Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cross River Rail - the roundabout of fail

Cross River Rail - will it ever happen?
A brief history of Cross River Rail (CRR)

2008 - Under the Bligh ALP government, the Inner City Capacity Rail Study recommends that Brisbane requires two rail tunnels in 2016 and 2022, as well as loads of track amplifications (most of which haven't occurred by 2015). Multiple routes for the new tunnel are analysed.

2010 - After considerable route analysis, the CRR reference design is finalised, with public consultation and environmental assessment completed. CRR is planned to run in tunnel from Yeerongpilly to Victoria Park. The ALP government (apparently badly advised by Queensland treasury department) also started to massively hike public transport fares which reduced public transport patronage and overcrowding, lessening the need for CRR, but also increasing road congestion.

2011 - Brisbane floods, funding goes elsewhere, and CRR opening is delayed to 2020. Federal funding (from both parties) wasn't forthcoming either - repeat for every year after. Later in the year, the ALP government release the pie in the sky "Connecting SEQ2031" plan.

2012 - Council of Loonies Mayors (SEQ) suggested the silly elevated "Cleveland Solution" plan which proposed to run higher frequency light rail services between Cleveland and Ferny Grove, but failed to factor in the cost of duplicating the Cleveland Line or elimating tons of level crossings. Later the the year, the Newman LNP announce a "cut price" CRR, in other words building CRR but not the essential infrastructure at each end.

2013 - The Newman LNP government scrapped the "shovel ready" CRR, and replaced it with the ill thought out Bus and Train (BaT) tunnel. This combined bus and train tunnel, likely planned on the back of a napkin, forgot about the essential interchange at Park Rd, and surfaced at Dutton Park so as to reduce property resumptions around Yeerongpilly. The CRR Albert Street alignment was replaced by BaT's George Street alignment, with George Street and Roma Street station construction being part of property (re-) development. Later in the year Tony Abbott becomes prime minister and being stuck in the 1960s, refuses to fund public transport.

2015 - The Newman LNP government was booted out by the voters, and the new ALP government culled the BaT. It has also been claimed that BaT tunnel was "never going to be built anyway" by the LNP government if they had stayed in power. CRR is now being re-assessed and is back in the planning stages. Concerningly, the Queens Wharf casino plans seem to not involve a station box construction for CRR - a major opportunity missed. The Yeerongpilly property issue also means that the original CRR plans there would have to be changed.

So after these 7 years, CRR is in the "planning stage" for the third time - making SE Queensland look like the village idiot of the western world.

What's likely to happen in the future?

2018 - The minority ALP state government gets dumped by the voters. The "shovel ready" (again) CRR gets dumped, and replaced by another ludicrous LNP plan (we'll call it BaTty). Brisbane spends millions of $$$ on a failed Olympic bid due to rubbish public transport.

2021 - The LNP state government tries to privatise hospitals and sacks public servants yet again, and thus gets dumped by the voters yet again. The "shovel ready" yet again BaTty tunnel gets axed by the new ALP government and replaced by CRR version 999.

2024 - you can guess the rest. Brisbane's roads gets increasingly congested due to insufficient train service, and thus more roads are built instead.

So how do we stop this spiral of political stupidity?

With difficulty! Given that we may be seeing one term Queensland governments for a long while, there needs to be bi-partisan support of any Cross River Rail plan, instead of it being used as a political football. Brisbane City Council (bi-partisan support as well) is also required to support the plan. BrizCommuter has concerns that this will not happen due to idioticy and self-interest of Queensland politicians. Federal governments also need to start investing more in state capital rail infrastructure - now Tony Abbott is out of the way, the latter may happen.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pot calling the kettle black?

How about, remove BCC from bus network design?
Thanks to The TransLink Ripoff blog, BrizCommuter came across this amusing change.org petition from LNP Brisbane City Councillor (and Deputy Mayor) Adrian Schrinner. The petition is to lower fares on Brisbane's public transport system, which we all know is disgustingly expensive and discouraging public transport use. So why does BrizCommuter not want anyone to sign this petition? Well the reason is:

  • Brisbane City Council (BCC) own Brisbane Transport (BT), who run Brisbane's buses.
  • Both BCC and BT run a highly inefficient, badly designed, and confusing to use bus network.
  • Both BCC and BT failed to co-operate with TransLink when TransLink attempted to improve Brisbane's bus network in 2013 to make it more efficient, and increase high frequency network coverage. 
  • BCC appear to be in denial that there is anything wrong with Brisbane's bus network. 
  • BT's bus network tries to compete with rail instead of feeding or complementing it. 
So instead of whinging about fares, how about Cr Adrian Schrinner looks at Brisbane City Council's failings on bus network design and operation. A better petition would be for Brisbane Transport to become independent or even privatised, and to remove Brisbane City Council from anything to do with public transport network design. Only then will we see Brisbane catch up with other world cities (such as Auckland) with a re-designed efficient bus network, that allows for better mobility, and better value for money.

Also, Cr Schrinner, if you haven't noticed, Anna2 and co are already reviewing fares, something that the previous LNP state government failed to do properly. Plus, the previous LNP state government didn't have the balls to force BCC and BT to adopt TransLink's bus network recommendations! 

Is QR's Quiet Carriage a complete failure?

The Queensland Rail (QR) Quiet Carriage has always been a bit of a joke. Quiet carriages are never really suited to commuter rail lines, rather being suited to long distance journeys. The QR Quiet Carriage is not enforced, other than by angry, obese, aisle seat hogging, middle aged women. Families with screaming kids often end up the carriage as there are no pram spaces in adjacent carriages. Commuters with resonating headphones may end up in the carriage as it may the only one they can get a seat in. Really, it's a complete waste of time.

Just to prove this, BrizCommuter performed a highly scientific study, using a sound meter on his iPhone 6 between adjacent stations on the same train service to measure sound pressure level (dB). The train, just in case anyone cares, was an ageing EMU.

Not the 'Quite Carriage' peak volume - 90dB




















'Quiet Carriage' peak volume - 95dB




















The Quiet Carriage was actually noisier in both peak volume and max volume. The app used didn't provide average figures, though the it is quite likely that this was also higher in the Quiet Carriage. In this case, this possibly due to the quiet carriage being group of teens with Downs Syndrome, station announcements cranked up to maximum volume, and whining motors. Thus BrizCommuter concludes that the QR Quiet Carriage is indeed a waste of time.

Maybe QR should better spend their time eliminating aisle seat hogs and ladies who think their handbag can have it's own seat?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tony Abbott ruins the Commonwealth Games

Australia's backwards prime minister 
Tony Abbott has just continued to make Australia look like the world's most backwards developed country by refusing to fund stage 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail. This phase 2 extension of the Gold Coast's G:link light rail system was to run from the current terminus of Gold Coast University Hospital to Helensvale. If it could have been funded, it would have opened just in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and would made Southport and Surfers Paradise much more accessible by public transport from Brisbane and Logan. There would have been ongoing benefits of improved access between Brisbane, Logan, and the Gold Coast for locals and tourists after the games.

Unfortunately, due to Tony Abbott's "stuck in the 1960s" hatred of public transport (or in fact hatred of anything that could be seen as being environmentally friendly), funding has been refused for this essential project. So unless the cash strapped Queensland state government can urgently find $200m of funding, both Australia and the Gold Coast are going to look very very silly on the world stage in 2018.

Tony Abbott's bizarre hatred of public transport goes against the policy of every other developed country. Given, the popularity of the Gold Coast Light Rail amongst voters, this move could also cost Tony Abbott some seats, increasing his already high chance of loosing the next federal election.

Update 16/09/15

Australia has thankfully lost it's backwards, homophobic, misogynistic, immigrant hating immigrant prime minister. It is likely that the Gold Coast Light Rail decision could have affected the voting of Gold Coast LNP MPs when it came to ousting Tony Abbott. The new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is known to be a public transport user. Can phase 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail be rescued by Australia's new leader before it is too late? Or will Australia be laughing stock of the Commonwealth.

Update 11/10/15

Yay - Gold Coast Light Rail stage 2 is now funded, thanks to Australia now having a new prime minister who lives in the 21st century. You won't be missed Tony! 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A billion $$$ for a 30 minute frequency?

The path of mediocrity
As TransLink and Queensland Rail have so far failed to provide any public consultation on timetables for Moreton Bay Rail Link (MBRL), questions need to be asked as to what train services will be seen on this $1b+ rail line?

There are rumours that Ipswich services will run on the MBRL to Kippa-Ring, and Springfield services will run to Caboolture. This indicates that is likely that each of these services will only see a 30 minute off-peak service. Yes, you heard that right, the billion dollar MBRL may only have a train every 30 minutes off-peak! The same happened on the Springfield Line, where hundreds of millions of dollars were also spent for a 30 minute off-peak train service - much to the annoyance of people trying to get to and from Springfield for work and university. Compare this to Melbourne where 10 minute off-peak frequencies are now common.

Peak timetables (discussed in the previous blog post) are also unknown, and lack of trains is also a potential issue. BrizCommuter would not be surprised if the peak timetable is also half-baked (e.g. train every 12 minutes), resulting in an unattractive peak train services for a new train line and resulting in overcrowding on some services. BrizCommuter hopes to be proved wrong here!

Connecting bus services are also an unknown. Instead of a half-decent feeder bus service as in most developed cities, expect an infrequent bus service that will probably stop running at 5:30pm (just before the arrival of the first train service leaving Brisbane's CBD after 5pm). The almost non-existent feeder bus services in Springfield are a likely pre-cursor to what to expect on the MBRL.

Will train station car parks run out of capacity? You bet, station car parking is always underestimated.

SE Queensland - expect mediocrity!