Guest Questions – Summer 2018

With the return to more regular posting over Summer, we have received many questions that we are going to answer for you today. If you want to know anything about Transport in NSW, please ask us! We always respond straight way (no waiting for the post) and really love hearing from you. We have decided to keep names anonymous.

What are the bus regions?

The bus regions refer to the Sydney Metropolitan Bus Contract regions that are used to determine what bus operator is to operate a particular route. They are numbered 1 through 15.

Will my region (Region 7) be privatised?

No. At this time Regions 7-9 will continue to be operated by government owned STA. Only Region 6 is changing hands at this time.

Is the light rail really that late? How can the issues they have had make the project that late?

Yes, the light rail is running THAT late. The progress you are seeing now is actually where the project should have been a year ago. It is a mixture of poor planning, poor workmanship and over-engineering of a simple project.

Can you look at where we can fly on specific planes – like the A380 or 747?

Most certainly! Look out for those in upcoming “Where Can You Fly?” segments.

Can you please do a feature of Leichhardt Bus Depot and Region 6 privatisation?

Of course. In fact, its already up on this link. More region 6 privatisation posts can be found under “Farewell Region 6

How do buses on the 370 always bunch up?

The 370 is a very long and complex route, buses can get caught up at traffic lights or in slow moving traffic. Once one bus is late, it begins to pick up more passengers and the bus behind picks up less making is faster, which often brings the buses together. The 370 also has new buses forming from the depot at each end regularly, if one bus already in the cycle but an on-time bus from the depot comes at the same time, they can often end up together as well.

When is Macquarie Park Station closing?

At this point, no date has been given for the ECRL closure. It is likely to be in the second half of this year.

What Bus apps do you use?

I have three apps that I use.

  1. TripView – for viewing individual routes that I take often. I use this as my everyday real time app.
  2. NextThere – for viewing all the upcoming services at a stop. Perfect for working out what is the right route to catch from your nearest stop.
  3. AnyTrip – To see what buses are in the network and what they are operating. My favourite for finding the Christmas or special livery buses.

Farewell Region 6 – Burwood Depot

Today as part of our series farewelling STA region 6 before it transfers to Transit Systems on July 1 we are looking at Burwood Depot.

Burwood Depot was the first depot to be government owned in Region 6, when it was purchased from the Metropolitan Omnibus Transport Company by the Department of Road Transport & Tramways to allow it to open up services in the Inner West. The initial bus repair cavities were located at Burwood depot until they were moved to Leichhardt in 1935.

The first service operated from Burwood depot o. 27 January 1933, Route 59 from Concord to City York Street. Dozens of routes started within the first few years of operation.

Today there are 104 buses in the fleet at Burwood depot, made up of Volvo B12BLE Euro 5 buses with CB60 Evo II bodywork and Volvo B10BLE with Orana bodywork.

Some major routes operated out of Burwood depot include the M41 and 461.

On the last Sunday of each month through to June 24 we will be doing another edition of Farewell Region 6. On July 1st which is the first day of the new operator, we will be on the scene with an update to the changeover.

Ferry McFerryFace to be renamed

Summer is nearly over and that means that Ferry McFerryFace will soon be a thing of the past.

The controversial name is set to be replaced with that of children’s author May Gibbs in the coming weeks. This fits in with the governments commitment to keep the name meaningful for kids.

It was revealed earlier this year that the Transport Minister Andrew Constance mislead the public over how popular the name Ferry McFerryFace actually was, claiming it was the number one choice despite it only getting 200 votes out of over 10 000.

Ferry McFerryFace during more happier times

Farewell Region 6 – Leichhardt Depot

As STA looks to farewell Region 6 from its network on July 1, we will be having a look at STA’s long history in the Inner West. Today we will start with the Leichhardt Depot.Image result for leichhardt bus depot

Leichhardt depot is on the site of the old Leichhardt tram depot, which opening on 22 June 1915. It was converted to a bus depot in 1937 and served as the central maintanence facility for Department of Road Transport & Tramways buses until 1958.

Leichhardt depot has remained one of the main government run bus depots. A major upgrade in 2008 improved maintenance facilities, bus storage and office space at the depot.

Today Leichhardt depot is home to 222 buses, making it the third largest STA depot. It services buses operating in Region 6 and a limited number of services in Region 7 and 9.

Prominent services operated by Leichhardt Depot include Metrobus routes M10 and M50, Routes 370, 438, 440, 504 and 530.

The Leichhardt depot also shares land with the Sydney Bus Museum, which is located in one of the old tram sheds.

Jetstar orders A321neoLR – to operate Sydney to Bali


Qantas has today confirmed that 18 of its order of 99 A320neo family aircraft will be A321neoLR to be operated by Jetstar. Deliveries will be in the 2020/21 and the 2021/22 financial years,

The A321neoLR is a brand new state of the art, highly efficient narrow body aircraft. It is the quietest, most fuel efficient and furthest flying of all competing aircraft. It has the range potential to fly Sydney to Singapore with a full load of 230 passengers.

The longer range of the A321neoLR means direct flights from East Coast of Australia to Bali, not previously possible with A320 aircraft. This will mean that Boeing 787s which currently operate Bali services can be freed up for extra flights to destinations such China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.

They will also replace some of Jetstar’s oldest A320s on popular domestic routes such as Sydney to Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Some of the A320s will be moved to QantasLink to increase capacity on regional routes, whilst others will be returned to their lessor.

Tram Wreck – Light Rail Over a Year Late

Delays to the CSELR light rail project through Sydney’s CBD and South East have led Transport Minister Andrew Constance to proclaim “NSW is an unhappy customer” and “”We expect better.” Opposition leader Luke Foley has labeled it “a dog of a project.”The media described the project as a “full blown disaster” and “a permanent nightmare.”

Just 14 out of 25 kilometres of track has been laid so far, well behind schedule. Consortium ALTRAC is currently laying on average 25 metres of track a day. To meet the early 2019 deadline, they need to be laying 260 metres each day.

Only 9 out of 41 work zones have been completed, whilst original plans show that nearly all zones should have been completed last year. So far none of the zones have been completed on-time. Some zones such as Zone 5 near Wynyard, Zone 7 near Town Hall and Zone 22 in Moore Park are currently running more than 500 days behind schedule. The entire project is said to be around 450 days late.

The CEO of ALTRAC has repeatedly refused to give an indication of a completion date or even the state of construction. ALTRAC is now facing legal action from subcontractors for failure to pay for work as well as significant fines of up to $3.5 million per week the project runs behind schedule.

The project was due to open in March 2019 however sources close to project suggest that a late 2020 opening date is more likely at this point. Some of the reasons quoted for the delays include relocating utilities and historical artefact discovery.

ALTRAC maintains the work is significantly more technical than originally anticipated and that the project remains severely underfunded. This is despite a cost blowout from $1.6 billion to $2.6 billion.

A report has also found that many of the time saving benefits used in the business case for the light rail were false. Trams could potentially face delays of up to 10 minutes on each trip waiting for traffic lights causing reliability to slump. This could mean that commuters will spend longer on trams than they currently do on bus services.

In more positive news, the first tram begins testing tonight, only 5 months late.

Photos courtesy of ALTRAC

STA Contracts Renewed – Region 7-9 + Nightride

Despite the government making it clear that they have plans to privatise all of the STA, this week it won a number of lucrative government contracts for bus services.

STA has won the contracts to operate bus services in Region 7 (Ryde, Chatswood and North Sydney areas), Region 8 (Northern Beaches and Mosman areas), Region 9 (Eastern Suburbs and Sydney CBD areas), and numerous Nightride routes (N10, N11, N90 and N91).

Regions 7, 8 and 9 are current STA operating areas, however the Nightride services are a new addition to their network. These services were previously operated by Transdev.

These are all three year contracts from July 1 2018 that will put back out to tender again in 2021. It is understood that STA will be able to continue to tender.


Upcoming Nightride Changes

Last year the NSW government announced that it would be making some adjustments to the Nightride Bus network. Its has been brought to our attention at Transport NSW Blog that these changes may be occurring as early as March 1st. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.

The major changes are

  • New route N81 from Parramatta to City Town Hall via Victoria Road, Rydalmere, Silverwater Rd, thru Newington, Olympic Park Station, Strathfield Station, then Parramatta Road. Operates Thursday to Sunday.
  • New route N91 from Bondi Junction to Macquarie Park via Kings Cross, Town Hall, North Sydney, Chatswood and North Ryde. Operates daily.iFK0w9K
  • Modified Route N20 to operate vis Sydney Airport and Green Square. Operates daily.mp0a7kA.jpg
  • Change of operator for some routes, including STA becoming a Nightride operator.

Where Can You Fly? – China

We are starting a new segment here at Transport NSW Blog, looking at all of the places you can fly from Sydney Airport. Today we are looking at China.

You can fly to 19 cities in China from Sydney, more than any other non-Chinese city. This shows the staggering demand for flights from Sydney to China.

A majority of the passengers are from China, which makes sense since 16 of the cities are only served by Chinese carriers.

A total of 10 carriers serve routes between Sydney and China, with most routes only being served by one or two carriers due to China’s One Airline policy. The largest carriers between Sydney and China are Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines and Qantas.

Most flights are operated by Airbus A330 aircraft, due to their medium size and relatively long range. Due to high demand, some routes are served by larger planes. China Eastern operates the 777 on its route to Shanghai and China Southern operates the A380 on its route to Guangzhou.

Routes from Sydney to China


The routes served are;

  • Beijing – Air China, China Eastern, Qantas
  • Changsha – Hainan Airlines
  • Chengdu – Air China
  • Chongqing – Sichuan Airlines
  • Fuzhou – Xiamen Airlines
  • Guangzhou – China Southern
  • Haikou – Hainan
  • Hangzhou – China Eastern
  • Hong Kong – Cathay Pacific, Qantas
  • Kunming – China Eastern
  • Nanjing – China Eastern
  • Qingdao – Beijing Capital
  • Shanghai – Air China, China Eastern, Qantas
  • Shenzhen – China Southern
  • Tianjin – Tianjin Airlines
  • Wuhan – China Eastern
  • Xi’an – Hainan Airlines
  • Xiamen – Xiamen Airlines
  • Zhengzhou – Tianjin Airlines

Sydney’s Old Rail Network – Why we face constant delays and how to fix them.

As you no doubt have noticed, it has been a shocking start to the year on Sydney’s railways, which many instances of delays lasting for multiple days. These delays were cause by a major incident on a single line somewhere on the network which snowballed into ongoing delays due to a lack of ability to recover from delays. This has lead Transport for NSW to write a report on how to reduce the amount of delays caused when incidents occur on the network.

Our rail network is very old, with most parts now approaching 100 years old and it’s stretched to its limit with many rail lines over capacity even when everything runs to plan. Unfortunately there is no quick fix to the problem of constant indefinite delays other than rebuilding our entire rail network, but this is too costly. The report has some ideas on band-aid solutions, but the network won’t be fixed until the Western Metro to Parramatta opens in the late 2020s at the earliest.

The report found that the network is too complex for it’s age, with many line criss-crossing at confusing junctions. Many parts of the network are running at full capacity even if trains are all on-time, so even just one late train can cause compounding hold-ups with no room for returning trains back to the normal schedule. There was also the suggestion that the communications and signalling systems were outdated and needed improvement to ensure that trains maintain on-time running.

The report also pointed out a shortage of drivers, which in some cases led to less staff being on-duty than the number of trains required in the network. This lack of drivers occurred multiple times in January. Concerningly, drivers were being made to work overtime 11 out of every 14 days and work 13 out of every 14 days.

The changes being made in light of the report include;

  • Reviewing strategies for dealing with high impact network events in a complex, tangled network;
  • Providing extra capacity for incident recovery by using post implementation reviews of the timetable to look for opportunities to adjust any non-peak services that are used by an extremely low number of customers;
  • Accelerating recruitment of new drivers;
  • Working with unions to help simplify changeovers for crew;
  • Bringing in an independent rail expert to find ways to improve the systems and tools to put the right number of crew where we need them;
  • Updating support and IT systems to ensure better communication and crowd management.