CBD Tram Betrayal



Now that the tram is running for a fair proportion of its route, the outcomes can be seen:

  1. patronage is 44,000 per day which covers less than 25% of costs i.e. 75%+ from borrowings – showing how miserable the “business case” was
  2. trip times are up to twice as long as past bus times
  3. congestion in the CBD is worsened as predicted as Berejiklian has not solved the structural entanglements of the street pattern – and only the Goanna Bridge and CBD Traffic Oasis could so do
  4. $570 million was paid to the tram construction contractor as compensation for incomplete and erroneous pre-engineering – the chronic problem with TfNSW’s sloppy management – the original iNSW estimate of cost was $500 million in comparison
  5. the claimed $4 billion in benefits, primarily non-quantifiable “comfort” and related factors (including reduced congestion), is likely to be negatived.


Long-term romancing of a discredited street transit technology in the context of underground electric railways and intensive bus operations.  Town Hall LM Clover Moore added a spatial distortion being George St, the lowest drainage point and least suitable street architecture but symbolic of the ermine and chains.

Turnbull misrepresented history.  Pushed through by Labor’s Keneally and iNSW’s Max Moore-Wilton against Greiner’s objections.  Berejiklian has lied and lied and lied.

To summarise by quoting an end point before resuming, on 7 December 2016 Jake Saulwick wrote:

Gladys Berejiklian’s claim that the cost of Sydney’s CBD tram line grew by half a billion dollars because trams and stops would be larger and better never made any sense. And, finally, no one needs to pretend that it does. Thanks to NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford, the Treasurer and former transport minister’s claim can be dismissed for what it always was: probably a lie, perhaps wilful ignorance, possibly mere incompetence.

Crawford’s report into Berejiklian and Transport for NSW’s early mismanagement of the light rail line places the Auditor-General within a recent NSW tradition. State governments redistribute taxes towards schools and hospitals, roads and railways. For some reason, they feel the need for cloak-and-dagger secrecy in doing so. The work of auditors-general has become one of the main tools by which government obfuscation has been rubbed against the grain. The accountants reveal the ragged truth.

On 1 July 2011 Max Moore-Wilton was reported as saying

the government was dragging its feet on what could be the iconic project of Mr O’Farrell’s first term”.  The government has been accused of dithering on big issues, avoiding decisions and instead setting up a Kevin Rudd-like number of reviews since the March 26 election.  The latest study will look into a light rail servicing the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Football Stadium and Randwick Racecourse. 

“It’s a project where people would see an improvement quickly and see the O’Farrell government was focused. I don’t think we should do massive studies and all the rest.  Mr Moore-Wilton said the city’s existing state of “gridlock” was untenable – and light rail was cheaper than heavy rail projects and could be built relatively quickly.  “If we’re going to extend it through to Randwick – and I think we need that to be a great sporting city  – it makes sense to take it into the city as well,” he said

Every sub-statement was wrong in outcome, it is the opposite spirit to Sir Rod Eddington’s and has been repeated by the CEO of WSROC.

Turnbull added his enthusiasm in June 2012:

There is a blindingly obvious opportunity in the eastern suburbs in my electorate … We do not need new rail lines to every new suburb. What we need in Sydney are some rail lines built to the old suburbs that used to have very workable, very effective light rail lines.  Gladys Berejiklian is offering real hope for the first time in decades for public transport in Sydney and, in particular, light rail in my electorate.

That affection continued through various projects including when they turned sour.  The PM extended his interpretation in Parliament in March 2012, this is from his website:

Last year was 50 years from the day that the trams that ran out along Anzac Parade to the eastern suburbs—out to La Perouse, out past the showground, out past the cricket ground and the racecourse, and of course out where the University of New South Wales is now—were closed by a Labor government.


Sir Thomas Hughes was not Labor and in the early 1910s Bradfield suggested cutting back the tram network.  It was Government policy from 1913 to underground city trams because of the dreadful congestion they caused.  Two major expert reviews from the late 1920s produced parallel conclusions to 1909’s – remove the trams once electric railways were in place.  The first major conversion (Manly) was in 1939 under a Coalition Government (Stevens then Mair).   Labor’s Lang tried to keep the trams going.

Grattan made an exception and did a review of the process, finding governance to be “negligent”, which is the most favourable adjective Berejiklian could expect.  Trams are a darling of the ABC Breakfast Show and SMH, all resistant to information and expertise.  That it became the symbol of Sydney’s engineering decrepitude was foreseen.  Leaves the cause of congestion, 7 east-west cross-streets, unfixed – indeed worsened, ignoring the innovative CBD Traffic Oasis and Goanna Transit integrated option (the solution is the CBD Oasis ©).


Bondi Beach

On 28 March ’20 there is a worrying story in the media, from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Sally Betts is a very senior Liberal Party member and office in NSW, formerly long-term mayor of Waverley which takes in Bondi Beach. She long pushed the reintroduction of trams along Bondi Road. I caught those trams from 1952 to 1959 and am their historian, see https://sydneybetrayals.me/cbd-tram-betrayal/. It is physically impossible to reintroduce them.
In addition, I developed the concept of the BONDI BEACH EXPRESSNET” and gave Betts’ Council a briefing on it in December 2010.
Betts was dogmatically stubborn and irrational in my view. Separately, she sought to intervene in the daily management of Council workers which is contrary to legislation. When the then General Manager was shifted out, Betts brought a tram nut over from Western Australia.
Now she says we could let swimmers, surfers, runners and gawkers back onto the beach but separated in squares that are marked by red traffic cones. How insane is that. 
The ExpressNet is based on an European Community Design Competition in Bath UK which ARUP gave me permission to use.
Bondi 1
Bondi 2
I could make Bondi famous again for the best reasons – the application of smart thinking to reduce congestion, parking and accessibility stresses at low cost, with the WOW factor.
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