This week in transport (25 May 2014)

Posted: May 25, 2014 in Transport
Tags: , ,

Monday: Lifts will make Arncliffe Station accessible

Four new lifts will be installed at Arncliffe Station, making it fully accessible, with construction to begin in 2015. The upgrade of the station will also include disabled parking, extra bike racks, and new bus and taxi, as well as kiss and ride shelters. It has been seen as a win for advocacy group the Sydney Alliance, which has been campaigning to make Arncliffe an accessible station.

Tuesday: 1,200 parking spaces to be added at almost 100 stations

Around 1,200 staff parking spaces will be re-allocated as commuter parking spaces at almost 100 stations over the next 12-18 months. The four stations which will receive the largest number of new parking spaces are Campbelltown (179), Blacktown (138), Penrith (138), and Liverpool (108). The Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian explained that “we are listening to customers and we know this is one of the biggest issues they have every day – finding a car space close to their station is important so we can get more cars off the road and have more people using public transport”.

However, the move has been opposed by the union representing rail workers, who argue that this could affect on time running of the rail network. NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union State Secretary Alex Claassens said “we can’t have critical transport workers spending a half hour driving around looking for a car park when they need to be driving the next train”.

Thursday: 250,000 Opal cards now registered 

The 250,000th Opal card has been registered, with 2.2 million free trips taken as part of the 8 paid journey then the rest that week are free feature of Opal.

An adult Opal smartcard. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

An adult Opal smartcard. Click to enlarge.
(Source: Transport for NSW)

Opal cards can currently be used on all trains and ferries, with buses being progressively rolled out over 2014. Buses on which Opal can currently be used are those operating out of the Mt Kuring-gai and Waverly bus depots. However, depending on which route a particular bus is assigned to, Opal enabled buses are not always exclusively found on the routes that have been officially announced. Opal cards have been successfully used on non-officially Opal routes, though it is unclear whether it is considered a valid form of fare payment.

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Comments
  1. Alexsg says:

    In relation to the item about re-allocating rail staff parking spots as general commuter parking, the net gains are likely to be relatively modest if these spaces currently are mostly full.

    The rail staff will now have to compete with commuters for the public car parking spaces. I imagine those staff working a morning shift are likely to be parked in these spots well before commuters start arriving to travel to work.

  2. Mark Newton says:

    Perhaps not, if the experience at Cronulla is anything to go by. Long before this program started there was a concerted campaign mounted by a local shit-stirrer to allow commuters access to the staff car park there. The campaign was successful, the gates were moved, and the bulk of the car spots were given over to “commuter” parking. Great idea.

    All that happened was – as predicted by Cronulla staff – that the new spots became overflow parking for the block of flats across the road. Go there now and see all the box trailers, unregistered cars and work utes/trucks taking up spaces in the “commuter” car park. Like so many initiatives from this government and their vassals in TfNSW, no-one has considered the likely consequences of their bright ideas.

  3. Alexsg says:

    @Mark. Good point about the non-commuting use of train car parks.

    This makes me wonder why there isn’t something in place to restrict these car parks to commuters. I’m just thinking out loud, but one thing that’s just occurred to me is that the roll-out of Opal could open up a range of possibilities.

    For example, gates could be set up at the entry of the larger car parks, with Opal readers attached. A valid Opal card would be required for entry, which would be free provided the same card was use to swipe entry to a station (or on a bus, etc) within say an hour. If it wasn’t used for a public transport trip, then a parking charge would be deducted from the Opal card.

  4. MrV says:

    Best option is to run a bulldozer through all the carparks, turn them into dropoff areas, or bus bays to allow for more seamless switching between transport options. Ridiculous to be pouring money into such ‘infrastructure’ when you could improve bus services so there is no need to drive to stations in the first place.

    Even if you have a carpark for 1200 vehicles, that might represent 1800 commuters at best. Not even two full train loads. Meanwhile all that land sits there unproductive for the rest of the day. Often it creates a wasteland between the station and the nearest businesses.
    Much of it is prime land, meanwhile the buses have to navigate inconvenient, poor street layouts with tediously slow traffic light sequences to get near stations to pickup/setdown passengers.

    Realistically what is 179 more carparks at Campbelltown (for example) going to achieve?

  5. Mark Newton says:

    Alex, your idea sounds good to me. Back in the old days station masters had the authority to issue parking fines, which was how restrictions on commuter car parks were enforced. Some of the old SMs I knew were very keen to get out and write tickets! :)

    Mr V, I couldn’t agree more. 1200 extra parking spots across the network achieves nothing worthwhile. However, it’s an article of faith in Australia that a motorist must be able to park right outside their destination, whether it’s a shop, school or station. Any political party that fancies more than one term in office must fall into line on that issue.

    I like the way that the minister thinks that making it easier for more people to park at the station will somehow get more cars off the road. How does she think they’ll get there – by levitation or teleportation?

    BUT – it does give the appearance that this government is doing something. Like most of what’s been done to the railway lately, it’s just window dressing.

    Disclaimer: Before anyone accuses me of partisan bias, let me make my political views quite clear – I loathe ALL political parties – ALP, LNP or Greens.

  6. Jeremy says:

    <>

    Err, there are a lot more bus routes officially designated for Opal beyond the ones mentioned in the press releases. The official designation that applies now is from the NSW Government Gazette #39 of 24 April 2014. Relevant section below (I believe this is all routes operated by Waverley Depot buses):

    ===

    PASSENGER TRANSPORT REGULATION 2007
    Clause 76 (1) (c) Designation of Routes
    Order
    Bus passenger services
    TRANSPORT for NSW, pursuant to clause 76 of the
    Passenger Transport Regulation 2007, does by this Order
    designate each of the following bus routes as a route for
    which a smartcard may be used:
    Operator: State Transit Authority
    Routes:
    200
    300 301 302 303 305 308 309
    310 – Eastgardens/City 311
    313 – Coogee/Bondi Junction 314 316
    317 – East Garden/Bondi Junction 323 324
    325 326 327 333 339 – Clovelly/ City
    342 343 345 348 352 353 355
    360 361 370 372 373 374 376
    377 378 380 381 382 386 387
    389 391 393 394 395 396
    400 410
    890 891 892 895
    L24 L94
    M40
    X10 X39 X40 X73 X74 X77 X84
    X89
    To facilitate the progressive introduction of smartcard
    technology on the Operator’s bus fleet, this Order applies only
    to buses displaying a sign “Opal bus” or “Opal on this bus”.
    Date of effect
    This Order takes effect on 28 April 2014.
    Dated: 17 April 2014.
    FERGUS GAMMIE,
    Deputy Director-General,
    Transport Services
    (a Delegate of Transport for NSW)

  7. OC says:

    Totally agree with MrV.

    How hard is it to understand that the best way to improve utilisation of the rail network through the WHOLE day and reduce car use is to improve the bus network servicing the stations by:
    1) Integrate the bloody fares already! It is ridiculously poor value for money for most people to catch a bus to the station. E.g. I live 2.3km from my station yet have to buy a 3-5 section ticket = $3.70! The 30km+ journey into the city is only $5.20…
    2) Build decent interchange facilities with easy and quick access to the station;
    3) Implement bus priority measures at key intersections and straighten out routes to speed up journey times;
    4) Increase frequencies;
    5) Pay for it all by redeveloping the airspace on the current parking lots.

  8. Alexsg says:

    I agree that investment in better interchanges, more bus priority measures, increased service frequencies and above all getting rid of the ridiculous flag fare between modes which has been perpetuated in the Opal fare system are better alternatives than extending car parks, particularly in the suburban area or at major centres.

    On the other hand small are parks do have a place at outer suburban and intercity stations where bus feeder services are simply not viable and many people will invariably drive to the station. These car parks do not have to be very big or fancy however.

  9. michblogs says:

    It seems to me, a lift at Redfern should be a higher priority than Arncliffe

  10. michblogs says:

    Jeremy, it is not very useful declaring that a bus route is available for Opal, unless all the buses on the route actually have Opal. You cannot use the Opal on the bus unless the bus has an Opal sign on the front.

  11. MrV says:

    @mich
    Yes the rollout needs to be every bus on each route, and then all routes that use the same corriodors. Otherwise you are still in the situation of having to maintain both an opal card and a paper ticket in order to guarantee being able to board the next service.

  12. Jeremy says:

    michblogs and MrV, you guys miss the point, I was replying to Bambul’s comment that, “it is unclear whether [Opal] is considered a valid form of fare payment” on non-announced routes. I was supplying the official NSW legal instrument that shows that Opal *is* a valid form of payment on the named bus routes, if “Opal bus” is displayed. As it clearly says, this process is “To facilitate the progressive introduction of smartcard technology on the Operator’s bus fleet.”

    I agree that it would be ideal to roll out out route by route, but that is not feasible the way things actually work in the real world, since buses from different depots operate many of these routes. The Opal people obviously know it’s confusing which is why there isn’t a press release on this topic, but I was trying to be helpful by showing that it is perfectly valid to use your Opal on these routes when the bus is fitted.

    To add a real-world aspect to this, I rode bus 389 the other day which is not an announced route, but at least half the passengers were using Opal. The majority of 389’s are run by Waverley depot buses, and the locals have figured this out, press release or not. (This area of course has a higher takeup of Opal due to the 333 being fitted for quite some time now.)

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