Fw: Sat.11.7.20 daily digest
  Roderick Smith

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A song for our times, Tom Lehrer 'I got it from Agnes' <www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6qFG0uop9k>

Sat.7.10.17 Metro Twitter
9.17: Major delays to 60 min Albury - Melbourne, both directions (vandalism).

Sat.11.7.20 Metro Twitter
Buses replace trains on sections of the Werribee line until the last train of Sun 12 Jul (works).
Buses replace trains Clifton Hill - Mernda until the last train of Sun 12 July (maintenance works).
Buses replace trains Dandenong - Cranbourne until the last train of Sun 12 Jul (level-crossing works).
Buses replace trains on sections of the Frankston line and to Stony Point until the last train of Sun 26 Jul (level-crossing works).
11.03 Frankston line: Minor delays with some alterations Caulfield - Moorabbin (police).
If you live in Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, there’s only four reasons to leave your home. While not compulsory, if you travel on public transport and are unable to keep a 1.5m distance from others, 
VicGovDHHS recommends wearing a face mask.
Buses replace trains Dandenong - Pakenham from 20.40 until 7am Sun 12 Jul (works).
COVID-19 in Australia as at 13.10 on Jul 11
227 New cases; 1397 Active cases; 7626 Recovered; 107 Deaths.

October 7 2017  Less train overcrowding, but it comes at a cost: your seat 
Melbourne's trains are less overcrowded, but it comes at a cost: your seat.
Metro's move to rip out seats from carriages to accommodate exploding patronage numbers has eased overcrowding on peak services across the network, PTV data reveals. 
The increase in passengers raises the likelihood of overcrowding during peak hours. Photo: Nick Moir 
  The seating reconfiguration has increased passenger capacity from 798 to 900, resulting in a dramatic drop in passenger load breaches on the Frankston, Upfield, Sandringham, Werribee and Craigieburn lines.
Nearly 7 per cent of passengers were squashed in overcrowded trains on the Sunbury Line this year in the morning peak, down from nearly 47 per cent last year.
Illustration: Matt Golding 
On the Craigieburn Line – the most overcrowded line this year – nearly 36 per cent of passengers travelled in trains that were more than 100 per cent full. But this was down from 57 per cent in 2016.
Overcrowding on the Frankson line dropped from 17 per cent to zero this year.
The removal of train seats comes as Melburnians brace for a shoulder-to-shoulder, Tokyo-style commute on a new fleet of 65 high-capacity trains to be rolled out from mid-2019.
Technical documents show the trains are designed to seat 40 per cent of passengers, but will "enable a future reduction of seating in the range down to 30 per cent of the original gross train capacity".
Removing seating to deal with overcrowding increases capacity, but it provides only temporary reprieve, said Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen.
The free tram zone had triggered huge patronage growth, but removing seating had caused a serious lack of seating on most trams, he said. 
The B-class trams were modified to reduce 52 seats to 40 seats, but this did not change the tram's maximum capacity of 120 passengers in the CBD. 
"The B-class [Apollo] trams have very little seating," Mr Bowen said. "If you need a seat, it's often very hard to find one.
"The question will be what's the next step? As patronage keeps growing, they can't keep taking out more seats ... they really need to start running more services." 
Despite Metro's efforts, some lines on the network are showing signs of overcrowding.
The South Morang line – the route servicing the country's fastest growing suburb – had a spike in overcrowding this year, jumping from 26 per cent to 33 per cent of passengers crammed inside full trains.
The service is to face high patronage growth, and no peak services will be added, despite an extension of the line to Mernda.
The annual passenger count is done in May every year by independent surveyors, but it appears this will be the last year passengers are counted manually.
Myki transactions or "automatic passenger counters" are to provide data on loads from "all year round on any given day, and at any location in the network" on trains, trams and buses from next year, the tram passenger load survey stated.
A spokesman for Public Transport Minister Allan said peak services were added to the Craigieburn, Sunbury and Werribee lines in August, creating space for 27,000 extra passengers.
"We're building the Metro Tunnel and manufacturing bigger, better trains to boost capacity and move more people on our busiest train lines," she said.
Opposition public transport spokesman David Davis said: "The tearing out of seats to cut train overcrowding is clearly not a long-term solution to the surge in Melbourne's population and the usage increase and there is no question it smashes passenger comfort."
Greens transport spokeswoman Samantha Dunn said high-capacity signalling was needed to deal with long-term population growth.
"Until we have a network-wide approach, our trains, our system will be hamstrung by the signalling."

October 8 2017 Productivity Commission GST review tipped to move against states that won't mine gas .

October 8 2017 Australians opposed to Adani coal mine and $1 billion government loan: poll 

1919 pandemic in Australia.
DAILY MAIL 29 February 2020. 30 comments
<www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8045123/How-Australia-handled-devastating-1919-Spanish-flu-killed-15-000-people.html> [18 photos, with many then & now pairs]

Printed solar panels a shining light for saving energy July 11, 2020. 117 comments

'No one wants to commute': Why Sydney must change after pandemic July 11, 2020
Sydneysiders are expected to shun long commutes to the city centre after the COVID-19 pandemic, with experts tipping a renaissance in the suburbs while inner cities are drained of their former life.
Keryn James, chief executive of ERM Consulting said the traditional stalwarts of vibrant cities - the retail, tourism and commercial sectors - had been "brought to their knees" by the pandemic.
Visitors are slowly returning to Barangaroo, but the City of Sydney estimates pedestrian traffic has fallen 90 per cent during the pandemic.CREDIT:JAMES ALCOCK
"Post-COVID, the role of cities will need to be re-imagined as individuals and companies embrace remote and virtual working in a very significant way," she said.
City of Sydney estimates there had been a 90 per cent drop in the number of people on central Sydney streets since the start of the pandemic. Precincts such as Barangaroo face an uncertain future as office workers slowly return to their places of work.
Ms James spoke to The Sun-Herald ahead of a Committee for Sydney event on Monday where she will discuss the future of cities following the coronavirus pandemic. She said companies were now realising that working from home did not lead to less productivity, while employees had more time for health and fitness or their family.
"People will work more from where they live, and spend more time in their local communities," Ms James said. "No-one wants to commute for an hour if it means being potentially exposed to a life-threatening illness so working from home has become the only choice in some locations."
video Coronavirus: Outbreak in Sydney’s south-west intensified There are nine cases of coronavirus linked to an outbreak at south-west Sydney’s Crossroads Hotel after a staff member tested positive to the virus.
She said the COVID-19 crisis was likely to reduce the use of and need for office space and public transport, and alter demand for amenities in suburbs.
On Friday, Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore announced plans to turn more of George Street into a pedestrian-only boulevard, saying the COVID-19 crisis highlighted a need to reimagine public space and streets to prioritise people.
She also said the pandemic had disproportionately impacted women, who provided the majority of childcare and were on the frontline of the disease as nurses and carers, while economic stimulus programs seemed to favour men.
The COVID-19 crisis has also prompted calls for radical planning reforms, a broad-based land tax and reviewing the cap on council rates.
Katherine O’Regan, executive director of the Sydney Business Chamber, said the way property is taxed should change to fund reforms.
"During a development boom, government and councils' revenues bloom, but when the boom busts, as we are experiencing now, the balance sheet is strained," she said.
The call for tax reform follows NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet's announcement in May he would seek the removal of inefficient taxes such as stamp duty that hold back economic growth.
Ms O'Regan also criticised the capping of council rates, which she said had led to NSW residents paying considerably less than other states.
"Capping rates often means areas experiencing the most population and economic growth have the least capacity to provide supporting infrastructure and services - having a poor local council is not in anyone’s best interest," she said.
The business lobby group in its Great Cities Do Not Happen By Chance policy paper said archaic planning and land use systems had hamstrung the city for too long, rendering housing in most of Sydney unaffordable for the average Sydneysider.
"Cutting red tape, reducing assessment and development timelines, enabling better use of public space and allowing businesses to operate outside 'normal' hours are some of the reforms we can capitalise on in this period of real action," Ms O’Regan said.
RELATED ARTICLE Bike riders take a spin around Circular Quay, which is usually filled with crowds. A city of homebodies? How coronavirus will change Sydney
RELATED ARTICLE Francis and Carmella Novis have been vigilant about hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect their baby son Francis.  From working at home to walking the dog: How COVID-19 has changed Australian lives
* Why does SMH continue to report that the cost of new land development causes high house prices. It doesnt. Negative gearing, and the financialisation of the housing market, plus money printing and low rates cause high prices. Now DP wants to slap a land tax on those already in mortgage stress just to try to keep the gravy train going a bit longer.
* I am not a fan of working from home long term. There is a line to be drawn from work and home - otherwise there is no separation from work in the home. Also would be nice if one of my colleagues did some work whist at home - haven't seen or heard from him for 4 months. Work output zero, never attends meetings pr replies to emails. Management does nothing. WFH works for some - getting paid to do nothing.
* “The pandemic has disproportionately impacted women.” Why is the Mayor so desperate to claim victim status for women when they suffer significantly lower mortality?
* There’s going to be a small proposition of people desperate to get back to the office. You’ll know them: these are the people who can’t do things on their own, and must rely on interrupting others with questions and requests for help. Some of them are completely useless and just badger other people to get what the want. And some of them spend their days in mindless chitchat instead of working. Nope, I’m not missing the office at all as its three times more productive for those who actually get things done by themselves!
* Perhaps your office is like that but mine certainly isn’t. I’m happy to be amongst my colleagues again and out of the house (and prefer to keep my work and home lives separate). Many industries are simply not suited to the ‘work from home’ model. We’re all grown up enough to get our work done whilst enjoying each other’s company.
* Exactly! In my workplace it’s the gossip mongers who’ve got no life outside of work who’ve insisted on continuing to go to the office, despite HR saying “those who can must work from home”. However this hasn’t been enforced.
Everyone else is saying they are much more productive at home.
* People don’t want to commute unless they have to? Less demand for public transport? Sounds like someone can’t wait to further erode our vital public transport services.
Actually I would love to start commuting again. I really miss my commute, my colleagues and my workplace. The only problem is that there is no govt commitment to increase light rail or other services on my network to ensure we can maintain social distancing. Three lots of high schools get the light rail at the same time as I pick up my kid from school, but they are not counted for social distancing purposes. The best bus route for us runs approx once every 40 minutes at this time and does not coincide with the end of school. Husband has to split and elongate his workday instead to drive himself and our daughter while I stay home due to lack of services.
The State Government’s answer is to increase travel costs at peak time to dissuade people from using public transport. Seriously.
Don’t tell us we don’t want to use public transport. Don’t tell us demand will drop off. Just do the right thing and invest in more services so we can get back on the network, return to work, pick our kids up from school and help avoid gridlock on the roads.
* Looks like BuckStopsHere nailed it in his comment!
* Can someone please explain to me how ...."Capping rates often means areas experiencing the most population and economic growth have the least capacity to provide supporting infrastructure and services"..? Surely all those extra people would also be paying rates? All sounds a bit suspicious to me.
* In my suburb, Burwood, there's skyscrapers going up everywhere and the council is asking ratepayers for extra dough for additional infrastructure. So I ask the mayor, if developers are raking in this cash by injecting extra people into our community, then surely they should be paying for the infrastructure. Not really a satisfactory answer.
* Finally the value of working from home is appreciated.
* I am happy to commute. Only a 23 min train trip and trains are still more than half empty - I wear a mask. Working from home doesn’t work for me. Even after 2 months I hadn’t gotten used to it and was glad to get back to the office (and remove work from my home). To say ‘nobody’ wants to commute is incorrect.
* Face it. The central business districts and tollways are now stranded assets.
* Or how about ditching that idea that businesses hours are 9 to 5 Monday to Friday?
* Yes, think of the megabucks we could save by spreading the load over 24 hours, 7 days. It's crazy wasting those beautiful daylight hours stuck in an office.
* The reason we have business hours is at least partially so that you know when you can conduct business. What do you do if person one wants to work from 2pm to 7pm but a customer needs to contact them at 10 am? But having defined hours, we know when businesses are available.
* What do you do? You send them an e-mail and develope a culture of prompt responses.
* There are just so many obvious changes that could be made that would benefit people living in Sydney, as well as boosting our city’s economy:
- the wish for “keeping things local” would create and boost so many small businesses, with the added benefit of taking thousands of commuters off our roads, increase productivity (less time wasted in transit) and reduce public transport congestion.
- while we’re at it, get rid of our prohibition-era liquor licensing laws: Seriously, if people could sit down and order a beer or wine at any local cafe, we’d never see the likes of those ridiculous hordes queueing up outside a certain eastern suburbs pub.....amongst others.
- get rid of cars from commercial centres and local hubs. Return public space to the people, focus on shared pedestrian / bike zones. This simple act would create so many ‘liveable’ and exciting precincts (think European piazzas, town squares and corsos) that local businesses would simply flourish.....”build it and they will come”....
- nothing says vibrancy, “liveability”, or a modern city lifestyle more than the presence of safe active transport.....seriously, if crowded old London can link an entire city with safe cycle routes, why on earth can’t we?
- urban planning needs new rules: no more poorly-built skyscrapers housing 100+ shoebox-sized
dog kennels masquerading as “apartments” . It’s pretty pointless squeezing in hundreds, even thousands of tiny lodgings when there is no trade-off in green space, no viable transport infrastructure, or service industries, to support the amassed residents now squeezed into these future ghettos.....overdevelopment has reached criminal proportions in this city. When I become king of all Sydney, watch this all change....
* I'd vote you in with both hands!
* The companies that reside in the CBD's and business parks do not want employees working from home. Its a myth that productivity, creativity, industry and social engagement, and work load output is better working from home. I for one, are over zoom meetings and cannot wait to get back to the office. Its work, life, balance. Not home, zoom, disconnect.
* In my office working from home has proven to be a success. Perhaps the future for office workers is a combination, say 2 days a week in the office and 3 days a week at home. Unfortunately there are still micromanaging bosses who rail against working from home. These bosses have zero trust in their workers and believe people are only working if they can be visually observed by their superiors. There is one word to describe bosses like these: Dinosaurs!
* Sydney Business Chamber wants less development control. What a surprise.
* Never liked the city/CBD
* Unsurprisingly Ms O'Regan seeks the 'cutting of red tape'. We have already seen how well that worked for the property developers.
* There are still many people that have the illusion that everything will go back to the way they were before COVID. The rules of the game haven't changed, the whole game has changed! When you want to keep the status quo, some people call that conservatism, I call it laziness and incompetence. Conservatives don't want to admit that they're too stupid to know what to do, so they claim that nothing should change. Conservatism is a scam!
* Good article, makes sense. Just a side comment - there will be no "Post-COVID"... from now on there is only "with COVID". We need to change our mindset. This thing is not going away.
* It will simply end up with more cars on the road in 'Car City'
* That’s what we need, public transport (not sbout social distancing) should be scaled back.
* Already happening
* I think we will see the start of a major shift in commuter patterns in Sydney. The name of the policy paper is actually titled 'Great Cities Do Not Happen By Chance', I believe.
* I would be perfectly happy working in the office in the CBD for a maximum of two days every fortnight - just for 'team building' purposes. Otherwise, I have no desire, whatsoever, to forgo my time and money (transport, clothing and coffee costs) commuting.
* cutting red tape - such an easy throw away line - but what exactly will that mean in this circumstance. Can we please have thorough reporting. it is becoming very difficult to read reports in SMH, the lack of detail is very annoying and totally unsatisfying when reading these articles. every day now, just a short snippet and no details.
* So long city working and endless hours on pointless commutes. When business realise that they get more productivity and don’t have to pay expensive rents when they encourage staff to work from home, the demise is inevitable. Not to mention the social benefits of less busy roads, trains and less pollution. All we need now is a decent National Broadband Network!
* It all sounds like ways of making us all hand over more and more of our personal money to pay for stuff that does not necessarily improve our lives but instead, makes developers and big business wealthier.
* I caught a bus to the CBD on Friday morning -packed in like sardines-no social distancing.First and last time.
* Norwest Business Park as an example.
* Some interesting ideas and some predicable arguments in this paper produced by the Sydney Business Council. The interesting idea is throwing the existing centres up for open slather (within some boundaries) for development by doing away with some existing controls. Centres tend to have less contested battles for development (i.e. NIMBY) and  therefore you can be a bit "braver" in terms of what you will or won't allow in such centres. If there really is a demand for different forms and types of development in these centres then let it happen! I would go even further than their suggestion, but with one caveat. Just have a Centres Zones with minimal restrictions, but make all development within that Centre Code Assessable against the desired outcome (whatever that may be and let unsaid in the paper - it will mean all things to all people). The caveat is to make any approval limited to 12 months, whereby you either use it or lose it. You will have no "as of right" developments, but each approval MUST be physically commenced within 12 of approval, with no extensions of time, otherwise the approval is rescinded. That way the planning system, which they claim they wish to reform, can go back to being about planning for future development and not be about a get rich scheme whereby you seek an approval that is set in stone for perpetuity and often then shipped around as a tradable commodity that is on-sold numerous times for paper profits, without any actual development ever occurring. The Paper is making a case for Performance Based Planning and at an intellectual level it makes sense. You state what sort of outcome you want and then base your planning and decision making around that desired outcome. However from an operational perspective this has been the norm in the Queensland Planning System for a number of years and in my experience the further up the chain you go the further you go away from objective testing to more subjective decision making. If you are proposing something a bit more left field then you are unlikely to meet the objective standards required by the Planning Scheme. In a Performance Based Plan you then escalate this assessment up the chain to the performance measures, which by their very nature tend to be obscure and motherhood statements. Now this can work for or against the proponent. If the decision maker likes the proposal you find some generalisation to support it and visa versa if you don't like it. Is this good public policy / decision making, or is it a recipe for opaque decision making that can be gamed by those with a mind to do such things?
* Our local shopping centre has every third shop empty.
* Correction: Great Cities do not happen by CHANCE. On the subject matter, it will be interesting to see how "head office" reacts to a post COVID-19 environment. You usually start with the money and if business see that they can significantly reduce costs and overheads by allowing employees to work from home, then I think there will be a real push on to de-scale their footprint within the CBD. I can't see them leaving the CBD completely, but they may no longer need the amount of floor-space they currently occupy. What then happens with all that surplus floor-space? Conversion over to more student / transient accommodation, or a cheaper place for start up to rent? I don't know, but it will be something to watch out for over the next 2 years. While employees may be loving the working from home situation at present, I am not so sure it will be sustainable without some changes. Many dwelling are not set up for dedicated office spaces and that will make life difficult for such workers over the longer term. Also, about now people will be getting their first look at power bills during this working from home time-period - that may have many worried that this new found freedom has a serious back end cost. We may see a rebirth of the suburban office blocks, but rented out to individual companies on a cubicle basis, which their employees can access from different parts of the city.
* Would increased power bills not be more than offset by reduced travel costs?

Sat.11.7.20 Coronavirus: What interstate travel is now possible?

Huge drop in road, transport users
Sat.11.7.20 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'
VICTORIANS are heeding the public safety message to stay home during curfew hours, with new transport data showing movement across the city has again bottomed out.
State government measurements of traffic levels across the city reveal a massive decline in trips between 8pm and 5am over the past week.
The biggest decrease was on Saturday August 8, when freeway volumes were just 11 per cent of normal levels.
Patronage on all forms of public transport has also dropped by more than 40 per cent.
There were just 43,000 tram trips and 71,000 journeys on metropolitan trains recorded on Friday, less than 10 per cent of Melbourne’s usual weekday figures.
Public Transport and Roads Minister Ben Carroll said most people were doing the right thing. The only increase in trips recorded came from commuters who chose to cycle to work.
This category rose by 11 per cent and was close to half the number of movements seen before the pandemic.

Fencing on track to save lives
Sat.11.7.20 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'
Up to 100km of new fencing will be rolled out across Victoria’s railway network under a $10m safety blitz.
The new program will be used to keep trespassers off the tracks while also helping to save the lives of Victorians who are doing it tough during the pandemic.
In addition to the funding, the state government is partnering with Lifeline Australia and TrackSAFE to remind those who are struggling about the support available to them.
The Pause. Call. Be Heard campaign allows public transport passengers to receive geo-targeted messaging about Lifeline’s services as they scroll through their social media feeds.
Metro Trains will directly supply information to passengers about mental health services and community support.
Works to be covered by the funding include the installation of a permanent fence on the La Trobe Street Bridge and 10km of fencing along the Berwick rail corridor between Dandenong and Pakenham.
Regional areas will also be supported with an extra 4km of fencing on the Traralgon line and up to 85km along the Bendigo and Ballarat lines.
Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said the fences would reduce damage to key parts of the network and prevent delays.“But above all, these safety upgrades will save lives,” he said.

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