Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

To all of our readers, Transport NSW Blog would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for an another great year hear at the blog and for your continued support. We look forward to continuing to post the latest transport news, photos and “featured bus routes” in 2020.

Santa aboard State Transit Port Botany Christmas Bus – Transport NSW Blog Collection

Many thanks to Adam Stevens of Transit Systems and Norbert Genci and Joshua Power of State Transit for helping us get photos of two of this years Christmas Buses.

Transit Systems Kingsgrove Christmas Bus in North Bondi – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Transit Systems Kingsgrove Christmas Bus in Clovelly – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Santa Driving State Transit Port Botany Christmas bus in Redfern – Transport NSW Blog Collection
State Transit Port Botany Christmas bus in Pagewood – Transport NSW Blog Collection



Sydney Light Fail – New Tram Line Opens to Chaos amid Breakdowns and Delays

Saturday marked the opening of the new L2 Randwick Line of the Sydney Light Rail network, as the first stage of the CBD and South East light rail project. Despite getting off to a smooth start at 10am, it wasn’t long before the day was derailed by a long string of unfortunate events that put a dampener on festivities.

The L2 Randwick Line opened on Saturday, but was marred by a series of failures – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The line is timetabled to take around 45 minutes from Circular Quay to Randwick, with the trip taking 20 minutes from Circular Quay to Central and another 25 minutes between Central and Randwick. This is an improvement from the rumoured 51 minute travel times before the opening, but is much slower than the initially promised faster than the buses trip, which would require a sub 35 minute travel time.

On opening day, it was taking around 55 minutes for the non disrupted services to travel the route. Despite this, there were reports that some services took nearly two hours to travel between Randwick and Circular Quay and that a number of services held passengers hostage between stops for up to 45 minutes. These extra long travel times are hopefully just anomaly that can be put down to teething problems and shouldn’t be experienced in revenue service.

There were a significant number of problems that all seemed to compound on Saturday afternoon, leading to many passengers dubbing the system “Sydney Light Fail” and even spawning a satirical twitter account.  The delays included:

  • Tram suffers electrical failure at Royal Randwick. Blocks tracks for 10 minutes.
  • Passenger suffers stroke on tram at Haymarket. Tram taken out of service for cleaning, blocks tracks for 40 minutes.
  • Tram suffers break and traction failure on Crossovers at Circular Quay, blocking all three platforms. Trams truncated to Town Hall for 90 minutes. Passengers trapped between stations for over 45 minutes.
  • Signalling problems at Town Hall forces every second tram to terminate at Central for an hour.
  • Randwick Terminus overwhelmed with trams forces trams to terminate at UNSW High Street. Up to 3 trams waiting along High Street to access Randwick terminus
  • Tram dwell times at stops in excess of 10 minutes due to signalling failures and headway problems.
A tram broke down, blocking all three sets of tracks at Circular Quay – Transport NSW Blog Collection

All of these problems compounded to create quite an embarrassing situation for the government. This led Transport Minister Andrew Constance to compare the days dilemma as akin to “giving birth to child” and suggested that “birthing pains” were to be expected. This appears to be a pattern for new transport openings, given that Sydney Metro also suffered a series of problems on its opening day.

The line appeared to operate more trouble free on Sunday, with consistent travel times of around 50 minutes from end to end, which appears to again have been decreased to 45 minutes in the Monday AM peak hour. The government and the operate have both promised to work on providing a sub-40 minute travel time once the L3 Kingsford line opens in March and the service is fully bedded down.

The sub 40 minute travel time promise will be disappointing to thousands of South East commuters travelling through Randwick to the CBD each day. To be quicker than the slowest Randwick to Circular Quay bus in the peak, the line needs to be achieving a sub-35 minute travel time. Once you factor in people connecting from feeder buses, the line realistically needs to travel between Circular Quay and Randwick in around 30 minutes. This is achievable based on observations of similar tram lines around the world, but will need some will from the private operator. Transport Minister Andrew Constance has stated that be expects the trams to get faster “I would hope they will start to speed up as people get used to them but it’s not going to happen on day dot,” he said. “People need to get used to pressing the buttons on the doors – it’s not like a bus.”

Transport Minister Andrew Constance expects trips from Circular Quay to “speed up as people get used to them” – Transport NSW Blog Collection 

If the tram line genuinely cannot be faster than the bus services it is designed to replace, then we need to take a hard look at the business case itself. Is the line economically viable if it is not going to be able to convince bus passengers to transfer at Randwick? Who is actually going to catch such a slow tram? The line will fail at its main objectives of reducing bus traffic into the city and providing a faster and more comfortable journey between the South East and CBD.  Given the significant cost over runs, the people surely would expect to get what they were promised, and not the slowest tram network in Australia and one of the slowest in the world. Labor’s transport spokesman, Chris Minns, said people would be “scratching their heads wondering why $3 billion has been spent on a project that is so slow. When you consider it’s quicker to get from Penrith to the city, than from Randwick to the city, you have a major problem,”

The one place this line needs to succeed even if it fails at everything else is operating counter peak journeys to UNSW. Replacing the current dedicated express services was one of the major justifications for the construction of the line. Currently it takes around 20 minutes on the 891 bus between Central and UNSW. Under the current tram timetable, the journey between Central and UNSW would take 22 minutes by tram. This is comparable, but hopefully should be improved on as time goes on as we reach a sub 40 minute travel time end to end. If the line can get between Central and UNSW in less than 20 minutes, then on that front the line could be successful.

Travel times between UNSW and Central need to be the same, if not faster than the existing buses to attract Uni students – Transport NSW Blog Collection

We probably need to wait until the entire CBD and South East light rail network is open, and people are used to catching and being around trams before making a final judgement on the success of the line. Early problems for Sydney Metro haven’t stopped it from becoming a runaway success. If travel times can be reduced significantly to make the line competitive with bus travel and the teething problems can be ironed out, then this line could end up proving highly successful. If not? We have over 3 billion reasons to get rid of this government, just like the locals along the line did to their local Liberal MPs in frustration over the problematic construction that has disrupted the past 4 years of their life. The locals of the South East deserve something that works, lets hope they’ve got it!

Photos – Final Trip Aboard the 14.5s

This morning, Thursday 5 December 2019, the editor of Transport NSW Blog was lucky enough to be one of the passengers aboard the final journey of a Scania L113TRB, aka the “14.5s” in State Transit operation.

3454 did the honours, operating the 9:01am 272 ex North Willoughby to Wynyard, terminating at 9:32am, ending over 26 years of service on the Sydney Buses network for the 14.5s. 3458 also went out on the final morning, operating the second last trip, also a 272, departing North Willoughby for Wynyard at 8:14am.

See below for a compilation of photos from the final journey.

3454 waiting to depart at North Willoughby on the final 14.5 trip for State Transit – Transport NSW Blog Collection
3454 operating on the 272 along Willoughby Road – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Approaching the Harbour Bridge for the last time in service for State Transit  – Transport NSW Blog Collection
3454 laying up at Wynyard after the final 14.5 trip for State Transit – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Signs informing passengers at the Historic Occasion – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Drivers compartment on 3454 after operating the final 14.5 trip for State Transit – Transport NSW Blog Collection
Passengers will never again see the sight of the 14.5s in service  – Transport NSW Blog Collection
3454 returning to the depot for the final time in State Transit service  – Transport NSW Blog Collection

For a more thorough farewell, see our earlier farewell post here.

Farewell 14.5s.

South East Light Rail opens 14 December 2019

Its Official! The new South East Light Rail opens 14 December 2019, with services on the L2 Randwick Line beginning from 11am.

Light Rail Services begin 14 December 2019 – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The L2 Randwick Line includes 14 stops between Circular Quay and Randwick, running through the CBD, Central, Surry Hills, Moore Park, UNSW and ending at the Randwick Hospitals Campus on High Street, Randwick. The L3 Kingsford Line will open in March 2020, adding five more stops between Moore Park and Kingsford at Nine Ways. Additional services will run from Central Chalmers Street Stop for major events to Moore Park and Royal Randwick Racecourse.

Screen Shot 2019-12-05 at 11.25.56.png
Map of the new line – Transport for NSW

Services start from 5am and end at 1am each day, and run more frequently on weekdays between 7am and 7pm with services every 4 to 8 minutes between Circular Quay and Central, and every 8 to 12 minutes between Central and Randwick. At 67-metres long, the light rail can carry up to 450 people at once. This makes them some of the highest capacity tram services in the world.

The new light rail will run fare free on the first weekend with the first services starting around 11am Saturday 14 morning. The fare free weekend (Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 December) only applies to the L2 Randwick line, not the existing L1 Inner West line or other public transport services.

On weekdays, frequent services will run approximately every four to eight minutes between Circular Quay and Central, and every eight to twelve minutes between Central and Randwick, from 7am to 7pm as we bed in services over the next six months.

Changes to Bus Services in Tweed Heads

Surfside Buslines Tweed Heads will operate over 450 new additional weekly bus services as part of a regional growth bus program to improve bus services in regional areas, with more services to popular locations like Kingscliff TAFE and longer operating hours on key routes.

Surfside Buslines services in Tweed Heads will be boosted from 16 December 2019 – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The new services include 160 extra weekly services before 7am and after 6pm and 50 new weekly services before 5am and after 9pm.

Every route in the Tweed will have a direct or timetabled connecting service to The Tweed Hospital, Tweed Mall and the Queensland border. Services to the hospital have been improved between 5am and 11pm weekdays, with buses every 15 minutes during most parts of the day. Kingscliff TAFE will be easier to access with the 601 doubling in frequency and a new 609 route from Murwillumbah.

The additional and improved services will start from Monday 16 December 2019.

A full list of services is available below;

Route 600

Banora Point to Tweed Mall, via Tweed City and The Tweed Hospital (New route)

  • 420 additional weekly services
  • Services running half-hourly through most parts of the day, with new late afternoon and evening services on weekdays and Saturday
  • Combines with route 601 to provide uniformly spread, 15-minute services between Tweed City and Tweed Mall, via The Tweed Hospital
Route 601

Kingscliff to Tweed Heads West via Tweed City, The Tweed Hospital and Coolangatta

  • 219 additional weekly services
  • Doubled frequency seven days a week, with additional late afternoon and evening services on weekdays and Saturday
  • Combines with route 600 to provide consistent, 15-minute services between Tweed City and Tweed Mall, via The Tweed Hospital
  • 601 will now end at Tweed River Regional Museum
Route 602

Banora Point to Tweed City

  • Links with routes 600 and 604 to provide increased services between Banora Point and Tweed City, including timetabled connections to the high demand 600 and 601 services on Minjungbal Drive
  • 602 will now operate in both directions, rather than a one-way loop to provide a more direct path
  • Services will now end at Tweed City, Kirkwood Rd
Route 603

Pottsville to Tweed City via Hastings Point, Cabarita Beach, Kingscliff TAFE and Chinderah

  • 40 additional weekly services
  • 6 additional trips on weekdays, and 10 additional trips on Saturdays
  • New timetabled connections to the high demand 600 and 601 services on Minjungbal Drive
  • Services will now end at Tweed City, Kirkwood Rd
Route 604

Banora Point to Tweed City via Phillip Parade

  • 6 additional weekly services
  • Links with routes 600 and 602 to provide increased services between Banora Point and Tweed City, including timetabled connections to the high demand 600 and 601 services on Minjungbal Drive
  • Services will now end at Tweed City, Kirkwood Rd
Route 605

Murwillumbah to Tweed City via Tumbulgum and Terranova

  • Additional return evening trips on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, as well as timetabled connections to the high demand 600 and 601 services on Minjungbal Drive
  • Daytime service frequency reduced to reflect demand
  • Services will now end at Tweed City, Kirkwood Rd
Route 606

Fingal to Tweed City via Chinderah

  • One service in each direction, Monday to Friday, with no weekend services (same as existing)
  • Service reduced due to very low passenger demand
Route 607


  • Modifications to routes 602 and 604, and the introduction of the higher frequency route 600 have replaced the 607
  • Demand will be met through the new and increased services
  • New services will connect customers with the key destinations serviced by the 607
Route 608

Bilambil Heights to Tweed City via Tweed Heads West and Kennedy Drive

  • Route will no longer operate to Coolangatta and Tweed Mall
  • Coolangatta or Tweed Mall will be serviced by the 601 with doubled frequency via Kennedy Drive at Tweed Heads West
  • Bus stops on Kennedy Drive near Gray Street have shelters for northbound passengers who need to transfer.
  • Services will now end at Tweed City, Kirkwood Rd
Route 609

Murwillumbah and Kingscliff TAFE (New route)

  • New service with 5 trips on weekdays, travelling in both directions
  • Transfer to the 601 for services towards Kingscliff Shops, and the 603 for services towards Pottsville

Regional Cities Program

As part of the NSW government’s ‘Regional Cities Program’, there are plans to improve or increase bus services right across regional NSW. All 16 cities participating in the program will receive greatly improved transport services.

Bus services across 16 major regional centres will be improved under the Regional Cities Program – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The program aims to identify gaps and opportunities with current bus services in each city and deliver improvements to better meet customer needs.

Improvements that have been suggested for implantation as part of the program include;

  • Changes to existing journeys and timetables,
  • New trip possibilities including new routes,
  • Extended service hours including later services during evenings and all day service on weekends
  • More reliable services and better connections to where people work, shop, study and access health care and other services.
  • Where applicable, the program will also look at more seamless journeys across State borders.

The new bus services will be piloted in Tweed Heads and Wagga Wagga, with new services launching in Tweed Heads from Monday 16 December 2019.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the new timetables would deliver improved connectivity to popular locations and would see longer operating hours along key routes.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is delivering on its election commitment to improve bus services in 16 Regional Cities, with the Tweed the first to receive a major public transport boost,” Mr Toole said.

“We are supporting economic growth in our regions by improving connectivity, employment opportunities, education facilities and leading health care services.

“As we support and grow our hubs, it’s important we have the services available that meet customers’ needs. The new Tweed network will serve as a pilot program for further improvements to other regional cities.”

The other regional cities involved in the scheme are Griffith, Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo, Parkes, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Albury, Nowra-Bomaderry, Queanbeyan, Tamworth, Armidale and Lismore.

The existing bus operators in the area will received additional assistance funding for the provision of these new services. This may include new buses, and money for additional driver salaries.

Featured Bus Route – December 2019

The featured bus route for December 2019 is Route 202. It runs between City Gresham Street and Northbridge via North Sydney and Cammeray and is operated by State Transit.

Route 202 bus leaving North Sydney – Transport NSW Blog Collection

Route 202 started out life without a route number, operating as a tram replacement service for the outer edge of the Wynyard to Northbridge tram service after the structure of Suspension Bridge was found to be unsafe for trams to travel over. Originally the service only operated between the northern end of Suspension Bridge to The Knoll, Northbridge from 28 May 1936. Shortly after, this service was extended to Willoughby Road in order to provide a connection to tram services to Wynyard on Willoughby Road. From 4 April 1937 the service was further extended to North Sydney Station and given a Route number, Route 2. 

From 1 August 1937, Route 2 became the first regularly scheduled bus service to operate across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The service was extended to Wynyard due to pressure to provide a through service between Northbridge & the City, as the previous tram service had. No other bus services operated across the Sydney Harbour Bridge until tram services north of the bridge began to be decommissioned and replaced with bus services. 

From 10 September 1939, the service was rerouted via Suspension Bridge on its re-opening and also renumbered 202. From this date, the service replaced the Wynyard to Suspension Bridge tram service. The tram service was however, reinstated from 30 June 1941 to 11 January 1948 and Route 202 operated alongside the trams between Suspension Bridge and Wynyard. From 12 January 1948, Route 202 permanently replaced tram services.

From 22 March 1953, short workings of Route 202 were replaced with new routes. This included Route 200 from Wynyard to Cammeray Bridge and Route 201 from Wynyard to Northbridge Junction. From 30 June 1958, the city terminus altered from Wynyard to Martin Place, to provide for additional routes being terminated at Wynyard when North Sydney tram routes were replaced by buses. From 4 January 1972 the city terminus altered from Martin Place to Gresham St, due to construction work on the Eastern Suburbs Railway in Martin Place. From 7 October 1975, Night, Saturday afternoon & Sunday services replaced by 208. 

From 11 September 1988, Route 202 once again started terminating at Wynyard. Services on weekends also recommended at various points throughout the 1990s. From 4 October 2015 the city terminus altered from Wynyard to Bridge St as a result of light rail construction in George St/new CBD bus network.  From 5 September 2016,  Peak hour service curtailed to run North Sydney to Northbridge (Clive Park), but continued to run City (Bridge St) to Northbridge (Clive Park) at other times. 204 express trips continued to provide a service to the City in peak hours.

Today State Transit operates the service out of their Willoughby Depot. It operates every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and Hourly on Sundays. Services run between 6am and 9pm on weekdays and 8am to 6pm on weekdays, with peak hour services only operating between North Sydney and Northbridge.