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Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release June 2004
Hi SOS Members
The following correspondence, stemming from a recent letter published by the Sydney Morning Herald, deals with important matters that do not appear to be understood by our political masters (or perhaps they do not wish to understand).
----- Original Message
Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 9:25 AM
Subject: Your Paris question to Prof Newman
I saw your letter to a newspaper recently, posing a question to Peter Newman re public transport & traffic speed in Paris. But in assessing the time efficiency of transport (and this is only one of the important factors), surely actual transit times rather than speed should be used (including the time taken for those on PT)?
Have you read Newman & Kenworthy's book, "Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence"? So far I have only leafed through it, but it does appear to address the relative merits of different forms of planning and transport, based on a good size sample of cities.
You have posed an excellent question. As letters to the newspaper have to be brief if they are to be printed, it was not possible to deal in detail with all aspects.
I have read Newman and Kenworthy's book. If you look at the statistics listed (such as % energy used) you will deduce that in all sizable cities, the portion of journeys using public transport is very much less than those travelling in their own cars. This is more clearly shown in figures from another of Kenworthy's publications, "An International Sourcebook of Automobile Dependence in Cities: 1960-1990" (Jeffrey R. Kenworthy, Felix B. Laube and others) which provides the actual % daily journeys in private and public transport:
%Private transport %Public transport
Europe Vienna 71.52% 28.48%
Europe Munich 71.66% 28.34%
Europe Paris 73.02% 26.98%
Europe London 73.67% 26.33%
Europe Stockholm 74.36% 25.64%
Europe Zurich 77.48% 22.52%
Asia Surabaja 79.75% 20.25%
Asia Kuala Lampur 83.05% 16.95%
Europe Brussels 84.12% 15.88%
Europe Copenhagen 84.62% 15.38%
Europe Hamburg 86.35% 13.65%
Australia Sydney 86.44% 13.56%
It is apparent that even
if Sydney were to be able to put into place an equivalent of the Paris public
transport system (impossibly expensive), change single residential houses to
Paris type higher densities (so worsening our quality of life) and close all
freeways (exacerbating congestion even more) the % of people's journeys in public
transport could only double and would still be much less than the % in cars.
The number of cars in a given area will increase from the increased density
- note the number of car parking spaces in the new high density built around
railway stations. This increase will overwhelm any greater portion of people
using public transport, and therefore congestion increases. It is really quite
simple, more concentration means more congestion.
With regard to your question, a widely used measure of traffic congestion is average speed - the more the congestion the lower the average speed through the streets. The slow average speed through Paris streets is an objective indicator of the serious congestion that people tell us they experience in that city.
There is a fundamental reason for this transport difficulty. In large cities, the variety of destinations located over a wide area and distances involved make it impossible to walk or cycle to most of them.
Even more fundamentally, cities are two dimensional spaces, public transport travels in one dimensional straight lines. So for the majority of journeys, it is quite impractical for public transport to directly connect the desired destination with the point of origion of one's journey (unlike a car). Therefore people have to use cars. Add onto that the limitations of publc transport timetables often not according with the desired travel times, as well as many other problems (carrying large parcels, safety, weather). The result is people use cars for most of their journeys.
The plans announced for the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy are naive in the extreme, huge amounts of money will be spent on reconfiguring and disrupting Sydney for no benefit, in fact our quality of life will become worse, not better.
In case you are interested in joining our community organisation, Save Our Suburbs, an application form is attached.
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)
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