Light Rail and parking: Randwick Councillors need to adopt a demand management approach to parking, congestion and transport issues

At Randwick Council last night chamber of commerce identity Maria Alexandrou and precinct representative Marjorie Whitehead were both critical of light rail but from different motivations that have different chances of being satisfied by Councillors.

Ms Whitehead believes light rail is a casual factor for increased residential densities while Ms Alexandrou’s primary concern is that it could reduce parking outside shops and businesses.CBD and South East Light Rail extension route map

The problem for Ms Whitehead is that increased densities will occur regardless of whether or not the government delivers on its election promise to provide an improved transport system. There is not much Council can do to help her as it is also the Government that is driving the urban activation process.

Densities increases have been wired in by the 8,400 new dwelling targets set for Randwick by the previous state Labor Government. The present Liberal government is augmenting these targets via urban activation and by promotion of the Inglis rezoning proposal.

But some residents believe that the Government can still be thwarted by vigorously undermining confidence in the engineering reality that light rail can move more passengers than standard buses. But so far these residents have not put forward any actual evidence to justify this attack other than a misinterpretation of what the Government is proposing.

The Government’s plan to boost the carrying capacity of public transport along Anzac parade from 10,000 passengers per hour to 15,000 through a hybrid system of light rail and buses seems achievable. Indeed it reflects the Council’s own 2011 pre-feasibility study into light rail.

Things are brighter for Ms Alexandrou whose simpler objective of maintaining commercial parking around the new light rail line is much more deliverable by the Council.

This is because Council can actually implement solutions to satisfy local parking needs. But first the presently philosophically divided Councillors must decide between competing management approaches.

Should they adopt a “supply management” approach whereby they spend lots of rate payer money to buy up valuable land to dedicate to public parking until the competition over spaces is satisfied? Or should Council put its money behind “demand management” solutions in which the actual demand or competition for parking itself is reduced?

You want demand management examples? A direct demand approach reduces competition for parking through resident preferred parking schemes or by phone app strategies.  An indirect demand strategy is a better public transport system such as light rail which will reduce the need for car transport in and out of Kensington thus freeing up existing parking.

But what should Randwick Councillors do as a broader planning response?

Councillors need to face the uncomfortable reality that urban densities will continue to increase in the Council area and will do so until a State Government instructs them to down zone, which is unlikely to happen.

Furthermore they need to recognize that most likely the WestConnex motorway project will also induce more traffic into the Council area via improvements to the M5 East connection to the airport. Large motorway projects always induce more road traffic and are a bad choice for governments to follow.

Fundamentally, Councillors must accept the argument that light rail has the potential to move more passengers than buses or cars along Anzac Parade regardless of what some residents are claiming on very little evidence.

On the issue of light rail Council must strive to be the objective intermediary between the Government’s urban planning objectives and the amenity concerns of residents.

Councillors must thus seek to retain our parking space, passenger capacity and open space while still upholding the findings of Council’s own 2011 pre-feasibility study that light rail is the best solution to road congestion.

This is the key time in Randwick Council’s history for all its Councillors to become very savvy about urban planning.

Randwick City Greens Councillor Murray Matson.

BACKGROUND

Greens Senator Scott Ludlum has explored the integration of light rail with existing bus services in his report “Light Rail for Perth”.

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6 comments

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    • Lynda Newnam on 20/09/2013 at 12:16 pm
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    Could you please advise what consultation was undertaken with communities in Randwick’s South Ward when the Council Feasibility Study was developed. Where is the feedback from South Ward Precincts and the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, Housing Department etc. – Turf Club and UNSW have been represented. I note that buses servicing South Ward, such as the X94, 394, L94, 393 etc. will be ‘truncated’. What discussion has occurred regarding needs of disabled in changing modes and use of Light Rail.

    1. The Randwick 2011 pre-feasibility study was a response to the March 2011 Liberal state election promises on light rail that later fed into their Sydney Light Rail Strategic Plan when they gained government.

      The executive summary of the study describes its’ commissioners as wanting “to place themselves in a more informed position to engage with the NSW Government” on the Strategic Plan.

      It was thus a technical research document and not a draft planning instrument seeking to amend land usage on behalf of the community. It simply sought to satisfy the technical feasibility of light rail in terms of hill grades, carrying capacity, and assessment of possible routes. Being a technical document it did not commit its commissioners to commencing any planning decision. Indeed Council does not have the legislative power to implement a light rail system.

      The Government may or may not choose to draw on any of the research from the pre-feasibility study. And it is the now Government that must consult the community on the land usage decision on how light rail will be returned to Randwick, not the Council or its Councillors.

      Like you, we Councillors are outside the decision making tent and can only lobby on behalf of residents. And that is why answers to questions on bus services and mobility issues should be directed to Government under the consultation process it is conducting.

    • Lynda Newnam on 20/09/2013 at 12:30 pm
    • Reply

    Following Obama’s introduction of the Telework Act 2010, the Australian Government in 2012 set targets for teleworking. Can you advise what Randwick Council is doing to facilitate teleworking and what it is doing to encourage the University of NSW to adopt practices which would flatten peak demand for public transport , eg. teaching off-campus at hubs to reduce commuting time for students, on-line lectures, spread of lectures across day and night 5 days as well as weekends.

    When planning for the future creative demand management strategies need to be factored in.

  1. I will raise the issue of Randwick City Council’s obligations in the area of teleworking with the General Manager of the Council. Management decisions relating to the attainment of ESD objectives set by UNSW would probably be best explored by contacting the university administration directly.

    I would note that both the Council and UNSW have identified that road congestion can be addressed by moving passengers from cars and buses to light rail.

    But the question of seeking the objective of flattening peak demand for public transport must be weighed against maintaining the effectiveness of UNSW as an educational institution – and clearly your interest in teleworking is pertinent here. But it must surely be a issue wrestled with by UNSW itself rather than imposed on it by non-educational experts. Too many politicians already do that.

    Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson

    • Lynda Newnam on 25/09/2013 at 3:52 pm
    • Reply

    It is all very well to suggest I direct my queries to UNSW and Transport for NSW but Council support for Light Rail has been built on a ‘Coalition of the Willing’ approach and UNSW has been a major partner. To embark on this venture without first examining the motives and capabilities of the other partners as well as reseaching the needs of your own constituents, eg. south ward residents and organisations such as precincts and La Perouse LALC, is recalcitrant to say the least.

    1. The “last coalition of the willing” joint venture involved the invasion of Iraq based on the flimsy lie that it hosted weapons of mass destruction.

      That coalition erred by failing to do any serious technical research into the facts before it set off.

      But Randwick Council and its partners have actually conducted an extensive research study into the technical facts.

      Councillors and staff now know what can and what can not work. This is of immense benefit to the Randwick Community as it equips the Council to query and challenge the State Government on basic technical issues.

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