Refuting misguided claims that the CBD to South East Light Rail (CSELR) project will force a reduction in passenger carrying capacity for Sydney – 14th July 2015

Media Statement by Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson.

Southern Courier correspondents John Bellamy and Andrew Roydhouse are mistakenly claiming that public transport capacity in Sydney will be reduced by the CSELR light rail project.

They manage this by firstly asserting that the rail line “will only carry 6,750 passengers an hour” (Bellamy email to Matson, 12 July 2016) despite similar systems around the world being able to carry far more.

Secondly, they ingeniously try to establish as fact a claim that the carrying capacity of 220 currently operating buses will be totally removed from Sydney by the CSELR.

I don’t know about Bellamy and Roydhouse specifically, but other anti-light rail activists have badly misunderstood a key verbal statement in a government promotional video.

This highly sustainable high capacity transport system will ease CBD congestion by helping to remove 220 peak hour buses.” (CBD and South East Light Rail Flythrough, June 2014 – bold added).

One less than careful critic who refers to this quote from the video seems to have misheard the word “helping” as  being “replacing“.

How many busses do the trams replace? The June 2014 video says 220..” ( – bold added)

SMH writer Elizabeth Farrelly in her now infamous hatchet job on the CSELR was probably fed erroneous conclusions by someone who had also made the same hasty hearing mistake.

And the terrible thing is … the new light rail still moves only 6900 people an hour per direction. Compare that with the almost 16,000 passengers an hour in the 220 busses (or 20 routes) the CSELR claims to replace.” (Elizabeth Farrelly, SMH 18th May 2016, bold added)

This allowed the SMH via Farrelly to then arithmetically jump to the appallingly inaccurate conclusion: “So the net effect on public transport capacity into the city is negative. It’s a loss.”

The Herald was quickly jumped on and had to publish the following correction.

The Herald accepts the previously published statement “the net effect on public transport capacity is negative” was incorrect because the 220 buses will be redeployed into the public transport network.” (bold added)

The use of the word “redeployed” makes it clear that the Herald belatedly realized that the busses are not being “replaced” with their carrying capacity to be lost to Sydney.

The EIS for the project describes how in fact this redistribution would create a grid like system of buses feeding into the light rail. Light rail and major bus routes are supported by local bus feeder services to provide easy connections to multiple destinations across the region’s centres.

It would allow the reallocation of buses from a CBD-centric system to a transfer-based grid that better serves other key destinations with higher frequencies throughout the day and night.” (page 29, CSELR_EIS_Volume_2)

The EIS also conclusively refutes Bellamy and Roydhouse’s claims that the CSELR will only move around 6,750 passengers per hour by stating:

Modern light rail vehicles can provide as much as five times more capacity than a traditional bus, while consuming only about twice as much road space … In addition, the light rail solution is easily scalable for peaks in demand as two 45m LRVs have the potential to be coupled to move up to 18,000 people per hour in each direction – to support public transport service to major events.” (page 27, CSELR_EIS_Volume_2)

In summary Bellamy and Roydhouse do not understand that the passengers carried by the 220 to-be-reallocated buses will not be stranded but will be carried either by buses going elsewhere or by the new light rail line which in itself will be capable if required of carrying 18,000 people per hour in each direction. There will be ample capacity in the improved public transport system for Sydney.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson.


Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.