Transport Sydney as well as the Sydney Morning Herald have already made some good comments on this Master Plan, as well as the Infrastructure NSW counter plan. I'm not going to repeat those comments.
Here is what my submission to Transport for NSW regarding their "Master Plan" was:
The lack of a commitment to integrated fares is a major no no for me. This is an enabler for a sizeable portion of the development of the network which should occur. The proposals for near side bus termination depend on this to succeed, for example.
There are no targets for increased mode share outside peak hour. This is clearly a reason for situation where after 9pm the M52 drops back to an hourly 520. Given that the M52 gets just over 60 boardings per trip there is clearly demand for increased service here. Another example is the 392 which only runs half hourly but gets over 50 boardings per trip. Clearly there isn't much focus on increasing patronage outside of peak hour.
The Infrastructure NSW report gets bus and light rail far more right in my opinion.
(a) There is a need for either far more express bus routes and/or far wider stop spacing. Current limited stop services such as the L94 are not sufficient to encourage people to walk further to an express stop. Adding an L92 running every 15 minutes would change this for many people.
(b) I don't see the merit in the proposed light rail between Central and UNSW. That would be running with light loads Central bound in the AM peak while buses run dead in the opposite direction, whereas the current situation means that the buses can be loaded in both directions. Possible solutions for managing the 891 queue on Eddy Ave better are one or more of:
(i) remove the shelter at stand D and move forward the stopping point of the first bus, allowing 3 or more buses to board simultaneously
(ii) move the head of the queue for intending passengers closer to where the bus stops - every second counts
(iii) when a second or third bus is approaching move passengers forward so they are ready to board when it arrives
(iv) a pedestrian overpass of Eddy Ave which would reduce traffic congestion and allow departing buses to clear the stop more quickly. This would also be far more convenient for passengers, best with an escalator and a lift on the north side of Eddy Ave.
(v) schedule more buses
An alternative is to move the pick up to Chalmers St but I do not like this solution
(c) Unless the light rail is faster through the CBD than the 20km/h permitted for the current operator, it is a pointless exercise. It remains unclear why a new light rail system would not face the same constraints as the present one.
Northern Beaches BRT as proposed is apparently unjustified, however I cannot see what prevents a bus lane northbound along Spit Rd in the AM peak to allow returning buses to queue jump the traffic crossing the Spit Bridge, other than the truck and bus speed limit. If that is really a problem, the trucks could be pushed in to the right lane. This would allow the same number of buses and drivers to carry more passengers. Similarly, upgrading the transit lanes to bus lanes and/or making them longer ought to be justified. Increased public transport use will improve the business case of the proposed BRT here.
Where is the plan for faster or more frequent services anywhere? Half hourly midday frequency on the South Line, terminating half the ECRL trains at Chatswood, only half hourly services for stations Doonside to Penrith outside of peak is poor. There used to be 4 trains per hour for stations from Doonside to Penrith. Currently outside of peak travelling by Cityrail between Paramatta and Town Hall takes 33 to 35 minutes. This should be much faster. In peak the trip between Redfern and Paramatta can be done non stop for an average speed of 57km/h. For comparison, in 1995 a non stop trip between Petrie and Northgate in Qld ran at an average speed of 75km/h. Trips between Caboolture and Petrie can still be done at an average speed of 95km/h if the train is on time.
Connecting the new Harbour crossing to Hurstville instead of Homebush seems brain damaged. After spending all that money no increase in capacity for the Western Line, which is critically overloaded? I expect you ought to be able to connect to the Inner West line between the Illawarra Junction and Macdonaldtown station, then allow the suburbans to connect with the city circle and the mains with the Harbour Bridge. Connecting to the Illawarra line means that the capacity is sent where it isn't needed and passengers bound for stations like Rockdale will not know what station to go to for their next service. The Erskenville-Sydenham sextup, done properly, would allow Illawarra line trains to run in to Sydney Terminal without masking capacity in the Eastern Suburbs Railway.
Some of the Metrobus routes are mis-designed, particularly the M50 but nothing seems to be in train to review these. Stopping at 9pm on a branded service is poor in my opinion. Smartbus is until midnight 6 days per week, BUZ is until after 11pm 7 days.
The most significant short coming of the master plan is the lack of integrated fares.