Randwick City Council, the ATC and UNSW are lobbying for Light Rail because they argue  Randwick contains Sydney’s highest concentration of employment, education, health, event and recreation destinations. There are also references to growth at the University and Hospital and to providing ‘more customers for Randwick and Kensington businesses”  and opening up Randwick for Sydney visitorsSee background papers.

 

Max (the Axe) Moore Wilton fully supports Light Rail to Randwick!

Is this a good reason for making Light Rail a priority or should we be questioning why we  have such a high concentration of employment and services here and why we want these services to grow around Randwick rather than in other parts of Sydney or other parts of the municipality?    Why should the majority of University places be held by universities that are within a few km of each other (see map) when the population centre for Sydney (see map) is  Ermington, near Parramatta. Why continue to grow these universities and force students and workers into long commutes?   The same applies to event venues.  Why focus on the AJC at Randwick rather than Rosehill.  Why Fox studios when there is Homebush Bay?

Randwick is not well located to be a major destination.   There is water to east,  and the CBD to the north.  The majority of visitors are coming from the west and except for coastal activities could  be accommodated nearer to where they live if the infrastructure $ were directed there.  For coastal activities adding trams won’t assist.

The Metrostrategy was subtitled’ City of Cities’ for a good reason.  It was recognised that to be functional Sydney needed to be planned as 7  self-contained cities not the situation we have now where the east and CBD  in particular have the best of the infrastructure, including university places, entertainment and infotainment(eg. museums, art galleries).

In Randwick’s south we lost employment and services when Prince Henry was closed.  The population has increased since Prince Henry was operating but health services were expanded at Prince of Wales.  Is it good planning to concentrate health services and health employment in a highly congested area?   It might be good for the researchers at UNSW but what about  patients, their families and hospital staff who have long commutes.

Sydney needs an expansion of heavy rail to address population growth in the north west and south west and an overhaul of bus services eg. better ticketing, better schedules.   How will this be achieved if funding is diverted to Light Rail.  A heavy rail connection linking Bondi Junction to Sydney airport was recently suggested by the Member for Coogee, Bruce Notley-Smith and supported by Labour Councillor Tony Bowen- see link.   There are many benefits for focusing on heavy rail –see link.  And for those who live in the municipality and adjacent areas  better cycling and walking paths are a priority (as well as services) for Living Locally and developing A SENSE OF COMMUNITY.

The last tram to run in Sydney was from La Perouse to Randwick in those days it took more than an hour to travel from La Perouse to the outer CBD.  Now we can catch an express bus and be in Macquarie Street  in 40minutes.  Express Light Rail doesn’t exist – it can’t because Light Rail is not flexible like buses.

We can close streets for fun runs, marches and markets and there is no problem diverting buses.  That can’t be done with Light Rail.

In an emergency buses can be diverted to other streets.  If there is an incident on a bus the driver can pull over and wait for police or ambulance to turn up.  In an emergency he/she can drive to a police station or hospital.  But this can’t be done with Light Rail.

If a major disaster, natural or human,  hit the Light Rail route it could be out of action for months.

Bus drivers have been known to accommodate the less able by pulling in at convenient stops and even helping them onto the footpath.  Try that with a tram.

When light rail/trams break down the whole line is down but for buses it is only a matter of dispatching another bus.

There’s a photograph of a crowd of university students waiting for buses but the artist’s impression of Light Rail neglects to show the queues of passengers – where do they wait?  Where is the protection against sun, rain, wind?  How easy is it for those in wheelchairs and on sticks to access?   We have an aging population and increasing numbers of disabled not the population of the 60s when it was common to run for the tram and hang off the side.

Light rail tracks are hazardous for pedestrians and cyclists and more so in wet weather.  USA Department of Transport  figures presented by John Niles (CETA) on the globaltelematics website show that the frequency of  light rail deaths per passenger-mile is 2.4 times that of urban cars.  Looked at as a process, at grade light rail fails in all four criteria of those commonly used to evaluate processes: safety, effectiveness, adaptability and efficiency.

There were good reasons why we moved  from trams to buses in the 1960s.  Since that time our lifestyles have changed, eg. less time spent at home,  longer commutes, more dual income families, opportunities for telecommuting. Private cars have provided access for individuals that previously didn’t exist as well as opportunities for services, eg. meals on wheels. There are more commercial vehicles and growth in this sector is faster  than domestic.   See study on emissions

The handout sponsored by UNSW, RCC, ATC on Light rail cites figures such as “10 million visitors go to Centennial Park and Moore Park each year” but how many of these visitors now go by bus and if they did go by car would it be feasible for them to change to Light Rail?   Would they for instance be able to carry bicycles and picnic baskets along with strollers and children?

It is argued that “lack of public transport results in students, workers and hospital visitors parking on residential streets” but would Light Rail change this?    Are the workers in cars because they are doing shifts and don’t trust public transport to provide safe passage?   Do the students have long distances to commute and  casual jobs to get to quickly after lectures.  Eastgardens is a buzz at weekends because retailing is now a 7 day a week  industry but UNSW  doesn’t schedule lectures on weekends.   Before demanding more services perhaps it could be brought into the 21st century with regard to deregulated hours.  And further,  what about e-learning?

“4,500 children attend 15 schools across Randwick, Kingsford and Kensington”  but how many of them already take buses?    Would they be safer on the bus or catching a tram in the middle of the road?

“1.3 million visitors access health services and hospitals in Randwick each year”.  Why aren’t these health services distributed?  How many people are fit to travel by tram for medical services?   How many visitors of the sick have the time to commute?   We know how important it is to have family  support when ill but the concentration of services in a congested area like Randwick has been an impediment for those wanting and needing to visit sick friends and relatives.  If  NSW Health  is serious about providing health services equitably it would  distribute such services to  people where they live and the Prince Henry development, for example, would  include a medical centre.

“400,000 people attend races at Royal Randwick Racecourse each year”.  Racecourses throughout Australia have experienced falling attendances.  It’s a ‘sport’ in decline and hence the amalgamation of the AJC and STC into the ATC (Australian Turf Club)   Up until WWII Mascot used to have a racecourse called Ascot.  It is now part of Sydney Airport. Times change.   Royal Randwick is prime crown land.  It belongs to the people of NSW – perhaps it’s time for Royal Rosehill to step up.

“11,000 Randwick City residents commute to central Sydney every workday”.     Of course “buses travelling between Randwick and the Sydney City Centre are full in both directions during peak”, that’s what ‘peak’ is about.   We talk about modifying behaviour with regard to ‘peak’ demand of electricity but not when it comes to travelling.   What about incentivising deregulated work patterns?    How much work can be done from home or in local hubs?    What scope is there for flexible working hours?    How many of the 11,000 live south of Randwick and could find current bus  services cut to pay for the Light Rail as well as being  expected to change from bus to tram at Randwick.   What will the tickets cost on the Light Rail – will the same discounts apply?

“Buses remain the sole public transport option to Randwick City” but is this a negative?  Should we be looking to a long-term solution of extending the heavy rail line from Bondi Junction?   It may take longer to achieve but is it good enough to pursue Light Rail on the basis that it is a perceived ‘quick fix’?

Finally, who benefits financially from the construction of Light Rail.  Once the infrastructure is in place there is no going back.  Bus routes can be changed in an instant to meet changing patterns of demand but not Light Rail.

 

 

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