Author Archives: Blogger

Trams: Rebuilding what was lost

Sydney had one of the world’s largest and most used urban public transport systems. Mathew Hounsell explores Sydney’s old tram system and looks at what inner city councils are interested in resurrecting.

In 1945, the NSW Government op­erated the city’s urban transport network as 291 kilometres of sur­face light rail that served 405 million passengers a year, all while making a profit.

The history of Sydney’s light rail is a fascinating one. Sydney’s first trams were horse drawn, and later cable cars were introduced along the North Sydney line. It was the flexibility and reliability of electric trams that allowed the tram system to take off and saw the first electric power plants built in Sydney, with spare capac­ity for businesses and homes. The network expanded a few kilometres at a time, like a growing tree, except in some circumstances where powerful politicians decided a tram would improve their local streets.

Mathew Hounsell

Read the whole thing in the Inner West Voice.

How does public transport stack up against motorways?

Regardless of how it is financed, all infrastructure is paid for by NSW residents , through either fees or taxes. So we deserve to know whether the government is prioritising projects that give us the greatest bang for our buck, writes Mathew Hounsell.

To move 24,000 people in an hour takes twenty double-deck trains, 100 light rail vehicles, 240 bendy-buses or a ten lane toll road.

The NSW and Commonwealth governments plan to spend $1.26 billion to build a 14 kilometre motorway from the M7 to the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek [1]. A six lane motorway could carry up to 7,200 persons an hour to the new employment centre of Western Sydney at a cost of $90 million per kilometre. Transurban, the remaining Sydney toll road operator, plans to build NorthConnex, a twin three lane, nine kilometre, motorway tunnel for $3 billion – $333 million a kilometre. The proposed WestConnex motorway is estimated to cost at least $15 billion [2].

That 7,200 hourly capacity looks feeble when compared to rail. For example, the Moreton Bay Rail Link (Commonweath and Queensland governments) is costing $1.15 billion [3]. It’s a 12.6 kilometre railway with six stations and twenty-two bridges, most over roads. With modern signalling one such two-track rail line can carry between 36,000 persons an hour, or 48,000 if you’re as ambitious and competent as the French.

Mathew Hounsel

Read the whole thing in the Inner West Voice.

A public presentation to the two P&C committees of schools impacted by the Western Harbour Tunnel & the Northern Beaches Link.

The presentation can be watched below and the slides are available as a PDF.

The presentation discusses the Sydney Metro assessments of two Dee Why to North Sydney metros that were part of the previous plans.

Figure 3 – Proposed staging plan.

The proposed metros would have reduced traffic in Sydney (despite the pro-road bias of the model).

Figure 4.24 Change in Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT)

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The submission #426 is available as a PDF or from the NSW Legislative Council Public Accountability Committee Inquiry – “Impact of the WestConnex project” established on 21 June 2018.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am a Transport Analyst and Planner, and as an independent citizen I have been studying transport in Sydney since 2008, specifically the M4, the M5 and Kingsford Smith Airport.

I have been studying the Westconnex since it first appeared in drops to the Daily Telegraph in mid-2012. I have provided independent technical and historical analysis of the project to the community and I am one of the persons most familiar with the project outside of its contractors.

This submission aims to address a key few of the inquiry’s terms of reference. Westconnex is not a single project, it is a brand that has been used for public relations to cover a range of existing road upgrade projects and long-planned motorway. Westconnex must also be considered in the context of the departments full plan which always included additional projects like the Campbell St widening, Quantas Dr widening, F6, and an M2-M4 motorway. Recently, the Westconnex brand has been used by the government to create new projects such as the Western Harbour Tunnel.

This submission has been written to provide the committee with the big picture and then some detailed technical information. I have attempted to provide information to assist you in understanding the hidden historical context.

I apologise that this submission is not exhaustive. During the writing process, I came to realise that an 18-page submission with attachments barely scratches the surface on this topic. …

Mathew Hounsell

Read the submission (as a PDF ) to find out when & why the NSW roads department changed the plan to create the Western Harbour Tunnel from the one shown below. (Hint: Manly)

Part 3: Initial Project submissions – M4 Extension

Source: Department of Transport, 2010. “Infrastructure Australia – Updated Submission by the NSW Government 2010”

I told you so …

After the introduction of tolls the M4 is unattractive.

“However, according to the numbers contained in the EIS and Appendices the widening of the M4 will actually reduce the total amount of traffic in the corridor. The government acknowledges that there will be an increase in traffic on Parramatta Rd as motorists compare the toll to their Value of Travel Time Savings (VTTS) and find it to be too high. However the government does not mention the fact that there will be a total reduction in traffic within the corridor as discretionary or impulse trips are deferred or redirected to other transport modes like public transport.”

Read the full NoW PT submission on the M4 widening (PDF).

Excerpts from the submission:


Tolls and Patronage

On 16 February 2010, the concession on the M4 Motorway expired and ownership was transferred from Statewide Roads to the NSW Government. The toll on the M4 Motorway was removed at this time. Immediately prior to its removal, the motorway toll was $2.75 for cars and $6.60 for trucks [excluding the Cash-Back program]. ([EIS] – Appendix D – Page 91)

From the RTA’s assessment there was a 500 vehicle drop in traffic on Parramatta Road in the four hours of the morning and a 1500 vehicle increase in vehicles on the M4 (Western Expressway). This represents an induced traffic effect of over one thousand vehicles. The effect is evident by the immediate visible increase in road congestion and reduction in travel speeds experience on Sydney’s roads. After the toll was removed, the average monthly rail patronage started to slide because of the significantly reduced patronage caused by mode shift to private vehicles. With each month, the new reduced baseline pulled the twelve month rail patronage average lower.

You can see quite clearly on the below graph where the slower timetables and removal of the toll on the Western Expressway have significantly reduced the patronage on the Western Line. However you can also see that the trend is holding for over 150% growth (300,000 passengers a month) above the 2001 figures.

Persons shifted from Western Line Trains when the M4 toll was removed.

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Adding a footnote to a chart of the top three origins and destinations used in its composition

Get the number of origins and create a prefix string:

'Origins (' & COUNT(DISTINCT O_SA3_NAME11) & ') : '

You must use the DISTINCT operator in the count.

Generate a list of origins ranked by the number of employed persons:


Keep an origin only if it’s in the top three ranked by the number of employed persons:


Generate a string of the top three origins as ranked by the number of employed persons:


Get a prefix of ‘etc’ if there is more than three origins:

IF(COUNT(DISTINCT O_SA3_NAME11)>3,', etc', '')

You must use the DISTINCT operator in the count.

All together:

='Origins (' & COUNT(DISTINCT O_SA3_NAME11) & ') : ' & CONCAT(IF(AGGR(RANK(SUM([TABLE_17.EMPLOYED_PERSONS])),O_SA3_NAME11)<=3,O_SA3_NAME11),', ')&IF(COUNT(DISTINCT O_SA3_NAME11)>3,', etc', '')
&'; Destinations (' & COUNT(DISTINCT D_SA3_NAME11) & ') : ' & CONCAT(IF(AGGR(RANK(SUM([TABLE_17.EMPLOYED_PERSONS])),D_SA3_NAME11)<=3,D_SA3_NAME11),', ')&IF(COUNT(DISTINCT D_SA3_NAME11)>3,', etc', '')

Canberra Streetcar Historical Plan

Walter Burley Griffin‘s original plan for Canberra being developed before the subsidization of the private car include several streetcar and railway corridors. The original plan for Canberra was more compact as sprawl requires a high energy private transport system.

Download KML


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