The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a previously unreleased feasibility study into light rail through Sydney’s CBD appears to have recommended that bus routes be re-organised around a future light rail line down George Street connecting Central Station to Circular Quay. Rather than coming into and through the city before terminating, buses would instead come into the city and then join up with another bus line heading out of the city. This would eliminate much of the congestion caused by large numbers of buses within the city itself, many of them half or mostly empty. Instead, commuters would have to change onto a tram for travel within the city, resulting in an overall shorter trip.
Under the proposal, it appears that buses currently entering the city via Broadway and then continue down George Street towards Circular Quay would instead link up with buses to the Eastern Suburbs that currently terminate at Railway Square next to Central. Similarly, buses that come into the city from the Eastern Suburbs via Oxford and William Streets would cross the city and link up with buses that come into from the Inner West via Druitt Street, eliminating the need for these buses to use George Street (as well as some parallel streets).
This would be a much welcomed change with many benefits. CDB street space is a highly valued commodity, and wasting it with half empty buses is not the most efficient way of using it. It also improves mobility between inner city suburbs, which generally require commuters to go to the city and change to another vehicle. Changing vehicles is fine within the CBD because services are frequent enough for wait times to be minimal, but can cause long delays when changing to a less frequent suburban service.
This is all well and good, but it’s important to note that this study is not the same as the current government’s feasibility study into light rail, on which it will base its decisions on a future light rail network. In fact, the government has been very tight lipped about any details, preferring to wait until the feasibility study is complete. With this study expected to be released very shortly (potentially within a matter of days or weeks), it will be interesting to see if the recommendations of this previous study have been incorporated into it or not.