baliAt a forum for Surry Hills business owners on 13th March, the CBD/Randwick Light Rail Project Director, goodlingGeoff Goodling, told his audience that Government shouldn’t prop up bad businesses and suggested  business owners close shop and go to Bali for 6 months.  Other solutions offered included tapping into personal savings.

Goodling oversaw the Portland Light Rail project – read more about it.

 

 

Full Notes from Meeting:

PEOPLE UNITE SURRY HILLS
Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) Surry Hills Business Forum – CSELR
Thursday 13th March at Adina Hotel
The evening was chaired by Project Director – Geoff Goodling
PUSH HQ notes:
1. Geoff stated this was another exciting phase of the project.
2. The route will be wire free only on George Street.
3. TfNSW are looking for integration with the existing inner west service. TfNSW are hoping the existing
operator will run the new line.
4. TfNSW state there will be $2 billion in benefits and 10,000 jobs created.
5. There will definitely be a termination of buses at Randwick and Kensington.
6. Savings in transport of $43 million per year will be gained from the light rail through reduction in bus
services. There were issues raised regarding how the benefits are calculated.
7. There is project advisory board in place. It was unclear what the role of the group is however it has 3
independent business leaders and Government treasury/ cabinet.
8. Submissions to the EIS were analysed and changes made. The Government now has a preferred
infrastructure report.
9. Approval for the project is expected in May 2014.
10. TfNSW are now creating trenches to ascertain what services are below for when they start.
11. Surry Hills services still to be done – Saturday March 22 and then following weekend 29 March.
12. The project suggests a business reference group. Will be chaired by David Towel from the advisory
board. They want to ensure businesses “don’t go under”. Two people only can be nominated from local
businesses (or alike). Nominations open till 30th April 2014.
Questions and statements between attendees and TfNSW:
1. There has been insufficient communication and sessions, and TfNSW representatives have had a lack of
knowledge to answer questions. There is a need to have the City involved if the project can’t answer the
questions.
Jennifer from CoS on city transformation team was present. She advised the State Government is
running the project however they are a reference point for local issues.
2. Question re limiting speed was put to the EIS however it was not followed up with specifics in the
responses. TfNSW advised there is still no determination re speed and they cannot answer every
question as they don’t know.
3. Works due 22 and 29 March – what do we expect? Pedestrian access will be retained and they will make
certain people will be able to get to the shop fronts.
TfNSW will close street for entire day. There will be no parking on Devonshire Street but they will allow
deliveries.
4. An attendee advised that the coaches at Central have not been notified at all.
5. An attendee noted there were 1775 issues raised in the EIS submissions; 48% related to the Devonshire
Street route, such as noise, early morning tram movement and traffic issues. There has been no
response to any of these issues. TfNSW has been silent on noise guidelines. No response re why
Devonshire chosen.
6. Parking is major for some businesses. Where do they and their customer’s park? Advised to go to CoS
website. The project is only responsible for special parking e.g. disabled, loading etc. but the City is
responsible for parking generally.
7. Time for construction. Divided into 31 construction zones and want the PPP to advise how long to do
each section. Have fines for being there longer than stated. No idea of timing at this stage. RMS and
TMS will control work at intersections. Project Director advised he would be surprised if the construction
period for the section is more than a year. Can businesses deal with a year of disruption?
8. There is NO compensation for business owners intended. The Project Director stated Government
shouldn’t prop up bad businesses. He provided an analogy re bookshops and travel agents going out
of business. Geoff suggested business owners close shop and go to Bali for 6 months. The
attendees responded his statement was offensive. A lawyer at the meeting advised Geoff that there was
cause for business to seek compensation for disruption caused by the project. A business owner stated
they have worked for 7 years to build their business and it was insulting to be told they weren’t viable
because of light rail.
9. Geoff explained that if the contractor exceeds their agreed deadline, they are charged. An attendee
questioned why business couldn’t get a share of the rent charged from the contractor. TfNSW said it is a
token. Said PPP will build into price if too high. Geoff advised that TfNSW’s help to local businesses
would be advertising and signs. Cannot make any commitment to subsidise lost revenue.
10. Example from local business owner re revenue lost due to a broken water main; he was asked to prove
loss in earnings by Sydney Water to allow compensation. Lost an entire might of trading. TfNSW advised
there is no lost profit covered.
11. Ambience currently enjoyed in Surry Hills will be ruined by tree removal and overhead wires. TfNSW
plans to rehabilitate the street? Geoff stated there is NO DEBATE the project will change Devonshire
Street. Will attempt to maintain and create new environment.
12. Underground on Devonshire Street – they will build extensive communications infrastructure including
NBN. However they have no idea regarding when, if or how included.
13. Project Director advised studies elsewhere re light rail showed positive benefits for the local economy.
HOWEVER he then stated these are ONLY anecdotal studies. (How do they say they will increase
economy with no studies? Then advised that some places along the route had already seen increases in
economic benefits?)
14. Noise and congestion. Seattle light rail still in court re noise levels not being met. No detail in the
response from TfNSW re what they will do to mitigate. PPP is to comply with the law. Can use contract to
make PPP comply with law. Maintenance only mooted to reduce noise. Still has no idea of vehicles to be
used.
15. Someone asked for an example of where light rail runs at 40-45km’s per hour along residential streets.
Geoff suggested streets similar to Devonshire overseas have light rail they run at 50-60 Kms, but unable
to name where.
16. Question – Has the transport Department talked about alternatives since the build will take place AFTER
the election? Response – If there is a change of Government then there is no alternative plan. There will
be no significant work before 25 April 2015. State will not do anything of any substance before approval.
17. There is an escalation process re works. However the notices re the 22 and 29 March works is only
being sent out next week. Why late notice?
18. 150+ car spaces disappearing from Devonshire Street – what is plan to compensate? Already full in terms
of parking. TfNSW advised things change and we need to get used to it. There is no parking in the CBD.
There will be 10,000 people passing along Devonshire St. “Anecdotally” the monorail as advertising
helped even though it didn’t bring direct business re monorail.
19. TfNSW want to transition businesses to a different market rather than their existing one. They also want
to get businesses to cater for construction workers………
20. TfNSW will not discuss decision re route.
21. Project Director asked has Surry hills changed over the last 20 years? He was advised this is no
justification for putting a major tram up a small suburban street. He was asked that he question the
Minister again. Geoff stated again that things change. Here to help with change only. Not justification.
Only to get you through this project.
22. Advised that the more stops added then trip times would increase. There will be no other stops in Surry
Hills other than Ward Park.
23. Stated there will 3,500 kids from school serviced by tram. (PUSH HQ; understand there to be 2,000
students at Sydney Boys Boy/Girls high; not all travelling by tram to Central).
24. Statement from floor that the project seems to be about getting people through Surry Hills and not about
servicing Surry Hills. No stops and will not help.
25. Project Director advised we were lucky as communities where leader makes decision better than where
they are afraid to decide. He was advised in no uncertain terms a bad decision isn’t better than none at
all.
26. Who do we talk to re feeder roads etc.? He advised these issues are for the business forum.
27. One attendee advised her Submission response from TfNSW was based on an old business that was in
her shop previously in 2010.
28. Asked if TfNSW are able to help businesses talk to landlord re reducing rents during construction.
TfNSW advised to refer to business forum; and to perhaps organise a short -term loan, or tap into
personal savings!
29. One landlord advised they have already lost tenants.
30. Ward Park. Depot. 5 years will be used. 40% of park will be taken up. Eastern end.
31. TfNSW advised it was guaranteed they would ensure businesses maintain access.
32. Clr Linda Scott stated that TfNSW should use existing business groups rather than start new ones. She
reiterated the Level of disruption is an issue. It is crucial there is no extended construction and it is critical
to determine construction period.
33. The Project Director was asked for references from business and community groups in both Perth and
Portland. He promised to provide the names.
– END –

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