Friday, July 24, 2009

Why does Sunbury want to be like Melton?

Twelve months ago the Great Sunbury Rail debate was in full swing, with locals prefering their infrequent country trains over a suburban rail extension.

A year later the local paper demonstrates that the NIMBYs, from the mayor down are still at it.

This time they want to rip the city's transit heart out of town and shove it behind the council works depot. The reason cited by the doomsayers is that keeping the station where it is would cause gridlock in town (so electrication will prove popular after all?).

It's worth noting that shops also attract people (and their cars) but no one seems to object much to that. Besides the genuine issues about parking could be addressed through better buses, which work best if they can serve the major town centre and railway station at the one interchange.

Sunbury today has a compact walkable town centre and station precinct with a wide range of shops and services. The local bus operator is well-regarded, and, like Werribee, its timetables connect with the trains. Access is excellent through a centrally-located station and convenient bus interchange. The passenger who liked the convenience of going to the shops after getting off the train understood this practical angle that local politicians sometime miss.

Local councils spend ages lobbying for money from state and federal governments. Sunbury is the only one I know that shuns worthwhile funding, despite the success of similar electrication projects such as Sydenham and Craigieburn. Other suburbs like Berwick and Werribee, although they share a 'main street' rural heritage similar to Sunbury seem more progressive and welcoming of services such as improved schools, hospitals, trains and buses.

The mayor and councillors may wish to take a transport study trip to Melton, including waiting for and riding on (shock horror) public transport, preferably on a winter's day. Here they will see an 'out of town' station similar to what is called for at Sunbury. More careful observation will reveal (i) a station distant from the main town centre, (ii) a shopping mall on the same axis but slightly removed from the 'main street' shopping area, and (iii) local bus routes that are indirect because of the need to connect all suburbs with the station, main street and shopping centre.

It is hoped that on returning to Sunbury everyone will appreciate the many things that it has done right, and that strong public transport in town centres contributes rather than subtracts from their liveability and amenity.


Somebody said...

Going off the specific topic a little, it's more about the people of Sunbury wanting to preserve their illusion of the place.

People there (probably just a very vocal minority) seem to have an elitist view of the place. While they won't say this out loud, they are desperately trying not to be associated with lower socio-economic areas well known for their immigrants like St Albans etc. (Sunbury is racially much more white)

I think if you're going to have a large number of park-n-ride passengers, it's not a bad idea to have your sprawling parking lots at an out-of-town station. As to removing the present station as well, it makes no sense at all.

Melton is a bit of a disaster in a planning regard but at least the buses are a bit better than Sunbury's, beating the off-peak train frequency!

Would make a good experiment to see how well used feeders could be if the Sunbury electrification was combined with a major boost to the local buses, assuming it gets a 20 minute train service the current frequencies are no good.

Riccardo said...

I've never heard anything so bizarre as forcing a rail upgrade on people who clearly don't want it - while others are crying out for one but don't get it.

If the Sunburgers don't mind standing all the way to SXS on their over-full P+H set, then leave'm to it.

As for the racism, I have no doubt this is the issue. Whiteflight, pure and simple. And the media has been full of stories of Indian students being bashed on the St Albans line train. Now you and me might read that and hear "skip/leb/islander/afro crime" on the trains - but your Sunburger hears "the trains are full of Indian students [hence bashing victims]" and they can't bear the thought of all these Indian students in their town. Better skip feral thugs than Indians.

As for frequency - why bother with 20 minutes? If you're not going to have a proper rail service, then 1 hour will do.

Think about it. A energetic gen Z is not going to wait 5 minutes for a train, a commuter who has to wait 20 minutes is probably later for work, and even driving in peak hour is gonna take you an hour, for which 20 minutes is a third of it.

I'd either go for 10 minutes (what a commuter might suffer for a service that has to get them to work on time) or an hour (a reasonable intercity service).

Anyway that wire is becoming pearls before swine, such as Jesus told us not to throw.

Jarrett at said...

Excellent post!

Daniel said...

But Riccardo, electrifying Sunbury isn't just for the benefit of Sunbury. It's to relieve the Sydenham line by taking the track capacity used by low-capacity V/Line trains carrying 200 people and replacing them with higher-capacity metro trains that can comfortably carry four times that number.

Perhaps the Sunbury nay-sayers are just looking for new arguments because their previous ones about travel time and reliability have been demolished.

Anonymous said...

I think the solution is to build a new park and ride station 1 km down Vineyard Road from Sunbury Station proper and remove all the long term parking from Sunbury central.

Also how about we actually extend the Sunbury train out to Goonawarra (satelite suburb of Sunbury) or even push the train line back inwards to the airport (thousands of people who live in Sunbury work at the airport).