Monday, May 21, 2012

Harbour Bridge bus congestion - will the NWRL fix it?

Recently, 358 buses were timetabled to arrive at Wynyard from the Harbour Bridge in the hour from 8am to 8:59am on a work day.  79 (or 22%) of these buses are M2 services.  So one might expect a significant reduction in congestion once you consider queueing theory's prediction that a small change in supply or demand can have a dramatic effect on waiting times.  This prediction has a number of problems:
  1. The remaining services can be expected to continue to grow.  Growth of 2.5% p.a. over 10 years would put us basically back where we started
  2. Cityrail's network could not handle this many additional passengers travelling over the Harbour Bridge without a lot of pain.  Transport for NSW's preferred plan is to run the trains for the upper Northern Line into Sydney Terminal, however two trains per hour via Gordon must also be trimmed.  These changes seem extremely unlikely to survive political interference, and the alternate plan of terminating every second NWRL train north of Sydney Harbour seems likely to proceed
  3. If only half of the promised 8 per hour trains actually reach Wynyard, it is likely that the short workings will not add much value.  Their value would be increased by the previously proposed quad between St Leonards and Chatswood.  This would allow people bound for stations up to St Leonards to use the short workings, and running the full distance trains express between Epping and St Leonards would also channel people who can use the short workings on to them.
  4. Integrated fares have not been achieved in Sydney, and even if they were it is unclear that people from the Hills District would be willing to use a feeder bus to reach the station.  If they will not, then that means very expensive parking must be provided, a reduction in the market penetration of public transport or the buses along the M2 to the city and North Sydney would need to be retained in a reasonably large number.
  5. An additional 25 or so buses reach North Sydney from the M2 between 8am and 8:59am on a working day.  It is estimated that between the Wynyard direct and North Sydney/Milsons Point buses that 4 trains per hour reaching North Sydney and Wynyard would be insufficient to meet demand.
So it can be seen that the North West Rail Link can not be relied on to fix bus congestion on the Harbour Bridge.  A subsequent post will go in to solutions to fix these problems.

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