This week in transport (24 August 2014)

Posted: August 26, 2014 in Transport
Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday: Real time train and parking capacity information coming soon

Sydney Trains customers will soon be able to work out how full trains and station car parks are on their smart phones if CEO Howard Collins has his way. Mr Collins explained “we know on a Waratah train how many people are in each carriage by how much it weighs” and that this information can be passed on to customers to more evenly spread customers on trains. Waratah trains account for about 40% of the Sydney Trains fleet. Mr Collins also hoped that similar information could be provided for car parks at train stations.

Real time information could soon also include how full each train carriage is based on their weight. Click to enlarge. (Source: TripView)

Real time information could soon also include how full each train carriage is based on their weight. Click to enlarge. (Source: TripView)

Tuesday: Airport access fee deal for regular airport commuters

Regular users of the airport stations will pay no more than $21 a week under a $10m deal when using their Opal cards. Previously those travelling to and from the airport stations on a regular basis, usually airport workers, paid a $12.60 access fee each time they entered or exited one of the two airport stations. However, customers purchasing a weekly ticket would pay an access fee of only $21 for the whole week, on top of the regular fare. This concession did not exist for Opal users, but now their access fee will also be capped at $21 if using Opal. This was seen as necessary given the retirement of weekly train tickets starting from 1 September. The Government will pay the private operator of the airport line a one off $10m payment as part of the deal.

Wednesday: Majority of Opal rollout on buses complete

More than half the NSW fleet of buses will be Opal enabled, with 2,890 buses accepting Opal cards from 26 August. NSW has around 5,000 buses in its public transport fleet.

Wednesday: Maldon to Dombarton Line back on the agenda

A Registration of Interest for the Maldon to Dombarton freight railway line has been approved to see if there is private interest in building the $667m line. The line would complete the missing link that would connect Wollongong and Port Kembla to the Southern Sydney Freight Line running through Southwest Sydney. This could remove or at least reduce the number of freight trains using the T4 Line through Sutherland and Hurstville, reducing their impacts on passengers trains on that line.

  1. QPP says:

    Re: Opal deal on the airport access fee. Again, about time too (following on from the availability – albeit still stupidly limited – of Opal over the counter). Now, Gladys, you just need to fix up the multi-modal fudge to make the implementation of Opal what it could/should have been in the first place. Fingers crossed….

  2. MrV says:

    Sounds like another expensive IT project is about to be served up by Sydney Trains over time and overbudget. People can already tell where spare seats are on a train by using a unique god-given device that is cheap and simple to operate. They are called eyes.
    These novelties do little to solve underlying problems like train capacity on stressed parts of the network. Surely there is more important priorities for capital expenditure, like provision of lifts at stations etc.

  3. > Surely there is more important priorities for capital expenditure, like provision of lifts at stations etc.
    :-). Not that I disagree with you … but …

    Sydney Trains achieves an effective maximum loading of ~70% of total train capacity. This is primarily because of the limnited number of egress points on the main stations (a “productivity” measure to reduce the number of ticket collectors required). But if a phone app can direct just some people to the part of platforms where the train is emptiest prior to it’s arrival, that’s as effective as providing extra seats. While this is unspectacular, the scope of improving onthe 70% is huge. In terms of increasing capacity, doing it with a mobile app is really low hanging fruit.

  4. MrV says:

    You are assuming the people too lazy to use the free devices fixed to the front of their head will use the ‘app’. :-)
    At busy stations it would probably be cheaper to install multicolour LEDs along the platform at approx each carriage-door location. The light would glow red/yellow/green to indicate how full the carriages in the next train to arrive is.
    But even then it becomes a coordination problem because if everyone crowds toward the carriages that are ‘green’ then this may actually delay the train rather than having people more distributed.

    They should spend the money on analysing the in-carriage video to identify boarding problems. I would suggest removing the pole in the middle of the doorway entrances entirely – it encourages the first people on to cling to it like a leech, blocking both the up and down stair in the process, especially if the person is obese, carrying something or not very mobile.

    Hopefully they have done away with using church groups as test subjects. If everyone boarded the trains like these churchgoers there would be no problem.

  5. > Hopefully they have done away with using church groups as test subjects. If everyone boarded the
    > trains like these churchgoers there would be no problem.

    I forget where I read this, but IIRC the results of that trial showed the test subjects boarded about 30% slower than “real” commuters :-). Never the less, the comparisons are probably still valid.

    For mine, the way to squeeze more out of the design is to have one of the stairways 2 abreast – almost 2m (leading to a stretch of 2+2 seating) – and the other the current 1m. That would give each door 4 channels vs the 3 currently (or 2 on any SD design).

  6. michblogs says:

    So, trains at Wynyard and Town Hall are going to Central. Useful.

  7. michblogs says:

    In my experience, the biggest impediment to rapid boarding at Town Hall, is the people who are not ready to get off the train.
    The train pulls up, stops, the doors open, a dozen people get off, people start boarding, and then some fat bogan starts clambering down the stairs to get off.
    Instead of impractical and expensive remedies like wider stairs, how about a simple announcement. “The train is about to arrive at Town Hall. Please prepare to get off”.

  8. MrV says:

    Yes I wonder how that trial of 2+2 seating and the longitudinal seating+pole dancing studio on the Tangara went. I doubt they’ll get rid of 3+2 for a while, mindyou a use it or lose it campaign for the middle seat wouldn’t go a miss if trying to maximise seating capacity.

  9. > You are assuming the people too lazy to use the free devices fixed to the front of their head will use the ‘app’. :-)

    One point I’d like to make about this …

    By the time it’s visibile to a PAX on a platform that there is a wide disparity in loadings between specific cars, it’s too late for them to do anything about it.

  10. MrV says:

    Take the point but it is only partially true because as the train is arriving you can judge the load and even walk maybe 2 or 3 car lengths before it comes to a halt (actually more given the hopeless station approach speeds on parts of the network).

    Problem with the app is OK now you have an app that says car 7 is half full, and so a whole crowd now converges there causing delays. Maybe the app is smart and directs 40% of people to that car and 10% or so to the others. The measurement of carloadings is only going to be rough, what if the emptier car has 2 bicycles and suitcases blocking the entranceway or full of a bunch of schoolkids?
    Will it ever be ‘smart’ enough to know all these factors and at what development cost?
    Seems like money better spent on more pressing things. In particular with all the apartment construction near to stations I predict the demand for trains is going to increase faster than expected at these locations. They should be focussed on increasing tph capacity, fixing bottlenecks and building new lines.

  11. Tim says:

    How do you get real time train locations to show on the TripView app as shown?
    I have the app but mine doesn’t do this.

  12. @MrV –

    The cost to the taxpayer would be almost nil. The information already exists. The development of the app would be funded by the privately run app developers (of which there are currently a fair few). The app hot house that initially set it all up cost about $10,000, which resulted in the current real time information on transport apps. A huge improvement, but at a cost so low it may as well be a rounding error.

    The suggestion that it will lead to congestion from all customers moving to the one empty carriage is a bit misleading. Congestion information currently exists for roads, but you don’t see empty streets suddenly turn into traffic sewers due to an accident on the main road. This is because not all people use such apps that provide the information. But also because for some people, it is still more convenient to remain on the congested road (or board the full carriage). Perhaps that carriage is right in front of the stairs at a particularly busy station, for example.

    This information could also help customers decide whether to take the express train or the all stops train, depending on loadings.

    All in all, this is a cheap, efficient, and easy way to quickly provide a boost to the maximum capacity of the rail network.

  13. MrV says:

    Well all I will say is you are significantly more optimistic than me about Sydney trains doing anything at a reasonable cost!
    You’ve only got to look at your post about Opal Man:
    $100,000 to design a guy in a rubber suit.
    $2,300,000 to design TV ads.
    $4,700,000 to buy spots
    $2,900,000 info+sales staff (in addition to regular ST employees)

    $10m for something that other cities have had for 20+ years, so needs very little advertising as:
    a) it is so obvious most people have used such a system before
    b) could spread by word of mouth.
    $10m could buy a new trainset basically.

    So long as the data already exists in real time from the trains then yes I take your point about app development and it would be silly not to let developers do it, but if train equipment installation is necessary then all bets are off as to the cost.

  14. @MrV –

    It only applies to Waratah trains, which are 40% of the fleet (though a higher proportion of all services). Older trains do not have weight sensors, and will not be getting them. It also explains why this information hasn’t been made available before – the rollout of Waratah trains was only just recently concluded.

  15. I would love a real-time app for parking near stations but the train capacity might be a little useless. Commuters do not expect to get a seat during peak hour, and most trains are pretty empty outside of peak hour so you’re bound to find a seat. Although I guess it can target the lazier passengers that can’t be bothered to move between carriages for a seat.

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