This week in transport (26 October 2014)

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

VIDEO: Saving Wolli Creek – Part 1: From Mussolini to the County of Cumberland Plan

Thursday: Light rail will carry more people earlier, but cost more

The CBD and South East Light Rail’s maximum capacity will be 50% higher than the originally predicted 9,000 passengers per hour in each direction according to the Connecting Sydney consortium that has been selected to build the line. It also plans to complete the George St construction earlier than was initially planned. “The preferred bidder has responded to this challenge with a proposal that ultimately has the potential to carry over 50 per cent more than the 9,000 passengers per hour in each direction previously announced by the government” said Transport Mininster Gladys Berejiklian. She also said that “the proposal offers services that from day one carry up to 15 per cent more light rail passengers in peak hours, and 33 per cent more seats across the day”.

Route of the CBD and South East Light Rail Line. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Route of the CBD and South East Light Rail Line. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

However, it will also see an increase in the cost to build by an as yet undisclosed amount. The line has previously been budgeted to cost $1.6bn and was scheduled to open in 2019 or 2020. Construction is set to begin on the George St section after the centenary of Anzac Day in April 2015.

Friday: Opal bus rollout 86% complete

4,300 buses are now Opal enabled, with 1.1 million Opal cards in circulation. The bus rollout is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, with 5,000 buses in NSW. Opal is operating on all trains and ferried, with Opal to be rolled out to light rail by early 2015. Pensioner Opal cards will be available by the end of the year, however there is no date set for concession Opal cards yet.

  1. I find it frustrating, as a university student, that we are constantly approached by Opal promoters and always pulled up for using paper tickets by transport officials – yet they haven’t given us a viable option to avoid these hassles. I’d love to use an opal card – it would save me buying a weekly pass every Monday on the rush to work/university, then having to present my concession card, then being pulled up by officials for using a paper ticket, then the same again on the commute home. It’s poor etiquette that all of Sydney’s population can’t be included in this rollout. Another item to add to the list of incidences of poor train etiquette on the Sydney train network present on my blog – – Meagan O’H, The Commuter Syd

  2. Simon says:

    What is the basis of the 50% increase? Will there be more pax/tram or more trams/hr. I guess an alternative is an accounting trick where if a space is occupied twice over a tram trip it is counted twice.

  3. @Simon –

    That is an excellent question, one which I would also want to know the answer to. I’m hoping we get an answer to it soon.

  4. QPP says:

    There are a hundred questions on the CSELR that need an answer but I doubt we’ll get any such answers before financial close

    The suggested timeline for this is “by the end of the year” but that sounds extremely optimistic given the usual timescales for achieving FC of a PPP deal, even the non-contentious ones take 3 months and this scheme is far from that.

    I imagine they want to get over the line before everyone disappears for the summer. But they probably won’t. And you won’t see any concrete information before then because it will still be commercially confidential.

  5. Andrew Roydhouse says:

    Unfortunately nothing about this project stacks up.

    The new start-up capacity is slated as 15% more, so from 6, to 6,900. Trouble is that still comes no where near to what just the 610, 891, M10 & M50 currently provide let alone the other 16 routes to be eliminated from the South East to Central or the CBD.

    Just look at all the bus routes to be eliminated from the CSELR route:

    The 610 from Central to Sydney Boys and Sydney Girls High Schools (22 buses leaving over 42 minutes in morning peak and 21 in afternoon over a 9 minute period). Both standard and articulated buses.
    The M10 (6 articulated buses licensed at 115 passengers) – will terminate at city and not come into CSELR route/Eastern Suburbs.
    The M50 (6 articulated buses licensed at 115 passengers) – will terminate at city and not come into CSELR route/Eastern suburbs.
    891 – max of 71 buses leaving in a 60 minute period in the morning peak (both standard and articulated buses)

    The other Eastern Suburb routes to be eliminated from the City and Central (coming from Eastern Suburbs but there are others coming into central from other areas that are to be stopped at central):

    373 Some of the routes are cancelled out right and others are turned into shuttle buses to the Randwick or Kingsford interchange. So from Maroubra Beach to Kingsford interchange.


    (source EIS Volume 2 pg 131)

    on Aug 14, 2014
    Route…Number…Period….Current PPH……..Potential Max PPH
    ………..(60 minutes)…………………….If all Articulated buses @115 passengers
    ….610……..22………42……….2,200…(1) (2)………3,614….(1)
    …………………………….Totals 8,550…………….. 13,159

    (1) To convert 22 buses in 42 minutes to an hourly capacity: 22/42*60
    (2) Assuming only STA median bus licenced capacity of 70 passengers, source STA Annual Report
    (3) M10s and M50s using Articulated buses with licenced capacity of 115 passengers

    Then there are the other 13 routes to add on – another peak capacity of 8,610 calculated solely as standard buses. Many of the routes such as 373, 394, L94 use articulated buses but for ease of calculation as TfNSW refuses FOIs for the figures I just used the 70 capacity for the median bus from the STA Annual Report.

    I forgot that the 890, 892 and 895 routes are also to be eliminated.
    Note: 2014 deliveries of standard buses had 82 passenger capacity.

    This morning I was out checking the capacities of buses used on the UNSW routes. I was surprised to see numerous 95 passenger capacity standard buses! With 61 seated and 34 standing. For those with the knowledge some of their numbers were : 3415, 3416, 3440, 3445 & 3492. The make appears to be APN. When did they appear?

    There were also some 81 passenger standard buses which I did know about.

  6. Alexsg says:

    @Andrew – makes me wonder if this line should not be constructed as a metro, or a pre-metro, running underground at least in the CBD and Surry Hills.

  7. @Andrew –

    Do you have a source for the 71 UNSW 891 buses during a 60 minute period? I counted 48 buses leaving Central between 8:26AM and 9:25AM, which looked like the busiest period.

    It’s also important to compare capacity in each direction separately. The figures in the above comment add together maximum theoretical bus capacity in both directions and compare it to initial light rail capacity in a single direction. So the 13,159 capacity on buses should be compared to 27,000 light rail capacity, rather than 6,900.

    In reality, the 13,159 figure would be higher since a lot of city bound buses were excluded (as you mentioned), while the 27,000 remains untested. But even accounting for this, light rail will almost certainly see a boost to maximum capacity.

    @Alex –

    If 13,500 passengers per hour in each direction is achievable with light rail then it is more than enough capacity for that corridor for the foreseeable future. Why spend billions more on a metro when it won’t be needed for decades? There’s lots of other parts of the public transport network that need that money now and not in the distant future.

    As I understand it, the current peak hour bus patronage on the corridor is 10,000 passengers per hour. This will fall to 6,000 per hour on buses when light rail opens, but capacity on light rail will be 13,500. That gives a total of 19,500, or almost double the existing patronage. I’d imagine this would be more than enough for a few decades, at which point it may make sense to either extend the existing line from Bondi Junction or build a completely new heavy rail line.

  8. Andrew Roydhouse says:

    @ Bambul – source TfNSW.

    1) There is some smoke and mirrors with the PDF timetables which are letter of the law correct but not spirit of the law. When TfNSW quoted claimed bus capacity (and RCC before then in 2011) at first a 3,500 south eastern capacity was claimed. Which I promptly debunked but the claim was used by RCC to push for the LR as it would provide 12,000 and get rid of every bus…

    Reality – PDF timetable shows what time you can catch a bus NOT how many buses leave at that time.

    You can find that here by scrolling down the page. I downloaded all forty bus timetables (bus departures not time departures) for August 14, 2014 and went through each one on a rolling hour basis throughout the day. I have subsequently shown this data to members of the MLC, MLA and Auditor General’s Office ( now the State Audit office) as have others I supplied the material to. The Audit office has said they will investigate this as I showed how the project fails all but one of the performance objectives set out by the SAG. They are due to begin in early 2015.

    Scroll down, choose ‘BUS’ and enter 610 and check the include school buses box.

    You will see there are 22 buses from SGHS/SGHS to Central from 15.23 to 15.32 with 7 due to depart at 15.23 and two at 15.24 etc.

    It is the same as this for the reverse direction in the morning but a 42 minute time frame.

    Similar for the 891s with up to 5 leaving at the same time from Central (coinciding with peak train arrivals).

    2) No, I am not adding together two directions.

    I am just working off the figures from the EIS and corrected (only for the details of the 610, 891, M10 and M50 which were strangely absent in details).

    For example this morning while confirming the actual buses used for the 891 (each ones licensed capacity – those signs on the back of some needed a strong rub with the cloth to reveal). It was readily apparent with the use of 95 passenger standard buses and 1 in 4 buses being articulated just how much higher the current bus capacities are.

    In the morning over 60% of workers come into the area which includes the hospital campuses, UNSW, the renamed Randwick TAFE (not served by the 891s), the Open High School to name just a few.

    The annual UNSW travel study was halved by TfNSW (I’ve got a copy of the email from the call for papers by the MLC which is a conversation between two of the modellers saying the figures are too high so basically lets half them – and they did. They also used 37,000 as the UNSW population (mentions this in the EIS) whereas every other component used the correct figure of 50,000.

    A treasure trove of emails were planted by concerned public officials I suspect because all the ‘interesting ones’ were out of sequence and chain. My early training as forensic auditor comes in useful.

    Big revelations at a community meeting on November 6 in Randwick with independent experts presenting hard data.

  9. Andrew Roydhouse says:

    Correction – it is 21 in the afternoon for the 610 I started out to comment on the morning then thought the 7 at 15.23 was a better example.


  10. MrV says:

    Light rail would be better as a metro.
    That is all.

  11. I’m ready for any solution to ease congestion! Congestion is one of the main causes of antisocial behaviour on our trains. People tend to get frustrated, stressed and miserable when in a packed train – by easing congestion we can help improve the incidence of this behaviour and thus make commuting a happier process for all! Take a look at my campaign to see the prevalence of antisocial behaviour on the Sydney Train network. Take the pledge to help improve this behaviour and make the daily commute less frustrating for us all! – Meagan O’H, The Commuter Syd

  12. Sandy Fflat says:

    There are several types of capacity. 300 pax/tram is crush capacity. Because of inevitable surges in demand, it would be unwise to use that figure in judging the adequacy of the service. Instead, the authorities should talk of operational capacity, probably about 250 pax/tram, which is a more useful guide to how the service will cater for demand.

    And in this case, because there are so few seats, we should remember that seated capacity is far less than the figures claimed by T4NSW.

  13. michblogs says:

    At least trains can move quickly. You’ll be much more stressed and frustrated on a packed tram moving slower than a bus.

  14. Andrew Roydhouse says:

    @michblogs – the journey times for the CSELR are longer than many of the buses they replace. For example the UNSW express bus routes to be slashed (890,891, 892 & 895) as well as the L94 and SBHS/SGHS express 610. The journey times for the LR trains (now 64.8m long by the late 2020s up from 45m) make them the slowest major city LR in the world when they begin in 5 or 6 years time. The reason, despite slashing stops (vs the current available bus stops) and making the gaps between as much as 1.7km – it has to pass through over 20 traffic light controlled intersections.

    Stressed – the LR trains have 80 seats to 220 standing at 5 people/square meter.

    Compare this with London, for example. They class 0-2 people standing per sqm as ‘busy’ and 2-4 people as very crowded. In their planned upgrade they quote train capacity at 4/sqm max. In Sydney we’re working on 5 per sqm for the CSELR.

    On start up the CSELR trains will be filled to capacity at the interchange unfortunately. So I suppose their times might improve as they become ‘express’ due to no ability to pick up passengers along the way!

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