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To: Tdu Transportdownunder transportdownunder@...>
Sent: Tuesday, 16 April 2019, 7:44
Subject: Tues.26.3.19 daily digest
Tues.26.3.19 Metro twitter:
7.50 Sunbury line: Minor citybound delays (earlier congestion along the line). [a management responsibility to avoid].
12.07 Frankston line: Minor outbound delays (police).
15.21 Belgrave/Lilydale lines: Minor delays clearing after an earlier [unannounced] police 'request' [demand] at Mitcham.
16.12 Mernda line: Minor delays (an equipment fault near Keon Park).
16.24 Service changes are in effect on the Glen Waverley and Mernda train lines. St Kilda Rd and route 11/86 trams may experience increased demand and delays.
16.36 Sunbury line: Major delays (a track fault at Sydenham Watergardens and an earlier train fault at Ginifer).
- 18.39 Now minor, but the track fault is ongoing.
- Metro get your act together. Not good enough.
- You guys are useless. Every day it’s something else.
17.09 Mernda line: Minor delays clearing after an earlier [unannounced] train fault at Ruthven.
17.41 Cranbourne line: Minor delays (police attending to a trespasser between Dandenong and Lynbrook).
- 17.57 clearing.
Mernda line: Buses replace trains Bell - Epping from 20.30 (level-crossing works).
Belgrave/Lilydale lines: Buses replace trains Parliament - Camberwell from 20.30 (maintenance works).
Buses replace trains Richmond/Caulfield - Glen Waverley from 20.30 (maintenance works).
Melbourne Express, Tuesday, March 26, 2019
9.07 Delays on the Frankston and Sunbury lines, due to an equipment fault and congestion.
8.22 On the trains, minor delays on the Sunbury line (earlier congestion).
A new ride-sharing service has launched in Melbourne's CBD and it could be a game-changer for peak-hour gridlock.
Scooti is essentially a two-wheeled taxi service, with scooters saving customers time as they weave through traffic rather than wait. Helmets, hairnets and safety vests are provided to all pillions. It's the country's first government-compliant scooter ride-share service. Download the Scooti app to trial it.
Big changes for our public transport ticketing this week. But it only applies to half the population. Is this crazy?
Melbourne's new mobile public transport ticketing system will roll out this Thursday, but only half our commuters can use it. The system is only open to Android phone owners at this stage, unlike Sydney's system, which also caters to iPhones and debit cards.
As reader Nathan Kennedy points out: "Sydney's train network is also cheaper".
Jenny Solomon raises the obvious question: "Is there a connection between opposition to an Apple store in Federation Square and Apple’s refusal to cooperate on Myki?". We wonder too.
There's support for the government in our conversation about changes to the public transport ticketing system for Android users. Should they have waited for the rollout to include Apple users? No, says reader Eleni Karandinas: "Starbucks didn't wait to accommodate Android users".
But then someone had to go and mention the airport ... "Melbourne lagging behind Sydney on public transport. No surprise (especially with airport train link)," says Stas Idowu.
5.49 All clear so far on the trains.
Swiping your phone to catch the train: a tale of two cities March 24, 2019.
Melbourne commuters will be able to use their Android smartphones to pay their public transport fares from 7am on Thursday.
But iPhone users will have to wait to join the digital transport revolution with the State Government unable, so far, to strike a deal with Apple.
After a successful trial, Public Transport Victoria is flicking the switch this week to allow Android smartphone owners to use Google Pay instead of a physical myki card when catching a bus, tram or train in Melbourne or regional Victoria.
Nick Neos trials Myki mobile on his Android.Credit:Joe Armao
The new ticket option is available to most Android users, as long as their phone runs Android 5.0 or higher and has a built-in NFC wireless chip for contactless transactions.
It is likely to be greeted with delight by Melbourne's Android phone-users. Those who signed up for the trial reported a rare myki miracle: a new technology rollout that was fast, convenient and not plagued by massive technical problems.
Last month, Derrimut IT worker Nick Neos, 35, told The Age he had been using Google Pay as a digital wallet for a couple of years and that adding a myki had been straightforward.
"For me, the more cards I can eliminate from my wallet, the better," he said.
It all might seem like old news to Sydneysiders, who have had alternatives to using an Opal card since last year, but in some ways Melburnians are better off.
Sydney uses an “open loop” ticketing system, which means you can tap on with your contactless credit or debit card instead of an Opal card. This trick works not just with physical bank cards but also with any gadget which can mimic a contactless credit card, like a smartphone, watch or wristband.
Meanwhile, Melbourne uses a “closed loop” ticketing system which, until now, has limited public transport users to tapping on with a physical myki card. As of Thursday, they’ll also be able to tap on with a smartphone, but only if their phone can mimic a myki card. The ability to mimic a credit card isn’t enough.
This might seem like splitting hairs, but it actually makes a big difference to how the two cities’ ticketing systems work.
The biggest practical difference is that, at least for now, iPhone owners can swipe their phone to board a train in Sydney but not Melbourne. This is due to the difficulties in striking a deal with Apple to use the iPhone’s NFC wireless chip, something which Australia’s major banks can attest to.
Apple locks down the iPhone’s NFC chip so it can only be accessed by Apple’s own apps like Apple Pay. This means any business which wants to offer contactless transactions on the iPhone needs to go through Apple, with the tech giant typically demanding a slice of the action.
ANZ was the first major Australian bank to jump on the Apple Pay bandwagon, with the other three major banks failing to force Apple to unlock NFC so it could work with their own banking apps.
If your bank supports Apple Pay, then you can use your iPhone as a credit card to get on a Sydney train today. But to get on a Melbourne train your iPhone would need to mimic a myki card, which means Public Transport Victoria needs to strike a deal with Apple.
They’ve been in talks for months but are yet to seal the deal. In PTV’s defence, only a handful of public transport systems around the world are onboard with Apple so far. Only a few of these actually let you create the local equivalent of a closed loop myki card, while the others simply treat the iPhone as a credit card.
Meanwhile, PTV and NTT DATA (which runs the myki system) have had more luck with Google, which doesn’t demand a slice of every ticket sold. As of Thursday, a “Transit Card” option will appear in the Google Pay app in Australia and 27 countries around the world. Users will see an option to create a myki card or a transit card for several US transport systems, with more to come.
Unlike buying a physical Myki, you’re not slugged with a $6 fee when creating a virtual Myki in Google Pay. You do however need to start with a $10 top up.
This means tourists – assuming they have an Android smartphone – will finally have a quick and easy way to jump on Melbourne transport without the need to find a shop where they can shell out $6 for a card they’ll likely never need again.
Locals will also benefit, as they’ll have a true myki on their phone with the options of myki Money and myki Pass with concession fares and auto top-up (support for Android smart watches might come down the track). Meanwhile, Sydneysiders swiping anything but an Opal card can only buy a one-off, full-fare peak ticket.
Melburnians can’t add their existing myki card to the Google Pay app, although this may change over time. For now, they can manage the virtual card via their myki account and even transfer the balance from a physical card.
The icing on the cake is that myki details will eventually be integrated into the Google Maps apps, so you can check your balance when planning a trip.. The option to use Google Pay with closed loop ticketing systems like myki is also coming to other Australian cities, although Google is still tight-lipped on the details. Meanwhile, Melbourne Apple lovers are left waiting at the station.
Related: Delays ease for commuters after key line was suspended when woman hit by train Delays ease for commuters after key line was suspended when woman hit by train
Related Article Nick Neos trials Myki mobile on his Android. Melbourne commuters able to use myki on their mobile phones from Thursday
25 March Melbourne 'Age'
Melbourne commuters will be able to use their Android phones to pay for public transport fares from 7am on Thursday. But iPhone users are still left out in the cold, as negotiations continue between the government and Apple.
In Sydney, there's a different system that allows payment with bank cards, Android and iPhones. So did the Victorian government choose the wrong system? Will you switch to Android so you can ditch your myki? Should the government have waited to launch the technology when it accommodated all commuters?
* No, just all the monkeys that use ifonys have got it wrong. Apple ifony is an overpriced, behind the time technology that controls everything you do and wanting to charge you for it....
* you won't have to replace your myki.
* My understanding is the Sydney one only allows single trip full fare tickets. So let us not think that is in anyway better just because iPhones can use it!
* Bravo, prioritising methods to extract money out of people who have to put with this appalling service. How much will fares increase to pay for this circus?
* I’d prefer to use a physical myki than to switch to the heavily fragmented Android operating system. Thanks but no thanks!
* Our expensive future proof myki system.
* something finally good about your phone.
* Unimelb buses have been free for the past week cause of these.
* Yet I was able to pay for train tickets all the way over in Finland with my iPhone.
* Get a proper phone, solved.
* Apple are trying to work out how they can charge 50% more for the same service.
* Caught up with London.
* No, the government shouldn't wait. Starbucks didn't wait to accommodate Android users.
* No, sticking with my actual Myki card.
* PTV and Technology are like the LNP and climate policy.
* How do ticket (VLine and Metro) inspectors confirm with your transaction that you are actually touched on with the phone at the time of travel.. When the inspectors check the situation surely it would likely take longer to confirm validation of travel other than directly scanning a good reliable Concession, Senior, or Full fare Myki card.
Moreland council push to make parking harder, more expensive under draft transport plan [paywalled; with tdu]
Herald Sun March 26, 2019
PTV to build substation close to home after Moreland Council rejects park offer
Tues.26.3.19 Moreland Leader
Sam, Frank and Carmel Lochiano, Carmel's parents Paul and Maria Lanteri and her cousin Sam Tartaglia are fighting the substation plan. Picture: Ellen Smith
A family set to have an electronic substation built 20cm from their bedrooms is begging Moreland Council to step in.
The new substation, which will power route 58 trams on nearby Melville Rd, will be built in a residential area on Reynard St Pascoe Vale South, after the council denied two requests from Public Transport Victoria to build it in nearby Shore Reserve.
Carmel Lochiano has lived in her home next door to the site for half a century and said she had begged the council to locate the substation elsewhere so the constant humming and electromagnetic fields (EMF) didn’t disrupt her family.
“We are screaming out to the council to reconsider and have it moved closer to the park,” she said. “The alarms are all there but the council isn’t listening.”
The Lochiano family home runs up to the boundary of the site for the substation. Picture: Ellen Smith
The building set for the substation sits inches from bedrooms in the home, and generators and cooling equipment will run in it constantly.
The council was approached by PTV and Yarra Trams in 2014 and 2016 to build the substation at the reserve but were knocked back.
A letter written by the council to PTV, and seen by the Leader, in September of 2016 states the council didn’t support the substation in Shore Reserve because it would impact tree roots and promote anti-social behaviour.
A plan to build it underground was also rejected.
The council’s acting director of city futures Phillip Priest confirmed the option to build in the parkland was knocked back because the reserve was “highly valued by the community”.
Ms Lochiano’s son Frank was born with a hearing defect and wears hearing aids in both ears. He said it was likely the hearing aids would pick up humming from the substation.
“It will be pretty bad, because of the electronics it will just be a constant buzz,” he said.
Several homes in the street have created signs in opposition of the project and an online petition against it has gathered 500 signatures.
video: Fire Breaks Out After Explosion at Adelaide Substation. Credit - Facebook/Ebby Ebony via Storyful
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency states EMFs are generally indistinguishable from at a 5-10m distance from a substation.
Ms Lochiano said that while science wasn’t definitive on the link between EMFs and cancers such as leukaemia, she was afraid to have children sleep in bedrooms within touching distance of the substation.
“It’s pretty scary, nothing is proven but it scares the hell out of me,” she said.
PTV spokeswoman Georgia Main said the substation would adhere to guidelines to minimise both noise and the EMF.
A community drop in session on the substation will be held on April 3 from 4pm to 7pm at Reynard Street Neighbourhood House.
NEW HOMEOWNER WALLED IN BY CONCRETE
COMMUNITY FIGHTS BACK AGAINST MELVILLE RD TERMINUS
SUBSTAITON NOISE REPORT SHOW INCONSISTENT SOUND LEVELS
The newly erected fence at Edward St beach, where it meets the sea wall. Picture: John Amiet
Beachgoers say new fence is dangerous trap
PM Morrison promises to fund upgrade of private NSW coal power station [paywalled; with tdu]
News Corp Australia Network March 26, 2019
Terry McCrann: Wesfarmers’ takeover offer for Lynas Corp a courageous move [paywalled; with tdu]
Herald Sun March 26, 2019
SCOTT Morrison’s 12 energy projects that a continuing Coalition government would consider “underwriting” is about 40 per cent sensible, 60 per cent depressing and 100 per cent pointless.
Metro Trains reap cash haul despite late and cancelled trains March 26, 2019
The global giant behind Metro Trains is celebrating a windfall from Melbourne's rail network, despite the train operator failing to meet performance targets nearly two-thirds of the time.
Metro now gets paid $786 million a year – a 20 per cent increase, or $164 million extra every year, under its current deal with government, compared with its previous contract.
This is despite only 92 per cent of trains arriving on time last year. Trains must arrive more than five minutes late to be categorised as late.
The lucrative contract for MTR Corporation – Metro Trains' Hong Kong parent company – led to the giant listing Melbourne as a key driver of a 14 per cent revenue rise in the first six months of 2018.
MTR runs railways in Hong Kong, Stockholm, London and Beijing and is a major property developer in Hong Kong, highlighting how valuable the deal is to the multinational.
A year ahead of the state election, in late 2017, the Andrews government rolled over Metro Trains' franchise agreement, meaning the $6.2 billion seven-year contract did not go out to tender.
The contract was renewed despite major controversies around station skipping – a practice the new contract cracks down on, while also beefing up the operator's performance targets.
But in the 13 months since the contract was signed, Metro has failed to reach its tougher punctuality and reliability targets in eight of those months..
Under the new contract, Metro's on-time monthly performance target was raised from 88 to 92 per cent and its reliability targety increased from 98 to 98.5 per cent.
However, Metro has been paid $7 million in bonuses and only penalised $993,965 for missing its targets.
The new contract, higher fare revenue and infrastructure projects in Victoria were listed by MTR as key reasons for the company’s revenue spike, in addition to Hong Kong property developments.
The company said the revenue rise came from "the increase in franchise payments under the renewed concession, higher fare revenue and project revenue of MTM [Metro Trains Melbourne] in Australia" as well as the Hong Kong business.
Metro was part of several level-crossing removal contracts collectively valued at nearly $3 billion in the past three years, but the rail operator’s profits from these deals have been kept secret.
But leaked documents have previously revealed Metro stood to gain a profit of $32.8 million from a contract to remove level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong.
Since 2017, Metro has signed other lucrative deals, including a $1 billion contract with Bombardier for high-capacity signalling, $18 million in contracts to deliver new trains and $2.7 million for signalling works at East Pakenham Depot.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Luba Grigorovitch said the huge profits were proof that the railways should be run by the government.
"Privatisation has failed taxpayers and commuters alike. Public transport must be returned to public hands to ensure public interest is front and centre.
"Our public transport is being stripped of critical investment by the greed of private ownership."
A government spokesman said the new contract was significantly tougher, with increased penalties, higher performance targets and more money for maintenance.
“We know there is more to do, but the new contracts give us stronger mechanisms to hold the operator to account for the service they provide passengers.”
A Metro spokesman claimed the company "spends 97 per cent of revenue on operating, maintaining and enhancing the network.
“Tougher performance targets mean we are working harder than ever to continually improve services for our passengers."
Trains delayed in Sydney's south due to broken rail March 26, 2019
Commuters on the T4 line in Sydney's south were re-directed onto buses between Hurstville and Sutherland as a crew worked to repair a broken rail at Oatley station on Tuesday morning.
Services on the Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line between Como and Oatley were cancelled or delayed at 5am, while a repair crew was sent to the scene.
"Initially, it was a signal issue - but then when our guys went on to the track it was actually a broken rail," A Sydney Trains spokesman said.
"If something happens on the rail, the signal automatically locks up - it's a safety trigger ... and the signal detected something was not quite right.."
It took a small team of specialist technicians, who were on stand-by, to get to the scene of the broken rail. NSW Transport said the rail had been fixed just before 7am, but some services remained either delayed or cancelled.
The T4 Sydney Trains social media team said that flow-on delays were still impacting services but that they "are working hard to return services to normal", and apologised to commuters.
The Sydney Trains spokesman said services are expected to return to normal by Tuesday afternoon.
Federal Labor promises to replace Brisbane rail crossing with overpass March 26, 2019
A Labor federal government will contribute $73 million towards the $210 million needed to build the long-awaited overpass over the rail line on Boundary Road at Coopers Plains.
There have been four accidents each year at the rail crossing for the past seven years.
It was a high-priority project for Liberal federal MP Gary Hardgrave in his four terms from 1996 until 2007, but it was never funded.
Every day, traffic on busy Boundary Road at Coopers Plains is held up for several minutes 138 times a day to let Gold Coast to Brisbane trains run through the rail crossing.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese and federal MP for Moreton Graham Perrett announce $73 million as a share of the $210 million to replace the Coopers Plains rail crossing with an overpass.Credit:Tony Moore
Labor’s shadow minister for infrastructure, transport, cities and regional development Anthony Albanese said Labor wanted to eliminate the serious bottleneck that could seriously affect train travel between Brisbane and the Gold Coast if one of those four incidents each year blocked the rail line.
“Federal Labor will fund one-third of the removal of this level crossing,” Mr Albanese said.
“That is $73 million and it should be a commitment from each level of government: local, state and federal,” he said.
The Queensland Government is now studying options for an overpass of the rail line.
Mr Albanese said state and local governments acknowledged the Boundary Road rail level crossing was a major choke point.
“We know also that it is a major safety issue,” Mr Albanese said.
“Four times a year there is an accident at this very spot.”
He said the subsequent traffic congestion during morning and afternoon peak hours, and school pick-up and drop-off times was a major problem caused by the frequent rail crossing.
“That is likely to be more frequent as the number of trains to the Gold Coast increases over a period of time,” he said.
Mr Albanese said the previous Labor government provided $300 million in 2011 to build a major overpass at nearby Kessels and Main roads at Mount Gravatt.
“Just like the last federal Labor government fixed Mains and Kessels in this region, a future Labor government will fix this issue in partnership with local and state governments.”
Member for Moreton Graham Perrett wrote to Brisbane's lord mayor suggesting the three-way “one-third each” spending breakdown.
“This is the rail line linking the Gold Coast to the city of Brisbane,” Mr Perrett said.
“It is also on Boundary Road, which is one of the major east-west roads on the southside of Brisbane,” he said.
“It is a big bottleneck in my electorate of Moreton and has been a weeping sore transport-wise for about 30-odd years.”
Mr Perrett called on nearby LNP local councillors Stephen Huang (Mt Gravatt) and Kim Marx (Runcorn) to voice the concerns of residents in their council wards about the crossing.
In 2012, an investigation by Deloitte Access Economics into south-east Queensland’s rail crossings identified the Coopers Plains’ crossing as the second-highest-priority rail crossing to be replaced.
No work has been done, although the Queensland Government has begun a business case on the crossing.
Queensland Rail has been asked to check the severity of the accidents at the level crossing.
A spokeswoman for Brisbane’s lord mayor Graham Quirk said Brisbane City Council was not prepared to increase its funding share above 15 per cent for Coopers Plains.
“There are no plans to increase this funding,” the spokeswoman said.
“Traditionally rail replacements have always been a 15 per cent contribution from Council and there are no plans to increase this funding for a State Government infrastructure project,” she said.
“The only exceptions to this agreement were due to existing Council road projects that linked in with existing crossing projects.”
Cr Quirk and Brisbane City Council contributed 50 per cent of the funding to the past two rail crossings replaced in Brisbane, at Bracken Ridge and Geebung.
Related Article Horror bottleneck's $300m makeover
City Hall, George Street in stoush over Brisbane Metro project March 26, 2019
Brisbane City Council's LNP councillors have called on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to "intervene" and give approval to early Brisbane Metro work, accusing Transport Minister Mark Bailey of deliberately "playing politics" to favour a Labor candidate for council.
Mr Bailey described the claim as "ridiculous" and Labor councillors decried the accusations of "playing politics" as an "appalling" attack on a state employee.
Brisbane lord mayor Graham Quirk has taken aim at his state counterparts.Credit:Chris Hyde
Cr Quirk said council had attended more than 200 meetings with state government officials while developing the $900 million Brisbane Metro plan — a proposed high-frequency bus rapid transit system — and had been told the officials had "everything they need" to begin approvals.
Cr Quirk said the Transport Minister was "not able to deliver the timetable that is needed for this project" and urged the Premier to intervene.
The approvals in question were for the gazettal of land needed to be purchased for the Brisbane Metro project and the beginning of other work.
Related Article Brisbane Metro a 'high priority' on national infrastructure list
Cr Quirk said the council was frustrated and disappointed the major public transport project was not yet under way and accused the state government of delaying deliberately.
"We have gone to the nth degree to make sure they have everything they need to make a decision and the confidence going forward to make the approvals," Cr Quirk said.
"This has to be done, let's get on with it."
Deputy mayor Adrian Schrinner questioned why Mr Bailey had not committed to the project late last week, and whether it was to give a boost to ALP-endorsed Holland Park Ward candidate Karleigh Auguston, who is running for the March 2020 council election.
"I hope that this is not what’s happening here, I sincerely hope, and I sincerely hope that we can get this project on track but I’ve got to say it doesn’t look good for the Labor state government," Cr Schrinner said.
Mr Bailey dismissed the comments, saying Brisbane Metro was a major project with a final proposal submitted only in October last year.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey has dismissed criticism from City Hall.Credit:AAP Image/ Darren England
"If only Adrian Schrinner’s talents for conspiracy theories extended to his management of council’s infrastructure program," Mr Bailey said.
“To suggest a billion-dollar transport plan is being delayed by me or the Palaszczuk government to manipulate City Hall is ridiculous.
“Council announced timelines for this project knowing that a number of critical decisions for Metro would be out of its hands.
“They may be keen to build it, but it is Queensland taxpayers who will pay to run it for decades to come."
The deputy mayor moved an urgency motion that the council call on the Premier to intervene and make the approvals necessary to start the project within its planned timeframe.
Opposition deputy Jared Cassidy said the LNP council had a track record of failing to deliver major projects, such as the Kingsford Smith Drive and Brisbane Metro.
ALP councillor Steve Griffiths (Moorooka) said Cr Schrinner's comments were "appalling".
"I thought the deputy mayor’s speech this afternoon was one of the most appalling that I’ve heard in a long time," Cr Griffiths said.
"If we have a council officer attacked in this chamber, all hell breaks loose, but it’s okay to attack a [state employee].
"[These are] very serious accusations against a state government employee who can’t defend themselves, who isn’t here, I think that slur is astounding and it just shows the gutter level that you are at."
Cr Schrinner denied that he had made accusations about a state employee, noting Ms Auguston was now a political candidate and open to public commentary.
Cr Griffiths was formally warned about "disorderly conduct" for criticising acting chair Ryan Murphy's chairing of the meeting.
Mr Bailey said the Brisbane Metro project "needs to be done right".
“Council still hasn’t chosen the vehicles it will run on new routes or explained how its Metro banana buses will integrate with the broader bus network and operate outside of Brisbane City Council’s boundaries," he said.
“The construction of this project will also have major traffic impacts on businesses, commuters and the CBD, including the plan to turn Victoria Bridge into a car-free bridge.
“Add to that the not insignificant challenge of redesigning the heart of South Brisbane’s cultural precinct to accommodate a new station and stops; it is clear these are substantial matters that Brisbane’s commuting public expect to be properly resolved.”
Phase one of the Brisbane Metro project is expected to deliver dedicated busways between Eight Mile Plains and Roma Street, and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and University of Queensland.
'Very small' coal project on government funding shortlist March 26, 2019. 66 comments
Priority for trams will likely make crossing Northbourne even worse March 26, 2019 75 View all comments
Transport Canberra has revealed exactly how light rail vehicles will be given priority between Gungahlin and the city, a move likely to make crossing Northbourne Avenue at peak hour more difficult.
The light rail control system, which collects GPS location data from light rail vehicles, sends requests to the traffic light system to either hold the green light to allow the light rail vehicle to pass or switch to a green light out of phase.
Light rail will be given traffic priority Credit:Jamila Toderas
After the light rail vehicle has passed, the traffic light system returns to normal operation.
Drivers' exasperation, though, comes as one of the country's top experts on traffic systems says crossing lights in the ACT are timed against pedestrians.
Professor of Transport at the University of Sydney David Levinson said people on foot and bike should get longer to cross, giving cars shorter times on a green light.
On a recent rush-hour morning, The Canberra Times got the views of motorists as they sat at red lights on Macarthur Avenue waiting to enter Northbourne Avenue.
"My view is that they should do something about the timing of the traffic lights," said one. "The trams are being accommodated. This junction is backed up. It's never been like this before.
"For people coming up Macarthur [Avenue], I've just counted it and there's 20 seconds of green light." He didn't think that was long enough.
Another driver said, "The traffic going across Northbourne Avenue is definitely worse."
Some drivers in the area say they have seen road rage where people mount kerbs to get past stationary cars.
Transport Canberra figures from October show that more than 400 vehicles an hour travel eastbound on Wakefield Avenue during the morning peak period while 840 vehicles an hour travel in the same direction in the afternoon peak.
More than 600 vehicles an hour travel westbound on Macarthur Avenue towards Belconnen at the morning peak while 430 vehicles make the same trip each hour in the afternoon.
But as car drivers complain about delay, the traffic expert said that motorists get it too easy.
"You don't have to surrender to the automobile. Walking conditions for pedestrians should be better, and in a city like Canberra where distances are so great the conditions for pedestrians will never be perfect but that doesn't mean you can't get more than you currently get," Professor Levinson said..
He believed Canberra could do more to make life easier for pedestrians. Some cities, for example, have crossings where all vehicles stop at the same time and people on foot can cross in all directions – they're sometimes called "scramble crossings".
Whatever the long-term solution, part of the current problem is construction – and construction means delay before any planned improvement, in this case when the tram system comes into operation.
There is the question of whether traffic jams may push people from cars to public transport.
A Transport Canberra and City Services spokesman did not rule out that the new system was designed to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
"We plan to encourage more people onto public transport with our new network of light rail and more buses more often, which will start in time for school term two," he said.
Canberra traffic lights are controlled by the Sydney Co-ordinated Adaptive Traffic System, known as SCATS, which was originally developed by NSW transport authorities and since adapted for use in cities around the world.
The system measures traffic flows from detectors in roads approaching intersections to allocate green light time through each phase of the traffic lights.
Light rail vehicles have been given priority since March 1 during the testing phase. The network starts operation on April 20, pending regulatory approvals.
The original traffic impact assessment for light rail found there would be slower travel times across Northbourne Avenue for motorists after light rail vehicle priority was introduced.
A report prepared by the Australian Automobile Association in 2018 found Canberra had the third fastest average speeds in peak travel times in Australia, behind Brisbane and Darwin.
Canberra's roads also performed better in the afternoon peak period than the morning peak.
Average speeds in peak times had increased until 2016 and then began to decline sharply in 2018, the report found.
Related Article Michael Day and the screens that show how fast - or slow - Canberra traffic moves. Traffic lights: They're all about politics
Traffic lights: They're all about politics March 26, 2019. 30 comments
Michael Day knows about the traffic in Canberra.
His desk looks out on one of the busiest intersections on Northbourne Avenue. He can see the flow or lack of it out of his window.
video: How red lights work
The manager of the traffic lights in the ACT explains how it works.
And he can see it on a bank of screens at his desk in the hub of the ACT government's control room at 496 Northbourne Avenue in Dickson.
He is recognised worldwide as one of the experts in traffic flows and how to smooth them. He is an engineer and not a politician. He has the ability to alter the timing of red lights at the click of a computer mouse - but the decision is political, he said.
Tilting the whole system one way or the other, towards pedestrians or cars, is one for elected representatives. "If you wanted to do something really dramatic, yes, you could do that but that would have to be a decision that would be made by politicians."
Seeing red at seeing red. There was trouble at traffic lights from the start.Credit:Canberra Times
The screens tell him which interchanges are busy and where traffic is moving smoothly. It's the computer system which regulates the timing of red and green lights according to whether the volume of vehicles is great or light; heavy traffic and the green light lingers longer.
"What lights do is allocate time on a fair basis. They basically measure traffic volumes and say 'OK there's more traffic here. We'll give you a longer green light. There's less traffic here, we'll give you a shorter one.
"The theory is that everybody gets a fair go."
And between cars and pedestrians? "There is a balance to be achieved between the two," Mr Day, the ACT's assistant director of traffic, says.
"If you move in one direction you could have a situation where vehicles are totally dominating and pedestrians are hardly getting a look in.
"You could swing it around the other way. You could make it so that pedestrians got a huge amount of time to cross the road and the vehicles were missing out and there would be queues, so I think you've got try to find that balance between the two."
But changes have consequences. If, for example, the crossing time for pedestrians were increased, cars would be delayed and that might push drivers to alternative routes through residential areas (not to mention, anger).
The first traffic lights were switched on in the ACT in 1965 when the population was less than 85,000 (a quarter of what it is today).
Today, there are 315 sets of signals at intersections, 40 sets of signals mid-block for pedestrians and four sets of singles to regulate traffic approaching roundabouts.
1965. The first of many. Credit: National Archives of Australia
On the day after the first lights were swtiched on, The Canberra Times reported that there was trouble.
An electrical failure caused the 25 lights to go to red. "Canberra motorists kept seeing red", wrote the witty newspaper wordsmith, repeating the nice line in the first paragraph ("Motorists saw red at the intersection of Northbourne Avenue and Boldrewood Street.")
The city also had its first traffic light crash causing "only minor damage and no injuries".
It was the first of many.
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