Ten reasons why the CBD to South East Light Rail will benefit Matraville and Maroubra residents – 26th April 2014

26th April 2014

Carlos Da Rocha
Secretary, Matraville Precinct Committee
Randwick City Council area.

Dear Carlos

Here are the 10 reasons you requested as to why I think the CBD South East Light Rail (CSELR) project will benefit (or not disadvantage) residents in the Matraville area of Randwick City Council.

Light Rail Vehicle

Electric power grids give light rail a greater potential to access alternative power sources over buses allowing for decreases in carbon emissions.

In short, Matraville residents will get a hybrid public transport system that will carry more passengers than the current buses can and will have excess capacity. The bus/light rail interchange issue is overstated when you realise that many current trips to the CBD already require a transfer between buses. Some trips will take longer on the light rail while others will be shorter. Light rail is more environmentally friendly and has the future potential to help greatly reduce green house gas emissions when Australia switches from coal power stations. Light rail will reduce pollution and car congestion along Anzac Parade. Light rail is actually cheaper for a Government than buses in high demand circumstances.

I have tried to be as accurate as possible but it is possible that your precinct members may still identify some errors. I apologise in advance. Please ask them to email me or to make comments to an online version of this article at http://www.randwickbotanygreens.org.au/?p=667 and I will make appropriate corrections.

1) The Interchanges – Keys to the CBD and Inner West

The Kingsford light rail interchange should be recognised as the golden key that will open a light rail gate way to a wide area of the CBD and inner west for Matraville and Maroubra commuters. This is because the CSELR project will become part of the emerging Sydney Light Rail network. “These light rail lines will form the new Sydney Light Rail network, with reliable, high capacity services running north from Central to Circular Quay along George Street, west to Pyrmont and Dulwich Hill, and south east through Surry Hills to Moore Park, Randwick and Kingsford.”

2) Possible Eastgardens & Maroubra Junction extensions will reduce interchange issues

When the CSELR is built there will be immense public pressure to extend it to Maroubra Junction and even to Eastgardens as called for recently by the Mayor of Botany. This will further benefit Matraville and Maroubra residents because it means that the bus/light rail interchanges will move further south reducing the need for many southern residents to have to change between the two modes.

3) The CSELR will be a rail transport spine that other links can built from

Matraville and Maroubra residents stand to further benefit via future light rail extensions to other areas made possible when the basic transport spine has been laid down by the CSELR rail line. This could include connecting links to Botany Road at Mascot from Kingsford and then across to the current end of the new Dulwich Hill light rail line using existing freight rail corridors.

4) Light Rail stands to reduce car congestion on Anzac Parade

It is anticipated that the CSELR will indirectly benefit Matraville and Maroubra residents by encouraging commuters to abandon their single occupancy cars to ride in light rail cars. This means that by adding light rail to the mix we will increase the overall capacity of Anzac Parade (i.e. car passengers + bus passengers + bike riders + light rail passengers) because light rail cars can carry more passengers than cars and buses. This will help offset the extra local car congestion arising from the extra 8,400 new dwellings imposed on the Council area by the previous state government.

5) Less air pollution on Anzac Parade

All users of Anzac Parade including Matraville and Maroubra residents will be able to travel through less local air pollution. Buses pose specific health risks as diesel is a probable carcinogen risk to children (whose lungs are still developing) and the elderly. “In Sydney, over 1500 tonnes of diesel particles are emitted each year, resulting in a potential health cost of over $400 million”(Department of Environment and Climate Change). Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses are cleaner than conventional vehicles but still produce some nitrogen, carbon monoxide and particulates (US Dept of Energy) and actually more hydrocarbons than conventional vehicles (Australian Department of the Environment) where as Light rail vehicles make no local emissions themselves.

Cars, diesel buses, motorbikes and vans (Dept of Environment & Climate Change NSW) emitted in 2008:

  • 12% of Sydney’s PM10 sized particulates and 18% of Sydney’s PM2.5 sized particulates -“exposure to fine particles (PM10) and ultra-fine particles (PM2.5) is associated with increased mortality and hospital admissions among people with heart and lung disease”;
  • 38.3% of Sydney’s VOC’s (volatile organic compounds such as benzene). There is “mounting scientific evidence that exposure to these substances can be linked to cancer, birth defects, genetic damage, immune deficiency, and respiratory and nervous system disorders”;
  • 71.1% of Sydney’s nitrogen oxides that chemically react with VOC’s (see above) in sunlight to produce ozone. “Some people, such as asthmatics, are sensitive to ozone at low concentrations, so there does not seem to be a safe level for exposure. During periods of high ozone concentration, hospital admissions for asthma and other respiratory conditions increase.”
  • I had no information available on the percentage share of carbon monoxide emissions available at the time of writing. In heavy doses it is well known as a “silent killer” but is unclear what prolonged low level exposure will do. “More recently it has been suggested that prolonged exposure (days-months) to low concentrations of CO may have subtle effects on the brain.” (source Occupational Health & Environmental Medicine).

6) Situation relatively the same for either light rail travel times or vehicle transfers at bus/light rail interchanges

Some current public transport trips will be longer on the CSELR, others will be about the same, while others again will actually be shorter. Much has been made of the inconvenience of transferring at the Kingsford interchange but in reality many bus only trips actually require more changes between vehicles than the light rail does.

For example, at present a passenger leaving Matraville at 8.01am on the 392 bus can change to an X94 express bus and reach Circular Quay 9 minutes earlier than a future 392/light rail trip via the yet-to-be built Kingsford interchange. BUT to do so will require that passenger to accept the inconvenience of a vehicle change at Kingsford exactly the same as required for the light rail. Furthermore the bus-only trip requires an 8 minute walk to finish getting to Circular Quay. Would catching a ferry 9 minutes earlier cancel out the inconvenience of an 8 minute walk? It might for some but maybe not for others with mobility problems.

The following examples always use a conservative time of 6 minutes for a passenger to change to the light rail at what will be the Kingsford interchange. The trip is always assumed to start at the bus stop on Bunnerong Road near Perry Street, Matraville. The times come from a CSELR trip calculator at http://www.sydneylightrail.transport.nsw.gov.au/information/maps and bus trip calculators at http://www.transportnsw.info.

  • No difference in time or vehicle changes from Matraville to Central. At present a 392 bus passenger transfers to a 393 bus at Kingsford 17 minutes after leaving Matraville. This transfer cancels out the 6 minute transfer dis-encouragement for light rail at the Kingsford interchange. The 392/393 bus only trip takes a total of 42 minutes to reach Central. The light rail would take 18 minutes to reach Central from Kingsford meaning that a 392/light rail trip would also take 42 minutes (i.e. 18 + 18 + 6 minutes) equalling the 392/393 trip. And it would require exactly the same number of changes between vehicles i.e. one.
  • Six minutes faster by light rail to Chinatown from Matraville and both trips will require one vehicle change – but there is a 12 minute final walk for the bus. A 392/374/walk trip takes 51 minutes against 45 minutes for a 392/light rail trip. The light rail does better with no final walk required.
  • No difference in times and vehicle changes the Sydney Town hall but there is a walk from the bus. A 392/373/walk bus trip and 392/light rail trip both take 51 minutes and require one vehicle change but the light rail does not require a 10 minute walk from Elizabeth Street.
  • Two minute faster by bus from Matraville to Wynyard with one vehicle change for both services but there is a 12 minute walk required from the bus. At present passengers transfer from a 392 to a X94 and walk 12 minutes totalling 50 minutes. It will take 29 minutes for the light rail to get to Wynyard from Kingsford so the 392/light rail trip would be 52 minutes (i.e. 17 + 29 + 6).
  • Nine minutes faster by bus from Matraville to Circular Quay with the same number of vehicle changes required but there is also an 8 minute walk required from the bus. A 392 bus passenger leaving at 8.01 and transferring to an X94 takes 46 minutes to reach Circular Quay. A light rail trip from the Kingsford Interchange will take 32 minutes to reach Circular Quay. The new hybrid trip will thus take 55 minutes (i.e. 17 + 32 + 6) to reach Circular quay.

7) Global Light Rail emits less carbon dioxide than oil driven buses

Globally light rail is more environmentally sound because it emits only 0.36 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger mile travelled against 0.71 for ”motor buses” and 0.61 for “all automobiles” (source Does Rail Transit Save Energy or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions? by Randal O’Toole). Even in energy wasting Australia Monash University found that there is no difference in CO2 Emissions between Melbourne buses (an average of 159 grams of CO2 per passenger kilometre travelled and trams (158 grams).

8) More environmental scope to lower carbon emissions with light rail than buses

Light rail systems powered by electric grids have a flexibility advantage buses in their potential to further lower their carbon emissions. Other countries are demonstrating how Australia could reduce light rail emissions even better in comparison to buses if we move away from coal power stations to alternative energy.

  • The US Department of Transportation states. “Most rail transport is powered by electricity, which offers efficiency improvements over internal combustion engines … When the electricity is generated from a zero emissions source, such as wind, hydroelectric, nuclear, or solar, the public transportation systems that use these power sources are also zero emission. Several transit agencies are installing on site renew¬able energy generation to power parts of their systems. Boston’s transit agency is installing wind turbines, New York City Transit plans to harvest power from the tides by installing turbines in tidal waters, and Los Angeles Metro is installing solar panels on its properties. ”
  •  In 2001, the Canadian C-Train light rail claims all of its electricity from emissions-free wind power generation. “Dubbed the Ride the Wind project, the C-Train system is powered by 60 wind turbines near Pincher Creek in southern Alberta. Since the program began in 2001, local officials estimate that Ride the Wind has saved more than 325,000 tons of CO2 emissions.” (source “Alberta Rail: Canada’s Light Rail Legacy” by Scott Bogren).
  • The light rail system in Karlsruhe Germany receives powered from solar energy. “The system has a peak output of 1000 kilo watts. The direct current it generates – which thanks to its highly efficient modules amounts to around 90,000 kilo watt hours (kWh) per year – is fed into the DC mains supply of the Karlsruhe tram system.”

9) Light rail is actually cheaper than buses under conditions of high demand such as exist along Anzac Parade and in the CBD at peak times

Buses have “lower operating costs per passenger-mile where transit demand is low” but light rail has “lower operating costs per passenger-mile where transit demand is high” according to the “Bus Rapid Transit vs. Light Rail Transit A Side-by-Side Comparison of Competing Mass Transit Options” study. This comparison of the St. Louis bus rapid transit (BRT) and light rail transit (LRT) systems over a 10 year period showed that the buses had annual operating and maintenance costs of $104.6 million verse $26.2 million for the light rail. Further, the study found that in 2005 the total cost per passenger mile was $0.97 for the BRT compared to $0.82 for the LRT.

10) Buses alone can’t carry as many passengers as a hybrid bus/light rail CSELR system can

We have reached the limit for the number of buses that we can run down Anzac parade into the CBD. But the hybrid CSELR bus/light rail system will allow us to go past this bottle neck.

    • The light rail cars will have a passenger capacity advantage over buses. A CSELR car will carry 300 passengers in one vehicle against 58 for a standard bus, 85 for a “bendy” bus and 110 for a double decker. The CSLELR will have a further tremendous advantage that buses can’t match in that two light rail cars will be able to be hooked up together to carry 600 passengers in one trip if required.
    • Even at start up the hybrid bus/light rail CSELR will move more passengers than buses alone. Only 20 light rail trips moving 6,000 passengers an hour will be required because enough buses will be retained to move another 6,000. This equates to a net increased capacity of 2,000 over the 10,000 passengers (Randwick Pre-feasibility Light Rail Study 2011) currently moving through Anzac Parade at peak time.
    • There will be further excess passenger capacity when the light rail is fully operational. With the full 30 light trips an hour CSELR will provide a net increased capacity of over the current bus system of 5,000 via 9,000 passengers carried by light rail and 6,000 by retained buses.
    • Bus capacity can’t be expanded even further but the CSELR still has a further expansion possibility. Two CSELR cars can be linked together to move 18,000 passengers by light rail.
    • Even bus systems that use their own dedicated tracks (BRT) have capacity limits. Curitiba in South America has long been hailed as an innovative user of buses but the limit is being reached and the Government may bring in light rail. Paulo Schmidt the President of URBS, their rapid-bus system, has said: “During peak hours, buses on the main routes are already arriving at almost thirty-second intervals, any more buses and they will back up.” Schmidt has said that a light-rail system is needed to complement it

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson




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