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Transportation Planning Casebook/B-Line Bus Service (Sydney)

SummaryEdit

The Northern Beaches B-line project was first proposed in late 2015 by the NSW Government. The project aimed to deliver a 27km bus route along Sydney's Northern Beaches. The service was to be modelled a Bus rapid transit style service, which had be employed to varied degrees of success around the world. The NSW Government, purchased 38 MAN-Gemilang A95 Double Decker Busses with the aim of deploying a class leading fleet of busses that would provide a high quality service that would be centered on a turn up and go schedule. The original outline for the service suggested 5-minute headway's during peak periods and 10 minutes during off peak times.[1]

In addition to the general roll out of the B-Line Project, a number of key infrastructure developments were dogeared for improvement or upgrade such that the service could run as advertised. To this end, the following areas were identified as being crucial choke points that needed to be addressed prior to the commencement of the service such as to meet suggested service time & quality:

  • The creation of 6 new commuter 'Park & Ride' car parks with payment integrated into the Opal card system
  • Bus station upgrades at each of the 9 planned stops with live bus tracking and timetable updates
  • Indented bus bays along the route
  • Turning and slip lane upgrades/extensions
  • Improved and additional 'tidal flow' sections in key bottleneck locations
  • Creation of new bus lanes and conversion of T3 lanes to dedicated bus lanes
  • Lane widening and signal upgrades and various points along the route


The major infrastructure contract to complete the major part of the projects works was awarded to Fulton Hogan in Dec 2016 by the NSW government.[2] The B-line service began operation on the 26th November 2017, however not all of the infrastructure upgrades were completed at this point, with the Warriewood and Manly Vale commuter carparks not being completed on time, opening in late December 2017. The project faced some community backlash related to changes of other bus services and infrastructure construction, however it proved to be very popular with commuters. The NSW Government announce in December 2018, that the first year of operation saw a total of 5.9 million passenger trips on the new service.[3]  

Geographical Maps & Key LocationsEdit

Overview of the B-Line bus service routeEdit

The current B-line route is shown to the right. The service currently has 10 stops listed below.

  • Wynyard (Terminal Stop)
  • Neutral Bay
  • Spit Junction
  • Manly Vale
  • Brookvale
  • Dee Why
  • Collaroy
  • Narrabeen
  • Warriewood
  • Mona Vale (Terminal Stop)

The service was originally planned to extend further north and terminate at Newport, however community opposition forced the government remove the planned stop.

List of ActorsEdit

Tabulated List of Actors for the B-Line Bus Service
Stakeholder Groups Members Issue/Interest
State Government Agencies Transport for NSW (TfNSW) (Primary Organisation)

Department of Planning and Environment Department of Premier and Cabinet NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Environment and Heritage Infrastructure NSW NSW Treasury

Overall coordination of project planning

Managing stakeholder interests - seeking community engagement Environmental conservation - environmental management plan Budget planning

Local Council Northern Beaches Council

North Sydney Council Mosman Council City of Sydney

Consultation with local communities

Managing community needs and expectations Managing local road works

Local Communities and Recreation Groups Clareville and Bilgola Plateau Residents Association (CABPRA)

Palm Beach and Whale Beach Association (PB&WBA) Avalon Preservation Association (APA) Newport Residents Association (ARA) Clontarf and Balgowlah Heights residents Mosman and Cremorne Residents association

Community interests

Loss of amenity

Commuters Road Users (Private Car)

Cyclists Pedestrians Public Transit Users

Road safety

Travel times

Timeline of EventsEdit

Timeline of Events for the B-Line Bus Service
Event Date Development within the Project
9th November 2015 Project announced by NSW Government
1st December 2016 Major contract awarded
5th December 2016 Public display / consultation opened
1st February 2017 Public consultation closed
27th February 2017 Major works begin
October 2017 Newport community consultation
26th November 2017 B-line service begins
17th July 2018 Newport extension cancelled
Under construction (Yet to be completed) Cremorne tidal flow

Policy & Service IssuesEdit

Newport ExtensionEdit

At opening the B-line service terminated at Mona Vale, however the original plan was to extend the service so that busses terminated further north at Newport. While many in the community supported this plan as it would bring improved bus services to an area greatly in need, others were strongly opposed for reasons below. To enable busses to terminate at Newport TfNSW's plan was to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Neptune and Barrenjoey Roads to turn buses around. [4] This plan generated significant community backlash with concerns about increased traffic congestion and the removal of existing commuter parking and mature trees to enable construction of the proposed roundabout as below.


The Not In My BackYard movement or mentality, colloquially referred to as NIMBYism also played a significant role in the immense community centralised uproar, with many individualised concerns being amalgamated into a homogeneous belief that the B-line Service to Newport would facilitate land use changes and over-development in the area to the north of Mona Vale. One community group went as far as to suggest that suggest that "Newport would become a parking station, its beach, its ambience and its character destroyed" [5]. To this end, many of Newport's residents were pushing for an improvement of existing bus services such as the E88, E89 and L90 services, instead of the proposed B-line extension and the associated over-development and increased congestion that would come with such an extension. There were a number of protests in relation to the B-line Extension, the most dramatic of which resulting in protesters blocking the road and making a circle at the proposed roundabout site.[6]


The NSW Government sought to ease these fears and concerns by holding community information sessions and publishing a number of community information guides. One such information guide published in October 2017 explicitly stated that no bus terminals, depots or multideck carparks would be built in Newport and that the B-line would not facilitate any land use changes in Newport. Additionally the local member for Pittwater, Rob Stokes, stated that "There was no proposal to build a bus terminal, no proposal to remove rows of trees, no proposal to construct new car parks".[7] These efforts were ultimately unsuccessful and in July 2018 it was announced that the B-line would not be extended to Newport due to lack of community support.

Road Infrastructure Upgrades in Mosman and Neutral BayEdit

The B-line project also proposed a number of road infrastructure upgrades along the route, including building indented bus bays, implementing additional turning restrictions during peak hour, creating more sections of 'tidal flow', removing/relocating local bus stops and converting T3 lanes to Bus lanes. These upgrades would have not only benefited B-line users but all bus users travelling along the Pittwater Rd-Military Rd route, however again there was significant opposition to some aspects of these plans from a number of community groups, especially in the Mosman and Neutral Bay area where most of these changes were proposed to occur. Concerns were related to loss of parking, negative impacts on traffic congestion on local roads, pedestrian safety and noise impacts. Due to concerns raised during the consultation process a number of proposed changes were dropped including, some indented bus bays and the proposed tidal flow section at Neutral Bay. While this was welcomed by those resident local to Mosman and Neutral Bay, it came at the cost of travel time improvements for those further up the peninsula.

Community Groups Gaining PowerEdit

Just prior to the initial announcement the Pittwater council was merged with Warringah and Manly to form the Northern Beaches Council. Many in the community around Newport were opposed to this as they perceived that their voices would be drowned out by the larger populations of the Manly-Warringah area.  The announcement of the B-line project added to these existing tensions and the project quickly gained strong opposition. One local survey conducted by Friends of Newport, a group against the project, found that 80% of those surveyed indicated that they were in opposition.[8] The spread of misinformation also contributed heavily to the opposition, as discussed earlier. By tapping into existing community fears, opposition groups were able to gain overwhelming opposition to the project and following community consultation by the NSW Government they were ultimately forced to cave into this pressure and re-evaluate its plans.

The community around the Neutral Bay & Mosman area were able to influence the project in a slightly different way. As with any government project there is the opportunity for the local community to provide feedback, with the government adjusting its plans accordingly. However, submissions were only open to those living within the Mosman & Neutral Bay municipalities, thus the feedback received did not take into account the needs, desires or opinions of those residents & businesses that presided further north along the proposed B-Line Route; many of whom would have likely been strongly in favour of the proposed changes due to the travel time benefits they would have received. To this end, due to limited scope of the surveyed geographical are and corresponding demographic, both the Neutral Bay and Mosman communities were given a greater platform to voice their opinions. In doing so, the stakeholders and actors within each community were able to disproportionately impact the proposed road infrastructure upgrades, albeit that the impact was far wider spread along Sydney's Northern Beaches communities, and not just those surveyed precincts.  


Narrative of the CaseEdit

Within the larger context of Australia, Sydney's bus network is widely reflective of a conventional bus service/network. This is widely recognized in the reality that the sparsely positioned bus orientated or busway infrastructure is primarily located along Sydney's major & arterial roadways. To this end much of the current network is much more than an extension or natural progression of traditional bus systems or networks that have permeated the world, alongside the associated conventional approaches to bus public transport.[9][10][11]

Despite the largely underdeveloped bus infrastructure of Sydney’s network, there was a 19% growth in trips made using Sydney’s bus network across the decade between 2002 & 2012. This is indicative of approximately 165,000 extra trips per annum in 2012 compared to 2002. Furthermore, there was a 13.1% increase in total share of trips for Bus Transport, on the back of a 21% increase in Public Transport trips made per annum over the same period of time.[12]



Equally, prior to the expansion of the B-Line Bus Route, Sydney’s North Shore & Northern Beaches were largely inaccessible by public transport, especially, when considered within the context of a fast & reliable form of mass transport for commuters. In addition with over a 250,000 residents covering the four separate electoral districts of Davidson, Manly, Pitwatter, Wakehurst there was a significant number of commuters that were being stranded along Sydney’s North, with many either opting to drive to the CBD or being forced to use multiple bus routes to cover the same trip that would be made by the proposed B-Line Bus Service. Furthermore, a dedicated bus network along the Northern land mass of Greater Sydney would see a re-purposing of existing bus infrastructure to better reflect transport usage trends across Greater Sydney's population.[13][14][15]

It has been this context, as outlined in the Case Narrative, that spore the drive for the NSW Government to foster the development of the B-Line Bus Service.


Discussion Exercises & Class ActivitiesEdit

The following list of discussion questions have been developed in line with the content presented both in the above Wikibook, as well as the class based presentation.

  • Class separation based on Public Transport usage analysis and breakdown
  • Who uses any form of Public Transport within the context of their daily commute or a routine commute throughout the week?
  • When taking this routine trip, who uses more than one form of Public Transport?
  • Having identified the proportion of students/participants who do/don't use public transport, how would you feel if your ability to access a particular service or your perspective or opinion on a matter was negated due to differences of geography and political boundaries?
  • Most of the backlash received, unsurprisingly, was centralised along the B-Line Service Route (Sydney's North Shore & Northern Beaches), and the platform garnered by community groups such as the NIMBY Movement & strongly opinionated municipalities such as Mona Vale & Mosman shot down much the progression of the proposed infrastructure and development. Within a wider context, this can be seen across some of Sydney's largest infrastructure projects (NorthConnex & WestConnex Stages, Sydney Metro & Lightrail Projects). Form a list of key words or ideas that underpin why such small community groups have such influence, and what are some methods or guidelines that can allow healthy and positive progression at a community level?
  • Having established Public Transport ridership & the underlying causes of minority stakeholder influence on infrastructure development, Is the B-Line Bus Service still worth investing in? Why/Why Not? If Yes what can be done to continue to improvement of the service? If no what could be proposed to replace the service?


ReferencesEdit

  1. New B-Line to transform Northern Beaches Bus travel, Transport for NSW Media Release.
  2. Contract awarded for B-Line major works, TfNSW Media Release.
  3. B-Line success - 5.9 million passenger trips in first year
  4. Link text
  5. [www.pittwateronlinenews.com/Newport-B-Line-Proposal-A-GSC-Scheme-Say-Residents.php Residents Say Newport B-Line Extension Not Needed], additional text.
  6. B-Line To Newport NOT Going Ahead
  7. B-Line To Newport NOT Going Ahead, additional text.
  8. Newport-B-Line-Proposal, additional text.
  9. TfNSW, TfNSW.
  10. Moovit Insights to Public Transit, Moovit Insights to Public Transit.
  11. TfNSW, TfNSW.
  12. TfNSW, TfNSW.
  13. TfNSW, TfNSW.
  14. Moovit Insights to Public Transit, Moovit Insights to Public Transit.
  15. TfNSW, TfNSW.