Sunday, October 12, 2014

Redfern lift one step closer to completion, but what about more?

We here at Transport for All NSW are happy that the single lift that the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, announced back in January, is one step closer to being built and completed for use by the General public, with Geotechnical surveys currently being undertaken.

However the fact remains that Redfern will only have one lift for the publics use and it begs the question, why can't more lifts be built at Redfern?

There are also other questions and facts which remained unanswered from the Transport Minister and we have sent through some questions pertaining to:

1) what happens to people who need to use this one single lift at Redfern when it either breaks down or is vandalised?

2) why can more lifts be built for the Bankstown line trains and the Illawarra line train platforms?

3) why can't the Minister explain why only 1 single lift will be built at such an extremely important and busy station with the inner city CBD and why can't 2 other lifts be installed on those platforms mentioned above?

It also begs the question why Sydney Trains staff, namely guards who make announcements, state for people requiring the Bankstown line and Illawarra line and need to use a lift, currently state to to change at Redfern instead of Central, which is the next fully accessible station.

It would seem to is here that the Minister hasn't really though this through and is only now rushing to the necessary paperwork before construction starts before the next election?

It would also seem that little thought and understanding have so far led to a process that gives a little thought to the long term vision and issues, instead focussing on the extremely short term vision for political survival!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

14 Paper tickets get retired from tomorrow. So here is what you need to know/FAQ's

The NSW Government & Transport for NSW have announced that certain paper tickets will no longer be available to purchase from tomorrow, Monday 1 September 2014.

We have also heard that there has been some confusion about what tickets will still be available to purchase along with tickets that can't be purchased after tomorrow and we thought we would create an FAQ sheet to explain everything in detail to you.

What tickets are being retired?

As per the below table the following tickets are being retired from sale from tomorrow and will not resold:
  • MyTrain: Adult off-peak return, Adult weakly, Adult fortnightly, Adult monthly, Adult quarterly, Adult yearly, Concession monthly, Concession quarterly and Concession yearly
  • MyMultiAdult monthly, Adult quarterly and Adult yearly
  • MyFerryAdult TravelTen
  • LightRailAdult yearly

(Source: Transport for NSW)

Can you still purchase Pensioner Excursion Tickets (PET) after 1 September?

Yes you can at train stations, at Ferry wharves, aboard LightRail services and onboard private bus services (run by Busways, Transit Systems Australia, Forest Bus Lines, etc). 

It is important to note that ALL Sydney Bus services do not sell PET's and you will need to pre-purchase tickets from either your local train station, 7eleven store or participating Woolworths Supermarkets.

Will Pensioner's and Adult Concessioners have an Opal Card to purchase and if so when?

The Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, has confirmed that Pensioners and Adult Concessioner ticket users will eventually be able to purchase the Gold Opal Card. However there is no official timeframe for this to occur and we here at Transport for All NSW have either been told (unofficially of course) that the Gold Opal Card will become available from either late September through to December and even early January and February next year.

If I purchase the current Adult or Child Opal Cards, will I be charged Pensioner Concession fares?

No. The Adult or Child Opal Cards will not utilise the Pensioner Concession fares and if you wish to utilise the pensioner fares, you will need to wait for the Gold Opal Card to become available later this year sometime.

Where can I pre-purchase Pensioner Excursion Tickets from?

You can pre-purchase PET's from either your local 7Eleven store or participating Woolworths Supermarket (we have contacted Woolworths Limited for a list of Woolies stores selling pre-purchased PET's but are still waiting to hear back at this stage).

You can also purchase PET's from your local Sydney Trains & NSW TrainLink Intercity stations on the day you wish to travel, however you cannot pre-purchase such tickets from these stations.

When the Gold Opal Card for Pensioners & Adult Concessioners become available, where will I be able to purchase these tickets from?

At this stage, we can confirm that the Gold Opal Card for Penioners & Adult Concessioners will be available to obtain through the Opal Website & the Opal Customer Care on 13 67 25 (13 OPAL).

However we cannot confirm as to whether the Gold Opal Card will become available to purchase at retail outlets. We have reached out to Cubic Systems Australia (the owners & builders of the Opal Card system) along with Gladys Berejiklian & Transport for NSW, but we have yet to hear anything further.

If you wish to find out more about the Opal Card, you can view the Opal Card website here -

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Questions to the Minister

Today, Transport for All NSW has sent the NSW Transport Minister, who is also the Minister for the Hunter Region, Gladys Berejiklian, an extraordinary list of questions but also concerns from long suffering wheelchair and disabled commuters.

These questions and concerns are based on feedback provided during various discussions but also forums in which disabled and wheelchair commuters have generally been the after thoughts when in comes to transport in this great city of ours. We here at TfANSW hope to have answers within the next few weeks, but given our previous response took about a month or so for a reply, we won't be holding our breathe just now.

So without further a-do, here is the list of questions we have placed to the Minister:

Dear Minister,
I would like to thank you for the extremely late response I got from my previous enquiry (ML14/07473) which seemed to have come from your secretary but yet again did not answer my questions.
So therefore I have a growing list of issues I would like to bring to your attention, but hopefully get an answer for and in some cases, an explanation as to why you have failed disabled commuters especially NSW TrainLink customers.
The issues I have so far from concerned wheelchair & disabled commuters are as follows:
Intercity Fleet/NSW TrainLink Questions/Issues
1) Why is the Government spending approximately from our sources $10-$20Millon on refurbishing the V Set (Intercity) fleet of 262 carriages of which only 4 to 8 carriages are wheelchair accessible (which is appealing I must say and does not meet DDA compliance) and are not considering on making the remaining carriages wheelchair accessible until the new intercity fleet arrives?
2) With the New Intercity Fleet of which you will be spending a total of $2.8Billon, Will be:
  • Fully Wheelchair Accessible & meet DDA compliance?
  • First Class if considered, will be available to wheelchair & Disabled Commuters & if so what would be the fare structure in this instance?
  • Have on-board facilities such as a wheelchair accessible toilet & if a CafĂ© is available, its services can be accessed by disabled & wheelchair users alike without any hassles for both staff & these commuters?
3) With the truncation of the Newcastle line at Wickham in December this year, can you confirm why light rail will not be built at the same time as the truncation works, but a year later after the truncation and how Wheelchair & other disabled commuters will not be affected or further impacted or delayed by trying to interchange with what is already busy Newcastle Bus services?
4) Will the Minister also confirm that the new interchange at Wickham be fully wheelchair accessible, meet DDA compliance and not have either a gap or height issues which currently plague the current V Sets, Hunter railcars, Endeavour Railcars and OScar trains?
5) How will disabled or wheelchair commuters access light rail at the new Wickham interchange station, as the artists impression documents and pictures do not give a clear indication of:
  • the location of accessible bus stops?
  • the location of an accessible light rail stop?
  • the location of accessible facilities such as toilets or change-rooms?
  • the location of ticket machines or windows for assistance by staff?
  • if platforms for both train & light rail will be 'gap free' meaning little or no gap at all along with no height differences requiring a ramp to be placed between the tram or train and the platform?
6) What new stations will be considered for an upgrade to become wheelchair accessible under the transport master-plan within the NSW TrainLink operations?
7) Can the Minister confirm or outline her & her depts. (TfNSW & NSW TrainLink/NSW Trains) have a plan to replace the current XPT train services with a new fleet and what the replacement fleet look like and be like for wheelchair disabled users?
8) if the Minister does have a replacement for the XPT, can she confirm if the new train fleet will be fully wheelchair accessible and on-board services be abled to be fully accessed by wheelchair commuters/customers?
Opal Card
9) Can you outline the EXACT timetable of when the Gold Opal Card, and how people with Centrelink benefits will be able to obtain these cards?
10) For people with disabilities who are not able to exactly 'tap on' and 'tap off', can you confirm if the TfNSW & Cubic Corporation Australia Pty Ltd are and will make available a card holder which will be placed on the wheelchair as such and that this holder will be free or will there be a cost?
11) Who is exactly exempted from obtaining a Opal Card and will therefore be entitled to free travel around the whole entire train, bus, ferry and light rail systems?
Trains (both Sydney Trains & NSW TrainLink)
12) What is TfNSW doing to reduce the gap and height differences between the train and the platform at Sydney Trains Stations for Wheelchair passengers?
13) Can the Minister confirm if the lifts at Wynyard will be replaced and the time frame for this to occur?
14) Can the minister confirm when the remainder of the lifts at Blacktown Station and the Interchanges will be replaced?
15) Will the lifts be replaced at the new Penrith Station and if so, the impact that will have on wheelchair users/commuters/customers and what the timetable will be?
17) Can the Minister confirm that Rooty Hill be in-fact be considered for an upgrade to become DDA compliant and be finally wheelchair accessible with either lifts or ramps and the if so, the timetable this will occur in?
Light Rail
18) In regards to the Inner-West Light Rail Extension (which we gladly thank you for delivering), can you please explain why someone in a wheelchair who wishes to travel from say, Marion Street to Dulwich Hill but then needs to change to the heavy rail at Dulwich Hill Interchange to continue on to say Bankstown or Liverpool or even Lidcombe, would be required to either travel to central then travel via train because of the lack of a simple lift at Dulwich Hill Sydney Trains Stations and why your dept & Government did not consider placing and upgrading the heavy rail station at Dulwich Hill whilst construction of the light rail extension was occurring?
19) Why is there a lack of an accessible bus route to take disabled passengers from Lewisham West station to the Wheelchair Accessible Sydney Trains Station at Summer Hill?
20) With the CBD & Eastern Suburbs light rail extension, can the minister confirm that platforms will be fully wheelchair accessible and that there will not be a gap, allowing wheelchair users to get on a tram without the need to call upon the guard or driver, potentially delaying services and causing hassles for wheelchair users
21) With the NWRL, can the minister confirm that their will either be a guard or staff member either on board the trains or at stations that will be able to assist wheelchair & other disabled commuters to get on and off the train without hassle?
22) With the NWRL/SRT trains being driverless, can you confirm trains will NOT leave a station before and after a wheelchair user board or alights from the trains?
23) Will there be staff at stations to assist Wheelchair & other disabled commuters out at stations?
24) In relation to the tunnels and in deed the sky train of the NWRL, can the minister confirm that wheelchair users will be able to get out of the train and into an emergency exist should:
  • the train suddenly stop or if there is a fire without the assistance of fire brigade staff; or
  • Will there be staff aboard the train to assist evacuate wheelchair and other disabled commuters?
  • What are the plans should such an event occur and will disabled/wheelchair commuters be made aware of the evacuation procedure (either via a PDF/Braille documents of YouTube Video) before operations commence for the NWRL?
25) Can the Minister confirm that wheelchair and other disabled commuters will not be impacted and be able to board already crowded T1 - Western, North Shore & Northern Line trains when the NWRL begins operations?
26) When the NWRL begins to take over the ECRL part of T1, what services will be in place and how will wheelchair and other disabled commuters access these services and how can the Minister confirm that there won't be either significant delays or hardships to disabled/wheelchair commuters alike?
27) will the replacement shuttle services (most likely buses in this instance) for the ECRL part of the T1 line be fully wheelchair accessible during the take over and reconstruction for the NWRL operations and the exact timeframes this will occur and be completed by?
Ferry Services
28) Can the minister confirm that the new Ferry fleet be fully wheelchair accessible and have on-board facilities catering to wheelchair users?
29) Can the Minister confirm what Wharves are due to be upgraded within the next 12 to 24 months and the time frame for these to occur and what services will be in place to allow wheelchair ferry commuters will not be impacted by these upgrades?
I understand these are a heck of a lot of questions, but given both the NWRL, Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink and TfNSW have not been able to answer these questions, it has fallen onto a coalition of disabled commuters via our membership base through Transport for All NSW to find out what the issues and questions are and try to obtain these answers for us disabled commuters.
We look forward to your response Minister.
As you can see, we had a total of 29 Questions and answers for which as stated above, we hope to have an answer for you all soon, but as stated and thanks to our own previous experience trying to obtain any sort of correspondence back took nearly over a month. So we won't be holding our breathe.
But We would like to open the floor to you all again, to tell us what your issues or concerns are. You can do that either via 2 ways, by commenting in the comments below, or visiting our Facebook Page and leaving your comments there.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Transport Minister & Staff refuse to answer questions on Opal Card for pensioners/concessioners

Yesterday, Transport for All NSW finally received an email letter response from the Transport Minister Secretary for transport and roads who is also the minister for the Hawkesbury region, Ray Williams, to which a lot of the questions we put to the minister about the Gold Concessioner/Pensioner Opal Card have been left unanswered.

The questions Transport for All NSW put to the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian related to the following:

1) when would the elusive gold opal card for pensioners and concessioners actually be released (we asked for a specific date, not the usual 'later in the year' crap)?;
2) how would the opal card work and benefit a person with a severe disability who may not be able to physically tap on or tap off?
3) can the minister confirm reports Transport for All NSW have found relating to private bus companies (namely busways) not selling the Pensioner Excursion Tickets (PET) to pensioner and concessioners come the 1st September despite the TransportNSW website stating clearly that PET tickets will still be sold aboard private bus companies excluding State Transit Buses (STA)?

Now these questions are quite easy to reply to and quite honestly as the NSW Liberal Government has championed itself in being fully transparent, one would think the NSW Government would reply to all the answers and finally provide more information that what is currently available right?

Well they didn't and won't it seems. Below is a copy of the reply we got:

We here at Transport for All NSW are quite disappointed that the minister nor the secretary for the Transport Minister have failed to answer all our questions and it certainly does beg the main question, is the transport minister trying to deceive the disabled and elderly community by not providing real answers and what is the NSW Government trying to hide?

We have out our questions again to the minister and will await their reply, but I wouldn't hold ours nor your breath sadly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My horrible train trip via Sydney Trains

Last Tuesday Morning, the 22 July 2014, I was traveling into the city for work when I was injured during my morning commute between Blacktown and Town Hall because of a train driver who obviously had other ideas and rather play need for speed with the train I was traveling on.

So what happened, well to start of the beginning I boarded my train service which was the 9:52am Blacktown to Hornsby via city service, which is an express service into city stopping after Blacktown: Parramatta, Strathfield, Redfern, Central and Town Hall where is was alighting to head into work.

Now as the doors closed very much instantaneously, the driver seemed to have put the "pedal to the metal" (basically means the train speed out of the station quite fast), which was unusual given it was a Waratah (A set) train. 

Normally on the A sets I tend to stay next to the door instead of the wheelchair spaces provided as normally there are a few commuters sitting at these seats and normally asking them to move politely can turn ugly. But this morning there was no commuters sitting at these seats so I wheeled myself over to one of these wheelchair spaces and began listening to my music.

Now sotting at this spot i noticed that the irrational speeding continued between Blacktown and Parramatta as when arriving in Parramatta the guard announced the train service will depart in about 2-3 minutes which again is very unusual for an express service with no slow services running ahead of this train nor any delays on the line noted or announced.

Once the doors has closed within seconds the train driver again put the pedal to the metal and gunned the train into full speed ahead. Because of this, the brakes on my wheelchair where unable to stop the gravity pushingy backwards into the wall which I then tipped onto my anti-tippers at an angle, hitting my spine onto a hand pole I was unaware existed right behind me on the wall. I also hit my head against the wall at the same time. The wall I am talking about is the wall right next to the inter carriage doors (where you can go between each carriage or car).

This instantly put my back into a spasm which caused great pain to shoot down my legs and spine. Given I have had 5 major back surgeries this incident did not help at all.

I was able to get some of the pain under control and I hit the emergency button and requested the guard come to the 6th car, last door where I was to explained what happened but also advise that the staff at Town Hall would have to wheel me off the train as I couldn't but wouldn't be able to do this my self (normally I would wheel myself off and on the train with the ramp being placed down for me).

This all happened between Redfern and Central. The guard notified Town Hall about my need for further assistance and once off at Town Hall, I advised the staff of what had happened (along with the guard - both of them as there was a change over of guards at Central).

Town Hall staff then took note of my incident and informed and made a complaint to operations within Sydney Trains HQ. in the mean time I remained on platform awaiting for the pain to subside further as I had taken some pain killers.

Upon 20-45mins later I left town hall to make the short trip to my office where upon arriving my fellow colleagues where made aware of what had happened and seeing that I was still in a hell of a lot of pain called an ambulance to which I was then rushed to St Vincent's Hospital to Emergency with chronic back pain issues.

I also had made a complaint to Transport NSW via the 131 500 number and about 24 hours later I received a phone call from Sydney Trains wanting to clarify what had happened but also see how I was going and to advise they will investigate the matter urgently.

However I was unsatisfied with this response and advised this Sydney Trains representative that I would look at taking this further (which I still am). However the representative was able to do or offer anything further about what would happen and we ended our conversation there.

I then tried to raise the matter with the Transport Ministers Office, Gladys Berejiklian, but was advised that the matter would be raised as a complaint and a response given as soon as possible. I advised the ministers office rep that given I am still awaiting a response about the opal card for pensioners to still come through and that it had been 2 months since I sent the original enquiry, I would not be satisfied with this type of response and waiting period.

I was then again advised I could not speak to the minister and an enquiry would be sent through. Once again I gave my details but are yet to hear anything back. Which to me is showing the ministers isn't really listening to the fare paying commuters but the general public as well but also that she really doesn't give a dam. I know Ministers can be busy but still given the circumstances one would think through common sense to maybe consider giving myself or other victims a callback to hear about the incident but also follow up later on to say what they have done to ensure it won't happen again but also see how I and other victims are going since the accident or incident.

To say the least, I certainly wasn't happy nor felt safe because of this and whilst I know many of you might be thinking, well what's unusual about this as trains speed all the time. The issue for me is that there is speed restrictions on place, much like road speed rules and signs, which we all must obey to of course. The same is said for trains and their drivers to keep to these speeds as highlighted.

I find it absolutely ridiculous that only about 4 months ago Howard Collins, Chief Executive of Sydney Trains was on 7 news saying they had caught a few drivers speeding beyond the speed restrictions and that drivers should know they will be caught out if the continue such behavior because trains now have GPS tracking systems which tracks the trains movements including speed but also because of the black boxes installed and CCTV cameras.

Yet here we are. The same issue still happening because most drivers caught speeding generally go for re-training, which basically and in theory should make the driver think twice or three of four times, hell maybe more times than that, think about speeding again.

Personally I think drivers caught should be terminated, fined and barred from driving a train, tram, bus or ferry, almost similar to fines and penalties given to drivers caught speeding in their own personal car.

It makes me wonder whether it would be worth consider harsher penalties for train, bus, tram and ferry drivers who are caught speeding and putting not only passengers safety at risk but the general public as well.

These fines and penalties should be linked to the drivers car license so as to insure they know if they want to run the risk that if and when they are caught, and they will be caught, know that it is not acceptable and taught a lesson.

I would like to know what you think? Should train, bus, tram & ferry drivers if caught speeding or doing the wrong thing, be penalized through their personal car license (like what is in place for truck drivers and company car drivers)? 

We would also like to hear from you if you have been injured and felt unsafe on any form of public transport because of speeding? We would like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

On a side note:

I do have to say that the one politician who has been listening and actually was concerned about what happened is Penny Sharpe - NSW State Labor member and the shadow transport Minister and I would like to thank her not only from myself but also from my whole family who would like to thank her for her well wishes and support. Thank you Penny

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Newcastle truncation set to happen this December & what it means for you

Artist impression of an upgraded Broadmeadow station from 2004

The NSW Government have confirm that on Boxing Day, December 26 2014, that the Newcastle line will be truncated (cut off) permently from Wickham, meaning trains will no longer terminate at what is currently Newcastles main CBD terminus.

This means trains on the Newcastle and Hunter regional lines will have to compete for terminus space at Wickham until the new station has been built to accommodate more trains via new platforms. 

Along with this announcement, the NSW Government along with the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian who is also the minister for the Hunter region, has along with the NSW Planning Minister, Pru Goward, stated that trains from Wickham to Newcastle CBD will be replaced by Light Rail.

However until the Light Rail stops, along with signaling equipment and reconditioned tracks and the purchase of new light rail vehicles (also commonly known as trams) are built, buses will be supplementing services into the main CBD area of Newcastle.

Now whilst the truncation of heavy rail and replacement of these services via light rail are going to transform public transport for novocastrians, there are issues that not only we have found here at TfANSW, but also through various other community lobby groups and transport experts alike which are very worrying.

These issues namely relate to the timeline of this whole process, which seems very rushed at best, but also the main issue is the timeline for the light rail conversion process of the heavy rail from Wickham to Newcastle CBD.

Based on the press releases from not only the Ministers Office along but also local MP's and Transport for NSW is the issue surrounding the light rail conversion, which is not slated to begin until just on a year from the official truncation of the heavy rail from Wickham.

To us here at Transport for All NSW this is very worrying considering that planning for the new light rail stops, along with the conversion of heavy rail tracks, signals, power supply, wiring and building of new Light Rail Vehicles should be in the planning stages, with the beginning of conversion building stage happening immediately after the truncation of services, it certainly shows that this whole process has been rushed and little thought given to the thousands of commuters who still need to travel into the heart of Newcastles CBD beyond Wickham, especially people with disabilities who will be forced onto crowded smaller state owned Government Bus services run by State Transit/Newcastle Buses.

To be honest, such planning should be currently undertaken along with the release of what an upgraded Wickham Terminus will exactly look like, along with the transport interchange between heavy rail, light rail and buses but also planning of the conversion building stage be undertaken now.

We have reached out to the Transport Minister for comment, however at the date of publish we have been advised that a response can take up to 1 month.

We would like to hear your thoughts about the truncation of the heavy rail system but also the conversion of the system to Light Rail and the timeline for such a conversion to occur. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Opal Man - Transport for NSW latest campaign to make you fall in love with the new Opal Card

Transport for NSW and the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, yesterday launched their new campaign to make Sydney commuters, either regular or irregular,  to take up and love the new ticketing smart card, Opal.

However the more disturbing is that the ad, which features a gentleman dressed up in lycra (I mean come on - that's for going to gym or bike riding at best) with his head popping out from a massive black adult Opal Card. Even later on within the TV Ad which is hitting the airwaves in Sydney and regional areas, features two children in green lycra with little green Opal cards surrounding their heads for the children's Opal Card.

I am sorry but not only should the fashion police be called, the Minister herself should be charged with fashion horrors of the extreme to the public!

Now whilst the campaign won't win any awards for creativity (as you can tell it wasn't a big budget nor even thoughts out properly), it does go to help someway highlight the strengths of the Opal card versus current queuing issues for paper tickets.

Instead it does however highlight a huge issue, mainly relating to the still non-existing Gold Pensioner/Concessioner Card, which is slated to still come "later this year" whatever that may mean but highlights that such a TV should not be placed up as the full rollout has not yet been completed, with the remaining bus network still yet to be completed along with Light Rail service which won't happen until early 2015 at this stage.

For example, a family may have a disabled child who is of a pension age, but the parents may have the adult Opal Card, however because of this they will still have to line up, queuing to still get a paper ticket for their child.

The same could be said for grandparents. Where their grandchild might have the children's concessioner green opal card, but the grandparents don't, meaning they too would need to line up and queue to obtain their paper tickets before continuing on their way.

We here at Transport for All NSW have sent enquiries to both the Opal Card Centre, Transport for NSW and the Transport Ministers office, the last stating that enquiries can take up to one month to at least 2 months for a response (which is quite poor for a ministers office).

If you haven't yet seen the Opal Man TV ads, here they are for you below:

We are hoping the current incumbent NSW Government comes to their senses and announce the Gold Concessioner/Pensioner Opal Card soon, but sadly we doubt this will occur.

What do you think of the new TV campaign? Do you think Opal & TfNSW should have waited till the full roll out of all opal cards to the whole transport network is completed? We would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions