Bondi’s problem with transport jams on summer days could be alleviated with help from an existing proposal for the inner western suburbs.
A coalition of three inner west councils is supporting an extension of the successful Lilyfield light rail line to Lewisham. The plan could be without cost to the cash-strapped State Government as the proposal is to use the now redundant goods line at the end of the currently operating light rail route from Darling Harbour. The newly available former freight tracks are in good condition and even have electrified overhead wires with a power supply compatible with the light rail vehicles already serving the Lilyfield route.
Meanwhile, in the east, the problem of catering for unpredictable surges of departing beachgoers on public transport remains unsolved. Summer weekends result in service denial for bus users as surfer-laden buses pass them by. A reserve fleet of buses would require parking space, which is not available, and each bus would require a driver paid to await the crowd. If buses could provide a solution, we would have it now.
The much clamoured-for railway to Bondi Beach would require sidings for eight car sets of reserve trains nearby – a pipe dream. Light rail vehicles fit many people in a small space and extra vehicles can be attached to the scheduled ones in seconds allowing drivers to operate with two vehicles instead of one.
The light rail proposals for Bondi Beach envisage a journey first to Bondi Junction and then to the city. At most times, passengers for the city and other districts would transfer to rail, though some vehicles would proceed to the city taking up passengers along Oxford Street. This link to the city would enable additional light rail vehicles to be drawn from the western fleet at weekends to service the busy beach traffic.
So far, all proposals on the government’s table are big-ticket items involving miles of costly tunnels. With bureaucrats from several departments whispering such fallacies as “low capacity trams”, “slow speed”, “sterilising streets of cars”, “inferior transport mode”, “the voltage is wrong” in the ears of minister after minister, Sydney is fast becoming less liveable and a third world city.
And the sad part is that Sydney will have to wait for politicians brave enough to face up to self serving transport mandarins.
– By Peter McCallum