Thursday, 5 November 2015

Lights, cameras, no action

Bus lane monitors in Elizabeth Street
Investigative journalism has ceased to exist in NSW. Most people will have never seen bus-lane cameras. Fortunately blogs and social media are now available to keep people informed. This post not only shows what the cameras look like, it details where they are located in Elizabeth Street (above).

I'm scared
I'm scared
The cameras for bus-lane monitoring have to be more than 100 metres apart and must come in pairs.

Bus-lane cameras 1
Bus-lane cameras 2
There are two sets of cameras with each monitor. There is a wide-focus camera on its own Smart Pole and, in Elizabeth Street, two cameras focused on the bus lane, mounted on a street light pole or their own pole. The digital cameras focused on the bus lane record the number plates of vehicles. The cameras record the rear plates.

The cameras may work a treat on long stretches of highway but they are clearly all but useless in Elizabeth Street, as we shall see.

Elizabeth Street south of Park Street
Once again there is little correlation between the plans published and assessed in October 2014 and what eventuated just before 4 October 2015, so we have had to take photographs. The northern-most monitor is about level with the northern side of 201 Elizabeth Street, the Askin-era building that overshadows the War Memorial. It does not appear to be able to read number plates of vehicles in the bus lane south of Park Street and is focused on the other side of Park Street.

Google Earth View from Maps no longer allows labels to be turned off. The distance measurer is superior to the App.
x marks the spot of the bus lane cameras.

The length of the bus lane between Bathurst and Park Streets is little more than 100 metres so the same rules of engagement apply as is the case at King Street. General vehicles are permitted to enter the bus lane after the Bathurst Street intersection and can queue in the three lanes at the Park Street intersection lights. Vehicles can turn in pairs into Park Street which does not have a designated left turn lane. Vehicles heading north past Park Street must make a bee-line from the second lane to the NO STOPPING kerbside lane at the Park Street intersection.

Before the lunatics put in control of TfNSW showed their hand on 4 October 2015 sanity prevailed for bus services using Elizabeth Street. Buses queued in the inner of the two right-turn lanes to turn from Liverpool Street into Elizabeth Street then made their way into the kerbside lane to arrive at the bus stop that butted onto the Bathurst Street intersection. When passengers had been discharged and had boarded the buses the drivers pulled out into the second lane. General traffic is required by law to make a space for a bus to pull out from a bus stop and motorists throughout the state are aware of this - it is one of the rules studied for a drivers licence. A bus driver was never stuck at the stop as he could move forward to the intersection. Buses could have been given first access to the intersection with a B green light but this was evidently considered unnecessary.

Motorists headed north past Park Street avoided the second lane which was a de facto bus lane with buses headed straight to the set-down only stop outside the David Jones store. Buses that left the stop at the intersection had to riffle-shuffle with vehicles needing to turn left into Park Street but this worked smoothly as there is a fourth lane between Bathurst and Park Streets and the kerbside lane was a perpetual NO STOPPING lane.

The George Street trams will dramatically increase the number of vehicles that have no option but to make left-hand turns from Elizabeth Street into Liverpool, Park and Market Streets, as has been pointed out in posts over the last three years, and will be discussed in a future post. Bus drivers will, of necessity, have to cope with riffle-shuffling through these vehicles from the kerb-side NO STOPPING lane (yellow lines) as well as the centre lane (blue line).

The capacity of Elizabeth Street northbound to handle buses has been drastically diminished while the number of bus services it is expected to handle has gone through the roof.

If you want to know how to facilitate the movement of buses in a city ask a bus driver. Do not rely the advice of public servants with a degree in Traffic Management from a Roundhouse/Squarehouse university.

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