Sydney transport - oh what a fine mess!
By Eco Guy
3:11am 22nd February 2010
Yet more politically motivated tweaking of the Sydney transport system..
It appears that the new NSW Premier Kristina Keneally is equally as adapt as the previous Premier in using the public purse strings to help secure seats, see the report in The Australian.
Too little, too late
Although the sums of money involved seem truly enormous what is really shocking is that an elected government seems fit to 'project out' a good 15 years ahead on the investments. Plus for nearly every year in the past TEN years we have had a new plan and blueprint on how to solve Sydney's transport problem.
It seems to me the problem is not actually Sydney's failing infrastructure its a failure in the electorate to put in power a government that will actually end up doing something other than spending hundreds of millions of dollars on reports and glossy PR campaigns.
What would we do?
Well, for starters look at investments that create more than one 'commerce hub' in Sydney. Trying to funnel every bit of transport infrastructure through or via the CBD is just nuts. We need places like Parramatta or Castle Hill/Bella Vesta to be 'wired into' the CityRail network more effectively. If we actually had a Parramatta to Epping link and then links from Epping to Castle Hill/Bella Vesta - that would do it.
The real trick here is to 'ween' people off needing to work in the Sydney CBD; at the moment quite a lot of people are suffering 1 hour plus commutes each way to get to and from work, often on over crowded trains and buses. Putting more transport into a single hub point is just going to make matters worse as more development will occur there to soak up the additional capacity (as that's where the most profit will be made for property developers) - Do we want the Sydney CBD to become even more like New York than it is now?
We need to recognize that equal value 'hubs' need to be created - I would say these should be Parramatta, Castle Hill and Sydney CBD. The goal being that it should be possible to move between any two of these in less than 30 minutes. Parramatta to Sydney CBD by car is 36 minutes by car. Castle Hill to Sydney CBD is 32 minutes according to Google Maps - so add at least 20 minutes onto those times to get something representative of what the rail service needs to clearly beat and being 30 minutes or less looks fair - getting use an average speed of at least 60km/h to do this.
We need to learn from other countries
For instance, in the UK, they often have a line consisting of 3 separate tracks, the idea being the two outer tracks service the 'all stops' type of services; where as the central track is reserved for one way 'peak' hub-to-hub type services. So for instance on the North Shore line this would just stop at North Sydney, Chatswood and Hornsby. Now this may seem hard to do, but a lot of the existing dual track has space for an additional track, or requires relatively 'cheap' widening work compared to tunneling and building up whole new tracks. This would then create a lot of additional capacity in the system and make it possible to keep adding capacity to the one way service without holding anything else up.
Also light rail is not something that should just be reserved for the CBD, rather bring in at the hubs as well, so Parramatta and Castle Hill get their own light rail systems too.
Public transport only really gets used when the following conditions are met:
- It is more convenient and time efficient than using a car - if you can get there by car in less time in more comfort, why use public transport?
- It needs to be considered more reliable than a car.
- It needs to be more cost effective to the consumer than a car.
Then and only then will you get people moving more and more onto the public transport away from the car.
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