Posts Tagged ‘London’

Opal will be rolled out onto buses starting on Monday, 3 months ahead of the initial “end of 2013” deadline set by the government. This follows the ferry roll-out which was recently completed 4 months ahead of schedule. The first bus route to use Opal will be the 594/594H from Hornsby to the CBD. The Herald reports that the next bus route is likely to be “an inner-city service run by the government-owned State Transit”.

Opal roll-out as of 30 August 2013. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Opal roll-out as of 30 August 2013. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Fares for buses will follow the current 3 band structure, but be calculated on a straight line point to point basis, rather than the actual distance traveled by the bus. Importantly, for the first time the fare penalty for transferring from one bus to another will be removed, with passengers paying a fare as though they had caught a single bus for the entire journey regardless of how many individual bus trips they used to reach their final destination.

Bus fares under Opal. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Bus fares under Opal. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

A source within Transport for NSW has informed Transport Sydney that light rail will be brought in under the bus network for fare calculation purposes. This will mean that passengers who currently take a bus into the CBD from South East Sydney will not pay any extra for transferring from a tram to a bus (or vice versa) once the CBD and South East Light Rail begins operating in 2020. However, it remains uncertain whether this will extend to M2 buses that are converted into feeder buses for the North West Rail Link when it opens in 2019.

Fare changes

There are three main changes to the existing fare structure with Opal: single mode integration, a fare cap, and simplification.

Currently (unless using a myMulti ticket), passengers pay a different fare in going from A to B depending on which mode of transport and how many vehicles they use. If they use a single mode of transport, such as buses, then this penalty will be removed. This represents integrated fares, but only for a single mode of transport. The main impact will be seen on buses, where taking 2 buses to get from A to B is more expensive than taking just one, even when it is both faster for the passenger and cheaper for the government from a cost perspective to do so. Trains effectively already have single mode fare integration as passengers can change trains without leaving the gated area of the station, while ferries and trams make up only a small fraction of public transport trips in Sydney. Fare penalties will remain for multi modal journeys, such as one involving both train and bus.

The fare cap is designed to replace discounts currently received for weekly and travel ten tickets. Instead of receiving these discounts directly, passengers will only be required to pay for their first 8 journeys each week, with all subsequent journeys being free. There is also a daily cap of $15 per day, or $2.50 on Sundays. This will have a similar effect to the current discounts, though not for occasional users or passengers with periodical tickets (monthly, quarterly, or yearly tickets).

That these changes disadvantage some users is because it also brings in simplification of fares. This was something that the head of ticketing in London, whose Oyster Card operates on the same system as Opal, recommended back in 2011. This decision to leave some users worse off is a tough but ultimately necessary one that needed to be made in order to simplify the dogs breakfast that Sydney’s fare structure has turned into.

Card balance and value storage

Opal cards do not work like credit cards. A credit card is basically a holder of an ID number, which the vendor then uses to find your account online in the cloud which has all of your account information. If Opal did this then it would require a lengthy connection process to a central server somewhere each time you tapped on or off, far too long considering the number of passengers who pass the Opal card readers at any one time, leading to long delays. It would also be complicated for buses and trams which, unlike the readers at train and ferry stops, do not have a fixed connection to the servers. (They could be connected via a wireless connection, but this is slow, expensive, and unreliable.)

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

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

Instead, Opal cards have value stored on the actual card itself. This allows the tapping on and off process to proceed quite quickly. The information on the card reader is then downloaded to the central server to provide the user’s online account with all of their travel information, including the fare for each journey. This information is downloaded quite quickly for fixed card readers (i.e. train stations and ferry stops) and less frequently for mobile card readers (i.e. buses and trams), probably once a day once the vehicle returns to the depot.

This also means that any value added to an Opal card has to also make its way onto the card itself. If topping up credit at a train station, for example, the card can be scanned right there and the value loaded up instantly. If, on the other hand, value is added remotely via the internet then this information needs to be pushed down to Opal readers across the network, from where the value is added to the card next time the passenger taps on or off. As with before, the fixed readers should receive this information almost instantly, while for mobile readers it might take up to 24 hours.

UPDATE (2 October 2013): @TheOpalUser has discovered that Opal card balances are updated about 20 minutes after tapping on the card reader on the bus. This suggests that the card readers are connected constantly and thus it shouldn’t take 24 hours unless the mobile network is not working.

[tweet 384558031637188609 align=’center’]

All of this also means that if an Opal card is lost or stolen, the owner can cancel it and still retain their balance on the card as the system would have a record of the balance as of the last time the card was tapped on or off.

Advertisements
2013-07-15 STA bus time lapse

Visualisation of STA buses in Sydney at 9:01AM on a typical weekday. The bright vertical line in the middle is the Harbour Bridge. (Source: Flink Labs)

Some interesting time lapse visualisations of commuter transport from around the world. All of these show vehicle movements (trains, buses, etc), as opposed to passengers movements, unless otherwise stated.

Sydney

This first video is STA buses only. That means the government Sydney Buses, as well as the Parramatta-Liverpool T-Way buses. Despite the limitations of its data, and that it is now a few years old, it’s also quite clear and easy to watch.

Major corridors like Anzac Parade, Oxford Street, Parramatta Road, Victoria Road, and Military Road stand out quite well. They are the brightest during the day, and the only ones still operating late into the night. By showing busier corridors as brighter, you really get a good idea of what frequent services look like, as opposed to a bus map where all lines look the same.

This is another video of Sydney. It is more recent, includes all modes of public transport, and goes out as far as Newcastle and Wollongong. Trains are shown in the same colour as the line they operate on. It’s also a bit crowded, and harder to follow than the previous video, so it’s recommended that you watch it directly on Youtube with the settings set to 720p(HD) for better quality if it doesn’t do so automatically here.

Melbourne

A similar video to the earlier Sydney bus video, but this time from Melbourne for trains. Blue is for city bound, while yellow are outbound.

Auckland

This video was created by Chris McDowall, but the blog post associated with it no longer appears to be working. So instead, here is a short piece about it from Human Transit, in which the vehicles are described as “tadpoles”.

London

This video is from an article over at the Atlantic Cities, which is worth a read for some background. This shows passenger movements via the collection of Oyster smartcard data. Inbetween the morning and evening commute, passangers are shown as a red dot while at work.

New York City

This video of New York City includes the subway and bus system, as well as some longer distance commuter rail trains (these are most noticeable in Long Island on the right hand side of the map which is otherwise mostly blank). New York has one of the few transport systems in the Western world that runs 24/7 at decent frequencies, with most subway lines running at 20 minute frequencies all night. You can see this in the video, as unlike other cities here where transport is almost non-existant between 2AM to 5AM, because at no point do the dots stop moving around. New York really is the city that never sleeps!

As with before, best seen on Youtube with 720p(HD) settings.

Washington DC

The Washington Metro trains are shown as the colour of their line, while buses are the white dots. Long distance commuter trains (mostly to the North of Washington) are large dots with a while tail. Once again, if it doesn’t show up well here, then try it on Youtube with the maximum 720p(HD) settings.

More videos

If you’re interested in seeing more, the second Sydney video, as well as the New York and Washington videos are from a group called STL Transit, and their Youtube page is full of many other videos. And for a more detailed description of their Vancouver video, make sure to check out the Human Transit post on that particular video.

The federal Liberal Party's transport policy consists exclusively of road projects, with no committments to public transport. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Our Plan Real Solutions For All Australians, Liberal Party, page 32)

The federal Liberal Party’s transport policy consists exclusively of road projects, with no commitments to public transport. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Our Plan Real Solutions For All Australians, Liberal Party, page 32)

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott declared last week that he would be committing no funding to public transport ahead of this year’s election, despite having committed $4bn to road projects in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

“We spoke to Infrastructure Australia and their advice was that the most pressing road priority in Melbourne was the east-west link. The Commonwealth government has a long history of funding roads. We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it’s important that we stick to our knitting, and the Commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads.”Tony Abbott, Federal Opposition Leader (4 April 2013)

His first point, about the highest priority road project in Melbourne, is correct because he is talking about road projects specifically rather than transport projects in general. However, according to Alan Davies at The Urbanist, the East-West Link road is only on Infrastructure Australia’s “Real Potential” stage, the second of four categories, while the Melbourne Metro rail project is in it’s top “Ready to Proceed” category. At best, Mr Abbott is asking the wrong question, at worst he is committing money to a project with a benefit cost-ratio of only 0.50 (i.e. the benefit is less than the cost), when he could be funding the Melbourne Metro with a benefit-cost ratio of 1.30 (figures from Alan Davies’ article linked to previously).

His second point, on the Commonwealth government having no history of funding urban rail, is just flat out wrong. As Daniel Bowen points out when listing just some of the urban rail projects funded by the Commonwealth, “perhaps the Federal Coalition has no history of funding urban rail, but the Commonwealth most certainly does”.

“I think all but the most car-centric person would see that in modern growing cities, you can’t move everybody around by road — that rail, particularly in inner-city areas, is much more efficient. Unfortunately unlike some of his Liberal colleagues (and unlike conservatives in such places as the UK), Tony Abbott does appear to be the most car-centric person. It comes down to this: if you want more people on public transport, provide more public transport. If you want more people on the roads, build more roads. Abbott is clearly backing the latter.”Daniel Bowen (5 April 2013)

The decision to fund road projects over rail is not a merit based decision, it is a politically based on (and one which I have criticised the Labor Party for doing in the past on both WestConnex and the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link). As a comparison, urban rail has received a majority of Infrastructure Australia funding when merit is used as the criteria.

“Fifty-five per cent of Infrastructure Australia nation-building money went to urban rail on merit.” –  Professor Peter Newman, Infrastructure Australia advisory board member (4 April 2013)

The state governments in Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia, all governed by Mr Abbott’s Liberal-National Coalition, have also all publically voiced their opposition to his decision.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue federal government funding for this important infrastructure development.” – Denis Napthine, Victorian Premier (4 April 2013)

“Given the current Federal (Labor) Government’s support of $236 million for rail infrastructure at the Perth City Link and $3 million towards planning of the MAX light rail project, we expect that future Federal governments, whether Liberal or Labor, would consider the benefits of funding such important transport initiatives based on merit.”Colin Barnett, WA Premier (4 April 2013)

“The reality is if there is not federal funding for these projects, they cannot proceed, we cannot afford to do them alone. We’ll continue that process of lobbying the federal coalition and federal Labor.”Scott Emerson, Queensland Transport Minister (4 April 2013)

Feeling the heat, Mr Abbott later clarified his statement, pointing out that his government would still fund freight rail and interstate transport, and that it was only commuter urban rail projects that he was referring to. On his side is the division of powers set out in the Australian constitution, where the Commonwealth government is responsible for freight and interstate transport, leaving state governments responsible for urban transport. While Mr Abbott is well within his rights to follow a strict interpretation of the role of the Commonwealth government, it is also true that such a view would preclude federal funding of schools and hospitals, given that they are a state responsibility. This is why the days of health, education, and transport being funded solely by the states has now long gone.

This is where his argument starts to fall apart on constitutional grounds, and it becomes clear that it is ideologically driven. He seems much like American conservatives, who see public transport as a socialist means of transport “for the masses” requiring government subsidy while seeing the private motor vehicle as a form of transport that is liberating and free and more in line with their small government philosophy. He looks at the inner city areas which most heavily use public transport and sees Labor and Greens leaning voters, then at the car dominated outer suburban areas are where the swinging voters he needs live and decides that the politically astute thing is to build more roads.

“Public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and still [a] hideous drain on the public purse…Mostly though…there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads”Tony Abbott, Battleline, page 174 (2009)

Not all conservatives still think this way. NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has successfully championed public transport despite opposition from Infrastructure NSW Chairman Nick Greiner and CEO Paul Broad, while London Mayor Boris Johnson is pushing an ambitious £913m expansion of his city’s bike network. They understand that you can’t build your way out of congestion with more roads and that, while roads play an important role, so does public and active transport. It’s disappointing to see that Mr Abbott hasn’t worked this out yet.

CORRECTION: In the post Transport Master Plan (part 2): What’s missing? published on Friday 7 September, it was claimed that planning for reservations for future transport projects in the Transport Master Plan had only been done for road projects, and not for public transport projects. This was incorrect, and information on public transport corridor reservations was included further into the report. The error was due to the large size of the report (370 pages) and limited time available to read through it in detail and has now been corrected.

Context

Before looking into what the Transport Master Plan has to say on roads, it’s worth giving some perspective on private cars vs public transport.

Roads, and the private motor vehicles that run on them, provide two major benefits over public transport. First, they are significantly more flexible in terms of timing and journey start and end points. Second, the majority of the cost is borne by the user (some costs, such as noise and air pollution, or the free use of roads, are communal costs, but these are actually quite small), whereas public transport is heavily subsidised (in Sydney the user pays 20% to 50% of the total operational costs, and none of the capital costs, of public transport).

The biggest benefit of public transport over private road transport is in capacity. Assuming cars travel spaced 2 seconds apart, you can fit 1,800 vehicles per hour per lane. Ignoring effects of delays from red lights and cars with multiple passengers, that’s 1,800 passengers per hour. A Waratah train has a seated capacity of 896 passengers, and the current maximum capacity on the Cityrail network is 20 trains per hour (which the Harbour Bridge and Eastern Suburbs Lines both get very close to during peak hour), giving you just under 18,000 passengers per hour. In other words, rail has a capacity 10 times the size of cars. To put this into context, the Sydney Harbour Bridge has 10 lanes: 2 for rail, 7 for cars and one bus lane. If you were to convert all of these 10 lanes to private vehicle traffic, then it would have the same capacity as a single track for rail.

This is not to say that there is no place for new roads in Sydney, in fact when a new road is financed and built privately, then funded via tolls in a user pays manner over an agreed period of years then the government should be building as many new roads as it can. But if the government has to fund the new road, then the question needs to be asked “will this cost one tenth of the cost of a rail line”? There was a great post about this at A State Of Mind, which talks more about this sort of concept.

The Transport Master Plan

Road projects announced in the Master Plan include the current M2 and M5 widenings, an M4 East, an M5 East duplication, an Inner West Bypass (linking the M4 East with the M5 East), an F3-M2 link, an extension of the F6 through to the CBD, a link between Port Botany and the Airport, widening of the M7 North of the M4, widening of the M4 East of Parramatta, the Castlereagh Freeway (between the M7 and Richmond) and an outer orbital going North-South along outer Western Sydney. By anyone’s reckoning, that is a big wishlist!

Road projects recommended by the Master Plan. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Transport Master Plan, page 140.)

What we don’t know yet is the priority and the specific order in which they will be built. The M2 and M5 widenings, currently being finished up or having just started, are obviously the first cabs off the rank. And based on the 6 corridors which are expected to face the most congestion, the other projects with high priority appear to be the M4 East, the M5 East duplication, the Inner West Bypass, and the M4 widening. This should all be clarified by Infrastructure NSW when their 20 year report is released to the public next month.

However, merely building more roads is not the solution. New roads cause induced demand – more people get into their cars until eventually roads are saturated and congestion returns. Doing this will not eliminate congestion, it will only move the congestion closer to the ultimate destination (i.e. the Sydney CBD), and cost tens of billions of dollars in the process. To quote the Herald, “$10 billion is an awful lot to pay for a bigger traffic jam”.

To avoid this problem, cities like London, Copenhagen and Singapore have introduced congestion charging in their CBDs to discourage people from driving all the way into the city. And while the current government has refused to introduce congestion charging (having promised last election not to do so), they are considering 3 potential reforms that could have a similar effect:

  1. Distance based tolling – This is currently in place on the M7, where you pay based on the distance travelled, and is capped at $7 per trip.
  2. Time based tolling – This is currently in place on the Harbour Bridge/Tunnel, where you pay a lower toll during off peak hours in order to encourage a more even spread of car travel throughout the day.
  3. An increased parking levy – This is an existing charge on each parking space in the CBD, charged to the owner of the property that owns the space, and may be increased.

In all three cases, commuters would be discouraged from driving into and parking in the CBD during peak hour. Those who do would pay extra but receive a better travel experience with less traffic and more abundant parking, while the funds raised would go towards funding transport infrastructure. The report recommends using tolls to both fund new infrastructure and manage congestion, while reforming the tolling system to give Sydney a city-wide consistency (page 329).

If the government actually does implement these policies in order to fund the new roads that are financed, built and operated by the private sector, then they might actually achieve the goal of alleviating congestion without significant cost to the taxpayer. And if that is the case, then these are definitely roads that the state should build.

A report in the Australian Financial Review and Ten News yesterday suggests that Transport for NSW wants the Northwest Rail Link (NWRL) built with the potential for driverless trains to run on the line. Such a system exists in many parts of the world, such as Vancouver, London or Dubai.

The main advantage of this is the low cost, as you no longer have to pay a driver to operate the train. This benefit would be seen most clearly during the off-peak, where you can maintain frequent services thanks to the lower variable costs (most costs are up front and fixed: track, stations and trains). Jarrett Walker describes how on the Vancouver driverless metro: the SkyTrain (portions of which are driverless) you never have to wait more than 8 minutes for a train, no matter what time of the day or week it is, helping to maintain high patronage all day rather than just during peak hour. The reason it can do this is the efficiency that comes from the low operational cost.

Vancouver Sky Train

The SkyTrain in Vancouver is a driverless metro with frequencies that mean you never wait more than 8 minutes for a train. (Source: Jeffery Simpson)

The news piece from Ten News presents 2 arguments against driverless trains: cost and safety.

The first is by Shadow Transport Minister Penny Sharpe, who says that this is just a cost cutting exercise. That is correct and is simple economics – the lower the variable cost of running one train, the more trains you can run for the same amount of funding. You could argue that the government should just increase funding to achieve this, but then you could have increased services even more. Either way, lower cost is a good thing, not a bad thing.

The second is by Bob Nanva of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, who is concerned about the safety of not having a driver on the train. He cites the case of a driverless train on the London Underground that went 6km before it was stopped, almost hitting another passenger train in the process. There are 2 problems with this assertion. First, human error has been responsible for 14 deaths in Sydney in the last 15 years due to the train accidents at Waterfall and Glenbrook, neither of which may have happened with an automated system that takes human error out of the equation. Second, the driverless train was actually an engineering carriage without a driver that was being towed by another train when the coupling between them broke. Despite the towing train having a driver,which under this argument should have detected the incident and dealt with it, this was not noticed until signallers detected it and resolved the potential disaster. In other words, it was the driverless controls in place that prevented any escalation of the situation, not the presence of a driver. I would therefore argue that a driverless system is actually more safe, not less safe, than one with drivers.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that Premier Barry O’Farrell’s response to questions on this led to him responding that “it’s not a prospect that’s been put to me” and that Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian stated that they “are planning for the trains on this important rail link to have drivers”, suggesting that this is just Transport for NSW making sure that the NWRL is future-proofed for driverless trains should a NSW Government ever choose to go down that path in the future. But it leaves the option open to that, rather than being the start of a process to make it happen.

Realistically, the government would first have to remove guards from trains, arguing that one person should now be capable of performing the duties of driver and guard, before making the move to trains that are no longer staffed on a permanent basis. And this itself would be a huge fight with the union. When and if it does that, then we can start speculating on whether driverless trains might become a reality.

Submissions to the Transport Masterplan were due by midnight tonight.I’ve included my submission to it below. The questions are in bold, with my responses in after that. I got in with an hour to spare. It’s quite long, so if you just want the highlights, read my responses to the second and last questions.

TRANSPORT OBJECTIVES : Are the objectives for future planning for transport in NSW appropriate and comprehensive?

Overall the discussion paper is quite comprehensive, and I’m generally quite happy with the direction that it lays out for transport in NSW.

TRANSPORT OBJECTIVES : Do you have any other objectives to suggest for both public transport and roads?

A number of issues were not raised in the discussion paper (or I could not find them):

1. Congestion charging and uniform tolling. Currently there are countless different tolling systems throughout Sydney, ranging from free to distance based to flat fee to time of day. There is a significant potential to set tolling in such a way as to provide funding for additional transport spending AND as a form of congestion charging to discourage private car use during peak hour.

2. Car share. This has taken off in the inner city parts of Sydney, with some limited expansion into the North Shore and Parramatta. Though it is supported at the local council level, there is huge scope for car share policy to be expanded to the city-wide level in order to encourage take up, and thus discourage car ownership/use.

3. Bike share. As a “last mile” strategy, bike share can greatly expand the catchment area of public transport by allowing commuters to ride a bike after alighting from their public transport vehicle. This is a much better option than encouraging commuters to take their own bike on buses/trains, as this uses up valuable space onboard the vehicles. Helmet laws should be considered, and if any rollout is ever done then it should be done at a large scale. Small scale bike share schemes have been shown to fail due to insufficient coverage (e.g. Melbourne) whereas successful schemes invested in a substantial and wide fleet of bikes (e.g. Paris and London).

SYDNEY TRANSPORT : In solving the transport problems in Sydney, what transport mode should be the first priority for new investment, bearing in mind the need for a socially equitable and environmentally sustainable transport sector?

Transport modes are a transport solution to a transport problem. To pick a mode first is putting the cart before the horse, as it seeks to pick a solution and then go looking for a problem. Ideally we should be highlighting the problems and then selecting the most appropriate solution (and hence transport mode), which will be different depending on the exact problem. In some cases, the solution may be buses, in some cases it may be rail, in some cases it may be a re-organisation or upgrade of existing services.

But the key thing is to work out the problem first, and find a solution second.

SYDNEY TRANSPORT : What do you consider to be the main priorities for investment in Sydney’s transport infrastructure?

Public transport should be a priority. In the last 2 decades, many public transport projects have been deferred or cancelled. Meanwhile, every single new freeway that has been proposed has also been built. Freeways need to go to the bottom of the pile for the next 20 years in order to being public transport infrastructure back to square one.

SYDNEY TRANSPORT : How can the road network be better utilised and enhanced?

Get people out of cars and into public transport or out of the peak and into the off-peak. There is enough existing road capacity out there to transport Sydney’s population without having to build more roads.

There are many roads that are currently used for travelling through, rather than used for arriving at a final destination. For example, many people drive through the CBD without actually stopping there. This sort of traffic belongs on a freeway of some sort. Perversely, there is a freeway that people could take (the Cross City Tunnel), yet people choose not to use it because there is a toll. A logical solution would have been to toll the surface roads via a congestion charge, which would then fund a free CCT journey.

SYDNEY TRANSPORT : What are your priorities for public transport services in terms of frequency, reliability, cleanliness and safety?

Frequency is freedom. I love turn up and go public transport that is frequent enough that I don’t need a timetable. Depending on the context, this may mean 5, 7, 10, 15 or even 20 minute frequencies.

SYDNEY TRANSPORT : What criteria should determine whether light rail or bus transport should be preferred?

Light rail has a few benefits over buses, such as higher capacity, more popular appeal, faster acceleration/deceleration, less noise, certainty, etc. However, many of the benefits normally attributed to light rail, such as exclusive rights of way of better stops/stations, are actually also available to buses and are not technology based. Such things should not be considered when deciding between the two technologies.

SYDNEY TRANSPORT : What are the current barriers to using multiple transport modes to complete a journey? How can the barriers be addressed?

Integrated fares exist with myMulti tickets, but they are limited to weekly tickets and are CBD centric (a daily ticket also exists, but is far too expensive for all but a few users). Additional myMulti tickets should be available, such that Zones 1, 2, 3, 1+2, 2+3 or 1+2+3 are available, for users in outer suburbs who do not commute into the CBD.

Fares should cost the same to get from A to B, regardless of the number of vehicles used to do so. Currently, using 2 vehicles costs more, despite the fact that this is an inconvenience, not a premium service as the cost would suggest.

Resolving this can take either the form of point to point fares (which can be done once Opal is rolled out) or simple zonal fares (as myMulti tickets operate). Either is fine, but whichever option is taken the fare system should be built up from the ground up to be simple. Grandfathering the existing fare structure would complicate things unnecessarily.

SYDNEY TRANSPORT : How can the transport requirements of Sydney Airport and Port Botany be best addressed?

A second airport should be built at Badgerys Creek, where the joint NSW-Federal study into a second airport recommended it be built, in order to relieve the pressure on Kingsford Smith Airport and to provide jobs to Western Sydney, where the majority of the population growth will occur.

SYDNEY TRANSPORT : If there are to be more greenfield land release areas in Sydney, should there be a focus on developing public transport options as part of strategic land use planning for Metropolitan Sydney? How should this policy be given effect?

Future developments should be designed more like Rouse Hill, which has a dense town centre at its core which acts as a transport hub/interchange, rather than Kellyville, which is streets upon streets of houses and little else, forcing residents into their cars as the only transport option. Such a strategy, along with reservations for future rail corridors, allows for buses to serve these new areas until sufficient population/funding is available to extend heavy rail into the area.

Good planning for public transport also increases land value, and accessing some of the increase in the value of the land can help to fund this new transport infrastructure through, for example, additional levies on developers of these greenfield sites.

REGIONAL TRANSPORT : What are the key transport objectives for your region?

Rail lines have been poorly maintained and trains today run no faster than they did for most of the past century. There is little reason why trains in non-urban areas should not be able to go at 160km/hr (the maximum speed of an XPT train). Such an improvement could make living in Wollongong or Newcastle and commuting into Sydney a viable option, or getting a train between Sydney and Canberra competitive with air travel.

FUNDING : How much would people be prepared to pay for further investment in the transport system and what would be the expectation flowing from these investments?

I can’t put a number on this, or speak for the entire population of NSW. But there does seem to be an increased appetite for government spending on critical infrastructure, such as transport infrastructure, given the infrastructure deficit that has built up over recent years and the cost pressures that it has caused.

FUNDING : Given the limitations on funds available for future transport investment, what mechanisms should be employed to manage demand?

Congestion charging could help to manage private vehicle flows to limit congestion.

Also, encouraging employment in centres outside of the CBD, to make use of existing capacity on public transport from vehicles going in the counter flow direction during peak hour could allow unused capacity to be used, rather than having to invest in increasing existing capacity.

FUNDING : Should new revenues or charges be explored to deliver the transport infrastructure needs within a realistic timeframe?

Absolutely. Now is not the time to be ruling things out.

FUNDING : If further road user pricing were to be introduced, how should this operate? For example, by distance travelled? By vehicle type? Or should it be area based?

Distance travelled is a much more effective method of tolling, now that the technology exists to do it that way. Time of day tolling (congestion charging) should also be considered, as a way to discourage peak hour traffic and also to fund additional transport infrastructure.

OTHER COMMENTS : Are there any other comments about the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan Discussion Paper that you have?

The federal government is currently offering $2.1 billion in funding for public transport. Unfortunately, due to the political constraints of neither the state nor federal governments wanting to break a political promise, this $2.1 billion is not currently available. At a time when so much infrastructure needs to be built, losing this funding should not be considered an option.

It is therefore imperative that the NSW government do what it can to negotiate a compromise solution to this problem. This could involve offering to build some sort of high capacity transport link between Parramatta and Macquarie Park, which could be done at a fraction of the cost of the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link and thus allow the construction of the Northwest Rail Link (which is the current government’s priority). A number of proposals to do this (through BRT, light rail, etc) are currently on the table, and ultimately I care less about the option taken as I do about a compromise being struck.

But the worst outcome would be for both governments to stick to their guns, because then we all lose out.