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“Nick Greiner’s absolutely nuts,” said Tarkis through a mouthful of
Joadja’s special $8.50 vegetarian breakfast wrap. “He wants to dig up Parramatta Road for about ten kilometres, six or eight lanes wide, to sink a tollway under it. That’d take a decade at least, and what’s petrol going to cost by then?”

“Couldn’t agree more,” I said. “And all those billions he wants O’Farrell or the feds to pour into private tollways would be money spent on worsening Sydney’s problems, not solving them. The peak period Parramatta Road problem is created by a tiny handful of commuters who insist on driving.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I looked up the RMS traffic statistics and in the morning two hour peak, there are only about 6,000 vehicles inbound on Parramatta Road. That figure is for the vehicles passing under Battle Bridge at the foot of Taveners Hill. Outside of the peaks, the road flows freely. There’s no way it’s overcapacity.”

“Hang on, you mean the whole problem is created by less than 6,000 vehicles.”

“Right,” I said, taking another sip of my long black. “Think about it. Of those 6,000 vehicles, less than three hundred are buses, and maybe fifteen hundred are commercial vehicles – folk who have a good reason to be there – and most of the rest are overpaid idiots who think it’s cool to drive to work in the CBD because some other idiot pays their parking bill.

“If we moved just 2,000 peak period motorists to a fast, civilised light rail service along Parramatta Road to the city, the road would be freed up, even in the peaks. It would be scandalous to squander $12 billion to pander to a couple of thousand dickheads while hundreds of thousands are struggling to get on public transport every morning.”

Tarkis thought about it while he sucked some crumbs off his finger. “But what about the buses? There’s bus transit lanes and lots of the red bendy metro buses zoom along Parramatta Road in the peaks.”

“That’s the whole point. A single modern 45 metre tram can carry more than twice as many passengers as a bendy bus.

“And most of those buses don’t pick up along Parramatta Road. They collect commuters from suburbs north and south of the road and then they turn it and
rush into the city because it’s the shortest and most direct route.

“So right down Parramatta Road a multitude of bus routes are duplicating each other. That’s a hell of a lot of wasted time. It would be a more efficient use of buses if they were running twice as often in the suburbs they pick up from – which would be easy if they weren’t wasting all that time and petrol running all the way to the CBD – and instead they fed commuters into a few interchanges where they waited an average of a minute or less to be whisked into the city.”

“But hang on, wouldn’t those trams have to stop now and then to pick up on Parramatta Road?” he asked.

“Of course, but firstly, in the peaks, they’d be running at least every two minutes, and their Parramatta Road stops would be at major traffic lights. The lights would be controlled by a transponder in the tram. When the tram stopped to pick up passengers, the lights would go red. Once the tram had picked up and was ready to go, the lights would turn green. No time lost
at all. Secondly, with the feeder buses running twice as often, or better, commuters would be saving several minutes on the wait for the bus. This stuff is an art form in Europe. We really do have to catch up.”

“So the implication of what you’re saying is that ‘Nicotine Nick’ Greiner and his greedhead construction company mates in Infrastructure NSW are proposing to spend $12 billion on what would be the world’s longest underground motorway just so that two thousand idiot petrolhead commuters can drive to the city in style. But that’s monstrous. If you didn’t build
this stupid tollway, you could spend the money on a huge light rail network and more rail lines…”

“Hey, and on freight rail. Don’t forget the other part of the problem,” I said. “We should be getting half of all the freight containers on rail. That was the original idea when they decided to set up Port Botany way back in the early ’80s. But year after year, government after government, the trucking lobby got their evil way and more and more and bigger and bigger trucks have invaded and endangered the streets. You know, it isn’t this
way anywhere overseas that’s half-civilized.”

  • Lynda Newnam

    Check the freight corridors and work out how many trains can move, how competitive etc and then look at what happens when containers reach the intermodal. The goods are then shifted to trucks and in some cases the containers are trucked interstate. Also check out overhead bridges. There are 26 between Botany and Moorebank which means no chance to double stack. Growth in emissions from heavy vehicles is growing at a faster rate, approaching 40% overall, than domestic. NTC, Infrastructure Australia, BTRE hold data. The M5East wasn’t built for sedan drivers and the absence of a toll was a boon for inner SW commercial development. Suggest you check out the Port and Airport Transport Plan, published November 2011, and note that Police are not amongst the stakeholders even though they coordinate the Disaster Plan. Are you aware that the cap for Port Botany as determined by Planning Minister Sartor 13/10/2005 is 3.2million TEU. The port moved about 1.3million containers last year equating to around 2 million TEU. Paul Broad suggested recently that it could handle 7.5 million containers which could equate to anything up to 15million TEU. People can do less moving around in the future as services are decentralised and work patterns change but it’s a very different future for goods.

  • Nick Possum for Premier!

  • Susan Mann

    What an astonishingly nasty piece of writing. I guess it says something about the mentality of a certain type of person who lives the inner city. As I do too, and I sincerely hope City Hub is wrong. Actually, I KNOW it is. In no less than dozen places in this article, the entirely logical transport choices of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens are ridiculed. Nick Possum calls these people “idiots” (many, many times – presumably because he can’t think of another sneering put-down), then “petrol heads,” monstrous,” “stupid” and finally, reaching new height of elitist inner city sophistication, “dickheads.”

    Because they use their cars. They are totally wrong to do so, according to Nick Possum. But they do that because they are fools. They should be forced to do something else, for Mr Nick Possum has an agenda. A very clear prescription on how his fellow citizens should behave.

    But what “European” model does he have in mind? I think I know which one. But I have news for Mr Nick Possum, who like City Hub, appears to have never left the 70s. It died in the GDR in 1989.

    In New Zealand, where I come from, possums are considered pests that should be wiped out. If Nick Possum keeps up his offensive, rambling, incoherent gibberish, which inexplicitly seems to be published continuously in City Hub (presumably because it is supplied free), it won’t be long before we are all thinking like Kiwis.

  • Kenneth Pillar

    @ Susan Mann may or may not realize that Nick Possum is writing satire, or what he imagines is humour. However she has a point. His columns always have a serious agenda, come from the authoritarian left, very often parrot the views of an inner city light rail lobby group, and almost always contain sneering references to other people and groups which the author disagrees with. In this one – motorists and sububanites are so cleverly derided as “idiots” and “dickheads.” His columns are also spectacularly unfunny, and it is only because I am a supporter of light rail myself, that I read this one. “Free” Nick Possum may well be, but he certainly does this publication no other favours.

  • Matt

    You know what his idea about trams on Parramatta Road makes sense and will be good to reduce congestion and so on. He is also right about trucking companies getting their way- there should be more freight on rail that is for sure.