CBD Metro – now worst idea ever?

It’s almost too easy to poke fun at the idiotic idea of spending billions of dollars to build an underground metro from Central to Rozelle – that corridor is well served for public transport, the money could be better spent on heavy rail to places that have little to no public transport, the proposal uses up valuable underground space, etc.

Now there’s a new reason – barely anyone will use it, according to the government’s own forecast. It will run at about 15% capacity when it opens, and more than a decade later (!) will barely make it past 25% capacity. And this is in peak hour!

Notice how I said “when it opens”, not “if it opens”? That’s because the worse this proposal turns out to be, the more afraid I am that this will be the one major infrastructure project that will actually get finished by the NSW government. After all, good proposals die almost as soon as they are spawned, so it stands to reason that possibly the worst idea ever will make it to completion.

I read a defence of the low patronage forecasts in Letters to the Editor the next day, saying that no transport could expect to be full on day one, and that its presence will create its own demand. I could tell before I got to the name that it wasn’t someone in the Transport Department, because they would have been hugely hypocritical – the sole semi-reasonable argument given against building the north-west heavy rail line is a possible lack of passengers.

Except the north-west heavy rail line would create its own demand – the mere promise it would be built sparked an increase in people moving to the corridor decades ago. It’s also mostly spacious, single-storey suburbia out that way, with plenty of room for higher-density housing, so the capacity to increase passenger numbers is quite high.

The Balmain and Pyrmont peninsulas, on the other hand, are chockers. Pyrmont is putting up the last tower in Jackson’s Landing right now, and Balmain/Rozelle/Lilyfield, while not having any major high-rises, are crammed with medium-density housing and have much higher restrictions on building due to heritage regulations. The only demand for public transport in these areas is what is already there.

And lastly, did the letter-writer not think that government forecasters would be able to account for stimulated demand in their models? I don’t know what assumptions about demographics and petrol prices, and so on, were made. But I’m pretty sure they would have at least attempted to predict additional demand, and they still got a ludicrously low number.

CBD metro = epic fail.

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9 Responses to CBD Metro – now worst idea ever?

  1. john says:

    I agree, this ‘plan’ is little more than a “hey-look-at-me!..I’m fixing public transport!” advert for the current government…the scheme is extraordinarily expensive & is, to be kind, little more than a rush job to appease a public thoroughly sick & tired of the short shrift which this government has ( previous State Governments have) the delivery of decent public transport.
    Surely the State Government really don’t believe that this boutique option (that putters out at Rozelle) will save their bacon in marginal inner city seats, if anything it is fanning the flames of opposition from constituents in these seats. Even the good folk of Pyrmont are defending Union Square (which is brilliant!) & are organising against the bloody-mindedness of the project’s co-ordinators in attempting to bulldozer through a station on the site of historic terrace houses near one of the few decent urban public spaces in Pyrmont.

    Of course the Rees government carries on the tradition of ignoring the public on public transport issues by refusing to implement light rail (the implememtation of light rail would be at a more cost effective price than the 5 billion dollars & rising Metro)…Show projects like this never end up completed to a useful or full potential. It sucks!

  2. DENNIS says:

    I PERSONALLY THINK YOU ARE BEING WAY TOO HARD ON THIS PROJECT. IT MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT THE WORST IDEA EVER.
    MOST PEOPLE WHO ARE AGAINST THIS PROSPSAL SIMPLY DONT WANT TO GIVE IT THE MERIT IT DESERVES. THEY ALSO HAVEN’T STUDIED THE SYDNEY RAIL SYSTEM (WHICH WAS BUILT ON A COLONIAL MODEL TOTALLY UNFIT FOR A 21ST CENTURY CITY) TO THE EXTENT THAT I HAVE. IF THEY DID THEY WOULD SEE THAT APART FROM BEING BUILT ON A COLONIAL MODEL, IT HAS CERTAIN LIMITATIONS ON ITS FUTURE EXPANSION! YOU SIMPLY CANT HAVE BRANCH LINES BRANCHING OFF BRANCH LINES, ENDLESSLY! YOU NEED, IN A METRO SENSE, INDEPENDENT RAIL LINES, SO THANK GOODNESS FOR THE RAIL CLEARWAYS. AFTER THIS, THERES ONLY SO MUCH YOU CAN DO. THE FACT IS THAT EVER SINCE THEY RIPPED OUT THE TRAMS IN THE ’60’S, SOME SORT OF RAIL HAS SIMPLY HAD TO MAKE A COMEBACK TO THE RYDE/GLADESVILLE AREA/VICTORIA RD CORRIDOR. ITS 1 OF THOSE GAPING BIG HOLES OF SYDNEY UNSERVED BY RAIL. FURTHERMORE, THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING! THE CBD METRO WILL BE THE PRELUDE & PRECURSOR TO LINKS SERVING THE NORTHERN BEACHES & MATRAVILLE, SO IT IS A FIRST STEP. I DO SUPPORT THE NORTH-WEST & SOUTH-WEST RAIL LINKS, BUT ALSO THE METROS! I SUPPORT THEM ALL!

  3. Jarrah says:

    I do give it the merit it deserves – very little.

    I’m not sure what you mean by a “colonial model”. Of course heavy rail has its limitations, but we aren’t anywhere near that yet. And some of the rail lines they should build now, they actually used to be there before! Remember, there used to be a line out to the Hills district that they ripped up.

    You bring up the Clearways project. In fact it reduces the necessity for a metro because rail has greater capacity now. But that’s the smallest of the reasons why a metro is a bad idea.

    As for “prelude and precursor” – I can’t bring myself to dignify that argument with a response. PS, don’t write in all caps again. It’s shouting.

  4. john walker says:

    Actually when it was first designed it was very advanced and it was built well enough , Bradfield was top rank.
    Simply; Since 1960 it has been slowly and then quickly run down, Spending on actual trackwork was entered as a cost , spending on locos -rolling stock was not entered as a cost hence reduced track/lines , pollies did not allow fare increases that would have provided enough income and a lot of inflated management costs have all helped.
    And Jarrah,
    The shifting demographic of sydney dos make the spoke/hub model problematic but its not a “colonial model” .
    The shear sprawling freedom of sSdney makes all transport a problem.
    The introduction of a lot more choice as to what school to send the kids to, has in it self contributed an awful lot of extra journys to the jam.

  5. David Hunt says:

    For the sake of us all, let’s hope the Keneally Labor Government will reassess the dilemma over the expensive CBD Metro. The CBD Metro is just not worth it. For anyone. Let’s solve our problems in Sydney without adding to them. As someone working for one of the businnesses that will be destroyed by the CBD Metro, I wait with nail biting time until the Premiers announcement next week. The businesses also wait in Pyrmont and the public also waits. Also will the public still have to bail out the Sydney City Council, owners of the Woolworths Building in Park Street to the tune of 500 million?

    David Hunt
    Rozelle

  6. john walker says:

    Any Idea as to what the liberal policy on it is? Barry are you there?

  7. Jarrah says:

    I keep meaning to write a new post on this, but the political/engineering landscape is a moving target, so I thought I’d let it slide until something definite comes up. Though I may write about my pet proposal.

    John, if the Liberals promise to implement the Christie recommendations in full, I’ll vote for them for the first time ever.
    If Labor do so, I’ll cheer them and then vote for the Greens anyway because NSW Labor are dismally incompetent and should be booted out of office.

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  9. john walker says:

    Slight problem, the management of state rail is just so awful that they would stuffup anything they got their hands on.

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