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Cammeray’s costly cubicle

A new bus layover at Cammeray on Sydney’s north shore has been dubbed an ‘expensive toilet stop’ with little likely impact on CBD traffic congestion

By David Goeldner | June 16, 2011

A leading north Sydney bus operator remains unconvinced that a bus layover which opened on the Warringah Freeway in late May will do much to alleviate traffic congestion in the CBD as claimed by the NSW Government.

Forest Coach Lines joint Managing Director David Royle has reacted to Roads Minister Duncan Gay’s recent announcement that a 30-bus layover at Cammeray will help solve the CBD’s traffic woes.

Royle says that while the layover may have been constructed to hold up to 30 buses, there is never more than four buses laying over at a time.

“So traffic in the city is potentially reduced by just that number of buses,” Royle says.

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced the opening of the layover last week, saying that it will help reduce congestion around the city by taking buses off the road when they are not in service.

“Previously we had the ridiculous situation where buses, in particular Hills M2 buses,

had to circle busy city streets while waiting for their service routes to commence,” Gay says.

“The layover provides parking spaces for at least 30 buses and is helpful in relieving

congestion around Wynyard station, particularly in the busy peak hour periods.”

Gay says having the bus waiting area close to the city meant buses could spend less time on the road on the way to pick up customers, helping with travel flow and on-road costs.

But Royle says the primary use of the layover will be to access the bus driver-only toilet block built next to the kerb.

“It has definitely relieved congestion in terms of drivers having to go to the toilet in the city, which is an issue, but I’m not convinced its relieved any congestion in the CBD,” he says.

Royle says drivers on the Forest Coach Lines service were still opting to take breaks and layover at Chatswood – several suburbs to the north – based on combined toilet and meal facilities at that interchange.

He believes the addition of a meal facility at the Cammeray layover should have been included.

“It was quite an expensive exercise already, so I would have thought if you put a meal room there as well as a toilet it would provide for more efficiencies,” Royle says.

Given the overstated claims that the Cammeray layover will resolve some CBD traffic snarls, Royle is mindful that the recently elected O’Farrell Coalition Government inherited the project which dates back to Labor’s John Watkins’ time as Transport Minister in 2006.

“This originated because there was an issue with drivers parking in the break down lane which had been turned into a bikeway, and drivers were being fined for laying over,” Royle says.

“There was a union dispute over it which led to the announcement of the layover facility.”

Royle says there are several traffic flow issues in Sydney’s CBD which still need to be addressed, including the call for improvements to bus lane provision.

He says traffic problems exists mainly down York and Clarence Streets with the Queen Victoria Building as a major ‘pinch point’.

“Bus lanes are down the kerbside lane where the buses pick up, so it’s an ineffective bus lane that should be in the centre, leaving the kerbside lane for pick up,” Royle says.

“The traffic light system also favours east-west traffic flow, but most public transport runs north-south on every corridor.”

Royle says all inbound bus services coming from the east, west or north of the CBD are directed down the north-south corridor.

“This needs to be looked at to improve flow,” he says.

Royle also argues the case for a bus lane on Sydney’s harbour bridge heading north.

“If we are pushing buses into the city faster than they can depart then there is going to be bus congestion in the city.

“Putting bus lanes in the northern direction is part of the equation.”

Royle is mildly frustrated at a lack of clear policy direction for the bus industry coming from the new state government, which will reach its first 100 days of office in the first week of July.

“We haven’t seen any clear policy direction yet,” Royle says.

“I would imagine the Government’s major priorities would not be in the bus sector – they would be with rail and ticketing.”

Royle says he looks forward to seeing any signs of a promised ‘culture change’ between ministries and departments, as promised by Premier Barry O’Farrell in the lead up to the March election.

“I certainly think there should be closer interaction between the Roads and Transport portfolios, but it will take some time to determine whether that has occurred or not,” Royle says.

“The CBD situation is an ideal example of that which needs fixing and how it will be coordinated between the transport ministry and the RTA.”

As for the relevance and value of the Cammeray layover as a bus infrastructure project now delivered, Royle says it’s only a start.

“It’s just scratching the surface.”

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