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                    [post_content] => 



By Laura Bliss

The more important question is how ride services factor into cities’ goals for mobility. A new analysis of New York City shows why.

At 11 p.m. on a Thursday in February, two friends in Brooklyn are preparing for a trip home from Park Slope to Bed-Stuy. They’re both new in town, and they study their Google Maps options closely: Taking the subway means a 15-minute walk to a station on the F line, where their train coming in from Manhattan had been delayed 20 minutes. Then they’d have to transfer to the C, with a likely wait time of 10 or 15 minutes. To travel three miles, this could be an hour-long adventure.

The friends could probably walk in the same amount of time, or pedal home in 20 minutes using bike-share, but the weather is freezing. They check Lyft: Splitting a pooled ride with one another (and perhaps an extra stranger) means paying $7 for a roughly 25-minute trip in a sweetly overheated sedan, directly to their doors. The choice is very clear.

Do stories like these explain the declining passenger base of transit agencies across the U.S.? Amid the rise of transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, this logic goes, travelers will pay extra for a lot of added convenience, leaving transit options—which leave a lot to be desired—to waste.


Read more here.

This story first appeared in CityLab and appears here by kind permission of the author. 
                    [post_title] => Stop asking whether Uber is transit's enemy
                    [post_excerpt] => Ride sharing and public transport. 
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      By Deborah Jackson, Editor National Liquor News A proposal to ban alcohol advertising on public transport in Western Australia has been slammed by the alcohol industry. The Western Australia Labor party has announced that a future Labor Government would honour current advertising contracts but would ban all new advertising of alcohol-related products on public transport. It is understood that the Liberal-led Government does not support a ban because advertising on public transport generates about $7 million in revenue per year of which about 10 per cent is generated through alcohol-related advertising, and all advertising on public assets must comply with industry advertising standards, which is the case in WA. Fergus Taylor, the Executive Director of Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) said that the Labor Government's stance is poorly thought out and is not supported by credible research or data. “This is a poor policy decision taken on the run without industry consultation and isn’t even supported by official Government data,” Taylor said. “The government has made a sensible decision to reject this proposal after a more thorough assessment of the evidence.   Read more here. This story first appeared in The Shout.  [post_title] => Proposed booze advertising ban on WA public transport [post_excerpt] => But $7m revenue at stake. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => booze-ban-wa-public-transport [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-17 11:39:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-17 00:39:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24142 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 14:00:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 03:00:15 [post_content] => dd-buses-web_opt  

Double decker buses will soon become a common sight on Sydney’s streets once more after the New South Wales Government revealed it will commission a proper fleet of the high capacity vehicles to boost capacity on crowded runs as part of a $108 million service boost and refresh in the 2016-17 NSW Budget

Exact details on who will manufacture and how many of the new 80-seat beasts will be deployed are still to be finalised, but the firm commitment to reinstate double deckers into mainstream route service in Sydney cements major turnaround in public transport thinking 30-years after the last Leyland Atlantean made its from Wynyard to Avalon in May 1986.

While the Baird Government started trialling Bustech double deckers North-West T-Way at the end of August 2012, the pre-Budget essentially embeds the top deck vehicles as part of the city’s core fleet for the foreseeable future.

The announcement is also the second major public transport ‘back to the future’ flip for Transport for NSW after the commitment to reinstate light rail services (or heavy trams) in the city and eastern suburbs, with deployments in the West also highly likely to be commissioned.

Heavy crowding and more demand than capacity during peak-hour services for Sydney buses has been a serious and persistent problem for at least the last decade, as urban renewal and residential infill push more commuters onto the bus system. The biggest headaches for authorities and commuters alike include passengers who are closer to a bus route destination often missing out on scheduled morning trips because vehicles are filled to capacity well before they get near their terminus. Efforts to deploy more, larger single decker and articulated or ‘bendy’ busses have also created knock-on effects as busses get stuck long queues to unload passengers on approaches to the city and other major centres. A big benefit of double decker buses is that even though they carry 65 per cent more passengers than regular buses – 130 people when completely full on seated and standing capacity – they only occupy the space of a single bus making it easier to cram more services into smaller areas and tighter streets. leyland atlantean_optWith major residential developments now replacing industrial real estate on the city fringe, authorities are looking to boost both capacity and frequency. “Thousands of Sydneysiders rely on bus travel every day to get from A to B and we know demand for services is continually increasing, particularly in growth centres in the North West and South West, as well as in inner city areas like Green Square,” said NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance.

“Since coming to office, the NSW Government has delivered more than 15,800 extra weekly public transport services for customers and today’s announcement is further proof that we’re committed to putting on even more where and when they’re needed most.

“This is all about staying ahead of the curve to ensure customers have sufficient levels of service well into the future.”

sydney-bus-museum-vintage-bus-sydney-comedy-festiv1_optFor people that remember Sydney’s original double decker bus fleet, it’s actually more like replacing something many feel, like trams, should never have been taken away in the first place. Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian – who spearheaded many of the key public transit reforms when she held the Transport portfolio – said the upcoming NSW Budget would continue to fund more services and infrastructure. “These double decker buses have allowed us to deliver good customer outcomes and we are pleased to be rolling out more of them across Sydney,” Ms Berejiklian said before cataloguing where new money was going to be spent. The Treasurer said that under the NSW Budget 2016-16 commitment, 12 new or extended routes will come online. They include a new cross suburban link between the Inner West and Lower North Shore, all night services seven days a week for Green Square and Zetland as well as Abbotsford, Five Dock and Rouse Hill on weekends. The addition of new all-night services has long been called for by groups representing essential services and the hospitality sector where the availability and cost of labour have been hit by the shortage of car spaces and a lack of alternative transport options. Fleet renewal and replacement is also a strong focus, with older non-air conditioned buses finally dropped from service in favour of climate controlled accessible (or ‘kneeling’) busses that allow wheelchair users to roll-on and roll-off regular services – an important addition given many older Sydney railway stations still don’t have lifts.   Specifics for the 2016/17 Growth Bus Services Program Western Sydney (including Hills District and South West) More than 1,350 new weekly trips, including 5 new or extended routes.
  • New route 605 (North Kellyville to Rouse Hill Town Centre)
  • Extended route 751 (Marsden Park to Blacktown via Colebee)
  • Extended route T72 (Blacktown to Rouse Hill Town Centre via Alex Avenue)
  • Extended route T74 (Blacktown to Riverstone via Hambledon Road)
  • Extended route 783 (Penrith to Jordan Springs)
Enhanced services:
  • 607X (Rouse Hill to City via M2)
  • 610X/M61 (Rouse Hill and Castle Hill to City M2)
  • 611 (Blacktown to Macquarie Park via M2)
  • 615X (North Kellyville to City via M2)
  • 619 (Rouse Hill to Macquarie Park via Kellyville and M2)
  • 620X-621 (Castle Hill and Cherrybrook to Macquarie Park and City via M2)
  • 700 (Blacktown to Parramatta via Prospect)
  • 740 (Plumpton to Macquarie Park via M2)
  • 841 (Narellan to Leppington)
  • T65 (Rouse Hill to Parramatta via Westmead)
  • T80 (Liverpool to Parramatta via Bonnyrigg)
Sydney Metropolitan More than 1,950 new weekly trips, including 2 new routes.
  • New route 530 (Burwood to Chatswood via Five Dock, Hunters Hill and Lane Cove)
  • New route 985 (Miranda to Cronulla via Woolooware Shores)
Enhanced services on the following routes:
  • Various Northern Beaches routes between Mona Vale and the City
  • 197 (Mona Vale to Macquarie Park via Terrey Hills)
  • 270-274 (Frenchs Forest District to City)
  • 343 (Kingsford to City)
  • 370 (Leichhardt to Coogee)
  • 433 (Balmain to Railway Square via Harold Park)
  • 477 (Miranda to Rockdale via Sans Souci)
  • 506 (Macquarie University and East Ryde to City via Hunters Hill)
  • 518 (Macquarie University to City via Ryde)
  • M20 (Zetland to Wynyard via Central Station)
  • M41 (Burwood to Macquarie Park via Ryde)
New all-night services on the following routes:
  • 301 (Zetland to City via Surry Hills) – seven days
  • 438 (Abbotsford to City via Five Dock and Leichhardt) – Friday and Saturday only
  • 607X (Rouse Hill to City via M2) – Friday and Saturday only
Lower Hunter – More than 170 new weekly trips, including 2 new or extended routes:
  • New route 178 (Anambah to Rutherford)
  • Extended routes 260 and 261 (Minmi and Fletcher to Jesmond and University)
Central Coast – 45 new weekly trips, including 1 extended route:
  • Extended route 40 (Gosford – Wyoming)
  • Enhanced services on routes 67 and 68 between Terrigal and Gosford
  • Enhanced services on route 33 between Gosford and Mangrove Mountain
Blue Mountains – More than 30 new weekly trips on route 686 between Katoomba, Echo Point and Scenic World Illawarra – More than 240 new weekly trips, including 2 new or extended routes:
  • New route 75 (Tullimbar to Stockland Shellharbour)
  • Extended route 32 (Dapto to Brooks Reach)
  • Enhanced services on route 1 between Austinmer and Wollongong
  • Enhanced services on routes 31-33 between Wollongong and Dapto District
  • Enhanced services on route 34 between Warrawong and Wollongong
[post_title] => Best of 2016: High & mighty: double decker buses return to mainstream Sydney route service [post_excerpt] => Back to the Future II [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => double-decker-buses-return-to-mainstream-sydney-route-service [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 15:26:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 04:26:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25510 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-11-08 09:36:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-07 22:36:45 [post_content] =>


A Series D train on special service in 2004 (Jcornelius/CC 2.0)



By Feargus O'Sullivan  This story first appeared in City Lab and is published here with kind permission from the author.    For senior Berliners, there may be something strangely familiar about the latest batch of trains destined for the Berlin subway system. They actually first served the city back in the 1950s. In an unlikely decision-making twist, the system has decided to delve into its history, renovating trains constructed to run on its tracks before the city was cut in two in 1961. So old are the D and DL series trains — affectionately known as “Doras” — that there’s only one city where they are still in daily use. That’s the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, to which Berlin sold 105 trains at the end of the 1990s. The idea of recomissioning 60-year-old carriages will no doubt get train-spotters drooling, but there’s a pragmatic reason why the trains are coming back. Berlin has a desperate shortage of rolling stock. City transit body BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe) wants to avoid the costs of buying more engines and reckons it can renovate and re-kit three of the old trains for just €1.9 million — a snip compared to what three entirely new trains would cost. Three trains won’t make a whole lot of difference across an entire city, of course, which is why the refitted wagons will be confined to a single line. This is arguably the smartest part of the plan. By running on Berlin’s Line U55 from spring 2017, the 1950s trains should attract tourists to what could be Berlin’s biggest transit white elephant. Read more here.  [post_title] => Berlin is bringing back subway trains from the 1950s [post_excerpt] => Say hello (again) to the Dora. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => berlin-bringing-back-subway-trains-1950s [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-11 10:05:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-10 23:05:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24575 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-08-02 05:00:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-01 19:00:17 [post_content] => Sydney, Australia - December 19, 2015: Row of Opal cards tickets machines at the Central railway station Sydney Australia, full frame horizontal composition   August 1 is D-Day for public transport passengers who have not yet bought an Opal card, with the threat of fines of up to $550 if passengers do not possess an Opal card or a single use ticket before travelling, as criticisms of the new regime roll in. While NSW Transport has promised leniency for passengers boarding without a ticket or an Opal card – they can receive a caution rather than an on-the-spot fine - there have been complaints that there are insufficient ticket and top-up machines and stories of long queues or of machines being broken. How much leniency ticket inspectors are able to show is open to question. Transport NSW has a list of unacceptable excuses on its website which includes: “I’ve lost my ticket”, “I was running late” and “I didn’t know what kind of ticket to buy.” Interestingly, putting your feet on the seats or littering can incur a fine of up to $1,100: twice the cost of the maximum penalty for fare evasion. A spokesperson for Transport NSW said transport officers had been told to exercise restraint in the early stages of the new system. “From next week staff will educate customers who genuinely appear to have not realised that paper tickets were being retired on 1 August. They will explain all customers require an appropriate Opal card or Opal single trip ticket to travel. “Staff as usual will use discretion when dealing with customers who are genuinely confused on the arrangements for travelling, however customers need to understand that fines apply to those people trying to rort the situation to evade paying their fare.” The Opposition has claimed that the Baird Government is “picking on pensioners and seniors” by not allowing them to access discounted single use tickets. The single tickets that are sold cost at least 20 per cent more than using an Opal card. While it’s simple to buy Opal cards for adults or children from retailers, the Gold Opal card for discount travel for seniors, pensioners or those on income support must be ordered online and can take up to 10 days to arrive in the post. Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay said the government had not done enough to communicate how long it took to get an Opal card. “There will be plenty of pensioners out there who won’t have got the message that today is the last day they have to apply for an Opal card,” Ms McKay said. “The government is removing choice and forcing pensioners to go online to top up their card when for many older people they like the convenience of going to a booth to pay cash.” Shadow Minister for Ageing Sophie Cotsis said Premier Mike Baird was forcing pensioners to get a Gold Opal card, event thought it could easily sell them a $2.50 single use ticket, the concession price. “When it comes to our public transport system, pensioners and seniors are being left disadvantaged. The government is making it harder for seniors and pensioners to travel in NSW," Ms Cotsis said. “This means that pensioners who use public transport infrequently or who leave their Gold Opal Card at home will be forced to pay a higher price for a single use ticket. It’s not fair.” NSW Labor is demanding the government makes discounted tickets available from machines for concession card holders and to give people longer to get an Opal card. Other concerns have arisen from non-governmental organisations, who say that doing away with paper tickets could penalise homeless people because they need to apply for a Gold Opal card online and get it delivered to a secure address. Some organisations used to give those in need single bus or train tickets or the $2.50 all-day concession fare but this is no longer possible. Meanwhile with the demise of paper tickets, the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia is renewing its push for a tourist Opal card, similar to those available in cities like London, Paris and Stockholm to make things simpler for visitors. CEO of TTF, Margy Osmond said tourist tickets should be tied into discounts for entry into major tourist attractions, such as Taronga Zoo. “Visitors, holidaymakers and business delegates are not your average city commuter. They are here for a limited period and are looking for a transport solution that is easy to understand and takes the confusion out of loading travel cards with money,” Ms Osmond said. “In other cities across Australia and the world, local transport agencies have developed dedicated tourist travel cards that make it easy to hop on a train, bus, tram or ferry to see the sights. “They also provide the opportunity to be packaged as part of a broader tourism experience with access or discounts for major attractions, exhibitions and cultural institutions included with the card.” For its part, the NSW government is heralding the final roll-out of Opal cards and the banishment of paper tickets as a thumping success. NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said eight million Opal cards had been issued since their introduction in December 2012, with 350,000 sold in the last month, as passengers became aware of paper tickets stopping. “Today is the start of a new and exciting chapter in our public transport system,” Mr Constance said. “Once you get your Opal it’s in your wallet or purse and you don’t have to worry about it again.” He said that customers who left their cards at home by mistake could still buy a single trip ticket for trains or light rail stations or ferry wharfs, or on board buses and that there were more than 2,000 retail outlets where people could buy adult or child Opal cards. “The best way to beat the queues at top up machines is to set your card to auto top up via your debit card or download the Opal Travel App so you can top up on the go on your mobile phone,” Mr Constance said. [post_title] => Opal: the card that launched a thousand gripes [post_excerpt] => Paper tickets abandoned. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 24575 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-08-02 09:42:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-08-01 23:42:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24100 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-06-09 13:06:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-09 03:06:49 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24101" align="alignnone" width="300"]Biker rides the tracks at Mt Stromlo. Cycling and adventure sports are now a big tourism drawcard. pic: Stromlo Forest Park[/caption]   Australia’s national capital of Canberra will try and shake off the blues of major public service cuts that have ravaged its local economy by trying to entice more tourists to spend their time and money in the designer city through a major $7.3 million advertising push. Undeterred by persistent badmouthing by fly-in fly-out federal politicians, Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Andrew Barr is opening the capital’s destination chequebook to try showcase the Canberra’s other attractions in an effort to try and diversify its economy. Large fluctuations in public service numbers have for decades acted as an inhibitor to private sector businesses outside of the government realm flourishing in the so-called garden city. But with a stable population that’s now nudging 400,000 inhabitants, the ACT Government is redoubling efforts to create a more diverse local economy for Canberra that’s largely independent of the public sector and resilient to its peaks and troughs. Federally administered national major cultural institutions like the National Gallery of Australia still provide a prominent tourism drawcard, however ACT Government is clearly keen to give its other tourist and visitor assets – particularly major events, food and wine experiences and outdoor recreation – a major push. One of Canberra’s major historical drawbacks for tourists – relatively sparse public transport services – are also finally getting a major boost with increased substantially bus services around the city centre and major institutions. With most capital cities now in the grip of a serious rise in recreational and commuter cycling, Canberra’s long established network of separated cycleways and dedicated bike infrastructure like the massive Stromlo Park mountain and road bike facility are also getting major improvements to cater to more visitors, including the addition of a pool. Industry groups are heartily cheering on the Canberra tourism push. “Tourism is a key driver of the ACT economy, and the Barr Government appears to be embracing the concept of diversifying the Territory economy through greater support of tourism and events,” said Margy Osmond, chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum. Ms Osmond said the Government’s investment of $70 million in public transport, including establishing a free ‘City Loop’ bus service, funding for additional buses and new services, progressing the introduction of an integrated ticketing system and improving walking and cycling infrastructure would benefit the visitor economy. However it’s the long-awaited commencement of regular scheduled international flights to the city that has the TTF most fired up, especially the potential to attract visitors from Asia, particularly China. “The key for the ACT Government will be to leverage the new international flights opportunity to its full potential, ensuring that it is the first of many new services that will link Canberra to the burgeoning Asia-Pacific and beyond,” Ms Osmond said. “Chief Minister Barr has been a strong advocate for the ACT visitor economy with his personal efforts to secure Singapore Airlines as Canberra’s first international airline and the work to attract more Chinese visitors as part of Australia China Business Week.” [post_title] => Canberra launches major tourism push to diversify economy [post_excerpt] => Budget money for big events, public transport. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => tourists-to-diversify-canberra-economy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-09 22:30:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-09 12:30:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24085 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-06-07 10:20:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-07 00:20:10 [post_content] => rush hour   Transport infrastructure planning expert Diane Legge Kemp has seen some public transport disasters in her time but there have also been some real wins for communities in the form of well-designed and imaginatively funded public transport projects. Ms Legge Kemp, who is the Vice President of design consultancy CallisonRTKL, is based in Hong Kong but she has worked in many major cities including New York, Shanghai LA and Chicago. She spoke to Government News while in Sydney for Green Building Day about properly planning good public transport infrastructure and how multi-million dollar projects can be let down by scrappy preparation. Because infrastructure can take decades to deliver, planning needs to begin many years in advance so that projects are ready to go when the funding and political will to do them eventually coincide. Legge says: “Sydney is tossing around the idea of high speed rail. Well, even it is 15 years from now it needs to be planned. All the pieces have to be in place, notwithstanding funding." Tips to success
  • Integrate the planning process
Legge says it is critical to ensure that planning is a collaborative process done between transport agencies, development organisations, business and communities. “There’s an understandable focus on providing transportation services, which is the primary goal of those agencies, but at the same time the major land holders have the potential to make or break a plan based on the presence of transit so it’s very important that there’s this broad perspective. “There’s a much more powerful potential when you put these things together.” There is value too, in looking beyond the immediate vicinity of transport hubs, such as train stations, when predicting the benefit of new public transport infrastructure, especially where people can walk or cycle to a transport hub.
  • Intermodal connectivity
Whether it’s mixing cycling, train and bus or any other mode of transport, intermodal connectivity is the key to smart infrastructure planning. “This seems so obvious but you would be surprised, especially in China,” she says. “You need them [modes of transport] all working together and you need to make walking and biking safer.” Taxis and ride-sharing services can also be taken into account.
  • Don’t fear density
Density, says Legge Kemp, can be a good thing. Allowing more development to occur in, around, above and inside can bring transport hubs to life and maximise the return from the presence of transportation. “You’re not saying that every development needs to turn out to be a mini CBD. It can be up to four storeys in some locations,” she says. Obviously, metropolitan areas with transport hubs can often achieve higher densities.
  • Consider the social aspect
Planning public transport should not just be about the potential economic benefits projects can deliver. Legge suggests looking at the social goals and aspirations of the community it will serve and the social problems transport could help fix. Measuring the potential impact of projects demands a broad perspective, including considering access to human services such as health, education and training, as well as job creation, the uplift in property values and the increase in gross national product. “Looking at the people aspect of mobility is critical, whether people are the users of transport or the beneficiaries, for example, business growth, affordable housing and jobs,” Legge says.
  • Urban fabric
Good planning should take into account the size, shape and composition of buildings and the composition of open spaces, and how places interact with each other. This does not just include transport hubs but also cultural and education buildings and they intersect.
  • Mixed use
Good planning tends to be mixed use, says Legge Kemp, rather than segregating transport from jobs or housing. In Hong Kong, where land is scarce and development occurs over train stations. There are shopping malls, offices, colleges and community centres above transport hubs, something that Legge says is likely to occur more frequently in Australian cities as urbanisation gathers pace.
  • Designing transport hubs to fit each location
Stations can be designed using a template but with variations allowed to fit the characteristics of a place. For example, a station may have a focus on industry or agriculture or serve a stadium. Legge Kemp has worked extensively as a consultant on Malaysia’s high speed rail. Two of seven stations were in rural, predominantly agricultural, areas. In these two cases planners also looked at the possible development of other industries in tandem, such as food processing, or non-food products that could be made from agricultural crops, e.g. using recycled wood for furniture. She says: “Each station has its own industrial character but the industry might be healthcare, education or other services.” She points to the uniformity of trains stations in China, a planning process that involved little public consultation. “They just built the stations the same, over and over again, and repeated the same mistakes and the same connectivity problems,” Legge says. “They didn’t consider how people move around the stations. It is bad for the citizens and it’s not mixed use. Stakeholders need to be involved.”  Examples of good public transport planning “I’m utterly amazed and totally respect what Hong Kong has done.  Building above stations on Hong Kong Island. New train lines to the New Territories have built up some of those rural communities," says Legge. She points to the benefits and rewards of private public partnerships (PPP). For example, the Hong Kong Central to airport line has been primarily funded by private investment and development rights sold off along the corridor. The project has ended up a relatively low cost one for the government. “When funding is scarce – and it always is all over the world – these kinds of investment strategies for funding projects make a great deal of sense and have delivered benefits back to government, if governments will let itself take advantage of this.” It is also essential to sell the benefits of a project because it promotes public acceptance and makes plans less likely to be kyboshed by subsequent governments. Public consultation too so that projects not derailed or poorly designed. She says the Malaysian government saw the potential of delivering high speed rail and set up a new transit agency to oversee the PPP. “They showed the long-term benefits of investing in high speed rail to the immediate community, the state and the nation and it went from being: “gee, this would be really nice” to “this is an absolute must do program. “Investing in infrastructure is the number one way to move a nation up in economic global status.” [post_title] => Planning the ticket to good public transport infrastructure [post_excerpt] => Collaboration and connectivity. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => planning-good-public-transport-infrastructure [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-14 10:54:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-14 00:54:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23900 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-05-19 16:09:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-19 06:09:32 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23901" align="alignnone" width="300"]Supply_-_Sydney_Harbour_Ferry_opt Sunday $2.50 all day fares stay.  pic: JJ Harrison[/caption]   Commuters in New South Wales lured onto public transport by the offer of fare free journeys after they make just 8 trips will now have their freebies torn-up after the state government back-flipped on the generous Opal Card giveaway scheme to try and claw back some of $150 million a year in free taps it’s chalked-up. The controversial reversal comes as millions of Sydney commuters – more and more of whom are turning to public transit to beat worsening traffic jams – have increasingly figured out how they can minimise their weekly public transport bill by clocking lots of cheap, short trips to trigger the free travel threshold. But is it a cheeky bait-and-switch  ... or a necessary cost recovery measure? In a move that was never going to be popular, State Transport Minister Andrew Constance has attempted to temper commuter anger over the blatant cash grab this week by announcing that a new 50 per cent discount will now apply after 8 journeys instead of the fare free component, a measure he said “strikes a balance to allow a more sustainable system.” For commuters riding high on Opal freebies it's a 50 per cent price hike; for the government it's reducing a sugar coated subsidy it clearly thinks could get out of control. Either way, the free ride incentive is a victim of its own success. “Around 70 per cent of customers are not reaching the [fare free] reward, meaning a majority of customers aren’t receiving any benefit,” Mr Constance said. But the fact that 30 per cent of commuters were already travelling part fare free – a proportion that realistically would only grow over time – is certain to have triggered accounting alarm bells at both Transport and Treasury and fuelled fears the revenue expense would quickly snowball into a major financial blowout. The public’s sudden sharp withdrawal symptoms from free trips have not been helped by the Baird and O’Farrell governments having repeatedly trumpeted the ‘free after 8 trips’ component as a major benefit of switching from paper to smartcard ticketing – a success it has repeatedly banged over the head of the Labor Opposition which presided over a decade-long debacle trying to roll out Tcard which which burned through almost $1 billion and delivered nothing but litigation. In public transport, managing public expectations is an essential survival skill. Mr Constance has now assumed the role ‘good cop’ while the government’s in-house efficiency wonks and economic hard heads, the Independent and Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) get saddled playing grinch. IPART hasn't done itself many PR favours recently. The decision to end the Opal freebies closely followed the delivery of a stinging report from the controversial adjudicator that warned public transport prices in NSW were simply too cheap. It may not have been able to factor in the commuting public's bad memories of persistently late, sweaty, overcrowded and erratic public transport in over the past decade that prompted previous governments to throw candy to an angry public in the form of discounts and concessions. Those sweetners are now in the crosshairs. Specifically, IPART has urged the State Government to heavily prune popular concessions and discounts , including hiking the Gold Opal card holder fare for retirees from $2.50 to $3.60 per day, a move that instantly enraged influential pensioner groups. The price regulator also recommended that base fares be increased by 4.2 per cent annually and the weekday cap raised from $15 to $18, an idea that Mr Constance greeted with a more palatable cap price freeze until 2017. IPART also called for the scrapping of the $2.50 all day Sunday cap and its replacement with an overall weekend cap that started at $7.20 in 2016-17 rising to $8.00 in 2018-19. While Mr Constance also swiftly rejected those electorally toxic proposals, IPART’s apparent fixation with pricing perfection on what remains a highly challenged and historically neglected transport network is understood to have been greeted with exasperation in some parts of the NSW Coalition. One element of IPART’s report known to have made politicians wince is the observation that the heavily discounted Sunday $2.50 fare was actively eroding Saturday public transport patronage. One issue is that scenario doesn’t take into account the large amounts of remedial rail trackwork now being performed over weekends that forces people onto much slower busses and into cars. The so-called ‘trackwork effect’ is also being blamed for increased road traffic densities on Saturdays to weekday peak levels, or worse, making commuting slow and frustrating at best. People choosing to enjoy ferries, one of Sydney’s more languid transport modes, on Sundays also copped a serve in the IPART report. “The current $2.50 Sunday cap appears to have stimulated substantial additional public transport use on Sundays, particularly on ferries,” the IPART report said, before warning that “for the Manly, Parramatta River and Taronga Zoo routes, the 2015 Sunday peak also exceeded the 2011 weekday peaks.” More people going to the zoo on ferry on a Sunday than during the working week. Who could have predicted pricing signals could produce such a systemic distortion? [post_title] => Is cutting Opal free trips a public transport bait and switch? [post_excerpt] => Incredible shrinking farebox. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 23900 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-19 17:00:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-19 07:00:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23848 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-05-11 15:30:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-11 05:30:43 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23850" align="alignnone" width="350"]Light Rail2_opt Light rail at Glebe station this week.[/caption]   It's time to wave goodbye to your free Opal trips, says the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). The state’s hard-nosed price regulator released a report yesterday (Tuesday) recommending that commuters should no longer get free travel after notching up eight journeys in a week but instead pay half-price for any extra journeys taken. Also on the cards is a push to raise the daily cap on the Gold Opal card $2.50 to $3.60, which would affect seniors and concession card holders, but IPART backed away from an earlier recommendation to means-test access to the card for seniors. Commuters could also take a hit if the government agrees with IPART’s suggestion to increase the cap on adult Opal fares from $15 to $18 for travelling Monday to Friday with a daily cap of $7.20 at the weekend. On the positive side, people changing between different forms of transport, such as switching from light rail to bus, would receive a $2 rebate, to offset paying twice. People travelling on off-peak trains would also pay less. IPART Chief Dr Peter Boxall said despite public transport operating costs being forecast to fall by around 5 per cent  over the next three years, overall costs were continuing to rise as services were improved and expanded through projects such as the CBD and South-East light rail extension and the Sydney Metro. “Right now, the efficient cost of providing the rail, bus, ferry and light rail services in Sydney and surrounding areas is around $4.8 billion a year,” Dr Boxall said. “While operating costs per trip are reducing overall, total efficient costs will rise to around $5.6 billion a year by 2018-19.” “Some fare increases are needed to ensure the additional costs are not borne entirely by taxpayers, but also by those who use public transport the most. This determination means that fares will continue to cover around 25 per cent of efficient costs, with taxpayers funding the remaining 75 per cent. reflecting the benefits public transport provides to the whole community such as reduced congestion and cleaner air.” The state government has not yet decided whether it will implement the IPART’s suggestions. If it does, it will face a backlash from commuters, seniors and concession card holders. The clampdown on free journeys could be viewed as a Trojan horse for scrapping the free/half-price rides completely, something that IPART initially backed. The cap increases and withdrawal of free journeys could prove to be the price signals that tip commuter behaviour. Combined with what appears to be a service increasingly under pressure, people could begin to desert public transport and the costs of encouraging people back onto the roads need to be taken into account, before the government decides on the proposed changes. Light rail trains at peak time are now as crowded as the London Underground in its worse moments, with some passengers unable to board trains and those inside jammed in and miserable. Even trains at off-peak times (outside the hours of 8am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm) are often uncomfortably full. Light Rail 1_opt Transport NSW put on “up to 90 additional services” from January 25 this year, with services arriving every eight minutes, rather than every 10 during peak times from Monday to Friday but the light rail appears to have become a casualty of its own success. Transport NSW was contacted for comment.   The state government will decide whether or not to implement the proposals by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal in the coming weeks. [post_title] => Baird told to scrap Opal public transport freebies [post_excerpt] => Commuters could desert crowded light rail. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => no-thing-free-ride-opal-lost-sheen [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-13 11:16:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-13 01:16:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23811 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-05-04 11:17:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-04 01:17:45 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23812" align="alignnone" width="287"]Road_Train_Australia_opt Infrastructure money: fuel for votes.[/caption]     Australia’s peak body for councils and municipalities, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), has cautiously welcomed the 2016-17 Budget, expressing relief that the Roads to Recovery program will get a little extra cash alongside an “indication” of a return to inflation-proofing annual grants from Canberra to councils. Funding for the popular scheme, which provides specific purpose funding for councils to fix key roads, has been boosted by $50 million a year with the forward estimates confirming it will continue beyond 2018-19. While abolishing the scheme would have equated to political suicide in the regions, the boost reflects a restoration of a prominent role for councils at the bigger national policy table after the Abbott government intentionally expunged the term ‘local government’ from the very portfolio that looks after it. ALGA President Mayor Troy Pickard said councils had called for additional funding for the Roads to Recovery program “and the extra funds indicated in the budget will be welcomed in helping to address the challenge of maintaining more than 640,000 km of local roads.” However the peak body has also cautioned that the money will only go part of the way to fixing Australia’s bitumen repair backlog and called for roads to be a national investment priority. “More needs to be done to ensure the local road network has the capacity required to address access, productivity and road safety issues, especially in regional areas,” Mayor Pickard said. “Additional investment in local roads must be part of the solution to increasing transport productivity on the nation's transport network." There was also palpable relief that indexation appears to be returning to the popular Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) program that suffered a sudden billion dollar hit under the Abbott government that caught many councils badly short on their own budgeting. According to ALGA, the numbers contained in the budget out years “signalled an expectation that annual indexation of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), which will provide $2.3 billion in untied funding to local government in 2016-17, will return from 2017-18.” However the Turnbull government is keeping its options open on the re-indexation front, opting to communicate any move to restore inflation proofing through interpretation rather than specifically calling out and thus committing to such a move. One financially influential factor that won’t to be lost on councils is that while the $1 billion dollar hit via pausing indexation hurt, inflation has remained stubbornly low thus dulling the part of relief that indexation might have otherwise had. "The three-year pause on FAGs indexation implemented in the 2014-15 budget was unexpected and had a severe impact on the sector,” Mayor Pickard said. “We sought a specific commitment from the Government and the Opposition to restore indexation. The indication that indexation is expected to return in 2017-18 is welcome although it does not completely guarantee an end to the freeze, which will reduce ongoing funding for councils around Australia by more $300 million per year." At a wider level ALGA has applauded the vigorous reversal by the Turnbull government of Tony Abbott’s strong that Commonwealth needed to stay strictly out of state led public transport projects, especially at a funding level. Councils have the potential to directly benefit from public transport improvement because of the potential to raise property values on which rates are calculated as well as naturally attracting more residents to council areas well served by trains, light rail and busses. Mayor Pickard said a commitment to infrastructure is essential and “was one of the strong themes running through ALGA's budget submission and 2016 election plan” and welcomed top ups for roads black spots and bridges. “From ALGAs' perspective the additional $60 million in funding for the Bridges Renewal Program and Black Spot Programme will be very welcome,” Mayor Pickard said. [post_title] => Councils welcome Federal relief: Budget2016 [post_excerpt] => In from the cold. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => local-government-finally-gets-some-federal-relief [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-10 10:25:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-10 00:25:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23654 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-04-18 21:51:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-18 11:51:13 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23655" align="alignnone" width="300"]MasterCard Oyster_opt Who needs tickets anyway? pic: MasterCard[/caption]   Sydney will follow London’s lead and let commuters use their everyday ‘tap-and-go’ credit and debit cards at public transport ticket barriers instead of using the popular Opal Card, a move that will provide bonanza for banks and could save the government millions. The radical push to remove the need for proprietary tickets, first revealed by Government News in November 2015, was publicly confirmed in Sydney by New South Wales transport Minister Andrew Constance at the Future Transport Summit on Monday and kicks off in 2017. Although officially still billed as a trial, the flip to use bank-issued contactless smartcards – or smartphones that have NFC (near field communications) chips built into them to them – is likely to revolutionise easy access to public transport in Sydney if London’s experience is anything to go by. If successful, it will also place substantial pressure on other states to bring their public transit ticketing systems into line as the ticket-free experience spreads across intercity domestic travellers and international tourists. “Only a few major mass transit systems, similar in scale to Sydney’s have introduced contactless payments,” Mr Constance said. “London’s Oyster card system is a well-known example, where they only finalised their rollout in late 2014.” Sydney’s Opal system is of course largely cloned from London’s Oyster card, right down to close input from Transport for London which uses largely the same ticket reader equipment from Cubic Transportation Systems has systems of varying age also embedded in New York (MetroCard), Los Angeles and Chicago as well as other cities. In Australia, Cubic also underpins the Brisbane Go Card system and the company also has its sights set on the upgrade of Melbourne’s Myki ticket that is now in the market. Fortuitously, Transport for London’s Director of Customer Experience and de-ticketing guru Shashi Verma was on-hand to share London’s lessons with Sydney and Australia yesterday, frankly telling Future Transport Summit that his organisation had needed to educate banks about the opportunities for them around transport ticketing. Asked what kind of fees the banks were likely to reap from transit from a switch to cards they issued, Mr Verma said banks would collect fees on transactions irrespective of whether operators issued tickets or not. What changed by enabling everyday payment cards to work direct at the ticket gate was that the transit operators no longer had to make special transport money just to work on their system. While those savings had been around £100 million, enabling mainstream contactless payment had also pushed-up fare revenue Mr Verma said. Put simply, the easier it is for people to pay, the more paid. Card schemes, which have been using the example of Transport for London to showcase how their products can be innovated for public good were, naturally, ecstatic that Sydney is following London. “MasterCard is extremely excited that the NSW Government has announced they will begin a customer trial of debit and credit card contactless payments for travelling on public transport,” the company said in a statement. “London in particular has paved the way for contactless payment use in transit. Contactless debit and credit card payments were trialled and launched on London Buses in December 2012 and expanded across the city’s network in 2014. To date, more than 350 million rides have been made using contactless technology with over one million journeys made each day. “At MasterCard we see efficient urban mobility, how people get around cities in a simple and seamless way, as key to enabling citizens and visitors to go about their lives with ease, and enabling businesses to innovate and grow. Sydney, a business and tourist hotspot is the perfect city to lead the charge for transit contactless technology in Australia. This will also make Sydney more appealing to international visitors and help boost local tourism.” And while there’s no interest like self-interest, they have a point. As anyone who has used London’s system will tell you, there is more than a little comfort in knowing that you won’t be stuck in a queue trying to top-up or leaving money behind on a card when you go. [post_title] => Opal to take credit & debit tap cards at ticket gates by 2017 [post_excerpt] => Sydney to follow London’s great de-ticketing. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 23654 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-04-19 10:01:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-04-19 00:01:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23404 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-03-21 19:53:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-21 08:53:09 [post_content] => Sydney Light Rail Tram IMG_0490 Thousands of enterprising Sydney commuters chalking-up $2 million a year in ‘free’ Opal trip value on Transport for NSW’s equivalent to frequent flyer points are about to be derailed and un-rewarded, all thanks to changes to the popular smartcard ticket that hit Monday. After more than a year of successfully milking a free trips incentive to extract Opal network-wide travel for as little $18 a week, commuters participating in so-called ‘Opal-running’ have been warned a crackdown on the short-hop journeys they use to game the free travel reward will now force them to travel at least twice as much before they make their quota. The ‘Weekly Travel Reward’ had been intended to encourage commuters into using public transport more frequently, especially those travelling greater distances who might otherwise find driving cheaper than regularly using public transport. It gives Opal card commuters free travel after eight paid journeys, largely based on the assumption that commuters heading to and from work will space out their travel and pay for the vast majority of what they use. But the pursuit of the free transit prize among eager commuters on Mondays quickly escalated into something between a sport and a cult among inner city passengers, who have increasingly clocking-up extra journeys wherever possible to reach the free fare target, especially on the Light Rail within the CBD. If you travel at full peak fare from the outer suburbs, it makes a lot of financial sense to chalk-up lots of the cheapest short journeys first day of the week and then travel free.   'Cheating' still not illegal Although not illegal, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has accused those milking the fare system of ripping off other commuters and the government by “running, cycling, driving or even roller-skating between train stations or light rail stops to tap on and off.” Put another way, the NSW government is primarily worried about the financial hit and wider inequity that Opal fare gamers are apparently creating, given it can’t actually prosecute anyone for jumping on a tram or train with a valid ticket. “It’s unfair that customers doing the right thing and paying to actually use transport are being cheated by people who are using their own or other people’s cards to artificially inflate their journeys. Some are even using the practice as a business model to earn money,” Mr Constance said. However the Labor Opposition’s Shadow Transport Minister, Jodi McKay isn’t impressed by the Opal crackdown and has accused the Baird Government of sending conflicting signals to commuters. Ms McKay said that in 2014, despite the government being alerted to the problem, then Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian had encouraged commuters to game the system. “They have known about this for a very long time and are only now doing something about it,” Ms McKay said. “It is a complete contradiction – one Transport Minister saying ‘hey beat the system’ and then the next one saying ‘no,  don’t … and we are going to make it harder.” Ms McKay also questioned why Mr Constance had asked for more time for the Government to respond to an Independent and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) analysis of public transport fares which she said could see some commuters slugged as much as $950 extra a year. “They know how unpopular this whole thing is, but have given no explanation for the delay,” Ms McKay said.   Rorting epicenter The epicenter of the present fare rorting problem appears to be in downtown Haymarket and Pyrmont where Light Rail stops are just a few hundred metres apart, making it easily time effective to clock-up Opal taps by walking between stops. Businesses with offices serviced by the Star City Casino stop include Google, Fairfax Media, Accenture and Channel 7. Transport sources have told Government News Transport for NSW could disable the Opal readers at light rail stops until just before a tram arrives, but this would then increase ‘dwell times’ and slow down the service, especially during peak times. Government News has also observed some passengers even opportunistically tapping-off on one reader and then tapping back on during the same journey in an effort to accrue journeys, although it’s unclear how effective this actually is. To back his case for the crackdown Mr Constance on Monday released statistics that showed a whopping 63,636 journeys on the light rail made between Star City Casino and Pyrmont Bay on Mondays compared to just 1469 journeys on Wednesday between 1st February and 6th March this year. Light rail fans aren’t the only fanatical group exploiting Opal’s incentives. Mr Constance’s statistics reveal trips between the Inner West heavy rail stops of Erskinville and Macdonaldtown chalked-up 6465 journeys on Mondays in the same period, an impressive piece of footwork considering the stations – which are only 470 metres apart – are on completely different rail lines.   Stops are Tops: Monday hotpsots for serial Opal abusers (Source: Transport for NSW)
Journey Mon Tues Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Pyrmont Bay to Star City stops & back (300m apart) 63,636 8,198 1,469 313 149 110 481
Paddy’s Market to Capital Square stops & back (280m apart) 30,285 9,408 2,434 647 238 193 714
Macdonaldtown to Erskineville stations & back (470m apart) 6,465 1,142 178 51 14 6 6
  Not-so-quick fix The NSW Government’s solution to opportunistic fare gaming, although cloaked in transport jargon, has been to dramatically increase the number of taps on-and-off needed to qualify a trip as a ‘journey’ within a given hour on any mode of transport. In a nutshell, this means that commuters who were chalking-up trips by tapping on-and-off three times in one hour will now have to do so seven times before their taps qualify to be counted towards the ‘Weekly Travel Reward’. However the deliberate limitations the solution revolves around are certain to propel debate about whether a much greater number of semi-regular commuters will soon suffer to dissuade a relatively small group of opportunists. A longstanding gripe about Opal’s fare structure is that fares are individually charged across each discrete mode of transport when a commuter combining different services to achieve a single journey. For example, a trip from the Leichhardt in the Inner West to Cremorne on the North Shore could involve Light Rail, Rail and a Ferry and also potentially Bus with a commuter being charged for each transport mode, rather than for a single journey. Many public transport advocates believe that authorities should charge commuters based on just the distance between two points of a journey to encourage commuters to more easily swap modes without being penalized. One potential benefit of that system is that transport authorities could use price signals to better balance passenger loads between modes with less utilized services discounted to take pressure off crowded ones. Another option is to use price signalling to smooth out peak demand, with commuters being offered either discounts or rewards for helping to take pressure off the system. [post_title] => Opal derails one-stop-shopping for weekly rewards [post_excerpt] => Weekly Travel Reward crackdown [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 23404 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-03-22 12:37:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-03-22 01:37:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23180 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-02-29 15:08:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-02-29 04:08:35 [post_content] => 500_series_Shinkansen_train_at_Tokyo_Station_opt   Few nation building projects can both inspire and frustrate the public and potential investors as much Australia’s half-century long flirtation with building a high-speed East Coast railroad – aka a Very Fast Train – that is still yet to lay a single sleeper. But there are strong signs emerging that even right-leaning free market conservatives, who are normally sceptical about backing big government-driven infrastructure projects, could be about come on track and back the idea of a Very Fast Train (VFT) as a means to drive investment. Credible reports in Fairfax Media have reveal former trade Minister – and soon to be businessman – Andrew Robb has started passionately championing the building of a Very Fast Train to Australia’s corporate and transport sectors as a vital piece of infrastructure. According to the report, which is based on a recording of a speech by Mr Robb to a freight symposium just two days after he announced he was departing Cabinet, the combination of low interest rates across the globe and a strong international investment appetite for major projects in stable countries like Australia is now an opportunity to valuable to miss. “We should do it now whilst the world is awash with cheap money – in six or seven years it may not be – but it is at the moment,” Mr Robb is reported to have told industry at the symposium. The revelation of Mr Robb’s comments is fortuitous. It comes just a day before Federal Parliament’s Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities takes evidence from the Central Japan Railway Company and Japanese diplomats on the operation of its network of high speed rail lines for the last 60 years. The Standing Committee is running an inquiry into the role of transport connectivity on stimulating development and economic activity, a topic that is also close to the heart of the Coalition partner, the Nationals and will also hear from Torkel Patterson, the vice chairman of the International High Speed Rail Association. The promotion of building a Very Fast Train from a member of the right faction of the Coalition Turnbull government is highly significant because it opens the possibility that high speed rail along the East Coast could finally garner bipartisan support. The previous Abbott government largely directed government transport infrastructure focus towards motorway and toll road builds, such as Sydney’s controversial WestConnex, in an effort to relieve metropolitan congestion by completing ring roads and linking transport corridors so that trucks and cars had a faster path than existing suburban roads. While those road projects remain, what has changed significantly following the 2015 leadership change within the Coalition is that both rail and public transport are again strongly in the mix for federal funding as the Turnbull government tries to work with state governments on urban challenges through the creation of the “Cities and Built Environment” ministry. A notable element of Mr Robb’s latest backing of the Very Fast Train project is that private investors could be enticed to back the project by harnessing the so-called ‘Value Capture’ mechanism, where outlay is recouped by builders and the government taking a cut of the increase in property values and new building and economic development a fast transport corridor would bring. In New South Wales, the Baird government is heavily backing the Value Capture model, which is commonly used in Asia, to financially underpin its new Sydney Metro rapid transit rail line that will use driverless trains run at high frequency so that passengers won’t need a timetable. The Baird government is also piggy-backing a major renewal of presently run-down inner city public housing estates, revealing it will rebuild large sections of Waterloo into a mix of private and public that will be serviced by routing the Metro project literally underneath the redevelopment. Property developers are predictably cheering on the Sydney Metro development because it opens the door to more densely populated developments that are far less reliant on cars and buses thanks to their immediate proximity to rapid mass transit. The potential application of Value Capture to regional centres where a Very Fast Train would run through is also likely to be applauded by urban developers because it would likely produce higher yields on new dwellings than present regional and outer-suburban projects that usually sell at a discount to properties closer to cities. According to the Australasian Rail Association “the rollout of High Speed Rail (HSR) along Australia’s East Coast are long term solutions that will take cars off our roads, reduce road congestion and accidents, decrease travel time for all involved, reduce Australia’s carbon footprint and above all, improve Australia’s productivity and competitiveness.” The industry group is pushing for an East Coast Very Fast Train route of almost 1800 km that will run at 350km/h and has called on Federal and States governments to ensure a corridor is preserved to secure the run. The ARA advocated HSR route would be divided into two stages. Stage One would connect Sydney, Southern Highlands, Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Albury Wodonga, Shepparton and Melbourne. Stage Two would connect Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle, Taree, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Casino, Gold Coast, Brisbane. According to travel times estimated by the ARA, a HSR would easily be competitive with air travel, especially after travel to the airport and check in times are factored in. Inter-city and regional travel times as estimated by the ARA are:
  • Brisbane – Gold Coast: 15 minutes
  • Canberra – Sydney: 1 hour
  • Sydney – Melbourne: 3 hours
  • Gold Coast – Sydney: 3 hours
  • Sydney – Newcastle: 40 minutes.
[post_title] => Is the Very Fast Train back on the Federal agenda? [post_excerpt] => Outgoing Andrew Robb revives huge project push. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => is-the-very-fast-train-back-on-the-federal-agenda [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-03-01 12:56:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-03-01 01:56:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23001 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-02-09 10:45:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-02-08 23:45:57 [post_content] => OldFinal   Seniors’ organisations have criticised the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) recommendations that self-funded retirees should surrender their Gold Opal cards and cop a higher daily travel cap, saying it would increase social isolation among older people and damage the third economy. IPART recommended a shake up of the pricing structure of the popular travel card in its December 2015 draft report: “More efficient, more integrated Opal fares” saying it wanted to “achieve fairer fares.” One of the major changes it proposed included tightening access to the Gold Opal card by means testing it. The Tribunal recommended that self-funded retirees be stripped of their Gold Opals and forced onto Concession Opal Cards – where fares are set at half the adult fare and the daily cap is more than triple that of its golden stablemate, at $9. The Council on the Ageing (COTA) NSW and the Older Women’s Network (OWN) said removing Gold Opal cards from some pensioners would damage the third economy – the volunteering sector and the unpaid caring older people do, such as caring for grandchildren or helping sick friends. The joint submission said: “If we as a community want to encourage older retirees to contribute their time to unpaid volunteering and caring activities that benefit everyone in the community, as well as ensure that older people remain socially connected, we must provide incentives for them to get out and about. This we believe was the original intent of the low cost daily fare. “We understand that consideration of ‘social outcomes’ is out of the scope of IPART’s report but believe that evidence has not been provided that use of public transport by people 60 years of age and older will not be negatively affected by these proposed changes. “In addition we believe there could be more far-reaching negative social outcomes as a result of these changes. “ The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of NSW (CPSA) backed this assertion: “The ability for people to remain active, particularly if they don’t have access to a car, enables them to contribute to their communities. “Many Gold Opal card holders rely on their discounted fare to support their engagement in volunteer and community work, as well as to undertake caring responsibilities. Increasing the cost of public transport, either through tightening eligibility for the Gold Opal or by raising fares, will increase the costs of volunteering and the costs of fulfilling unpaid caring responsibilities." A 2015 report by National Seniors Australia and Associate Professor Elizabeth Brooke of Swinburne University of Technology estimated the value of unpaid caring and volunteering hours by older Australians at $38.3 billion a year. The CPSA also argued in its IPART submission that removing this universal travel entitlement could socially isolate some older people and cause harm to their mental and physical health, making them more likely to wind up in residential aged care. “Without a reliable, accessible and affordable transport system, such people are left isolated and unable to independently go about their daily lives [with] poorer health and wellbeing outcomes,” said the CPSA in its submission to IPART. Any permanent NSW resident aged over 60 and working 20 hours or less a week is entitled to a NSW Seniors Card and they are automatically entitled to a Gold Opal card – one of the view universal age-related entitlements in the state. About 1.4 million people currently have NSW Seniors Cards. IPART also recommended that only those people who also hold Pensioner Concession Cards and NSW War Widows cards should have Gold Opal cards and it has suggested lifting the daily travel cap from $2.50 to $3.60 in year one and up to $4 by 2018-9. All three organisations argued that any increase to the $2.50 fare had the potential to reduce the number of older people using public transport, regardless of their income. The CPSA said it had received “numerous phone calls” from low income Seniors Card holders aged between 60 and 65, who were unemployed but below pension age, who used public transport regularly, “These people have indicated they will need to reduce their use of public transport should the changes go ahead.” The Association has also said Gold Opal cards should be extended to people on Newstart and Youth Allowance, who are on between $217 and $262 a week. COTA and OWN said that most older people were on fixed incomes but faced increased living expenses, such as council rates, strata fees and rents and community aged care costs. “Unlike those people working full time, older people’s incomes tend to decrease over time, as they give up work completely, draw down their superannuation and then become increasingly reliant on the age pension,” said their IPART submission. “There is no way the majority of older people can make up the difference in the proposed concession fare increases.” They argued that the proposed changes will hit single women aged between 60 and 65 hardest, since they do not yet qualify for a pension and they are often the most disadvantaged. But IPART has argued that concession travel for pensioners has not increased from $2.50 for ten years, while fares for public transport had gone up by around 30 per cent. Another controversial recommendation stemming from the IPART report is a proposal to axe the “eight trips and you travel for free” perk. The suggestion is that it is replaced with an eye-wateringly complicated weekly travel credit scheme where commuters fork out for the 10 longest (or most expensive) journeys bookended by a bigger weekly maxim charge of $65 that rises to $70 in 2017 and then $75 in 2018. You can read a January 2016 opinion piece about the Opal changes here. [post_title] => Removing Gold Opal card isolates seniors [post_excerpt] => The third economy could lose billions. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => removing-gold-opal-card-could-damage-the-third-economy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-09 11:41:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-09 00:41:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 5 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26379 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-01 10:41:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-28 23:41:21 [post_content] =>     By Laura Bliss The more important question is how ride services factor into cities’ goals for mobility. A new analysis of New York City shows why. At 11 p.m. on a Thursday in February, two friends in Brooklyn are preparing for a trip home from Park Slope to Bed-Stuy. They’re both new in town, and they study their Google Maps options closely: Taking the subway means a 15-minute walk to a station on the F line, where their train coming in from Manhattan had been delayed 20 minutes. Then they’d have to transfer to the C, with a likely wait time of 10 or 15 minutes. To travel three miles, this could be an hour-long adventure. The friends could probably walk in the same amount of time, or pedal home in 20 minutes using bike-share, but the weather is freezing. They check Lyft: Splitting a pooled ride with one another (and perhaps an extra stranger) means paying $7 for a roughly 25-minute trip in a sweetly overheated sedan, directly to their doors. The choice is very clear. Do stories like these explain the declining passenger base of transit agencies across the U.S.? Amid the rise of transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, this logic goes, travelers will pay extra for a lot of added convenience, leaving transit options—which leave a lot to be desired—to waste.   Read more here. This story first appeared in CityLab and appears here by kind permission of the author.  [post_title] => Stop asking whether Uber is transit's enemy [post_excerpt] => Ride sharing and public transport. 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