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.

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