For a Better Brisbane

Archive for June 2010

Launched: The Go-Betweens Bridge

Half way across the Brisbane River. Creative commons from flickr user mgjeffery. Click for URL

Its official. The Go-Betweens Bridge at South Brisbane is ready to open. Originally known as the Hale Street bridge, it connects South Brisbane to Milton. Cars using the bridge were to be charged $2.70, but for a special period this will now be $1.50. In future years the toll will rise to $2.00. The bridge is a twin box-girder type bridge, similar in form to the Victoria Bridge. It is not publicly known whether the bridge can support light rail, something potentially useful for Coronation drive in the future.

Attractive deep blue paneling is present on the city side of the bridge. Finally, designers are understanding that there are more colours in life than just white, beige, brown, concrete, glossy glass and black. Somebody should tell the skyscraper designers this.

Cyclists and pedestrians have not been forgotten, with a cycling connection from West End to the popular bicentennial bikeway. Public opinion is divided over the bridge, with some not happy about the toll being present while others are concerned about the extra traffic this might carry through South Brisbane and West End. Some buses will also now use the bridge to get on to Coronation Drive. The bridge is expected to carry 12 000 cars per day, the cost of construction was $328 million. (note 1)

A market day event celebrating the bridge opening will be held on the 4th July 2010.

More information

Note #1
Go Between Bridge toll slashed, Tony Moore, May 19th 2010, article


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June 29, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Light Rail for Brisbane 7: Visions of Brisbane’s Transport Future

The Bus vision

The Light Rail vision

The Metro vision

The Car vision

(This one is here for a laugh and satire, but what will our roads be like in the future?)

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June 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Light Rail for Brisbane 6: Light Metro

What do you do when you want to move a lot of passengers but the demand falls short of justifying a metro? Answer: use light rail, but build the system like you would a metro. The result is a light metro. Could something like this be tunneled in under Brisbane’s city streets?

The Docklands Light Railway, London, UK. Just like a metro, but using Light Rail. Image reproduced under creative commons licence from Davide Simonetti's photostream. Click for URL

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) opened in 1987, with the intention of stimulating development and urban renewal in London’s declining docklands precinct. The DLR is automatic, powered by third rail, and a driver is optional. In the 1990’s a capacity increase was needed, so another vehicle was attached to the back of the existing one to create a two-vehicle light rail ‘train’.

The system has been extended a number of times, there is now 34 km of railway with 40 stations and over 100 ‘trains’. Being fully separated from street traffic, it has excellent reliability and measures have now been taken to allow three-vehicle trains with increased capacity. The system carried 70 million passengers in 2009 and is expected to carry over 100 million people in 2012. [1] For reference, all of Brisbane’s BUZ services combined carried about 19 million people in 2009.

An advanced signaling system allows for high frequency services – every 2-10 minutes (Canary Wharf-Lewisham) on weekdays and every 5-10 minutes on weekends. Timetable here.

In Brisbane’s case, something really effective could be to have the vehicles exit the underground light metro on to the surface to run in the reserved medians of suburban streets, once clear from the city and city congestion. Or perhaps exit on to the busway as well?

The Docklands Light Railway, London, UK. Creative commons attribution: wikipedia user Dtcdthingy. Click for URL

Further information
This post used information from Transport for London’s DLR website, the Docklands Light Railway Wikipedia article,  and [1] Railway’s DLR article here.
BUZ patronage figures are from the “On Board” brochure, Spring 2009, Translink and Brisbane Transport.

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June 23, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Free parking 2: It’s very expensive

In the Youtube video above, Julie Anne Genter (transport planner, McCormick Rankin Cagney, Auckland), Stuart Donovan (transport engineer at McCormick Rankin Cagney, Auckland) and Tim Hazledine (Professor of Economics and Head of Department at the University of Auckland) explain the problems about parking, and in particular, minimum parking requirements.

Many overseas places feature low-car and no-car developments. The added benefit from the community’s perspective, is a lowering of objectionable traffic, parking and congestion issues. From the developer’s perspective, more residences can be sold and some of the costs of mandatory car park construction can be avoided. For people looking for a place to live, this may mean better affordability, and more chance that people on lower incomes can get a place to live. And for public transport, provided that the service is top class, more riders will use it and the relative costs to run it will go down.

In cases where parking must be provided, it would be worthwhile considering it as a separate, individually saleable add-on, or charged for at market rates.

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June 22, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Free parking 1: It’s very expensive

Housing affordability and space for residences is a major issue in Australian cities. Economist and columnist Ross Gittins explains in a recent Brisbanetimes article that rapidly rising and unaffordable house prices are not necessarily a good thing. More recent ‘fixes’ have focused on home owner boosts, increasing the supply of affordable housing (social housing), subsidy schemes, plans for new cities (Ripley, Flagstone and Yarrabilla) and the like.

But did anyone look at the high cost of providing mandatory car parking?

A temporary, but tranquil-looking lake has formed at 321 Montague Road, West End. Eventually a lake of carparks will replace the water.

Providing free car parking, whether on the street or more often, in giant underground car warrens is very expensive. First there is the cost of constructing the car park itself. For underground car parks, this means excavation and transport of massive amounts of rock and soil and expensive earthworks. For above ground car-parks, in addition to the costs of construction, there are opportunity costs because if land or space is locked up in a car park, that is space which cannot be used for residences (which can be sold), play areas, landscaping or other things.

In areas near good public transport, such as railway stations, busway stations, ferry terminals, major bus interchanges,  or light rail stops and possibly along BUZ routes it might be time to consider accommodating low-car and no-car transit-oriented developments in city planning codes. (However, with mixed traffic BUZ routes and other high frequency buses there is a potential problem to do with the permanence of the system; the subject of future posts). Many cities overseas already feature low-car and no-car developments.

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June 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm

CityCycle takes shape and a bit of Paris comes to Brisbane

All across Brisbane, posts are appearing on reclaimed car parks.
Brisbane’s CityCycle bicycle hire scheme, modeled on Paris’ Vélib’ hasn’t launched yet, but is slowly taking shape at locations all across the city. An opening date hasn’t been set, but this blog waits in earnest.

Bikes Belong presents Velib Paris HD from Bikes Belong on Vimeo.

Short trips seem to be ideal for the Cycle hire scheme. The pricing scheme reflects this- the longer you use it, the more expensive it becomes. However, one can change bicycles to keep the costs down, or even ride free.

General cyclists who already own a bicycle shouldn’t be forgotten about though.  Free general bicycle racks for people who already have their own bicycles and locks next to every CityCycle station would be very welcome. Copenhagen bike lanes or some form of physical separation between bicycles and cars on streets (for example, on busy Montague Road) would also make it more safe for all users.

Safe crossings for pedestrians coming from the farmers’ markets would help. At the moment they have to cross two lanes of parked cars and two lanes of car chaos. To top it off, the CityGlider does not stop outside Davies Park, and the normal buses terminate at Saturday noon with zero services on a Sunday. Your correspondent observed seven confused tourists staring at the timetable and wondering why there was no buses (hint to tourists: walk a bit further!). On the opposite side, grocery-laden others waiting at the Davies Park bus stop were equally confused as to why the CityGlider buses simply glided past them. If only they knew.

A docking bay for Brisbane's CityCycle hire bike scheme takes shape. Davies Park, West End.

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June 12, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Posted in Cycling

Tagged with ,

Postscript: Light Rail for Brisbane 5

Dublin's LUAS. Image reproduced from Informatique's photostream under Creative commons license. Click for URL.

A postscript – due to the high level of traffic and interest generated by the Light Rail for Brisbane 5 post. Dublin’s LUAS LRT system also appears to need no ongoing operational subsidy as well. While it is likely that any possible LRT system for Brisbane would probably need an ongoing subsidy to run (as it does and should for all public transport modes in Brisbane) the precedents are certainly there. So that is now two on the list.

The early achievement of the Government mandate to RPA to manage Luas without an Exchequer subvention for operations and annual maintenance is very welcome and sets a secure basis for the continuing development of light rail and metro in Dublin.

More than 450 modern light rail schemes have been implemented in cities around the world and it has been demonstrated that when the schemes serve catchment areas of appropriate population density and where the passenger journey time can be assured, the economic performance of light rail compares favourably with other modes of transport.

We are very pleased that the immediate success of Luas is being acknowledged by the international transport community as an example of how light rail can effectively address the need for high-capacity urban transport while also contributing to sustainable development in the areas that it serves.

– Mr Frank Allen, Chief Executive, Railway Procurement Authority, an extract from the 2005 RPA Annual Report, page 5.

Dublin’s LUAS system is operated by Veolia Transport for Ireland’s Railway Procurement Authority.

Inside Dublin's LUAS. Image reproduced from Informatique's photostream under Creative commons license. Click for URL.

Further information

A Wikipedia article on the LUAS is available here.
Question & answer about subsidy to Ireland’s Minister for Transport is here
RPA’s annual reports are here
The LUAS website is here

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June 10, 2010 at 8:11 pm

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