Monday, March 30, 2009
PO Box K606 Haymarket NSW 1240
27th March 2009
PRE-PAY BUSES LEAVE CASUAL USERS IN LIMBO
Sydney's occasional bus users and tourists will be deterred from using Sydney's buses thanks to Treasury accountants insisting on collecting every last dollar in fares, according to a transport consumer group.
"The city's buses are rapidly going Pre-Pay, which is great for speeding up buses, but it has left the infrequent users in no-mans-land," said Allan Miles, secretary of Action for Public Transport (APT).
"The Sydney fare system should be simple, and market-driven, getting as many people on public transport as possible," Mr Miles said. "Instead, we have accountants running the show, dead scared that somebody might score a free ride!"
Mr Miles said that the complicated fare section system is too difficult for visitors and ticket agents to understand. "Passengers denied entry and sent to an agent could be sold the wrong ticket," he said, "and face a penalty if confronted by an inspector." He said that ticket agents, unlike bus drivers, cannot be expected to know which bus goes to Haberfield, or what the fare is.
"A zone system as used in other cities would be much simpler for everyone," Mr Miles said, "but the government, supported by the Pricing Tribunal, clings to the nineteenth century pay-per-metre-travelled method."
Mr Miles said that alternatives such as zone fares, four-hour tickets or cheaper day tickets were shunned by government because they had "implications for revenue". "Marketing and passenger convenience are alien concepts in Treasury counting houses," he said.
From 6th April, bus passengers in the George Street corridor must have a ticket before boarding a bus at any stop between 7 am and 7 pm Monday to Friday. "APT generally supports this and other pre-pay projects," said Mr Miles, "but some of the rough edges need more attention."
Mr Miles said that many bus stops in George Street had no nearby ticket agents, or the agents were hard to find. "This must be remedied quickly," he said, "particularly at Town Hall and Railway Square."
He said that one solution would be a cheap one- or two-zone all day bus ticket. "But Treasury ears are deaf," Mr Miles said. "They fear people will abuse a cut-price ticket and take an 80 km ride to Palm Beach and back."
"In the meantime," Mr Miles said, "State Transit should promote the existing BusTripper ticket costing $12.70. Most visitors would get their money's worth after three or four rides."
"However, far from promoting it," he said, "State Transit prefers to hide the BusTripper ticket. It is not mentioned among other pre-pay tickets on the glossy George Street brochures, or on bus timetables."
"The timing of the George Street conversion is rather unfortunate," Mr Miles said, "being only three days before the start of the Royal Easter Show, when the city will be crammed with visitors from near and far."
Contact: Allan Miles 9516 1906.
Action for Public Transport (NSW)
PO Box K606
Haymarket NSW 1240
National Seniors welcomes the South Australian government’s decision to offer free bus, tram and train travel to Seniors Card holders as of 1 July 2009. All Seniors Card holders will be able to travel free during 9.30am to 3pm on weekdays, all weekend and on public holidays.
National Seniors CEO Michael O’Neill said it was great news for the seniors of South Australia. “This is a great move by the Government to allow free transport to seniors and we think it’s something all State Governments should introduce,’’ he said. “The WA State Government also recently implemented a similar plan to offer free transport to WA seniors in off-peak periods so it looks like it’s gathering pace around the country.’’
O’Neill said the decision would help seniors to save money and also had environmental benefits. “It’s no secret that seniors are struggling under cost of living increases so depending on how much they travel, it could really help bring down their overall costs,’’ he said. “It will also attract more people to travel on public transport rather than in their cars, meaning fewer cars on the road which is good for the environment.’’
The move is expected to benefit around 275,000 Seniors Card holders at a cost of $10 million to the Government. Michael O’Neill is available for comment on 0448 125 898.
What are your thoughts on free travel? Maybe the NSW government might like to think about what our neighbors are doing in South Australia.
Dear Members and supporters of WSPTU, Sydney Metro are holding some public forums on the Sydney Metro. This information has been passed to us from the 10,000 Friends of Greater Sydney (FROGS).
Sydney Metro, the NSW Government agency responsible for the new CBD Metro rail line, is keen to talk with local communities about the project.
In coming weeks, we will be holding Information Sessions at Balmain and Darling Harbour to explain more about the CBD Metro, answer questions and hear what people think.
Everyone is welcome to attend the sessions, at a time that suits them. Please feel free to pass on this invitation to your members - the dates and venues for the Information Sessions are attached.
By way of background, the CBD Metro will operate into, and across the City, from late 2015. It will be seven kilometres long, with six underground stations at Central, Town Hall Square, Martin Place, Barangaroo-Wynyard, Pyrmont and Rozelle. This line will be the ‘enabler’ to create a future metro network for Sydney.
The project is now in a detailed planning phase. The Project Application and Preliminary Environmental Assessment were recently lodged with the NSW Department of Planning. These documents and a lot of other information, is available on the Sydney Metro website, www.sydneymetro.nsw.gov.au
I look forward to meeting you at the Information Sessions.
SATURDAY 28 MARCH Balmain Town Hall – Meeting Room 9am – 2pm THURSDAY 2 APRIL Balmain Town Hall - Meeting Room 4pm – 8pm
SATURDAY 4 APRIL Terrace Room – Australian National Maritime Museum 9am – 2pm
There is no need to make an appointment to attend these information sessions, drop in at any time.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The closest are at Liverpool station but are accessible only to train ticket holders.
The Liverpool Transport Taskforce community group, along with 12 others, is lobbying to have self-cleaning public toilets installed at the interchange which is used by about 8650 people daily.
Taskforce member George Smith, of Busby, said: ``It'd be good if they could do something about toilets while the repaving work is being done at the interchange at the moment.
``I had an experience here once when I needed to use the amenities and ended up having to walk to a nearby hotel. It's a very busy area and it inconveniences all residents who use the buses.''
Toilets were included in the original plans for the interchange but did not eventuate and became less a priority due to the Transport Ministry's Bus Review which recommended relocating shelters.
Mr Smith said his group would like to see self-cleaning public toilets, such as have been installed in various south-western suburbs, included in the interchange upgrading.
``It would be good if some sort of decision could be made in the next month or two.''
Source: Liverpool Champion http://liverpool.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/no-toilet-for-busy-bus-interchange/1468441.aspx
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
In response to a question from the audience, Mr Glasson discussed the fact that the Bus Service Contract Areas are no longer totally exclusive.
"The Lead Contractor now has to share. And that's a good thing," he said with a smile. "For instance, you have an operator now, taking advantage of the legislation which allows runs of 40klms or more without stops, to operate without a contract and go across contract areas into the city".
"But if someone wanted to offer a service within a contracted area they wouldn't be able to?" the questioner asked. "That's right. I would look at it, but it has to make sense from a public transport perspective" said Mr Glasson.
I asked him about after-hours and weekend services when the contracted operator has decided not to provide service. (It is not uncommon in Western Sydney to have bus services finish at 6 or 7pm during the week and at midday on Saturday, or no service at all on Sunday). "These services are generally not viable, that's why they are not being provided" Mr Glasson said.
"What about if someone did ask you for a contract to provide such a service" I asked.
"Well I would look at it. It would have to be an unsubsidised service and I don't have anyone banging on my door asking to provide a service like that" he said.
So there's an opportunity for all you budding entrepreneurs. Can you think of a business plan that would make providing after-hours and weekend bus services in the suburbs financially viable and can you sell it to the Director General?
"Local bus stops are largely the responsibility of Local Government and it's true that they have been lagging well behind in their duty to provide bus stop infrastructure, particularly with regard to making the bus stops meet the DDA [Disability Discrimination Act] legislation. The Ministry has funded the bus stop infrastructure on the strategic corridors and that has been going in" said Mr Glasson.
I asked what Mr Glasson thought about the idea that someone like the Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation should be responsible for all bus stop infrastructure but Mr Glasson was unimpressed with that idea. "It doesn't solve the problem of the money. The State won't pay for all those bus stops. They are the responsibility of Local Government".
There are more than 10,300 bus stops in Western Sydney and many of them are indistinguishable from a rubbish bin or a telegraph pole (see our bus stop photos on this blog). And many of them certainly aren't compliant with the disability legislation - they don't have a level 'launch pad' (a flat, concrete kerbside at the correct hieght) from where you can board the bus that is connected to the pavement. A decent bus stop is clearly marked, has shelter, has good timetable and routemap information and a DDA compliant 'launch pad' .
It would also be pretty good if the bus stops had their bus stop numbers on them so that people could take advantage of the 131500 bus stop information services that are already available.
It's clear that a circuit-breaker is needed for this discussion. The State doesn't want to pay for the bus stops and neither does Local Government, even though it is supposedly their responsibility. If we want to develop a well patronised bus system we need to find a way to fund the provision of decent bus stops in Western Sydney. Someone has to pay, but how do we work out who and answer the terrible question "Where's the money coming from?"
A Community Transport provider who was at the Seminar asked, "There are a number of people disadvantaged by the route changes that are being made as a result of the Bus Network Review. A lot of these people are people with disabilities, frail aged or transport disadvantaged. Why haven't Community Transport been involved in trying to meet the needs of these people?"
"There's no money" said Mr Glasson, without blinking. "It's true that there have been some people that have missed out but we can't justify sending buses down streets with low patronage anymore". And that was the end of the discussion.
This is a very serious social inclusion issue and one in which Sydney is lagging far behind cities in other developed countries who offer a variety of community transport style services to cater for the needs of people unable to access the mainstream mass transit system.
Many community transport providers are interested in expanding the types of services that they can provide but, because of funding issues, are restricted to providing service mostly to people assessed as Home and Community Care clients. The Director General's answer didn't provide any hope for a near term solution to this issue.
"We've come a long way and I think we now have a viable business model to take into the future" he said as he reflected on the work that the Ministry has done since the Bus Review report of 2004 (the Unsworth Review).
Mr Glasson talked of how the bus service contract areas have been refined down from 87 areas to 13 contract areas focused on coherent regions. "This makes it much more possible to have an integrated system" he said. He pointed out how important the creation of the 43 strategic corridors have been. "I think these corridors will serve us well in the future as we think about building an integrated public transport system" he said.
"We've had incredible interest from the public with the Bus Network Review consultations" he said. "We've had 3,000 submissions or comments given to us for some of the Regions and had hundreds of people attending some of the public forums. I think this reflects how important public transport is to people"
He also talked about how important it was to achieve fare harmonisation. "I remember having to pay more to use a private bus than on the government bus and I questioned what sort of message that was sending to the public and the customers" he said. "As well as making the standard fares the same, customers using the private buses can now access pensioner excursion tickets and weekly tickets at a 20% discount. This is comparable to the Travel Ten discounts available to customers using STA buses. "These weekly tickets are a good interim position until we get integrated ticketing" he said.
Mr Glasson reminded us that Sydney has the highest public transport mode share of all the capital cities. He also reminded us that a lot has been done to improve the bus system in the last few years and that there are still many things, like real time bus location information for passengers, that are not far off. This was good positive message to hear because it can be easy to get focused on the things that aren't right about the system.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Here are some comments from the editorial and the letters section of the Rouse Hill Times:
The State Government is again failing the people of the north west by continuing
to increase the growth of the area and refusing to improve the infrastructure
and our transport options, and yet they give a second rail or metro link to
areas which are already well served by rail and light rail. (Northwest
Riverstone can really help out Sydney and it needs to be urbanised.
It’s right along the Richmond line and the rail line has enormous benefits to
offer... But now it will be under stress. (Dennis Vossos)
Anyone who lives and works in the northwest will tell you current transport infrastructure is not anywhere near sufficient even before this business park opens ... This business park is destined to become the great white elephant of Sydney unless it is backed by a State Government .... to build rail in Sydney’s northwest. (Rouse
Hill Times editorial, 18 March 2009).
As one of these letter writers says, it seems like a gross misallocation of resources to spend $4.9 billion on the 7klm Metro trip to the inner west, which needs five under-harbour crossings, while huge areas of Western Sydney are not serviced adequately.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
just a quick notice to save the date Saturday 20th June 2009 for a the first of a series of meetings to promote better public transport in Western Sydney. We will do this by engaging with experienced public transport advocates, transport experts and academics and people who want to help advocate for a better public transport system.
If you are interested please email wsbustop at gmail dot com.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Liverpool Transport Taskforce (LTTF), most recent campaign is for toilets at the Liverpool Bus Interchange. The LTTF been working closely with the Liverpool Council’s Transport and Traffic Coordinator on the issue of passenger amenities and we have done some preliminary research around the needs of the community and potential solutions to the problem.
Bus Interchange Toilets
Historically, bus toilets were to be provided when the Liverpool Transport Interchange was designed. Under a previous commercial bus shelter contract with Liverpool Council, the contractor was to supply self cleaning toilets which would provide amenity to bus passengers.
The toilets were never installed. The resultant litigation and the Ministry of Transport’s Bus Review saw the bus toilets along with the bus shelters became less of a priority (as bus route were changing, hence the shelters would need to possibly be moved).
- Lack of access to CityRail Toilets
There is a clear lack of toilet facilities for bus users using Liverpool Bus Interchange. Regular users of the Liverpool Bus Interchange do not have automatic entry into the toilets provided by CityRail. Entry is by ticket only. Entry without a ticket carries a $200.00 on the spot fine. Some station attendants do let bus passengers use toilet facilities, but this policy is not consistently applied, creating uncertainty for members of the travelling public. We believe all passengers should be able to use the toilets regardless of what transport they choose.
Research conducted by the Liverpool Transport Taskforce and Western Sydney Information and Research Service (WESTIR) have indicated that there are close to 8650 people accessing the Liverpool Transport Interchange on a daily basis. This does not include passengers using the terminal for coach services, state bus terminal and other social coach outings.
- Distance from CityRail Toilets
If bus passengers are granted access to CityRail toilets, there is a considerable distance to travel to gain access to these toilets. Passengers, who are incontinent, have limited mobility, find using the bus service very difficult when toileting and change facilities are far away. Many mothers and fathers who need a safe place to change their children would also be able to use the toileting facilities in a safe and convenient manner. This is a significant problem and inconveniences many thousands of people each year.
- Self Cleaning Toilets (Vandal and Drug Safe)
Self cleaning toilets are a viable and customisable solution to this problem. The makers of the toilets state that they are self cleaning and low on maintenance, which saves thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the asset.
They can are designed to minimise anti social behaviour and have a timer which can be altered, so that the cubicle doors open after a set period of time. The Toilets are fully accessible and compliant with the Federal Discrimination Disability Act legislation so those with limited mobility or a disability can use the facilities. Council and stakeholders would be meeting their responsibilities under the law.
At present, CityRail is re-surfacing the Bus Interchange area, removing paving and resealing the concourse. We believe it is an opportune time to install the bus toilets, as there will be less disruption to the community and the travelling public if the toilets are installed at this time.
We need community support to identify the owners of the land to seek permission to build the toilets and are seeking support for this proposal and this campaign.
We believe that this toilet is long overdue and sorely needed. This matter has been raised at a council meeting for discussion and is currently under the deliberation of the Mayor of Liverpool Council, Wendy Waller.
We will be making a video and posting to this blog to highlight the issue.
Monday, March 2, 2009
The link to the Executive Summary is here: http://www.dab.uts.edu.au/research/outcomes/garry-glazebrook-execsum.pdf