CBD Transport Changes

Posted: October 3, 2015 in Transport
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VIDEO: Ancient river system discovered under Sydney Harbour, 23 September 2015 (Transport for NSW)

This week sees a large number of changes to the Sydney CBD. Though it ended the week with the most significant: the closure of George Street to buses, it began the week with some changes too: the opening and closing of bike paths through the CBD. New bus lanes have been added on Elizabeth Street while another bus lane is soon coming to College Street.

George Street

Construction of the CBD and South East Light Rail will commence on George Street on 23 October, at which point the road will become progressively closed off to all vehicular traffic. It will eventually re-open as a pedestrian only street, with trams on George Street taking passengers from early 2019.

In anticipation of this closure, buses are being removed from George Street as of 4 October. Some will terminate outside of the CBD or on its fringe (including some buses that do not use George Street), while others will be moved to Elizabeth street or are merged with other buses so that they will now through-route in the CBD and come out the other end.

Elizabeth Street

In order to accommodate the additional buses using Elizabeth Street, the bus lanes on it have been moved from kerbside bus lanes to centre bus lanes. This will prevent buses from getting stuck behind other buses waiting at bus stops or getting stuck behind cars waiting to make a left hand turn. These had previously slowed down buses that would otherwise enjoy an exclusive right of way.

Bus lanes on Elizabeth Street have been extended and moved from kerbside bus lanes to centre bus lanes to increase bus capacity on them. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Bus lanes on Elizabeth Street have been extended and moved from kerbside bus lanes to centre bus lanes to increase bus capacity on them. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

College Street

The College Street bike path is no more. It is to be replaced with a bus lane. This will allow additional Northbound bus capacity now that George Street is no longer available. Additional Southbound bus capacity exists on the Castlereagh Street bus lane, while Elizabeth Street has two way bus lanes.

The bike path on College Street remained open until the Castlereagh Street and Liverpool Street bike paths opened, which now provide North-South access through the CBD. Cyclist groups have protested the removal of the College Street bike path, pointing out that the Castlereagh Street bike path stops at Liverpool Street, which is the same place the College Street bike path starts; also pointing out that the York Street bike path is on opposite side of the CBD to the College Street bike path.

The College Street bike path is now closed and set to be turned into a bus lane. It has been controversially replaced by bike paths on Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

The College Street bike path is now closed and set to be turned into a bus lane. It has been controversially replaced by bike paths on Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Plans are in place to extend the Castlereagh Street bike path further north; but these plans have been put on hold until 2019, after construction on the light rail has been completed.

Castlereagh Street and Liverpool Street

New bike paths opened on Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets, replacing the College Street bike path. Together with Belmore Park near Central Station and the York Street bike path on the Northern half of the CBD, these now allow bike users to ride from Central Station to the Harbour Bridge entirely segregated from road traffic.

The full CBD bike path network will include an extension of the Castlereagh Street bike path to King Street, which would also see its existing bike path extended from where it currently ends at Clarence Street. However, work on this portion of the bike path network, as well as other extensions such as a bike path North along Pitt Street to Circular Quay or a bike path West along Liverpool Street to Darling Harbour, has been put on hold until 2019 to minimise disruptions  while construction on the light rail on George Street occurs.

Sydney's planned bike path network. Some has been completed, the rest is on hold until 2019 when light rail construction is completed. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney City Centre Access Strategy, p. 45)

Sydney’s planned bike path network. Some has been completed, the rest is on hold until 2019 when light rail construction is completed. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney City Centre Access Strategy, p. 45)

There have also been concerns raised about potential plans for loading zones on these bike paths, turning them into what has been called “part time” bike paths. The new bike paths have also drawn criticism for ending one block short of two way traffic on Liverpool Street, requiring East bound bike riders on Liverpool Street to dismount or take alternative routes along Bathurst or Campbell Streets.

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Comments
  1. Andrew Roydhouse says:

    The reduction of Elizabeth St to just one through lane is a sign of things to come for the main arterial connection for the South-East through to the City.

    Once construction begins on Anzac Parade, from Kingsford through to Moore Park, there will not be a single through traffic lane in either direction. Not one!

    Currently there are four traffic lanes in each direction. Some stretches go from parking to clearway only during peak times. At intersections however there are always four lanes currently.

    One lane is for left turning traffic (where applicable), two lanes for through traffic and one lane for right hand turning traffic.

    Post construction and in operation – there will no longer be dedicated left hand turn lanes and in most cases (due to Anzac Parade not wide enough) – no dedicated right had turn lane/bay.

    There will still be bus stops for cross-regional routes such as the 370, 400, & 410 to name just a few. There will be no all-stop services to the City or Central though.

    So, when the traffic lights go green for N/S flow what happens?

    No movement in lane 1 as the pedestrian crossing goes thereby stopping any left-turning traffic proceeding. Also buses move up to the bus stop and well, stop to pick up passengers. Causing a double impact on traffic flow for 50% of Anzac Parade’s future capacity.

    What about lane 2?

    Well with 8 of 11 right hand turns eliminated and no room to create more than 5 car right hand turn bays (if at all) then lane 2 traffic will be stopped by the forced route changes for right-turning traffic to by-pass 4 normal right-hand turns to use the only 1 left (heading north from Kingsford).

    Official response from TfNSW, “The final details have not been modeled and will not be until the changes to the Sydney-wide bus network have been finalised.”

    Elizabeth St will be a ‘breeze’ compared with what is coming!

  2. JC says:

    The discouragement of traffic during construction, hopefully never to return, may turn out to be of even greater long term benefit than the light rail itself! We can only hope.

  3. Anthony says:

    With the changes to the CBD will parking be allowed on the streets of the CBD? It would be a good opportunity to remove street parking altogether to relieve traffic congestion.

  4. Andrew Roydhouse says:

    Anthony – the shops, cafes. restaurants in the CBD need parking in order to receive supplies. A number of the high rise buildings have reduced the ability for even their own retail tenants to access the underground parking for deliveries. Instead they’ve sold off the spots to businesses leasing the floors above.

    Similarly, parking is needed (drop off & short term stay) for the hundreds of medical specialists and other professionals operating in the city.

    What is planned for most of the CSELR route is for 24 hour clearways to operate. In some places this removes the only parking available to houses on the route (such as in Devonshire St, Anzac Parade Kensington, High St Randwick – yes they’re making it illegal to drop off a child at Sydney Childrens’ Hospital).

    Parking stress is already acknowledged in these areas. So residents (say a family with a baby and a toddler) cannot even stop to drop off the children with a parent outside their house during a thunderstorm. No a mandatory fine.

    Removal of what little parking exists in the CBD would drive even more small businesses to the wall. What would be good is for the State Govt and SCC to rigidly enforce the rules for Disability Parking Permits – that would reduce traffic somewhat if the rorters couldn’t get free parking.

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