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Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

 

Media Release

Tuesday 11 October 2005

Top Highway Patrol Cop Claims Transit Lanes
are Unenforceable and Past their Use-by Date
 

PCA Calls on Premier Iemma to Convert ALL Transit Lanes to Dedicated Bus Lanes

New T2 in William Street is Ridiculous, Unenforceable and Will Only Encourage More Car-Dependency and Further Traffic Jams

One of Sydney’s most senior Highway Patrol police officers with over 24 years experience enforcing Sydney’s Transit Lanes has written to the PCA claiming they are unenforceable and past their use-by date.   A copy of his email is attached.  His details have been kept confidential.

 

The Chairman of the PCA, Mr Harold Scruby, has called on Premier Iemma to immediately remove all Transit Lanes and replace them with “red carpet” Bus Lanes. 

 

Mr Scruby said:  “We are in the middle of a fuel crisis, exacerbated by increasing car-dependency and record car sales.  The only solution is an efficient public transport system, where those who choose to use public transport get absolute priority and privilege over the private motor-car.  The most feasible, affordable and immediate option is to build a network of Bus Lanes throughout Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, where rail is not an affordable option in the foreseeable future.

 

He added: "The NSW Government must now bite the bullet.  Sydney's traffic problems are chronic and will only get worse.  Sydney's Transit Lanes do not work.  Up to 73% of drivers using them are doing so illegally (see copy of 2002 report below). This is because enforcement is so difficult, labour-intensive and expensive.  Under the law, police are required to pull over suspected offenders to ascertain the carriage of the required number of occupants. There are few sites where this is feasible and most miscreants know of and simply avoid these locations.  The new William Street T2 is an utter farce.  Not only will it encourage more motorists to drive into the CBD with just 2 occupants per vehicle, there is nowhere on this route where police can effectively enforce the law. 

 

“Unlike Transit Lanes, police are not required to stop motorists travelling illegally in Bus Lanes.  The RTA can take over the enforcement function using a modern, high-tech, digital-camera system.  This will free up scarce police resources and enable them to get back on the road and catch dangerous drivers.  And unlike Transit Lanes (Penalty $175), travelling in a Bus Lane attracts a penalty of $225 and 3 Demerit Points.

 

"The average bus carries 70 persons. This is the equivalent in length of three average-sized passenger vehicles permitted to carry either 9 persons in a T3 or 6 persons in a T2.  And three taxis can legally occupy the same space as a bus, carrying a minimum of only 3 passengers; a ratio of greater than 23:1. Additionally, traffic-flow is greatly impeded by the constant lane-changing of taxis, hire-cars and private vehicles darting in and out of the Transit Lanes to pass the buses when they stop.   The Government should also seriously consider whether taxis and particularly hire-cars be permitted in Bus Lanes.  The former Roads Minister Michael Costa stated he was reviewing this anomaly when he was minister.

 

"Transit Lanes also encourage many parents to drive their children to school, instead of choosing the walking and public transport option, part of the reason over 40% of our children are obese or overweight.  Transit Lanes must go.  Commuters will quickly realise the benefits of commuting using a faster, cheaper and more efficient bus service, cleaner air and fewer unnecessary private motor vehicles on our roads during peak hour.” Mr Scruby said.

 

 

CONTACT:  Harold Scruby - Tel:  (0418) 110-011 or Pedestrian Council on (02) 9968-4555

Email: walking@walk.com.au  Internet:  www.walk.com.au



-----Original Message-----

From: XXXXXX, YYYYY [mailto:XXXX1YYY@POLICE.NSW.GOV.AU]

Sent: Tuesday, 7 June 2005 12:02 PM

To: walking@walk.com.au

Subject: Transit Lanes

 

--- Received from NSWP.XXXX1YYY 00000               07/06/05 12:02

 

Harold,

 

RE: Information regarding Transit Lanes

 

I have been involved in the policing of transit lanes since 1981 when I first joined the highway patrol.  Over the last 24 years I have seen clearway & transit lane restrictions move from 7am to the current time of 6am due to the ever increasing volume of traffic in peak periods.

 

The policing of transit lanes has always been a catch 22 situation for police.  We are criticised when we police them and criticised when we do not.  I have answered numerous items of correspondence from members of the public and Local Members of Parliament relating to transit lane enforcement.

 

Police are tasked to regularly to enforce the transit lanes however our efforts have little if any affect on decreasing the number of motorists who persist in taking the chance and travelling in transit lanes. If we target the transit lanes for a few days, the effect lasts maybe 1 - 2 days then it returns to its high rate of non-compliance.   At present there is only a monetary penalty attached to the transit lane offence and it does not attract any demerit points.  I have always been a strong advocate that as long as the offence does not attract the loss of demerit points, motorists will continue to defy the offence and travel in the transit lane without the required number of passengers.

 

We are restricted in the locations we can perform stationary enforcement and therefore the motoring public become familiar with locations.

 

From a policing perspective I feel that the overall effectiveness of transit lanes has to be looked at. They may have been a good initiative 25 years ago when they were first introduced and  when the volume of traffic was less, but in 2005 have they passed their use by date?

 

 

Regards

 

(Name withheld)

7 June 2005

 

---- 07/06/05 12:02 ---- Sent to     --------------  -> walking@walk.com.au

 

 

This message and any attachment is confidential and may be privileged or otherwise protected from disclosure. If you have received it by mistake, please let us know by reply and then delete it from your system; you should

not copy the message or disclose its contents to anyone.

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday 26 May 2002 

 

Invisible passengers - Solo drivers clog peak-hour

 

Choked: Victoria road transit lanes banked up illegally

 

By: ROD SMITH

 

SEVEN out of 10 Sydney motorists who use the transit lane during the morning rush on Victoria Road, are breaking the law.

 

An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has revealed that more than 73 per cent of drivers do not qualify to travel in the T3 transit lane, which requires two passengers in each car.  The result is hundreds of solo drivers clogging up the lane reserved for buses, taxis and eligible drivers.

 

The Sunday Telegraph spent one hour monitoring the rush hour traffic near Seymour Street, about 500m from the northern end of Gladesville Bridge, from 7.30am to 8.30am.

 

Of the 704 vehicles counted travelling in the T3 lane, a staggering 514 were illegal drivers who sped past their law-abiding cousins sitting patiently in the bumper-to-bumper traffic.  The findings raise serious questions about the State Government's plan to install a west-bound transit lane on Victoria Road.

 

Transport Minister Carl Scully has flagged the idea as a key way of increasing the traffic flow on Victoria Rd, one of the city's most clogged arterial routes.  But while police regularly patrol the transit lane, the head of NSW Police traffic admitted that it was virtually impossible to enforce the law on some sections of Victoria Rd.

 

“(Transit lanes) are difficult to enforce because you need to find a place where you can safely pull the vehicle up where you are not going to cause more congestion than you would by allowing it to pass,” said Police Traffic Services Commander Chief Superintendent Ron Sorrenson.

 

And many streetwise motorists often bluff their way along the lane -- switching on their indicators as if they are turning into a side street, but continuing in the T3 lane after they pass police.

 

“The police do enforce the lane on Victoria Rd but motorists tend to be wise and note where the police are,” said Supt Sorrenson.

 

The 190 vehicles The Sunday Telegraph witnessed travelling legally in the lane were either cars containing three or more people, motorcyclists or taxis.

 

Buses were not included in the count nor were drivers who entered the transit lane to turn left into Seymour St off Victoria Road, a legal manoeuvre.

 

“The whole idea was to make public transport more acceptable to get people to their destination as quickly as possible,” said Bus divisional secretary Trevor Avery. “We've often asked for something to be done.”

 

Clogged bus and transit lanes have been blamed for adding to perceptions that public transport is too slow to use.

 

The State Government's 2002 Household Travel Survey found that almost 60 per cent of people travelled to work by car because they believed it was faster than alternatives such as public transport.

 

The Roads and Traffic Authority defended the lane, which it said was monitored with RTA traffic cameras which helped police target offenders.



Harold Scruby
Chairman/CEO

Pedestrian Council of Australia Limited
"The Walking Class Heroes"

Telephone:    (02) 9968-4555
Facsimile:     (02) 9968-4566
Mobile:         (0418) 110-011

Email:           walking@walk.com.au 
Internet:       www.walk.com.au

PO Box 500
NEUTRAL BAY  NSW  2089
AUSTRALIA

ABN 18 075 106 286