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 - www.opal.com.au

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
 
NWRL - SRT
 
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

Western Sydney Light Rail - where should it be built



A couple of weeks ago, the Liberal/National State Government announced their 4th and final budget before next years state election, and whilst many commentators have stated that the budget was basically an election pitch due to this reason. However there was some good points and some points that we were very confused about.

The thing we were confused about here at TfANSW was the $400 million provision to help identify the route which the State Government will build its second light rail link, knowing that such a line will start and terminate within the Parramatta CBD, Sydney's second biggest city within the metropolitan area.

However most of this was done by Parramatta City Council who did a review which was published and released for comment as part of their wider transport and building initiatives and the two routes that the council have identified within their own reports, which in turn has been put as a formal and informal proposal to the State Government and Transport for NSW.

The two routes which Parramatta City Council have made preference are:

  • Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Eastwood 
  • Parramatta to Castle Hill via Windsor Road 

However the State Government has also selected an additional 8 routes in which the light rail line could also be built within the area. These additional routes include:

  • Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Carlingford
  • Parramatta to Castle Hill via Old Northern Road
  • Parramatta to Liverpool via the T-way
  • Parramatta to Bankstown
  • Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park
  • Parramatta to Rouse Hill
  • Parramatta to Ryde via Victoria Road
  • Parramatta to Sydney CBD via Parramatta Road

Now what is even more surprising is that the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, has stated to the press and via the press release that Light Rail within the Parramatta CBD area will be built before their own report and consultation is complete for a preferred route.

What baffles us is that why would such a report cost $400Million to find out which route to build the light rail when most of the ground work is done.

That said, it got us thinking, which route should this Light Rail network be built on? Surely going with the Parramatta City Council proposed routes would be a good start, but what about in future as well? Where could such extensions on the light rail network be built in future?

Here is what we think:


Convert the existing three T Way networks 

Converting the three existing T-Way Networks which run from Parramatta to Liverpool, Parramatta to Rouse Hill via Westmead and Parramatta to Blacktown, to light rail would be far more beneficial for commuters, given that Buses cannot carry as many as a LRV (Light Rail Vehicle) could. 

Honestly converting these existing infrastructure would mean only track, sleepers, overhead wiring and poles along with signals would be required and would mean stations wouldn't have to be built as existing bus stops will be utilised.

There would also provide faster and more convenient connections, freeing up the private buses that run on these networks to other routes and in turn hopefully providing more bus routes for the private operators to run.

Convert the Carlingford line to Light Rail, extending to Parramatta & Westmead Health Precinct

This might sound far fetched, but converting the current heavy rail branch line known as the Carlingford Line, which is served by 1 train in each direction every half to 1 hour would provide more capacity to serve commuters who have long been forgotten about.

Converting the Carlingford line make sense, as it would also remove the last major level crossing and pinch point within the road network along Parramatta Road. 

There is great potential for further expansion if this occurs. For example, linking the line to either go to Clyde and possible works its way down to Olympic park could be a future expansion of this network. You could also do a future possible extension of the network towards Macquarie Park and even possibly connecting up to a converted T-Way which would then become part of again future expansion of the network.

Linking this up to Westmead health precinct (i.e: Westmead Hospital, Westmead Private, The Children's Hospital at Westmead & Cumberland Hospital) would also make sense given most express services no longer stop at Westmead and instead their next stop after Blacktown will be Parramatta if heading into the city, or from the city would be Blacktown after Parramatta. This sort of extension would provide an additional boost for commuters and replace the current incumbent services from Hillsbus/Transit Systems Australia.

Connect up to the City via the Light Rail extension down Parramatta Road

What would be beneficial for Western Sydney and indeed Inner-western commuters would be if the Parramatta Light Rail Network linked up towards the soon to be built Sydney CBD light Rail Network via a route down Parramatta Road once the West Connex is built of course.

This would again boost and enhance transport options for all residents but also allow for buses to be re-directed to other routes or possible allow for new routes to be developed. It would also take out the frustrations of Bus commuters who take the bus via Parramatta road and find that they end up staying in a car park due to traffic congestion.

Conclusion 

Of course this is just some of the ideas we would like to put forward for possible routes for such a Western Sydney Light Rail Network should be built, but we would like to get your thoughts or suggestions? Do you think one of the above routes should be selected for the LRV network to be built? Do you have another route or suggestions or idea? We would like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Links

Here is the press release from the Transport Ministers office regarding the WSLRN (Western Sydney Light Rail Network).

Western Sydney Light Rail report - Parramatta City Council

Monday, June 30, 2014

Rumour: Wheelchair passengers to get holders to place their Opal Card in - UPDATE!


After we reported earlier last month (June that is) that the Transport Minister would be set to announce the availability of the gold opal card for pensioners and concessioners, this morning after having a discussion per say with Opal card info people at Blacktown, I asked them what would happen for someone who is in a wheelchair who is unable to physically tap on and tap off their opal card and their reply was an interesting one.

The reply which I received was that they would be getting able to get a plastic holder which would ensure they could tap on and tap off. Now this got my intrigued and I asked how it would work to which the reply was probably the most typical of anything which was they couldn't exactly explain how such a device would work.

So I ditched the opal ladies and hopped aboard my train to work and thought I would ask my sources what they may have to say about this quite startling revelation. Unfortunately my sources didn't really have much to say and would not confirm NOR deny that such a device is going to be made available to people in wheelchairs who are not able to physically tap on or tap off at stations, buses, ferries or light rail stops.

So I have placed the question directly to OPAL directly who are yet to respond and it also got me wondering if the device would be made available freely to people with disabilities or whether a fee or certain restrictions be placed to get this device?

It also made me wonder what the device would physically look like and how it would work given wheelchair come in an array of various builds and sizes, so how could this impact how the device is being able to be used or placed on a wheelchair?

I am awaiting to see what Opal or the Transport for NSW will reply with and will inform everyone once a reply comes into the Transport for All NSW inbox.

Until then what would your thoughts be about this card holding device? What do you think it would like like? What will it be built from and how would it fit onto any and all wheelchairs available to us all?
 
****UPDATE****
 
according to other Opal Card sellers and sources, there are several prototypes being made however Cubic Sydney Australia (aka Opal) are still in the trial process. We are hoping to get some pictures or at least diagrams of these prototypes so stay tuned!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Busways - the bus company we love to hate



Last week there were 2 incidents involving Busways, the bus company that is contracted with the NSW Government to run bus services within the Region 1 area - namely between Richmond, Hawkesbury Valley, Penrith, Mt Duritt and Blacktown are including parts of the Hills are along with the Central Coast and North Coast of NSW.

The two incidents, of which one involved a fellow cyclist to be ran over, dragged and ultimately dying later in hospital due to the injuries sustained, has lead to a blitz which was undertaken by RMS inspectors and the police.

With this blitz, between 8 to 18 buses were found to have various mechanical issues, namely brake, steering and general mechanical issues which the company have since stated have all been addressed and fixed, but there have been concerns over Busways and other bus companies given the extremely tight and unacceptable bus timetables.

But this certainly isn’t the first time Busways has been in trouble. The bus company was found back in in the early 2000’s, when its drivers along with CDC’s Westbus/Hillsbus caught speeding in and out of the tunnel and there were calls at the time to have speeding cameras installed. 

Busways has also been citicised by fellow commuters and government officials for the lack of services it provides to the community, given that most buses are still not wheelchair accessible, nor  frequent services, given that most either run extremely late or are cancelled with little or no notice.

So why is it that a bus company with such a poor reputation continue to operate under an expanded region 1 contract in western Sydney? This question  makes us wonder if Gladys actually listens to the community or just rather hand out to contracts to incumbents who honestly put both staff and commuters safety at risk everyday.

My response would be for the incumbent transport minister, Gladys Berejiklian, to come out and try using all these services to see how bad Busways have become and explain why she has allowed for commuters lives to be put at risk because of her undeliverable transport improvements.

Of course we know this won’t happen, but still worth a wish

***UPDATE****

We wish to also point out that buses owned prior to 2007 are owned by the company, however ownership can be spun out to the government as part of an ownership structure change. This is outlined by the region contract terms and conditions. However Busways can request more accessible buses under the contract to help sure up timtetable.

Our main point of this story is that one company should be allowed to operate such a huge area given the issues outlined above. Two bus companies should be operating to ensure competition but also provide better services.


Sydney Rapid Transit - our concerns



The NSW Liberal/National Government announced last week that they will be extending the currently under construction North-West Rail Link (NWRL) from the end of the line at Chatswood to the city and onwards to Bankstown.

Of course all this hinges on the Liberal?National government winning the general election next March with the mandate to lease 49% of the poles, wires and remaining electricity generators.

Now whilst we don’t want to call the result for the Election next year, because lets be honest here, even 24 hours can seem like a lifetime, but it would seem on this basis the Liberal/National Government will get back into office albeit with probably a minority.

But to get the to the nitty gritty, there are issues with this plan for the second harbour train tunnel because it would seem they have announced this without doing any ground work to see if the route is viable or not.

So what are the issues with this proposal? Well the issues namely relate to the new link taking in the existing Bankstown line and converting it to rapid transit. The issues are:


  • between Redfern and Sydenham the Bankstown line utilises the East Hill line tracks which are used for express purposes. The issues namely relate to how this will effect the East Hills, South-west and Cambelltown/Macarthur line and whether the government is planning to build new track between Redfern & Sydenham to seperate the East Hills line Express services and the rapid transit lines. This would also have an impact on a number of properties between Sydenham and Erskineville, as they would have to be brought and demolished for this to occur.
  • How will the Rapid Transit utilise the current Bankstown Line stations. 
  • What modifications would need to be done to the stations to allow the trains to fit into the platforms given they are smaller than the current double decker rolling stock.
  • How long would the Bankstown line be out of action for the conversion from heavy rail to rapid transit
  •  When is the upgrades due to occur and how lone will it take in total
  • Would the Government need to build a bigger interchange station at Bankstown to allow people to interchange between the rapid transit line to the heavy rail suburban Sydney Trains service?
  • With the new stations to be built in the city, how will the interchange be possible between the current Town Hall Station and the to be built Pitt St Station, being they will be on top of one another (according to the fact sheets released by the Government).
  • Would the rapid transit be extended to Hurstville like it was originally planned to do so?

Of course these concerns are on top of the current issues surrounding how people with disabilities or requiring assistance will be able to get aboard the rapid transit trains being they will be driverless and not have any guards on board. It is also believed that there will be little if not no Public Service Attendant (also known as station staff) at stations according to various reports also released by the current incumbent government.


We have sought comment for these issues but are yet to receive any word back.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rumour: Gold Concessioner/Pensioner Card to be Available either lateAugust or September


We here at TfANSW have heard rumors from people close to the Opal Card project, that the Transport Minister will be finally announcing the availability of the Gold Concessioner/Pensioner Opal Card either in late August or September.

The announcement which will be scheduled to happen a couple of days if not a week before the rollout of the Gold Opal card, is a welcomed move, however TfANSW still have concerns and so far to no avail been able to confirm how people with severe disabilities or mobility issues will be able to simply tap on or off at their destinations respectfully.

For example, there is a current policy for State Transit operated Sydney Buses to simply allow people with disabilities who are unable to dip their ticket in and out of a machine, can simply "hop aboard" without requiring to do this.

However there is no such policy for Sydney Trains or NSW TrainLink operated services and this certainly raises the questions, what should they do to fix this major loophole?

One option TfANSW has floated for the last 2 years has been the option of an e-tag system, where a tag can be permanently fixed to ones wheelchair (or walker, which ever is the case) and an e-tag reader be placed above the wide gates. When the e-tag reader reads the e-tag, a simple beep will be heard and the gates open.

This would allow users more freedom and ensure that they are being able to pay their fare without hassle.

We have reached out to the transport Minister, Glayds Berejiklian, for comment, but at time of publish of this post, we still haven't heard back.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

All State Transit operated buses will stop selling PET tickets thisSunday


This Sunday, 1 June 2014, will mark the date when all State Transit operated bus services (also known as Sydney Buses) will stop selling Pensioner Excursion Tickets (or PET) on board it buses due to the rollout of the Opal ticketing system.

We here at Transport for All NSW have been able to come up with some frequently asked questions and answers so you know what to do so you are ready for the change over this Sunday.

1) Why are Sydney Buses operated by State Transit no longer selling PET tickets this Sunday?

The reason for this is simply because the current NSW Liberal/National Government has a mandate to continue the rollout of the Opal Card ticketing system which is now fully rolled out onto the Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink and Sydney Ferries services.

2) if I require a PET, where can I buy these types of tickets from?

Transport for NSW has stated that anyone requiring to purchase a PET ticket, can do so by pre-purchasing these types of tickets from your local 7-Eleven stores and Woolworths supermarkets with selected other agencies and stores also selling the PET ticket as well.

3) Are the pre-purchase tickets time stamped or only available to be used on the same day as purchase?

No. PET tickets that are pre-purchase are not time stamped and can be used at any time, according to a post on Transport NSW website. It is suggested that you pre-purchase a number of these tickets and keep them handy should you require to use public transport, especially Sydney buses with little notice or in the event of an emergency.

4) Can these pre-purchased ticket be re-used for another day?

No. You will be required to use a seperate PET ticket should you be required to travel the next time after the initial use of the ticket on the day.

5) Can you still use Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink PET tickets aboard Sydney's buses past 1 June?

Yes you can. Any ticket brought at your local Sydney Trains or NSW TrainLink intercity station can still be used aboard Sydney Buses including private bus services not operated by State transit, Sydney Ferries, Light Rail Services along with Newcastle Buses & Ferry services.

6) State Transit also run Newcastle Buses & Ferry services, are they affected by this move?

No. PET tickets can still be brought on board all Newcastle Buses & Ferry services at this stage and are not affected come 1 June.

7) when will the Gold Pensioner/Consessioner Opal Card be available for me to purchase?

At this stage, Transport for NSW and the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, have not given an official date or time frame as to when the Gold Pensioner/Concessioners card will be available to purchase via the Opal Card website. 

As far as Transport for All NSW is aware that the Gold Opal Pensioner/Concessioner card will be available later on this year sometime, but again we are unsure of any exact date at this stage.

8) If I experience any issues with trying to pre-purchase a PET ticket or use a pre-purchased PET ticket, what should I do?

If you experience any issues relating to purchasing or using a pre-purchased PET ticket aboard any bus, train, ferry or light rail service, you will need to ring 131 500 and listen for the prompt to make a complaint. You can also make your complaint about any issues relating to buying and using pre-purchased PET tickets via the Transport NSW website - www.transportnsw.info.

We hope that these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) have helped you make sense of the change but also help you pre-plan your journey should you be required to use any State Transit operated Sydney Bus services come 1 June this Sunday.

It is also good to note that with the pre-purchased PET tickets, that the price will remain at $2.50 per PET ticket.

If you are not sure if you live in an area that is services by a State Transit Sydney Buses service, you can find out via the Transport NSW website (www.transportnsw.info) or the State Transit website (www.sydneybuses.info).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Carlingford Line - what to do with a line that goes and connects to nowhere....yet




The Carlingford line seems to be one of the many forgotten rail lines which have become a very old, outdated and somewhat disjointed and unconnected part of the Sydney Trains metropolitan network, yet the NSW Government nor Transport for NSW or the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian know what to do with it.


The poor Carlingford line in the only suburban rail line which in my own opinion, that is not connected via a fully accessible interchange at Clyde. Now before you start having a go at me, stating that Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW have classified the station as accessible, its really not.


Clyde is serviced by a stair walker which over the years has been more broken and out of service that more so actually in services. At one point that I am aware, there was a Union ban on using this critical piece of technology for wheelchair users, yet it is still there, but only available during certain hours (namely in the peak periods) for which after that time, Wheelchair users are required to either travel to Granville or Parramatta to travel towards Carlingford.


To me whilst the bus option is the much more safer than actually trying to attempt to use the stair walker at Clyde, it certainly goes a long way to prove the Carlingford line and Clyde for that matter is  certainly biding its time to closure.


So what should we do to fix the option?


This idea I have fought long and hard on, and have spoken to many both involved with sensitive talks with stakeholders (such as Parramatta City Council and the NSW State Government along with Transport for NSW) for the possibility of the Carlingford line to be converted to a light rail system, that will ultimately connect to Westmead hospital precincts (Such as the Adults, Kids & Private hospitals) to Macquarie University and maybe even onwards towards Lane Cove, to provide this suburbs with a more connected piece of critical public transport infrastructure than what they currently have.


Why not have single metro style trains on the Carlingford Line?


Lets be honest here, this idea which has been circulating thanks to a few MP's who seem hell bent against light rail, think the only option is to turn the line into a metro 3 car system, however the dilemma is that how would this link into the current Sydney Trains Metro network?


Can a metro style train service use the same piece of infrastructure as the current double deck network is offering? Hell no!!


A single deck 3 car metro style network would offer no greater benefits and ultimately lead to further segregation of the line and its commuters, leading to further frustrations for not only commuters but transport planers alike.


Why not convert the line into a rapid bus line?


This option again would only create further gridlock and would take a lot longer to actually plan and build. The cost of converting it to this type of system would also cost more as more would have to be done for the conversion. Buses are already clogging up areas within Westmead, Parramatta, Carlingford and Macquarie University precinct.


Why convert to light rail then?


This answer is actually quite simple, as it would take far less time to convert,  the current trams that the NSW Government is considering retiring from next year onwards would be used to gap fill until new rolling stock can be brought, Frequency of service could jump unto every 10-15 mins in the peak and in the off peak every half hour instead of the current hourly services provided by heavy rail (aka Sydney Trains).


It would also offer an opportunity to make Clyde wheelchair accessible whilst also plan for the network to expand to Westmead and Macquarie University precinct or Lane Cove and even continue further expansion of this network towards Bankstown in areas currently underserved by bus services which have been cut or frequency dropped from previous levels.


It would also offer a more accessible service for people with disabilities using wheelchair or walking frames, stick or crutches, the elderly or families with prams.


The majority of the light rail stops can be built either where the current existing Carlingford Line stations are or next to them with most actually at street level requiring no lifts or major ramp constructions.


To me this makes a more sensible plan and help builds growth for patronage and expansion as well as improve public transport connections not only for the community as a whole but a more accessible transport option for people with disabilities without having any major hassles or drama's which they currently face to this day.


But I would like to get your feedback or suggestions on converting the Carlingford Line to Light Rail? Do you think it is a sensible and though out process and idea to carry through with or would you consider another option or stay with the current incumbent form of transport. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Gladys Berekjilian announces new intercity train set. So here are our concerns

Gladys Berejiklian announces the new trains with the NSW Premier, Mike Baird & NSW TrainLink Manager Rob Mason. Photo: Fairfax Media

The Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, yesterday announced that NSW TrainLink will be getting 520 new intercity carriages to replace the ageing V set intercity sets that are reaching their life expectance/service period.

Aunty Gladys has stated that these new carriages will be from existing “on the shelf” trains that could be potentially built overseas and not in Australia. The one issue I would like to point out that whilst that would mean that it could be built much more cheaply overseas, the problem is that with the current A Set or Waratah train sets, they have had many defaults which have required fixing and in some cases where work completed on the frames of these train sets had to be fixed via complete replacement of areas to ensure that they complied with state and federal building and safety regulations.

So it begs the question, why would we consider having off the shelf trains built overseas where they could possibly not meet manufacturing, building and safety regulations and laws and then possibly having rectification work completed at an additional cost after they have been brought here?

This to me sounds like a major oversight, but then again when we are dealing with Queen of all that is stupid, Gladys Berejiklian, it doesn’t honestly surprise me sadly.

However there are more unanswered questions regarding this new procurement of the train sets, with the main being are people with disabilities and their relevant organisations get any word or at east some consultation on what we know is needed to ensure that these train sets meet specifications and disabled customer requirements.

Its one thing to just add wheelchair spots, add automatic voice announcements and have passenger information displays, but there is more that would need to be taken into consideration, such as:

  • Would the train sets be step free and be equal with all platforms?
  • Will the guard be at the end of the train sets and if so, how many carriages would form each complete train set (4, 6 or 8)?
  • Will the train sets be single deck or double deck?
  • Will confirmation of wheelchair accessible disabled toilet be included?
  • How many disabled spots be in each complete train set?


What is even more ludicrous is the consideration by the transport minister to have 1st class areas/seating on the train sets which would replicate what train companies offer in the UK, however to me it just sounds like an additional source of revenue and excuse to charge customers more for just priority seating which would be made from the same materials as “economy” or the “everyday” seats which are found throughout the remainder of the train set.

I would like to point out at this stage that I despise this idea of a 1st class system as I can see big problems with this system causing further frustration and issues for NSW TrainLink staff both on board the train sets but also the stations. I also find this system as a way of ensuring Aunty Gladys gets a place to call her own and not be in the muck of the everyday commuter she claims she works for.

Basically in a nutshell, whilst I applaud Gladys on announcing the plan to procure new intercity train sets and move the Oscar trains into the Sydney Trains fleet, but if I am being honest, this is something Gladys could have announced 2 years ago or even last year when she split RailCorp into their current iterations - Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink.

It would also be a timely reminder that this comes upon the new premier being put into office but also because we are in election mode, with the NSW State Government elections due between August this year and March next year.

We can hope that this process is expedited but proper consultation occurs with all relevant stakeholders but also with the relevant commuters who will use the new train sets like us disabled commuters to ensure our voice is heard.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Transport Minister announces $100 million refurb of Wynyard Station - However no plans to replace the lifts just yet


The transport minister, Gladys Berejiklian, has announced on Monday that Wynyard station is set to receive a $100 million refurbishment to make it more friendly, inviting and open to passengers whilst bringing it into the 21st century.

Whilst this is a welcomed start to bring Wynyard station finally into this century, there is one issue on this plan and that is a simple one - what about the hydraulic lifts? Are they going to be replaced?

It would seem that the refurbishment will only include the following:



  • new lighting
  • new tiling
  • overhaul of the retail outlets
  • fresh coat of paint
  • new signage to help customers move around the station easier
  • reduce clutter on the platforms

Now whilst we do welcome this refurbishment, we are left wondering why the lifts, which are now well beyond the operational lift and in constant need of repair and are also constantly breaking down.

Now whilst the lifts at Town Hall have been replaced and new lifts are being built at Circular Quay and in the not to distant future at Museum, it would be worth to point out that these lifts should be considered for replacement under this program to ensure their operational life can be assured but also to provide a much more stable accessible piece of infrastructure that is in high demand given that Sydney's CBD is getting even more busy day in and day out.

It would also ensure disabled people can be assured that if they travel on the train, they know they can get off at Wynyard without having to either somehow go back to Town Hall and wheel or walk back to their office building nearby to Wynyard Station.

However, like everything so far that the current transport minister and her office, Transport for NSW have announced, we certainly won't be holding out breathe waiting for Wynyards lifts to be replaced.

Do you think the lifts at Wynyard should be included in the $100million refurb package? we would like to hear your thoughts below

Monday, May 5, 2014

Last Waratah train has been delivered to Sydney Trains, so where are the plans for more new trains?



So a couple of weeks ago, A80 or the last Waratah train was delivered to Sydney Trains and is now undergoing the process acceptance trials for it to begin revenue service later on in the year and this got us wondering, where are the plans for more new and more wheelchair friendly accessible trains?

The short and correct answer would be that the current incumbent transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, does have any!

This got ask intrigued here at TfANSW because there is still going to be about 20-30 Silver sets (also known as S sets) that are not air conditioned nor very wheelchair accessible still around in revenue service simply to help provide additional capacity for the SWRL (South-West Rail Link) when it opens either sometime later this year or early next year.

What is even bluntly stupid on the Ministers behalf is that she could have ordered more Waratah train sets to fill this gap and finally get rid of the last of those ugly trains which have become more frequent to breakdowns along with the lack of audible announcements because of the electrical cables between the carriages are so worn or dirty they can't be fixed nor replaced because the greater costs.

So why is it that Gladys Berejiklian didn't order more of the trains from reliance rail (builders, financial and maintenance company of the Waratah train)?

There could be a number so reasons, namely because the current government did have to save the project and inject money to become the sole shareholder of reliance rail, but it still begs to ask, why not build more of Waratah trains because of this reason?

Is the government therefore also looking at getting single decked train sets because their argument is they can transport more passengers over double decked train sets (which Sydney trains currently have as their whole entire fleet) which has been proven is absolutely false, or could it be that they just don't have a plan because they are looking to fully privatise Sydney trains (which has been a rumor floating around for a while now)?

We have reached out to Transport for NSW and the Ministers office for comment but are yet to here anything from either party.

Do you think the Transport Minister should have ordered more Waratah trains or should they be looking for other types of train sets to replace the older S sets?