People living in 70 per cent of Sydney suburbs have experienced a blowout in commute times over the past five years despite billions of dollars being spent on roads and transport.
A belt of suburbs extending from the city’s west to its south and pockets in the northern suburbs experienced the biggest spike in commute times.
The average trip to work took 22 minutes longer in Rouse Hill, the area with the biggest blowout, last financial year compared to 2013-14, bringing the average journey to an hour and representing a jump of 60 per cent, Transport for NSW’s latest household travel survey has found.
Mathew Hounsell, a researcher at the University of Technology’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, said commute times could be rising because growing population density in many areas is putting additional pressure on road and transport networks.Singal, Rabe (2020-03-16)
Growth on the [NSW] public transport network has hurtled past long-term government predictions, with 93 million more trips taken on buses and trains last year [FY 2018-19] than what was forecast for 2031.
A report used by the NSW government as the “framework” for investing tens of billions in transport projects over the coming decades predicted rail growth would increase by 26% between 2011 and 2031.
However, the rail network reached and then exceeded that predicted figure by 2017, more than a decade early.Rabe, Singhal (2020-02-19)
Several people have highlighted the government’s response.
Asked how it would respond to the patronage, the state’s transport agency said the department was “delighted” that demand was outpacing population growth.Rabe, Singhal (2020-02-19)
This story in the SMH is based on research I conducted and brought to Mr Rabe’s attention, back in November 2019. It took awhile to get the all the planets aligned.Read More
Most commuters travelling from stations west of Bankstown will be able to use direct services to get to Sydney’s CBD and avoid having to switch trains if a “preferred option” for a shake up of the rail network to accommodate a new metro rail line is adopted.O’Sullivan (2020-02-09)
“The preferred option is the best option for customers because it allows for faster trips to the city and connects the west with the inner west,” said Mathew Hounsell, a transport expert at the University of Technology’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.
But Mr Hounsell said the complexity involved in funnelling more trains through the western rail corridor between Lidcombe and Homebush risks a reduction in the reliability of services.
“It could lead to a less reliable network if investment is not undertaken,” he said.
“It is essential that the government builds the missing two tracks between Lidcombe and Homebush to keep our western rail network reliable. It has to be fixed and it has to be fixed soon.”O’Sullivan (2020-02-09)
Buried deep below Sydney’s tallest buildings, giant caverns have been churned out of sandstone and other rock. On the streets above, tens of thousands of people go about their daily lives, oblivious to the work underground on this mega transport project.
Twin tunnels spanning more than 15 kilometres in each direction from Chatswood in the north to Sydenham in the south, link these underground cathedrals. They will become the train stations for the second stage of Sydney’s automated metro train network.
Yet the metro rail project is at risk of quickly becoming a political and financial headache for the Berejiklian government. A highly confidential budget review, completed more than 18 months ago, forecasts the government’s signature public transport project will cost up to $16.8 billion to complete by 2024 – more than $4 billion above what had been budgeted.O’Sullivan (2020-02-08)
Mathew Hounsell, a transport expert at the University of Technology’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, says demand on Sydney’s transport system is already well ahead of long-term forecasts. “The transport system is essential to keeping the city pumping. Without it flowing properly, the transport network will end up clogged and inefficient,” he says.
“There is a significant risk that the government will delay the essential projects such as Metro West and the upgrade of the signalling on the heavy rail network in order to keep the budget looking good. But if we don’t invest in the transport system, the city will become less attractive and we will lose our global competitiveness. The transport system is the arteries of the city.” [emphasis added]O’Sullivan (2020-02-08)
Trams in Sydney’s CBD will pick up their first passengers in over half a century today, as a project plagued by delays, legal disputes and a $1.3 billion budget blowout reaches fruition.
The light rail will carry tourists and commuters from Circular Quay to Randwick, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, but covers only a fraction of the ground of the old tram network, which was ripped out in the late 1950s.Whitehead (2019-12-14)
I was interviewed for a piece broadcast on the AM program on ABC Radio National for the opening of the CBD South-East Light Rail. I’m quite glad Whitehead picked up on the importance of the urban layer and kept that comment in the piece.
“The trams provide that urban layer between railways and between walking.”Mathew Hounsell
Passenger crowding on trains travelling along Sydney’s western rail spine to the city during the morning peak has worsened significantly over the past year, underscoring the need for major investment in the ageing network.
Half of suburban lines have at least some trains unable to fit more passengers on during the busiest hour of the peak from 8am to 9am, figures from the state’s transport agency show.
Trains on the busiest line, the T1 Western, recorded average passenger loads of 150 per cent during the morning peak in March, up from 139 per cent a year earlier.O’Sullivan, Gladstone (2019-10-25)
More than 66,000 commuters have piled onto Sydney’s new driverless metro trains on average each weekday in their first two months of operation despite a spate of disruptions, figures show.
The weekday patronage in June and July makes the 36-kilometre Metro Northwest rail line from Chatswood to Rouse Hill in Sydney’s north west almost as well used as the Eastern Suburbs line, the city’s fourth busiest.O’Sullivan (2019-08-19)
Frequency is Freedom
Mathew Hounsell, a transport data analyst at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, said the new line’s patronage showed that people responded well to frequent all-stop services.O’Sullivan (2019-08-19)
Commuters on Sydney’s busiest rail lines are regularly unable to get home on time during the evening peak on weekdays, as new figures show the T1 Western and T8 South lines have been the worst performers over the last year for passengers.
Trains on the T1 Western – one of the most heavily patronised – and T8 South lines did not meet on-time performance targets during the evening peaks on three out of five weekdays in the 12 months to early July.
The T8 Airport and the T2 Inner West and Leppington lines also failed to meet on-time targets of 92 per cent of services running on time on almost half of weekdays over the past year.
The T4 Eastern Suburbs line, which benefits from the fact it is separated from the rest of the network, was the best performer during the evening peak from 3pm to 7pm. Trains on the line were on-time on 222 of the 256 weekdays captured by data from July 2 last year to July 5 this year.O’Sullivan, Gladstone (2019-07-10)
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
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 . 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 .
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 . 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