes would be open to scrutiny. They were so preposterous they bring into question the sanity of the public servants put in control of Transport for NSW.

The post on the plans, Double-crossing the red lane 4 December 2014, is the most scathing post that has appeared in this blog.

The most bizarre feature was the location of a "bus lane" in the central lane of the two north-bound lanes past the Old Supreme Court building. This would have required buses and general traffic to riffle shuffle at either end of the pinchpoint. It never happened - an anonymous little voice must have piped up: 'This is crazy".

Of far greater concern was the elimination of a set-down-only stop outside David Jones and the introduction of a stop further north of Park Street, at the southern side of the Sheraton on the Park.

Two years ago only a few bus services from around the very-inner suburbs used the stop Elizabeth Street after Park. With good reason; bus drivers knew that buses would be trapped behind vehicles and taxis queued to turn into Market Street. The high frequency services from Oxford Street, Flinders Street and the southern Sydney suburbs avoided this stop, using the set-down stop outside David Jones. These buses would pull out into the second lane after setting down and picking up passengers at the stop just south of the intersection with Bathurst Street and remain in the lane until the stop at David Jones, then proceed through the pinch-point. The second lane was a de facto bus lane in the morning peak. In the evening buses would also use the central lane if they had no passengers to set down at David Jones.

Car traps string of buses, 15 Oct 8:47 am
From 4 October 2015 just about every bus service in Sydney that is not forcibly terminated "outside the CBD" is being forced to use the stop Sheraton on the Park where they will be trapped behind vehicles queutng to turn left.

The photo above is but one example that I observed. There were three buses bumper to bumber that were unable to move until the car moved, supposedly into the left turn lane. I scanned a video but don't know how to post it. Meanwhile traffic was moving freely in the general-vehicle lane.

Priority Bus Lanes in the inner city

Bus lanes in the inner city were easy to understand. The lanes were generally the kerbside lane and they petered out before coming to a corner where left-hand turns were permitted. Signs beside the road specified the hours of the day when the lanes were in operation. In deference to local businesses and traders some portions of the lane were available for parking when the lanes were not in operation.

I queried the effectiveness of Bus Priority Lanes in my submission to the EIS for the Eastern Distributor so they have been around for three decades or more. The latest report from the Office of State Revenue for State Debt Recovery, August 2015, lists the statistics for the year 2013 - 2014. As you can see the revenue collected from bus lane monitors was between $zero and $zinch. This is in spite of the fines being currently $311.

It has been revealed recently that State Revenue does not pursue motorists who present an international drivers licence and fail to pay a fine. Despite this the revenue collected from fines last year was more than double the revenue collected during the final year of the previous state government.

So people with international drivers licences would have to be added to the list of those permitted to travel in Bus Lanes:

  • Taxis;
  • Hire cars (but not rental cars);
  • Motorcycles and bicycles;
  • Emergency vehicles.
"General traffic is also permitted to travel in bus lanes for up to 100 metres in order to:

  • Turn left or right into or out of a street;
  • Enter or leave a property adjacent to a bus lane;
  • Pass another vehicle that has stopped to turn right or to avoid an obstruction."

The animals went in two by two, hurrah! hurrah!

Elizabeth Street north of King Street
The bus lanes shown in the document Sydney City Centre Bus Infrastructure Submissions Report, October 2014, bear little relationship with what was unveiled just before 4 October 2015 so I have included photographs of the actual lane markings.

Elizabeth Street pinch point demarcate
Elizabeth St north of Market
Motorists would have difficulty in judging 100 metres so I have measured 100 metres in the Google Earth snap-shot above. It turns out that the mother-of-all pinch points is around 100 metres long. 100 metres from the intersection with King Street is the southern-most side of the loading bays for the David Jones store and is the stop line for south-bound traffic in Elizabeth Street.

This is the point at which general traffic is permitted to swerve into the bus lane so the vehicles can queue in both lanes at the King Street traffic lights. North-bound buses are obstructed further south by taxis turning two by two into Market Street and by congestion at the Sheraton on the Park bus stop so general traffic should have little difficulty in filling the two lanes.

Vehicles that do move into the bus lane must remember to make a bee-line to the No Stopping kerbside lane on the northern side of King Street to avoid being pinged by the Boys in Fluoro - they are beyond the ken of the bus lane cameras. Vehicles can continue along the kerb-side lane until they reach an obstruction, e.g. a bus stopped at the Martin Place bus stop, then, of necessity, they can swerve back into the bus lane, which peters out at Martin Place.

It is not just inner-city dole bludgers using the CBD as an adventure park that can travel in bus lanes, slowing buses to the speed of the most timorous of their ilk; people who work for a living and make a positive contribution to the economy can also take advantage of bus lanes.

There will be a further post on the Elizabeth Street bus lanes and bus-lane monitors.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Do unto others as you would do unto yourself

The George Street trams exacerbate congestion in York Street. Inflicting collateral damage on Eastern Suburbs bus services and directing buses at the physical barriers across Grosvenor Street at York Street makes things worse.

The damage inflicted on the rail services south of the Harbour by the overloading of the Wynyard/Central rail lines is much more serious. This is not something that will lessen significantly when the tram lines are operational; this will persist for the rest of the life of the City.
Congestion in bus routes, week one smh
But the damage that the North Shore rump politicians are inflicting on the residents of their own electorates pales to insignificance when compared to that being inflicted on residents of the Inner West and southern Sydney.

Broadway in 1910
George Street west was prone to flooding in the early days of the colony but it was widened in 1906 when Central Station was built at the start of the twentieth century when it was renamed The Broadway. It has provided the people and businesses of western and south-western Sydney untrammelled access to the Center of Sydney, the Eastern Suburbs and the Darling Harbour docks (The Hungry Mile) for more than a century.

The trams were replaced by buses in 1958 and since then buses have travelled from the stop at the start of the Devonshire Street tunnel to a stop at Rawson Place in a minute at all times of the day. Buses would then reach the stop outside the Queen Victoria Building in two more minutes.

What happened after this was of concern only to passengers of bus services that dumped passengers at Wynyard Park without the option of reaching Railway Square. Passengers of the Manly ferries were able to transfer to bus services to all parts of the inner west and all parts of the Eastern Suburbs and the southern suburbs. Circular Quay Station gives them access to the whole of the rail services south of the Harbour.

The birthright of untrammelled access to the center of the Sydney CBD for bus passengers from Parramatta Road and City Road was taken from them by North Shore politicians on 4 October 2015 without explanation. For the rest of the life of Sydney these bus routes will have the most congested entry to the CBD of all the routes into Sydney. The irony is that entry to the CBD for bus routes from the Harbour Bridge is also being degraded. There are no "winners" for any user of Public Transport in Sydney. When the trams are running everything gets worse.

Turning back the Broadway buses

The Hay Street crush
Every bus diverted from George Street must pass through the intersection of Pitt Street and Eddy Avenue. This is the sole gateway for buses from Broadway to cross the "Berlin Wall". Private vehicles can cross the tram rails here or at Bathurst Street.

The buses that cross the tram tracks physically turn around by making a right turn into Campbell Street then another into Castlereagh Street or they make a right turn into Hay Street and proceed to Elizabeth Street then pass through the mother-of-all pinch points in order to make a U-turn into Castlereagh Street at Hunter Street. Every bus from Parramatta Road and City Road must return by passing through the Campbell/Castlereagh Streets intersection and pass along Hay Street and Pitt Street. They are joined in Hay Street by rebadged 378 buses. Hay Street westbound is a two-lane street constrained by a tram line down the middle and with a right turn lane into Pitt Street.

Vehicles and buses turn into Hay Street
Buses as far as the eye can see at stop in Pitt Street
Week 2 at new "Railway Square" stop in Pitt Street
Vehicles turn two at a time from Castlereagh Street into Hay Street then merge into one lane to turn left into Pitt Street; buses join the queue. During the evening peak (5-6 pm) it was very slow going for buses in Pitt Street in week two, as the SMH had observed. The queue of buses stretched almost the whole length of Belmore Park. This was occuring while the Rawson Place arterial road was fully open to traffic and private vehicles had unfettered access to George Street. When Rawson Place and Chalmers Street are closed to traffic, congestion in these bus routes will get much worse.  When the trams are operating the congestion will worsen still more.

The bus services that are forcibly terminated in Pitt Street west of Belmore Park are shown in the on-line and published diagrams of a new CBD bus network as having the terminus "Belmore Park" but the buses have "Railway Square via Parramatta Road" in LED lights on the front and side panels. It is of course physically impossible for Parramatta Road buses to turn around at Railway Square - TfNSW is engaging in deceptive advertising. If I had the money I would report this to the ACCC.

There were far more serious discrepancies between the current actual operation of bus routes and the information on bus routes published in the booklets handed out to passengers in the street and in the online information. On Thursday evening 15 October a large number of the routes that were to be forcibly turned around at Hunter Street (mainly City Road services) were, in fact, not turning into Hay Street but proceeding north along Pitt Street to dog-leg instead along Goulburn Street to Elizabeth Street. The return journey was along Goulburn Street from Castlereagh Street to travel south along Pitt Street. This is the narrowest section of Pitt Street, so there are no stops, and the brilliantly-placed stop alongside the Goulburn Street car park is bypassed. It is a huge distance between the southern-most stop in Castlereagh Street and the "new Railway Square" stop in Pitt Street.

Constance has said that the people of NSW had a right to judge the government harshly if they did not get the bus system right. So what went wrong?

Making Hay Street grid-locked while the sun shone

Thursday was a perfect balmy evening but things were grim for Sydney's bus drivers.
Castlereagh/Hay Streets intersection 6:07 pm
There is no right-hand turn from Goulburn Street into Elizabeth Street. Drivers must turn into Pitt or Castlereagh Streets using the freshly-marked lanes and percolate along Campbell or Hay Street to travel south along the main southern arterials. It had been thus from the earliest days of the colony.

On the Wednesday evening there had been a police officer (you can see him in the photo above) stationed at the critical intersection. He did not appear to know what he was supposed to be doing. On Thursday evening there was another officer on the other side and there were huddles of Transport officers in yellow fluoro jackets at other intersections. They looked as bemused as the bus passengers in Pitt Street.

Buses were running up and down Pitt Street to dog-leg along Goulburn Street, making right-hand turns from Pitt Street even more difficult for bus drivers. At around 6:10 pm the queue of buses in Hay Street trying to reach Elizabeth Street started from Castlereagh Street and stretched around the corner into Pitt Street and back to Eddy Avenue. They would have been queued on the other side of Eddy Avenue also. The buses were hardly moving and were blocking south-bound traffic in Castlereagh Street and Pitt Street.
Boy-in-fluoro unable to do anything 
Queue of buses starts at Castlereagh Street, 6:09 pm
Queue of buses in Hay Street, 6:10 pm 
Queuing to go round the corner, 6:12 pm 
Some south-bound buses have moved, 6:12 pm 
Queue of buses stretches to Eddy Avenue, 6:13 pm
I recorded the queue of buses for prosperity, walking round the corner with my iPad, which records the time a shot is taken.

It takes just two buses waiting to turn into Elizabeth Street to block lanes in Castlereagh Street so bus drivers have to bide their time, giving private vehicles the jump on them.

Ve vill tell you where to go
Elizabeth Street was all but grid-locked at this time and this will be the subject of a subsequent post. Suffice it to say now that Elizabeth Street south-bound now has only one lane for general traffic between Park and Bathurst Streets forcing south-bound traffic into Castlereagh Street, where the only route to Elizabeth Street is via Campbell Street or Hay Street. That is, it will do when George Street is pedestrianised. The current chaos is occuring when private vehicles have unfettered access to George Street and Rawson Place and Chalmers Street are fully operational.

Congestion that is intractable

The ploy of using Goulburn Street to dog-leg Broadway bus services to Elizabeth Street and back from Castlereagh Street only works for services that pass through the mother-of-all pinch points and make a U-turn at Hunter Street. That is, if it works at all - the grid lock in Pitt and Hay Streets occured while the ploy was in operation. Services forcibly terminated at "Railway Square" must return through the Castlereagh/Hay Street intersection. So any attempt to reduce congestion in Elizabeth Street north-bound by terminating more services in Pitt Street west of Belmore Park, in order to, say, feed buses from the North Shore into Castlereagh Street, leads inexorably to further grid-lock in Pitt and Hay Streets. The congestion in bus routes caused by the George Street trams in Pitt Street at Eddy Avenue and in Elizabeth Street is intractable. Every sane person, including Greiner and Infrastructure NSW, who has examined the project has been saying this for four years.

Attention: Editor of Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald has not endorsed a project as enthusiastically or as mindlessly since it tried to con Australians into replacing a constitution that had worked for 100 years with a constitution that was so flawed it was unworkable. Fortunately the Australian people had the opportunity to vote in a referendum in 1999 and rejected it; nowhere more decisively than in NSW.

Now the SMH is describing Luke Foley as opportunistic for opposing a project that has never been properly disclosed, was not properly assessed and can be shown to be as unworkable as the constitution that Turnbull reportedly spent $2 million of his own tax-exempt money trying to promote.

The editorial went on to say: "The joke, of course, is that buses have barely been running on George Street for a long time: they've so often been at a standstill."

The sad reality is that delays in bus routes in George Street north of Hunter Street only affected the very small number of passengers who chose to reach Circular Quay from the inner west by bus. Congestion in the north-bound bus routes had no affect on south-bound services and any delays in south-bound bus movements north Wynyard only affected the arrival times further south; the frequencies remained the same.

With the introduction of the Oyster Card it was ridiculously easy to reduce congestion in bus routes by:
  1. Scheduling;
  2. Introducing alternative routes along Kent Street;
  3. Excluding private vehicles in George Street between Market and Hunter Street.
The final option was mooted by Infrastructure NSW when it was in its sane phase.

Now the Sydney Morning Herald is lauding a project that ensures that no Broadway bus service will ever maintain a timetable and creates intractable congestion in the Broadway bus services diverted inexorably into the Pitt Street / Eddy Avenue intersection.

The challenge for the editorial staff at SMH is to come up with anyone in the whole of Sydney who would be better off because of the project.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Relieving congestion in the City Circle and Northern rail lines

The tram network north of the Harbour started with cable grip cars from the ferry terminal at Milsons Point but eventually extended through Mosman to the Spit bridge. A line from the northern side went to Manly and Collaroy. Tram lines dropped down to other ferry terminals on the North Shore. The building of the Harbour Bridge and the adaption of the train tracks on the eastern side to carry trams allowed the trams to access platforms 1 and 2 at Wynyard. When the trams were closed down congestion in York Street became the enduring legacy for North Shore commuters to the CBD.

There were further problems however; congestion in the City Circle and Harbour Bridge rail lines between Wynyard and Central stations. The Wynyard station platforms are directly under York Street so when some Northern bus services were extended to Railway Square Wynyard remained the most convenient station for those commuters needing to transfer to rail services south of the Harbour. Passengers getting off at the set-down bus stop in Lee Street have to transverse the Devonshire Street tunnel to transfer to a train.

Lee Street set-down stop
The problem to be solved by the Oyster (aka Opal) Card for Harbour Bridge bus services is that the buses inexorably pass over the rail stations at Wynyard and Town Hall in order to reach the terminus at Lee Street. Of all the places where bus passengers can transfer to rail: North Sydney is the most debilitating (it over-loads the Harbour Bridge line), Town Hall next then Wynyard.

The number of buses in George Street in not a problem - this can be solved by scheduling. The problem is the small number of passengers on the buses as they approach their terminuses. The only way to reduce congestion in bus routes is to use buses more efficiently.

I explained how the Oyster Card can reduce congestion in bus services from the Harbour Bridge in my submission to the EIS. "Once again there are three, at least, destinations: Wynyard, Druitt Street and Railway Square. You know the rest. The return journey from Railway Square can avoid the bottleneck in George Street between Liverpool Street and Bathurst Street and a right-hand turn in Druitt Street by accessing Kent Street from Liverpool Street".

I apparently left to much for them to work out. Passengers still on a Railway Square bus after a point, say the last stop in Military Road, pay for two extra sections regardless of where they get off.

"People making a casual trip to the city may be prepared to pay the price to stay on their bus, but with regular commuters the cost would mount up. Statistically you are ahead. The Oyster (aka Opal) Card can also impose penalties".

This mechanism alone cannot reduce congestion on the City Circle and Harbour Bridge rail lines. Passengers need to be encouraged to stay on the bus until the Lee Street terminus. At Central there are more platforms for the City Circle line services and additional peak services along relief rail tracks can be provided at platforms at Central terminus.

Here is where financial incentives that can be offered by the Oyster Card come in. The Oyster system knows where you tap on and tap off. It can offer cheaper transfers from the Harbour Bridge bus services to the rail services south of the Harbour at Central Station. Problem solved. George Street must remain the main axis for bus services as it has been from the foundations of the colony.

Jonathan Burrows
The awesome London rail system uses the Oyster Card to provide incentives to encourage proper behavour on the rail lines. Commuters who tap readers at platforms where internal transfers take place are offered a reduction in their fare. This is possibly to close down a loop hole in the system that Jonathan Burrows exploited so spectacularly (Australian innovation: Nobody Pays 9 June 2015).

My Oyster Card was inspected by a uniformed Inspector when I was travelling on the Docklands Light Rail. He tapped the card on the bottom of a reader and looked at the verdict on the front. His reader must have had a list of all the cards that had tapped on and not tapped off yet by wi fi.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A fraudulent bus-route plan nested within a fraudulent EIS

The Sydney Harbour Tunnel added four traffic lanes to the Harbour crossings but the train rails across the Harbour Bridge, one each way, have remained the same. The original Bradfield plans were for the Bridge to be symmetrical with train rails on each side but the eastern lines were adapted to carry trams that terminated in a tunnel to Wynyard station. When the trams were scrapped the lanes were converted to general traffic. There are no lack of lanes for buses to cross the Harbour Bridge; the problem is just getting them into the CBD. This prompted Greiner's Infrastructure NSW to propose a bus tunnel.
Grosvenor Street at York Street

York Street barrier PM mode
The December 2012 brochure heaped scorn on Infrastructure NSW's proposal but it is only after Ms Berejiklian signed a contract in the dead of night and construction has commenced that the alternative has been revealed; it is so preposterous as to be beyond belief.

The only method proposed by TfNSW for reducing the congestion in York Streer that had Chris Lock quivering with indignation at the self-proclaimed Businessmen's Breakfast in Randwick, apart from looping buses to a stop in Bathurst Street, is to loop buses clockwise across the Cahill Expressway, dump passengers in the middle of Bridge Street and return the buses immediately to the Harbour Bridge via Grosvenor Street.

This is far from helpful as the buses must cross the incoming lanes into York Street; a movement so damaging to the ingress of buses into York Street in the AM peak that it has been blocked by movable barriers for ├Žons. One shudders to think what is going on at this intersection post 4 October 2015.

Let us prey

The Brown Peril
It isn't just the bus services along Miller Street that TfNSW are directing at the physical barriers at the intersection of York and Grosvenor Streets. The long term goal of TfNSW is to funnel buses from the North Shore into Castlereagh Street. This has been revealed in figures in the EIS and subsequent brochures as discussed in the post Spot the Difference 2 Feb 2014.

The only route back to the North Shore is through the mother-of-all pinch points in Elizabeth Street north-bound then bound for the Grosvenor/York Streets intersection. The only service TfNSW has been game to direct south from the Harbour Bridge for the present is an extension to Chatswood of the doomed 343 service along Gardeners Road to the Nine-ways intersection. This travels along Elizabeth Street southbound.

The routes from the North Shore to Castlereagh Street have been completely concealed. Baird is unwilling to reveal the ferocity of the planned assault of the North Shore politicians on the residents of Malcolm Turnbull's electorate.

It should be pointed out that Eastern Suburbs residents are just collateral damage as far as North Shore politicians are concerned. Elizabeth Street has provided access to the CBD for these suburbs from the foundation of the colony.

North Shore politicians have regarded the people living outside the North Shore as prey; only fit to provide funding for infrastructure projects that benefit only the North Shore. The bucket-list of projects for the North Shore keeps growing: the NorthShoreconnex road tunnels; the Chatswood to Sydenham rail tunnel; the Northern Beaches busway, requiring the duplicating of the Spit Bridge, and a helicopter pad at that Man O'War Steps so Bronwyn Bishop can travel to the opera in the style to which she is entitled.

Australia is a poor country. We cannot afford the escalating demands of the North Shore politicians.

Constance is appealing for patience while teething problems are worked out but Baird is yet to reveal his fangs. The people of Sydney will have to face these teething problems for the rest of the life of the City.

Chris Lock told the Randwick Breakfast: "Don't see this as simply a silver bullet". Unfortunately only a silver bullet (or a bus) can stop a North Shore politician.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

"Such a little thing"

Chris (Grid) Lock expounds
Chris Lock occupies a unique place in the annals of the Australian public services: he is the first senior public servant to be stood down for incompetence. In true "Utopia" style his post Deputy Director General Projects Division Transport for NSW was obliterated. He had been in the public service for 10 years so he will be on a massive taxpayer-funded pension.

Everything at TfNSW was deferred to the Acting Secretary Tim Reardon whose post has since been made the permanent.

Chris Lock told a self-proclaimed businessmen's Breakfast in Randwick in April 2013: "There's a queue of buses coming over the Harbour Bridge all trying to get into York Street around Wynyard and they back up and the queue sometimes starts on the northern side. So what have we done? A little thing.

"We have moved 60 of those buses in the morning: instead of coming into Wynyard they go over the Cahill Expressway and they come into the City from the  Macquarie Street end. It is such a little thing."

He was reiterating a claim made in the December 2012 brochure. In fact it never took place. The bus stop on the southern side of Bridge Street where Miller Street bus services will dump their passengers remained derelict until 4 October 2015. The staff at the TfNSW information booths did not have a clue as to what Chris Lock was talking about. A decision had been made to not show their hand until the last possible time. Chris Lock was complicit in this decision and became a total recluse - he had too much to hide.

A devastating thing

TfNSW were not disclosing things with much more devastating consequences. A post The Hills hoist with their own petard 26 November 2014 discussed this issue.

For 83 years the George Street buses have protected the Bradfield rail lines under the CBD from overloading. The most overloaded station in the City Circle has long been Town Hall Station which has consequences for the entire rail system south of the Harbour. The City Circle is in fact an horseshoe with Illawarra/Airport line services transmogrifying into western line services as they pass around. Passengers that get on to travel one or two stops deny places for the commuters that rely on the rail network to access the CBD. This affects the efficacy of train services throughout the entire rail system.

When TfNSW terminated Northern Beaches bus services at Wynyard in November 2014 and then terminated Hills buses at Bathurst Street or Druitt Street at the end of January 2015 the effects on the rail system were muted. Commuters could transfer to Parramatta Road and City Road bus services in George Street.
Kent Street at Town Hall
Bathurst St bus stop

Buses from the Harbour Bridge that dump their passengers at the bus stop in the lower part of Bathurst Street west of Sussex Street (yellow line) and the Miller Street buses that dump their passengers in the middle of Bridge Street (brown line) are the only buses that will ever be removed from York Street and Clarence Street. Commuters dumped in Bathurst Street have nowhere to go but up the hill to the entry plaza of Town Hall Station where they will flood onto the overcrowded escalators of the station to go one stop to Central in order to access the Parramatta Road and City Road bus services that have been removed from George Street.

Turning back the Hillsbillies

Kent St north of Druitt stop
Buses that dump their passengers in Bathurst Street pass over "Napoleon Plaza" at a great height on the Western Distributor. They are then forced to turn immediately into Kent Street and make their way back to whence they came, Napoleon Plaza, before exiting back onto the Bradfield Highway. This is just plain loopy.

Whether the Hills buses are terminated at Bathurst Street or Druitt Street the buses will never be able to maintain a schedule after 4 October 2015. The first bus stop after Bathurst Street is some distance north of Druitt Street. None of the bus stops in Kent Street have timetables, just numbers to call-stations or web sites to call on your mobile phone; a wise decision.

When a bus enters the chain of freeways, road tunnels and toll roads starting from the Bradfield Highway there is no getting off until the stop at Bathurst Street. The entry point for express services could be the M2 motorway. Hillsbus passengers will have to make their decision to jump buses early in the journey.

Western Distributor over Westpac Plaza/Napoleon Plaza
The Opal card is allowing free transfers between bus services within an hour of taping off a service but you need to make your move at the earliest possible stop. If you delay transferring, the bus services to your prized destination will be packed to the rafters and skipping stops.

Bathurst Street is the last place anyone would want to be dumped. Even if you are heading for a destination south of Park Street, the terminus in York Street at the Queen Victoria Building is closer to Town Hall Station than the stop in Bathurst Street, and you have a much better chance of getting on a City Circle train by transfering at Wynyard Station.

Doing a U-turn into Clarence Street
The congestion from buses doing a U-turn from York into Clarence Street is paralytic as predicted but this is of no concern when you have gotten off the bus; just remenber to board the bus in Clarence Street for the return journey. This congestion is occuring before the penny drops for commuters on how to survive in a city that has entered a death spiral. This congestion will be getting progressively worse for the future life of the city.

Update on Napoleon Street pedestrian bridge

Taxpayer-funded Sussex Street overpass
Westpac Plaza under the Westpac building in Kent Street, the exit for the original Kent Street pedestrian tunnel, has been connected to the Lendlease Napoleon Street overpass. The taxpayer-funded overpass across Sussex Street appears to be complete but has not been opened to the public. The Kent Street pedestrian tunnel is just a deep excavation.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Oyster Card and Victoria Road

As was discussed in the post on 25 February 2014 The world is your Oyster Card Sydney was on the brink of becoming a future-proof world city when the previous state government selected the Pearl Consortium as the preferred tenderer for a smart card public transport ticketing. The Oyster card allowed commuters to change destinations freely at shared bus stops regardless of what destination was on the front of the bus that passed through their pick-up stop. Unlike the Broadway bus services there would be no need to introduce a financial incentive to change destinations for the Victoria Road bus services.

The Oyster Card was not the only thing gifted to the incoming government. When the Rozelle to CBD Metro was abandoned because of the escalating cost Premier Keneally announced a transport plan for Sydney which included relief rail tracks for the western line and a tramway to Barangaroo from tracks past Paddies Market. Barangaroo would also be connected to Wynyard station via the tunnel under Kent Street. Wynyard station was physically located under York Street with the main exits to the bus stops at Wynyard park but there were exits to the west to Clarence Street and under Kent Street.

In December 2010 cabinet agreed to spend $286 million on the pedestrian link from Wynyard station to Barangaroo via an overpass over Sussex Street. Lend Lease was not required to provide funding although its office towers would be the main beneficiaries of the project.

Lend Lease subsequently agreed to build a further overpass at Napoleon Street and the O'Farrell government decided to build a wider tunnel under Kent Street. Lend Lease has completed construction of the overpass and its office towers appear to be ready for letting but, five years on, the Clarence Street portal to Wynyard station is a construction site and the Kent Street pedestrian tunnel is a "deep excavation".

Napoleon Street bridge open to the public
Clarence Street portal 

The fourth destination

The relevence of the Kent Street pedestrian tunnel to resolving congestion in bus routes in the CBD is that it opens up a fourth destination for bus services from Parramatta Road, City Road and Victoria Road. Currently (before 4 October 2015), all these bus services have used George Street north-bound to reach Circular Quay where they can physically turn round.

Deep excavation, western side of Kent St.
The Kent Street pedestrian tunnel delivers large volumes of passengers to potential bus stops on the western side of Kent Street at "Napoleon Place". Buses from Victoria Road would enter the CBD from the Western Distributor at the Bathurst Street off-ramp and travel along Kent Street before turning down Napoleon Road to turn into Sussex Street/Hickson Road ending at a terminus at Walsh Bay. The outbound route would be back along Hickson Road/Sussex Street to the on-ramp at Market Street; a fast and efficient route.
Argyle Park bus terminus
Buses from Parramatta Road and City Road would access the Kent Street bus stops from Liverpool Street, avoiding the recently created (against my fervent objections) pinch point at the George Street cinemas and the congested turns from Druitt Street. They would continue along Kent Street to the existing bus layover at Argyle Park.

The out-bound journey would be to George Street via the convict-dug Argyle Cut then south along George Street or Castlereagh Street. Bus services from City Road would mainly use Castlereagh Street, sharing bus stops with the buses that remained on George Street northbound.

When Pitt Street was closed by the Pitt Street Mall George Street north-bound was made to carry buses from City Road and Victoria Road as well as the traditional bus services from Parramatta Road. This predictably enough has led to congestion in bus lanes in George Street north of Market Street.

The only way to releave this congestion is to divert some of the buses to alternative routes. George Street has been the main axis for bus routes to the west of the CBD from the foundation of the colony and must remain so.

The brochure Sydney's light rail future blithely opined that "Elizabeth Street will be the main north-south bus route" and this was chanted by Chris Lock at public meetings before he became a total recluse. In fact the pinch point at the Old Supreme Court Building has benn recognised as the major congestion problem for CBD transport for more than 200 years and the greatest minds of the 19th and 20th centuries have sought to minimise the congestion. The assertion that traffic flow can be increased by painting red lines between traffic lanes and that buses from all the routes that use George Street, as well as routes from the Harbour Bridge, can be diverted into Elizabeth Street northbound is so preposterous it brings into question the sanity of the public servants involved.