Along the George Street, the light rail construction is grumbled by several business owners. Will this temporary inconvenience be worth it in the long term for most business on this street? Let’s start with Laura’s stories.

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“Another noisy day, right?” Laura produced a forced smile and sighed for the noise come from the construction site. She is a shop manager in Cosmo Cosmetics on 273 George St in Sydney.

The sign for reminding pedestrian of the current construction on George Street is a familiar scene for Sydneysiders. Cables, pipes, wires and several Ausgrid electrical pits locating on the first section between QV building and the entry in George Street.

“Since the Sydney CBD light rail program started, ten percent of our quarter profits has fallen compared with corresponding period in last year,” Laura said. “The noise made by the drill and other machines also annoying to our customers and our staffs.

“The tram line almost occupies the whole main street in CBD, which means the customer who is driving private car shopping here must find a car parking around this area.” Her eyebrows knit in a frown, because of she worried about their high-end customers may not bother to shop here due to the parking inconvenience.

Lauras’ worry is not without a reason. The NSW government launched the light rail project for CBD transportation upgrade in December. Since that time, George Street closed, reducing customer access to local businesses.  Laura is also unsatisfied with no compensation for this reduction in business volume.

However, will this short-term commerce decline be worth it in the long run for Laura and other businesses? The answer depends on if the benefits of the rail project outweigh the costs during construction.

The initial intention was driven by the demand for a high capacity, reliable and sustainable mode of public transport in the busiest area of Sydney. The government expects the light rail to ease the pressure on Sydney’s roads and enhance the city transport effectiveness.

According to the CSELR business case summary, this strategy focuses on three priorities for action in central Sydney, and that is “reduce congestion, provide for future growth, improve customer experience.”

Nevertheless, the opposition leader Luke Foley claimed that the light rail project is either cannot bring a long-term return or solve heart area traffic congestion mostly. He even said the “the new light rail will block other transportation go through the main street”.

One news report comes from The Sydney Morning Herald perhaps a reference for considering the rationality of this project. The reporter,   gives a good thought in Advocates of Sydney’s George Street light rail can take lessons from the Gold Coast.  

He suggested that the CBD light rail program is experimental and creative, which means the transportation department need to consider the possible outcome and refer to successful experience in existing cases.

Sam, a banking consultant, who working for HSBC George Street Branch, said, “The light rail project does influencing our daily commuting time. Instead of directly getting off the bus on Geroge Street, I need to get off the bus on Elizabeth street and walking to the bank. So every day I spend five more minutes to the workplace.”

Furthermore, Sam believes that the light rail is unnecessary and disruptive. “Personally, I support the Sydney transport accommodating much more reasonable buses routes.” He complained the unreasonable bus routes in Sydney waste him plenty time travels to several districts.

Except the ‘insiders’ who worked here, Jason, who is a student at The University of Central Queensland (Sydney campus), hold a different view. As he just passes by this area, “Well, actually this project does not effect to my daily life so much. After all, I am not a resident of this area, so it is hard to judge this project.”

Jason, who is a student at The University of Central Queensland (Sydney campus). As he just passed by this area, “Well, actually this project does not effect to my daily life so much. After all, I am not a resident of this area, so it is hard to judge this project.”

Also, Jason was “surprised by the expensive costs of this project.”But he still holds a positive attitude to the functional light rail. He believes “I think, the new light rail will largely relieve the CBD transport congestion and bring considerable benefits in the long run.”

2014-10-26-cselr-map
The route design of Sydney CBD light rail  Photo by NSW Government

Based on CBD and South East Light Rail Business Case Summary,  the congestion in Sydney’s CBD leads to unreliable journey times and disrupts the city centre. Furthermore, a forecast reported Greater Metropolitan Sydney population will increase by almost 2 million over the next 25 years. Thus, the current infrastructure and transport network are unable to cope with the growing number of daily journeys made to and from the city.

At the same time, the NSW government also lists other correlated benefits by that project, such as the improving environmental and health benefits, creating job opportunities, enhancing the capacity of special events and so forth.

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The route design of Sydney CBD light rail  Photo by NSW Government

However, the new light rail project also facing an enormous financial pressure to finish it as its planning expectation. The expensive cost of the light rail project directly related to in what extent the taxpayer’s money used appropriately.

According to the official project plan, approximate $2.1 billion investment will put into paving the tunnel. Moreover, the CBD and South East Light Rail project is estimated cost $500 million in total. It does quite a costly project. And will the payback can be guaranteed when it completed?

Laura believed that the light rail is unnecessary and disruptive. “Personally, I support the Sydney transport accommodating much more reasonable buses routes.” She said.

Whereas, Sam said, “In general, I think this project is a mastermind in solving the traffic jam and programming the public transport reasonably in CBD. It is necessary for incentive the vigour in the city of Sydney.” Despite he shrugged to the increased commuting time in nowadays upgrade.

Fast, reliable, frequent services

  • 15 minutes from Randwick to Central
  • 18 minutes from Kingsford to Central
  • 15 minutes from Central to Circular Quay
  • 6 minutes from Moore Park to Central
  • 34 minutes from Circular Quay to Randwick or Kingsford.
    There will also be the opportunity to run double capacity, longer special event services to the Moore Park Precinct, Randwick
    Source: TFNSW CSELR business case summary

The unfinished project always cannot define in an early time. However, we can speculate the possible advantages and disadvantages of the Sydney CBD light rail project.

In summary, the primary benefits are building a far-reaching influence transportation for the emerging population and intensively develop the usage of arterial traffic. The main critiques for this project are the massive expenditure and occupation of the land. Except the commerce income has declined temporarily, the CBD light rail project can be expected worthy in the end. After all, the chance and risk always come along at the same time.

Except the commerce income has declined temporarily, the CBD light rail project can be expected worthy in the end. The facilitated transportation plays a vital role in solving many practical issues and accelerating the city . After all, the chance and risk always come along at the same time.

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