Featured Bus Route – March 2019

As requested, we once again return to State Transit Region 9 in the Eastern Suburbs for our featured bus route this month. Route 314 operates between Bondi Junction and Coogee via Charing Cross and Randwick Junction.

A Route 314 service terminates at Bondi Junction – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The Cross-Country tram line was one of a very few tram lines in Sydney that did not operate to or from the Sydney CBD. Instead it followed the Coogee line from Coogee Beach to Randwick Junction, then traversed through North Randwick to connect up with the Bronte line in Waverley. From there it travelled along the Bronte line to Bondi Junction, with some services continuing onto Waverley Depot or Bondi Beach. It began operations in 1887 and was electrified in 1902.

In 1954, the decision was made to replace the Cross-Country line with bus services. From the November 14, 1954, Route 314 bus services replaced the line between Bondi Junction and Coogee Beach. It followed a very similar route to the previous tram line, with slight alterations away from tram only corridors in North Randwick and Coogee. Route 314 saw a large increase in frequency upon the opening of the Eastern Suburbs rail line to Bondi Junction in 1979, when it was designated one of the feeder bus services to the new line. This meant it was one of the few routes in Sydney allowing for  multi-modal ticketing to be used on the service, which was a first for the time. Since then Route 314 hasn’t undergone many changes, only receiving small deviations from its original 1954 routing and successive timetable changes throughout the decades.

Today Route 314 operates a full time service between 6am and 11pm seven days a week. It has co-ordinated timetabling with route 313 (also between Bondi Junction and Coogee via different route), with each route operating every 30 minute on Weekdays and Saturdays and hourly on Sundays, This allows for a consistent 15/30 minute frequency on the Bondi Junction to Coogee corridor between 8am and 5pm. The service is operated by State Transit from its Waverley depot.

Photos – Metrobus March

Last year, Transport NSW Blog ran a widely popular series outlining the operations of all of the different Metrobus branded bus services operating across Sydney. Whilst this year we haven’t celebrated “Metrobus March” as it was dubbed by our readers last year, we have gone out and collected photos of all of the Metrobus routes in action across Sydney this month.

Metrobus M10 seen here at Moore Park (Leichhardt to Maroubra Junction – Transit Systems) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M20 seen here at Wynyard (Botany to Gore Hill – Transit Systems) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M30 seen here at Wynyard (Sydenham to Taronga Zoo – Transit Systems) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M40 seen here at Wynyard. I consistently failed to get a good picture of Route M40 (Bondi Junction to Chatswood – State Transit) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M41 seen here at Burwood (Hurstville to Macquarie Park – Transit Systems) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M50 seen here in Randwick (Coogee to Drummoyne – Transit Systems)
Metrobus M52 seen here at Parramatta (Circular Quay to Parramatta – State Transit) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M54 seen here at Parramatta (Macquarie Park to Parramatta – State Transit) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M60 seen here at Parramatta (Parramatta to Hornsby – CDC Hillsbus). – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M61 seen here at Wynyard. Another route I struggled to get a good picture of. (Castle Hill to QVB – CDC Hillsbus) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M90 seen here at Burwood (Burwood to Liverpool – Transdev) – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M91 seen here at Parramatta (Hurstville to Parramatta – Transdev) with a M52 alongside – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Metrobus M92 seen here at Parramatta (Parramatta to Sutherland – Transdev) – Transport NSW Blog Collection


Another Four Years…

At the New South Wales state election last weekend, the Berejiklian-Barilaro Liberal Nation Coalition government was re-elected for a third term. They won with a reduced majority of 48 seats in the 93 seat parliament. At this time we do not know who will be the transport minister in this term in government, but it would be reasonable to believe that Andrew Constance will likely retain the position going forward.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Andrew Constance – NewsCorp

As we outlined last week, there are a number of transport policies that were part of their election platform and will begin to be delivered throughout this term in government including;

  • Sydney Metro City and Southwest and Sydney Metro West projects fast tracked
  • Outer West North South Metro and extension to Sydney Metro West projects to connect to Western Sydney Airport from day one of airport operation
  • Northern Beaches and Second Harbour Tunnel
  • F6 Extension
  • 17 additional Waratah Series 2 trains to allow for additional new Sydney Trains services to Western Sydney
  • More Buses to deliver 14 000 extra weekly services over four years
  • $50 weekly cap on Public Transport Fares
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Obviously as this government has been reelected, they will be able to deliver some of their cornerstone projects from the past two terms including that are yet to be completed;

  • CBD and South East Light Rail
  • Sydney Metro Northwest
  • Westconnex M4 and M5 East tunnels
  • Northconnex

The government has promised to follow through on all of their promises, regardless of which party won in the corresponding seat. This means that seats that voted for Labor, the Greens, the Shooters or an Independent will still get their promised upgrades. The government has tried to make this evident in an attempt to keep voters onside. In particular, expect very marginal Labor seats such as the gains of Coogee and Lismore to receive everything that they were promised in the hope of winning them back next time round. But even in safe Labor or independent seats transport projects will still go ahead, as the government doesn’t wish to be seen as pork barreling in their safest seats.

Throughout this term of government there are many different things that we can expect. There will be very little change in the way the transport operates from last term, particularly given it will be the same government in power.

Lots of ribbon cutting should be an obvious thing that will ramp up this time round. Many of the flagship projects launched in the first term of the current government are now nearing completion and we can expect major coverage of their openings. The first one will be the Sydney Metro North West on May 5, which is the first state of the major rail expansion program under Sydney Metro branding and will be the first automated rail line to open in Australia. We will also see the opening of the Randwick branch of the CBD and South East light rail in December.

We will see more and more construction. As all of the new projects promised continue with their construction or begin in the next few months and years, we will see even more transport related construction sites. This will obviously cause some disruption but will in the longer term deliver better outcomes for these areas. Expect more Sydney Metro sites to go up in the CBD and Inner West, with road tunnels going under the North Shore and Inner South.

We can also expect more privatisation of our transport operations. We already know that the Epping-Chatswood and Sydenham-Bankstown rail lines are being privatised as part of the Sydney Metro upgrades in this term. It would be unsurprising if more State Transit bus service regions are sold off this term as it was a foundational change that was pushed by the government in the last term.

The Liberals will also likely continue their union bashing agenda that occurred throughout the last term. Here at Transport NSW Blog we are proud to support the union movement and particularly the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU). The RTBU  has been attacked viciously by the Liberals constantly over the last eight years, due to their opposition to privatisation and pay freezes impletzemed by this governments. These attacks on unions need to stop, but it is foreseeable that they will continue given the ideological anti-union views of this government.

This is not the outcome we advocated for in our pre-election editorial last week, and we still don’t think this is the best outcome for transport in New South Wales. We can only hope that Constance gets moved on to another portfolio and a more competent minister takes his place. We also need to advocate for the end of the privatisation agenda and union bashing conduced by this government to ensure the best outcomes for transport in this term of government.

NSW Election Roundup

Tomorrow, Saturday March 23rd 2019, is the polling day for the 2019 NSW State Election. Both the Labor and Liberal parties have made many promises in the area of transport, which will deliver a variety of improvements to transport regardless of which government is voted over this weekend. This election is shaping up to be close, with polls suggesting Labor is ahead 50.5% to 49.5% despite late stumbles for the party. This would deliver a hung parliament if replicated at the election.

Screen Shot 2019-03-22 at 6.18.08 pm.png
Micheal Daley (Labor) and Gladys Berejiklian (Liberal National Coalition) are going head to head in a tight election this weekend – AAP

The incumbent Liberal National coalition government led by Gladys Berejiklian has now been in power for 8 years and to some extent is beginning to experience incumbency fatigue. They are pointing to their record on delivering transport projects for the state as one of the main reasons that they should be re-elected. Despite this, very little of their major policy commitments in the area of transport over the last 8 years have actually been delivered. Only the B-Line bus rapid project and Newcastle light rail have had ribbons cut, with signature projects such as the CBD and South East light rail and Sydney Metro Northwest not being ready for operations till the next term of government. Additionally, most of these major projects have also been marred by controversy and chaos. This chaos including a multi-billion dollar lawsuit over light rail contracts and structural failures in bridge spans for the Sydney Metro. In the regions, these inner Sydney transport projects are highly unpopular, particularly as there has been a lack of investment in country infrastructure in the most recent term of government.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance has consistently proved a divisive figure, and many in the transport industry will be hoping for him to either be voted out or moved to a different portfolio in the next term of government. He doesn’t seem to truely understand public transport and has a very ideological profit and privatisation agenda that isn’t compatible with public services.

This government hasn’t been able to pull together a cohesive narrative for transport over 8 years and probably needed to do more to win over transport conscious voters.

Berejiklian’s signature Sydney Light Rail Project has been poorly executed and is relatively unpopular – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The Liberal National coalition are going in with a number of transport policies for this election.

  • Sydney Metro City and Southwest and Sydney Metro West projects fast tracked
  • Outer West North South Metro and extension to Sydney Metro West projects to connect to Western Sydney Airport from day one of airport operation
  • Northern Beaches and Second Harbour Tunnel
  • 17 additional Waratah Series 2 trains to allow for additional new Sydney Trains services to Western Sydney
  • More Buses to deliver 14 000 extra weekly services over four years
  • $50 weekly cap on Public Transport Fares
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Labor is once again going into the election with a near unknown leader in Michael Daley. Last time Labor was in government they promised a large number of public transport projects, but didn’t really deliver of many of them. The Airport Line, Epping-Chatswood Rail Link and T-Way network were their biggest deliveries, whilst the North West and South West rail links that they promised in government haven’t seen any construction until the Liberals gained government. They once again are running on a platform of cancellations, but given these projects are mostly dubious anyway, it actually is a good way to stop wasteful spending that often occurs with fatigued governments. On the other hand, they typically have shown a good understanding of the issues that have been affecting the community in the transport space, getting involved in many local grassroots groups to advocate for better public transport.

Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay has consistently been on top of the major transport issues over the last term in government and has proved very competent in opposition. Having spent time as both a Newcastle and a Inner West MP she has a very good understanding of the areas where come of the biggest transport clashes often occur. She also comes with a string of endorsements from a number of key figures from inside the transport industry, including a number RTBU sectaries as well as employees at government operators State Transit and Sydney Trains.

Labor has been very good at understanding grassroots transport concerns over the past term of government – Transport NSW Blog collection via Colin Magee

Labor has a number of transport policies going into this election

  • Free public transport for all school students
  • A new train timetable, with reduced travel times for Western Sydney
  • Reduce station access fee to $5 at both Domestic and International stations, with $0 fee for registered airport workers
  • $8 billion to fast track the construction of Sydney Metro West from the CBD to Westmead
  • Continue with construction of Sydney Metro City (and Southwest if contracts can’t be broken)
  • $3 billion for signalling and track improvements to the rail network
  • Extension of South West Rail Link to Western Sydney Airport.
  • Expanded bus services in areas where services have been cut or in “missing links”
  • Refund for train services that are excessively delayed for avoidable reasons
  • No more privatisation of transport services and buy back of selected privatised transport services
  • Scrapping of Northern Beaches and Second Harbour Tunnel
  • M4 toll cashback
  • Hold a Judicial Inquiry into WestConnex and the Sydney Light Rail
  • Introduce a new community consultation scheme for transport changes
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Neither party can be considered to be entirely inspiring or competent in the area of transport going into the next term. The Liberals have been the ones to actually get down to construction on many transport projects. However, the arrogance and lack of understanding on behalf of Berejiklian and Constance as well as the failure to deliver projects could prove costly. On the other hand, Labor has a history of cancelling projects and not actually delivering on their promises. Despite this, they have a much better platform for this election and go in with the benefits of a fresh slate and a popular, experienced shadow minster in McKay. 

A minority government where minor parties and independents are able to hold the major parties to account on their transport policies will be the best outcome of this election. Many of them including the Greens, Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper have good policies on transport themselves and would likely be very willing to push their own agenda. Due to the possibility that Andrew Constance might retain the transport portfolio if the Liberals are involved in said minority government, it would be somewhat marginally preferable for Labor to be the major party in this minority agreement.

Don’t forget that you MUST vote if you are registered and to look our for our post outlining the impact of the result of the election next week. Enjoy your democracy sausage!



Battleground Seats – East Hills

East Hills is the most marginal Liberal held seat in NSW. It is currently held by retiring Liberal MP Glenn Brooks on a 0.4% margin, making it the most marginal seat in the state. This time round Wendy Lindsay will run for the Liberals, whilst returning candidate Cameron Murphy is running for Labor.

New trains are being promised by both parties – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The Liberal candidate is Wendy Lindsay. The Liberals have committed to a new commuter carpark at Revesby station and an accessibility upgrade for East Hills station. They have also committed to more bus connections to Revesby station and improved train services, including new more new B Set trains. The Liberals have also announced that there will be a reduction in the Opal weekly cap to $50.

Cameron Murphy is the Labor candidate. He was previously a barrister and the candidate for East Hills at the 2015 state election. Labor has promised to remove all non-air conditioned S-Set trains from the T8 line and review the timetables on the line. As part of their fair fares policy, Labor will make all public transport free for school students and refund fares for unreasonable delays to train services.

In a seat where transport is a vital connection both parties appear to be light on promises. Will Fair Fares be enough for Labor to pick up the most marginal seat in the state?

Battleground Seats – Penrith

Today we are exploring the outer-western Sydney seat of Penrith. The incumbent MP is Liberal Minister Stuart Ayres who holds the seat on a margin of 6.2%. The Labor candidate is Karen McKeown.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 5.39.54 pm.png
Tolls on the M4 Motorway have been a contentious issue in Penrith – Luke Foley

Incumbent Stuart Ayres MP is once again the Liberal candidate. He is currently the Minster for Western Sydney, Minister for WestConnex and the Minister for Sport. The keystone of the Liberal transport platform in Penrith is the Westconnex motorway project. It is designed to get commuters from Western Sydney into the city in a more timely matter. This has proved contentious, due to the reintroduction of tolls on the M4 motorway to pay for the project. The Liberals have also promised to introduce extra express train services between Penrith and the City, with shorter travel time than under current timetables. Mr Ayres announced he would ensure that Penrith only sees the newest train in the Waratah and New Intercity Fleet. He has also committed to ensuring every station in the electorate is wheelchair accessible and to building a larger carpark at Emu Plains. Additionally, the Liberals will reduce the Opal weekly cap to $50.

Karen McKeown is a local councillor on Penrith Council and will be the Labor Candidate. Labor has promised to bring back the M4 Toll Cashback, essentially refunded tolls for commuters using the M4 who live in the Penrith electorate. Labor has committed to new commuter parking at Emu Plains and Penrith and will invest in making all stations in the seat wheelchair accessible. Labor will also invest $3 billion in signalling upgrades to slash rail travel times and introduce a new, more reliable train timetable. Labor will also make public transport free for all school aged students.

The contentious M4 tolls and Mr Ayres position as Minster for Sports behind the stadium splurge in the Eastern Suburbs is putting the Liberals on edge in Penrith. Will the toll cash back be enough for Labor to win over voters?

Both candidates were approached for comment, but did not respond.

Battleground Seats – Coogee

In the lead up to the State Election in NSW we will be looking at what all of the major parties are doing in transport to try and win over voters in the most marginal seats across the state.

The Light Rail is a highly contentious infrastructure project in the seat of Coogee – Transport NSW Blog Collection

Today we are looking at the the Inner Sydney seat of Coogee. The incumbent MP is Liberal back-bencher Bruce Notley-Smith who holds the seat on a margin of 2.9%. The Labor candidate is Dr Marjorie O’Neill, a Waverley Councillor, whilst The Greens are running the ex-Mayor of Randwick Lindsay Shurey. Coogee is a seat that the Liberals appear to be highly pessimistic of retaining, yet is key for them to retain majority government. It is a must win for Labor, whilst the Greens retain an outside chance.

Mr Notley-Smith is the incumbent Liberal MP. He was the first openly gay MP to be elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly and was previously the Mayor of Randwick. The Liberal’s embattled Light Rail project is the centre piece of their transport plan for Coogee, which is expected to cause them some issues, as it is running 18 months behind schedule and nearly $1 billion over budget. Mr Notley-Smith has promised extra bus services for the Coogee valley and also to reinstate the bus route between Bronte and the City. The Liberals have also announced that they will introduce 10 new electric buses to Randwick depot for shuttle services between Coogee and the Light Rail in Randwick. Mr Notley-Smith refused to comment when contacted.

Dr O’Neill is the Labor candidate hoping to win back a traditional Labor seat. She currently serves as a Waverley Councillor. Labor plans to hold a Judicial Inquiry into the Light Rail project and ensure that existing bus service levels are retained after its opening. They are promising to do a complete review of bus services in the Bronte area and reinstate a bus route between Bronte and the CBD. Labor is also promising to make all transport for School Children free at all times and end the privatisation of bus services in the area. At a local community forum she commented on transport “The Liberals took away our buses without community consultation. We have campaigned and will bring back the 378 and look at the 361 buses. The light rail is opening at crush capacity. Is this the best public transport solution for our ageing population? The very simple answer is NO.” Further she promised,  “We will not take away buses without community consultation and, there will be no privatisation of our buses or other public services in Coogee under a Labor government”

Labor’s Marjorie O’Neill has promised to save local bus services – Transport NSW Blog Collection via Colin Magee

Ms Shurey is the Greens candidate. She was previously the Mayor of Randwick and is currently a Randwick councillor. The Greens are promising $1 public transport for all and renewable transport. When contacted, Ms Shurey claimed “It is one of my objectives to work to ensure Coogee residents retain all the current public transport advantages, which they currently enjoy and improve on the overall public transport service following the opening of the CBD to South East Light Rail.” She also confirmed that the Greens policy is against the privatisation of bus services and to seek to power public transport by non-fossil sources.”It should be the urban goal of all cities to overall reduce the net emission of carbon dioxide or its equivalent. Increased public transport is necessary to contribute to the lowering of carbon emissions and to get people out of cars, public transport must be reliable, frequent and sustainable and definitely in public hands.” Ms Shurey stated.

All three of the candidates are promising to improve public transport for Coogee. However, the failure to deliver the light rail project on time may bring Mr Notley-Smith and the Liberals undone. Labor’s “Save Our Buses” campaign has been very popular in the more Liberal leaning north of the seat and could just be the winner in a tight contest.

Staggered Opening for Embattled Light Rail

Transport for NSW has confirmed that it is likely that the CBD and South East light rail project will be opened in stages. This is because some parts of the line are at significantly different stages of construction.

The line between Randwick and Circular Quay will be open by Christmas, with the possibility for the stretch between Randwick and Central having the potential to open even earlier, possibly as early as August according to the latest information released by Transport for NSW. The branch line to Kingsford likely won’t be operational until March 2020 at the earliest it was also revealed.

Some sections of the line, such as this section past Randwick Racecourse, have been sitting complete for months waiting for other sections to catch up – Transport NSW Blog collection

The stretch of line between Randwick and Moore Park is complete, with full testing having been underway for a number of weeks. Station fit-out and landscaping work is also at an advanced stage along the Randwick branch, with most fixtures now in place. From Moore Park through to Central the line is also at an advanced stage, with testing expected to commence in the next few weeks. Construction of stations in Moore Park, Surry Hills and Central is nearly complete and landscaping work has now begun.

The Kingsford branch of the line, on the other hand is significantly behind on construction, with major works not yet complete along the branch. In the city, works are also still behind, however they are now nearing completion. These sections of the line were due to be completed last by last April at the latest. As these works are yet to be completed, there is no way for trams to begin testing which delays the eventual opening of these parts of the line.

Bearing in mind that the entire CBD and South East light rail network was due to enter into service in February ahead of the upcoming state election, it is good to see the powers that be finally making an attempt to fast track the opening of the project. It is still important to stress that the line must be tested properly to ensure that safe operation can be assured. The section of the line between Town Hall and Circular Quay is using a new world first model of the APS third rail system and as such it needs extra testing to iron out teething problems.

These delays have proven bothersome for the Berejiklian government, who is facing re-election this month. The light rail project was the pet project of Berejiklian when she was Transport Minister and its strikes a scar through the middle of must win seat Coogee, where the light rail was supposed to be the silver bullet that helped to retain the seat but now appears to be more akin to a bothersome distraction.

It will be good to finally have the line in service, even if only partially and 10 months late. We do however note that no opening date has been announced, but we will keep you posted.