As an action group representing the residents of Rosebery the focus of our response/submission will naturally be centred more on those aspects of the proposals that affect the suburb of Rosebery. We say the proposed changes to bus services are ill considered and show little understanding of local requirements or local conditions. In preparing this submission we have used comments and suggestions from action Group members and other local residents and drawn on comments from State Transit officials at the public forum on 23rd July 2008.
Process of community engagement
We believe the process of involving the community was inadequate.
The information forum at the Green Square Community centre on July 23 was an ideal opportunity to discuss the proposals. However, State Transit did not organize that forum nor, as far as we know, any other forums. Our local State MP organized this opportunity for locals in her electorate to have a voice.
Notification was insufficient. Many people present at the forum did not receive the brochure on the proposed changes to bus routes in our area. Many people were only aware of the proposed changes because they are on the Rosebery Residents Action Group email list.
The Sydney Buses’ website would only allow a submission to be lodged if the resident first filled out a ‘survey’ which was crafted, through leading questions, to put a positive slant upon the proposed changes no matter how the resident felt about it.
Inadequate information. Questions sent via the comment provision on the Sydney Buses website remain unanswered weeks later. It is difficult to respond when you are denied crucial information.
State Transit officials informed us that the number of services in the eastern suburbs/city south area would not be changed. This ‘blanket’ statement appears designed to placate concerns over changes. The statement can be considered somewhat misleading as the area under review is very large and removal of your only bus service and its placement elsewhere is not very reassuring to residents.
Bus service 301
The proposed removal of 301 bus service means the loss of bus services down Dalmeny Ave, a vital link for the mature and the non-driving residents travelling to Eastlakes and Eastgardens for shopping, medical services etc.
It should also be noted that the bus stops on Kimberley Grove and the top of Dalmeny are well patronized by residents of the 800 apartment Kimberley Estate.
It is particularly distressing that this service, so necessary to the aged and disadvantaged in our community, should be singled out for deletion. This would mean that the frail and elderly would need to walk blocks to access a bus to go shopping and then carry the shopping home blocks from the bus. It would be physically impossible for many.
Obviously the proposed deletion of the 301saves on the number of bus stops and shelters to be maintained but this would happen at an unacceptable social cost.
At the forum there was no convincing justification given by State Transit for deleting bus services from eastern Rosebery, and every time the issue was raised by those affected the officials merely replied that ‘it was only a proposal’. One 'justification' for removing the 301 and implementing the 344 is to improve service times by using Elizabeth St instead of Crown St. This is not a logical reason for taking bus services from eastern Rosebery. Which route the 301 takes into town once it leaves Rosebery is surely not dependent on whether it first travels along Dalmeny Ave or Rothschild Ave. After leaving Rosebery both the 343 and the 301 use the Joynton Ave transport corridor in Zetland before taking different roads into the CBD.
Bus service 343
Residents express dissatisfaction with the existing 343 services, many of which are full on reaching Rothschild Ave during peak hour travel to the city, or arrive in twos or threes, thus impacting service through overcrowded buses and bus stops.
There is also apparently poor service planning for the 343 – it is unable to cope with the increased numbers of Victoria Park residents and population growth between Rosebery and the city (for example English College on Bourke St, and new apartments between Elizabeth St/Bourke St in Waterloo).
It appears that State Transit’s cheap solution to the problem of inadequate numbers of the 343 in peak times is to remove the 301 from east Rosebery and run it (as the proposed 344) along Rothschild, Joynton and Elizabeth. This fixes the developers’ problem at cost to current patrons of the 301. It also means that west Rosebery will have twice as many buses in the middle of the night while east Rosebery will have no buses whatsoever at any time.
A possible solution to the problem of inadequate numbers of the 343 in peak times is proposed under the heading "Alternatives options etc" below.
Bus service X43
A State Transit official, in answer to a resident's question, stated that the X43 can no longer operate on Rothschild Avenue because it is a single lane each way road. If the X43 can no longer operate because Rothschild Ave is only one lane then how can Rothschild Ave accommodate the proposed 344 as well?
The loss of the X43 means increased travelling times to and from the city in peak hour due to stopping at all bus stops. A bus may be full and not taking on passengers, but it still has to stop to let people off, thus increasing travelling times.
Rosebery Estate & the proposed "transport corridor"
Of concern is the proposal to turn a local single lane residential road (Rothschild Ave) within the Rosebery Estate into a 'transport corridor'. It was explained to us by State transit officials at the forum on 23rd July that a transport corridor is where more than one bus route is accommodated along its length.
It would appear that the rationale for creating a transport corridor down Rothschild Ave is to cope with population growth in areas to the north of Rosebery and the new high density developments at the northern end of Rothschild Ave.
The Rosebery Estate is the section of Rosebery from south of Crewe Place to Gardeners Rd, comprising detached houses on large blocks. The estate is covenanted to remain one storey single residential dwellings; by law no land can be redeveloped with townhouses or apartments. Therefore the population of the Rosebery Estate will remain static, and sustainable. The Rosebery Estate is not, and will not, be responsible for any increased need for bus services. It is then unjustifiable to degrade the existing amenity of the low density residential streets of the Rosebery Estate by using them as transport corridors to service high density areas.
It should also be noted that creating a transport corridor along Rothschild Ave would be at a cost to all of the current residents but a positive boon to prospective property developers. Residents of east Rosebery, including the 800 apartments in the Kimberley Estate, would lose their bus service and the residents of west Rosebery would have Rothschild Ave turned into a major thoroughfare, while developers will apply for larger apartment blocks to the north on the basis of more bus services.
Rothschild Ave is not a boundary road, nor an arterial road. We do not wish to see a replication of the Lenthall St problem where a local low density residential road is used as a major thoroughfare and residential amenity has been degraded to entirely unacceptable levels. The interface between the Rosebery Estate and the Green Square Urban Renewal Area needs sensitive treatment.
A possible solution to the conflicting needs of both halves of Rosebery (low density and high density) is proposed under the heading "Alternatives options etc" below.
There is a need for more direct services to the Prince of Wales Hospital (Public and Private entrances) and Bondi Junction instead of the very roundabout services available.
Residents at the forum also expressed great concern at the neglect of the Eastlakes shopping centre. Since the arrival of Aldi, Woolworth's is also more competitive and there are no other major supermarkets in the Eastlakes/Kingsford/Kensington area. One resident raised the suggestion of taking both the 341 & 342 to Eastlakes shops, an idea that seems very sensible.
Eastlakes residents, who can presently access a 30 minute service to & from the city at night via an alternative 301 & 303 bus, will only have a 301 (344) bus going through this suburb every hour.
Residents of the Raleigh Park Estate (Todman Avenue area) and Kensington will not have a direct bus to Eastlakes Shopping Centre because the proposed 341 bus will turn left from Eastern Avenue into Gardeners Road & terminate at either Kingsford or Eastgardens. At present the 303 turns right into Gardeners Road and proceeds past Eastlakes Shopping Centre.
General bus issues
- The proposed change to the 301 means the loss of a bus route along Crown St from the Rosebery area.
- Transport planning seems to be for workers (particularly in the city) and not for out of peak hour users, such as the elderly or non-drivers who travel to the hospital and shopping centres.
- One of the initiatives mentioned at the forum by the STA was to establish a bus corridor between Bondi Junction and Hurstville. These centres are already linked by rail and as there seems to be a shortage of available buses to divert buses to this new corridor requires sound justification. One resident remarked that it appeared to be a bus service from one Westfield to another Westfield while isolating us from the Eastlakes shopping centre.
Alternatives, options etc
One constructive comment by a resident to address the Dalmeny Ave service/Rothschild Ave as a bus corridor problem was to run the proposed 344 (on way to the city and in reverse on the return trip) from Gardeners Rd, up Dalmeny, down Kimberley Grove, along Rosebery then down Crewe Place and joining Rothschild Ave at the old RTA site, then continuing north on Rothschild and Joynton to the city. Crewe Place is wholly within the Green Square Urban Renewal Area and contains no low density residential development. Consequently, it is the natural dividing line or corridor between high density and low density Rosebery (or old and new Rosebery). This proposal would have the effect of making Rothschild Ave a transport corridor only from north of Crewe Place, solving the problem of additional routes using the single storey residential section of Rothschild Ave. It would also have the beneficial effect of continuing a service for people in eastern Rosebery and supplying additional routes to service the new residential developments to the north of the Rosebery estate.
A possible solution to the problem of inadequate numbers of the 343 in peak times is that one of the ways developers can apply for larger blocks of flats is via bonus FSR offsets. One of the possible offsets is payments for bus services needed because of the new residents the developer attracts to the area. Perhaps this is one avenue State Transit, working with councils, could examine.
There is also another possible solution to the problem of inadequate numbers of the 343 in peak times. Currently there are a number of 343 buses which start their route at the old RTA building on Rothschild Ave, and which do not always arrive in town full. Perhaps these buses might start from somewhere more south of the old RTA building.
Finally, perhaps the NSW Government could look at subsidizing the private operators of the Green Square Station. Currently fare prices are prohibitive meaning the rail link is hugely under utilized. A fare reduction of 50% could possibly double patronage of the line and, if attracting a small subsidy from government on top, may be an attractive proposition to the operators. This would be a cheaper option than the capital expenditure necessary for a new infrastructure project.
Rosebery Residents recognize the need for increased services to the area but this should be delivered without marginalizing the elderly and disadvantaged in removing their current access to the bus service they are so dependent upon. Nor should delivery of increased services come at the cost of destroying unique suburban villages such as the Rosebery Estate by substantial degradation of existing residential amenity.
Mere numerical increase of buses and economy driven ‘streamlining’ will not necessarily deliver the best result for the people of the area. Further consultation with the community should help to identify the needs of the local community and also help to find solutions to projected service demands.