PPT Conference Reports  - 2003:    "Missed Opportunities - New Possibilities"

These reports are excerpted from the journal
TRANSIT AUSTRALIA - February 2004, Vol. 59, No. 2 , pp 41-43
We wish to thank the publishers for their kind permission to reprint these items.

3. Speaker 'Keswicked'

Dr Paul Mees, keynote speaker at the recent People for Public Transport conference, missed the train at Keswick through no fault of his own. Ironically the title of his speech was 'Has Adelaide Missed the Train?' But the experience indicates some of the problems facing commuters especially strangers - wanting to use Adelaide's trains.

Dr Mees had travelled from Melbourne on the Overland, due at Keswick at 8.00am on Saturday 25 October. He had made arrangements to board the 8.51 train to Belair, due at Keswick at 9.00am and was informed that people travelling to the conference would be in the second carriage. The Belair train stopped at Keswick at 9.00am. Anxious committee members could see no sign of Dr Mees boarding. The Overland pulled in at 9.00am. On the other side of a chain wire fence the Belair train also stopped. But to get from one train to the other required a trek of several hundred metres up onto the railway bridge, then a descent onto the correct platform via a flight of steps. A somewhat inconspicuous brownish orange box boasted a button which could be pressed to indicate when the train would leave and from which platform. A wrong choice of platform of course involves climbing the stairs again and going back down another flight. (Negotiating the stairs must be arduous for someone with a heavy suitcase and impossible for anyone in a wheelchair. Not much fun with a baby in one arm and a folded pram in the other, either.) Eventually Dr Mees found the button - 57 minutes till the next train to Belair. He caught a taxi to the conference.

In recounting his experiences, Dr Mees noted that there was no information at Keswick Interstate Terminal on how to get to the metropolitan line railway station. (1 might add that there is no mention either of the bus that goes along nearby Richmond Road at half hourly frequencies interpeak on weekdays and on Saturdays, and hourly on Sundays).

Studies had shown that public transport was an important factor in economic development. Adelaide did not score well on this indicator. Dr Mees conceded that some improvements had been made of late and that a small increase in patronage had occurred. However, he criticised the policy of moving forward in little steps. Transport planning should be undertaken by looking at the desired outcome, and planning how to get there from the present situation. He noted that trends in public transport use in Adelaide were dissimilar to those in other Australian cities. In the 1970s public transport use increased in Adelaide, in sharp contrast to declines in other Australian cities. But in the 1990s public transport patronage increased in all Australian capital cities except Adelaide and Canberra. Since leading in the 1970s, Adelaide had not caught up on its decline per capita of the 1980s.

Dr Mees contrasted the patronage on Perth's rail system with that on the Adelaide metro (in the early 90s, patronage levels were similar; now Perth's is three times as high, with plans to increase patronage to six times current Adelaide numbers by 2011). The burgeoning of patronage was due to a decision to invest in electrifying and upgrading the lines, and establishing a co-ordinated network of feeder buses. In Toronto feeder buses are even more frequent and 27 times as many people take the bus to the station as do in Melbourne. Dr Mees concluded that the fundamental blockage to good public transport was the mindset of politicians and bureaucrats. - Margaret Dingle.

Keswick Railway Station

ABOVE. Keswick Station on 26 April 2000 with 3121 on a Down Noarlunga service departing under the footbridge and Anzac Highway overpass. The only information available at this station is an audio announcement of when the next train to each destination is due and on which platform. (The photographer this day had to write down the information for a profoundly deaf interstate visitor). The interstate rail terminal is several hundred metres to the right. Anzac Highway buses are accessed at a stop to the left of the footbridge. - Ian Hammond


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