Posts tagged State Transport Policy
What a surprise, one of my first ever posts is a rant about public transport. I suppose, in actual fact, it’s more an observation based on a less than perfect commute.
After what can only be described as a disappointing and uncomfortable journey to work this morning, courtesy of #CityFail, and with the impending NSW state election on the horizon, I thought I’d take the opportunity to “study-up” a little on Labor’s transport policies, and what the two competing parties propose to do to combat the ever increasing list of transport and infrastructure issues. The result, for want of a better expression, made me “lol”.
A quick search on the NSW Labor site revealed ”no results”. Now, I’m aware that this is more to do with bad site optimisation and poor site management than actual policy, but it still made me laugh. I feel it’s appropriate given the lack of a clearly defined “solution” to a problem often cited, yet never addressed articulately by a member of either party, to my limited knowledge at least. I will now be reading more policy papers though, to try and determine if anyone actually does have a plan.
The unfortunate realisation that, if I choose to “do the right thing” and leave my gas guzzling car at home, in favour of a “greener”, cheaper alternative such as CityRail, I will inevitably end up arriving at work late, wet (through sweating from the lack of aircon, or through leaking carriages, or a combination of the two), and frustrated, is not a good one, and certainly aids my decision on whether or not to just give in and continue driving to work. After my journey into Sydney from the North Shore this morning, feeling somewhat flustered through general bemusement at how a supposedly first-world state can mis-manage a transport system so badly, and sweating profusely, I Tweeted in anger, @ mentioning @KKeneally in the process. Well, I tried to - but the lack of consistent cell coverage on the North Shore line of late meant I had to wait until I got off at Milson’s Point, thee stations early due to the extreme heat and slow pace of the train, before I could get cell reception and send the damn thing. Regardless: it sent eventually. Not that I expect a response of any kind. the premier clearly has more pressing issues right now, including trying to keep her seat. Speaking of seats, try getting one between 8am and 9am, they’re slim pickings.
I only just came around to the idea of getting the train to work again today. This was my welcome back to the “service”. After watching three overcrowded trains (and I mean all carriages) go past, I opted to chance the fourth. I spotted that it was a newer train and so may possibly have air conditioning. It didn’t. A fact that became apparent only once the doors were closed and the smell hit my sinuses. The heat was a special kind of disgusting, and I was not alone in my discomfort. Four of my fellow passengers, two males and two distraught females (one almost at the point of fainting) were quite vocal in their anger. One guy got out at the next station, to try his luck on the next train I assume. This was the inspiration behind my own egress at Milson’s Point. Needless to say, the next train was also akin to a sauna, but by this point I was 20 minutes late already. This train was reminiscent of a carnival ghost train that I once road when I was a small child. It traveled at approximately 6KPH and jerked stop-start all the way to Town Hall. We even had the atmospheric mist. The only thing missing was the skeleton, but I assume I would have seen a few if I’d been travelling further than Central.
Further exploration of the NSW Labor site revealed a drop down menu link to their Transport Policy page - a simple one pager with a “what we’ve done” piece, and a few jibes at Barry O’Farrell. At the foot of that page is a small link to their actual “Public Transport Policy”. This comes in the form of a 16 page PDF, with a pretty picture of a bus and the hilarious title “Better Public Transport”.
Here’s a few pearls for you:
We have delivered 285 train carriages for the CityRail and CountryRail network and we are also delivering the largest order of new trains in the State’s history – which means all trains will be air-conditioned and we will have more seats on more air-conditioned trains.
Really? More seats on more air-conditioned trains? So there will be less standing room on these “new trains”? That isn’t really going to solve the overcrowding issue is it. Will there be an aircon and “more seats” retro-fit to the current fleet or will the current and old carriages be decommissioned in line with the roll out of the new trains? Do the maths. Also, what’s the timescale for this “all trains will me air conditioned” promise. Oh, and just a suggestion, but why not invest in some maintenance for the trains that have malfuctioning aircon now.
The Keneally Labor Government will cap increases in public transport to the rate of CPI, easing the burden on families.
Great, so you won’t have a realistically scalable solution for the future of the network, for the duration of the increase cap. Believe it or not, people will pay more for a better quality of service. Also, will this capped increase include any federal policy changes? Surely the proposed Carbon Tax will effect rail costs/prices?
If this is starting to sound like an attack on NSW Labor, I assure you I don’t intend it to be. It’s a basic human rant, fueled by the lack of a clear public message, rhetoric excluded, regarding the future of this growing city’s transport solution, and my own personal experience. After seeing the look on the faces of my fellow commuters this morning, it’s clear I’m not alone in my disdain.
The NSW Liberal Party site has much the same banal nonsense, once you’ve managed to navigate past the horrific green page-blocker asking you to register some love for them*. With the exception of this comprehensive insight (below) into the NSW Liberal plan for transport, and a few lines on the failings of Labor over the last 10 years, there really is very little actual policy. Certainly nothing detailed, and no explanation as to how a solution will be developed or paid for. How very Liberal Party. Tony would be proud.
I genuinely want to leave the car at home and would encourage any policy that offers reliable, reasonably priced alternatives. At the moment though, for me anyway, amongst many other factors, it’s this equation:
Drawbacks of catching the train to work =
Late + Hot + Sweaty + Smelly + Nauseous + 1 hour travel time
Benefits of catching the train to work =
Cheaper overall (including tolls) than driving + No need to find a parking space + No traffic jams + Moderately better environmentally (debatable)
Benefits of driving to work =
Comfort + Security + 30 mins travel time + Air Con Guaranteed + On Time
Drawbacks of driving to work =
Often impractical as difficult to park + Increasing Fuel & Toll Costs + More environmentally damaging (debatable)
The jury’s still out on this one for me. I now find myself with a weekly rail ticket and the prospect of either getting out of my pit half an hour early (something I seriously resent) or potentially being late all week. I’m also not looking forward to arriving at work sweating and fatigued (more so than usual). I’ll see the week out, and may even post again if and when I reach a decision. At this stage, the car is winning.
*Side note: why do all governments, state or otherwise have such a terrible web presence? Surely they have some of the best PR and Communications minds available to them? Anyone have any examples of a dynamic, user friendly and slightly more technologically and creatively “brave” political site?