The importance of reading carefully

Today I was pleased to see someone responded to my response to a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, even though they disagreed. Unfortunately, Siobhan Brahe didn’t actually rebut my statements, due to the fact that she apparently didn’t read my letter carefully, nor apparently has she read the study I refer to at all.

Here’s what I said:

Russell Edwards (Letters, May 24) is wrong on two counts. The light rail extension to Dulwich Hill is not a duplication, it is a new north-south connection in an area where there are none, along a disused line that would otherwise go to waste. His suggestion that it will cost $500 million is out by a factor of 10 – the official study by GHD shows it can be built for about $50 million, plus contingencies. David Campbell should be criticised for his failure to implement it earlier, not for his personal life.                  (Emphasis added)

Today’s response read:

Jarrah Job (Letters, May 26) also makes incorrect assumptions about the light rail’s inner-west extension. The first is that the old goods rail corridor would ”go to waste”, given other proposals include a greenway of walking and cycle paths. The second is that anyone in Lewisham and Dulwich Hill will use it. Prima facie, it appears to be a substantially slower trip to the city and more expensive than the existing heavy rail.

Has anyone thought to ask residents how much and how they will use the extension? No one doubts the need for the Barangaroo/Circular Quay leg and better transport options in general, but not all of us inner westies crave easier access to Star City.           (Emphasis added)

Firstly, the rail line WOULD go to waste unless we put trains on it. The rail corridor, which includes land to either side of the line, could be otherwise used (and in fact is partially used right now, with some walking paths), that is true. However, the study I commented on recently was mandated with evaluating the construction of “a greenway of walking and cycle paths” in conjunction with the light rail. That is, the light rail extension INCLUDES those uses, so there’s no point having them WITHOUT the light rail.

Secondly, the study explicitly states:

Connectivity of the Public Transport System
The rail corridor provides a rare circumferential dedicated public transport link in an area which exhibits relatively high levels of public transport use.
 Heavy Rail:
The light rail line would provide a dedicated link between the Bankstown Line (Dulwich Hill Station) and the Inner West Line (Lewisham Station) as well as connecting to Central Station.
By providing a high frequency, reliable public transport service, the light rail has the potential to better connect its catchment to the CityRail network.
 Bus:
The light rail line has the potential to interface with a number of key bus routes at, or close to, Norton Street, Marion Street, Parramatta Road, New Canterbury Road, and to a lesser degree, Old Canterbury Road and Dulwich Hill Station.
By providing a high frequency, reliable public transport service, the light rail has the potential to provide alternative transport choices to travellers.
It is noted that the frequency of light rail, heavy rail and bus services is a key determinant of a well-integrated public transport system.
Public Transport Access within the Inner West
The proposed light rail service has the potential to increase the general level of public transport access within the area surrounding the corridors. This improved level of access, coupled with the potential for urban renewal, could be expected to increase the overall levels of public transport access within the Inner West.

The purpose of the extension is not to increase access to the city or casino for Inner West residents, as Siobhan Brahe disingenuously implies. A north-south link crossing major bus routes and the two heavy rail lines greatly increase the options for Inner West residents when it comes to commuting and shopping trips. It will decrease reliance on cars, always a good thing, and relieve pressure on the CBD by reducing the need to go there in the first place.

So my first “assumption” was nothing of the sort, and my second… wasn’t actually an assumption at all, but the incorrect supposition of Siobhan Brahe.

UPDATE 31/5/2010

I missed Robert Daley’s letter to the SMH on the 29th making exactly these arguments. I felt it would be rude to write in again, so I’m glad someone else did.

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