Thursday, September 13, 2012

Draft Transport Masterplan fails

Sandy Thomas was being far too kind when called this plan a lightweight piece of fluff.  So much is missing from this plan it isn't funny. 

While the plan has numerous mentions of interchanges, integrated fares is never mentioned, and a fare structure review is mentioned only once.  The low level of importance attached to this issue is likely to soon see Sydney with a fare structure found in few places outside the third world.  The rest of Australia already has integrated fares and Auckland and Wellington are likely to get it soon.

A number of interchanges in Sydney have failed.  Edgecliff, Newtown and Pennant Hills are three which spring to mind.  At Pennant Hills, the M2 bus services are actually cheaper to use than the train, which is underutilised.  This is a perverse outcome as the bus services are more expensive to provide than feeder buses and it no doubt contributes to the negative growth which has occurred in peak rail patronage at this station.  Newtown isn't strictly an interchange but it is far faster on a train than a bus particularly in peak yet few people get off the bus to use a train there.  The lack of integrated fares are part of the problem.

While the plan has quite a number of mentions of increased frequency, it is not mentioned what services particularly are to have their frequency increased, nor the operating hours of such frequency, nor what the appropriate frequency would be.

Chapter 4 shows that the proposed southern destinations of the single deck trains are actually expected to be the least congested in 2031, which is presumably before the second harbour crossing would be built.  It also shows that the Northern Line is likely to continue to be under served.  No capacity increase is planned for Strathfield-Town Hall, unfortunately.

Chapter 4 also shows that the East Hills line to Macarthur is expected to be under served.  Didn't anyone tell them that the Erskenville-Sydenham sextuplication would allow trains from Macarthur to access Sydney Terminal?  Not without significant spend if the absurd Hurstville metro proceeds, but that is very unlikely anyway.

The Northern Beaches Bus Rapid Transit proposal is reprised unchanged, even though the study (strangely) found no options with benefits greater than costs.

The Light Rail proposal is just inconvenient for most people as it requires detouring via Central.  Perhaps the idea is that the via Taylor Square buses would remain but this is not explained.

While the plan suggests that rail has a low mode share to the Airport, no suggestions for action are made.  Surely the problem is that the fares are far too high and buying out the private partner is something which could be looked at.

Even if the plan's unfunded proposals are implemented, it still forecasts increased congestion, in some cases by a quite significant margin, particularly Rouse Hill-Macquarie Park.

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