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Friday, 14 November 2014

The Integration of Barangaroo and Bays Precinct in Sydney's Ferry Network

Last week's post touched on how the ferry network could be extended to the Bays Precinct, an area west of the Sydney CBD, including Rozelle Bay and Glebe Island.

This week's post is about integrating the Bays Precinct and the new Barangaroo ferry terminal into the overall ferry network.

The Issue

A big improvement will be made to Sydney's CBD when the Wynyard Walk project completes in 2016. It will significantly enhance access to the centre of the city from its western edge, including the new ferry terminal at Barangaroo South.

Most people approaching the city from the west will find it easier to walk to their place of work from Barangaroo South, rather than Circular Quay. The current painfully slow navigation of multiple road crossings and pedestrian lights up Erskine Street will be replaced by a pleasant unimpeded six minute stroll to George Street in the heart of the city.

It will also provide easy access to Wynyard Station, a bigger interchange than Circular Quay station with more train lines.   

The ferry network must adapt to these new circumstances.

Accompanying this change is the urban renewal proposed for the Bays Precinct. Although decisions have not yet been taken, high density residential development is probable at Glebe Island. Rapid growth is already happening on the site of the old Harold Park at Glebe. Glebe Point residents can attest to the problems of commuting to the CBD by bus (some find it quicker to walk). Adding to the conga line of buses crossing ANZAC Bridge does not seem like a workable solution for future Glebe Island residents either.

A new ferry line from Glebe Point to Barangaroo, with stops at Glebe Island and Jacksons Landing at the Johnstons Bay side of Pyrmont would be a sound approach, complemented by an additional pedestrian bridge between Pyrmont and Barangaroo South.

Ferry commuters travelling from the western side of the CBD will also expect to have access to Barangaroo South. Currently those travelling from Woolwich, Greenwich, Birchgrove and Thames Street Balmain have no choice but to travel to Circular Quay.

Let's not forget that the CBD is just one of many destinations that people may have.

Public transport networks work best when lines are integrated and passengers find it easy to navigate their way to wherever they need to go, which is not necessarily just the CBD. That's why the best networks are multi-destinational.  

If you live at Glebe Point, Glebe Island or Jacksons Landing, you may want to go Milsons Point, Manly, Taronga Zoo or somewhere up the Parramatta River. The network should maximise the connection between origin-destination pairs, with convenient timed transfers between lines.

The Solution

Making Barangaroo and the Bays Precinct part of an Integrated Regular Interval ferry network offers the most efficient solution with the best outcomes for passengers:
  • Regular Interval means strict adherence to clockface headways in the timetable, all day/ seven days a week.
  • Integrated means co-ordinating arrivals and departures at network nodes to provide convenient timed transfers. 
    A possible new design for the Sydney Ferry network
The solution proposed here is to make the Glebe Point line an extension of the Darling Harbour (F4) line. It also extends in the other direction to Taronga Zoo via Circular Quay, avoiding the need for zoo goers to change at Circular Quay. Neutral Bay through lines with Double Bay and convenient timed transfers are scheduled at Circular Quay between the Manly, Darling Harbour, Mosman, Neutral Bay, Double Bay and Taronga Zoo lines. Convenient timed transfers are also scheduled between the Parramatta River and Watsons Bay lines. 

A new stop is also proposed at Elizabeth Bay on the Double Bay line.

The Glebe Point line would operate at 30 minute intervals all day, consistent with the existing Darling Harbour line. Frequency in the peaks could be increased to 15 minute intervals if demand was sufficient.

As an example of how ferries could assist the mobility of, say, residents of Glebe Island, here is a table showing examples of ferry journey times from this location to other destinations in the ferry network.   

Journey times from Glebe Island to sample of destinations in proposed new ferry network.
 The Benefits

Under the current ferry timetable, just 96 origin-destination pairs can be connected conveniently all day, seven days a week. That’s 16% of the total possible OD pairs. Because of the integration inherent in this proposal, convenient OD pair connections increase to 395, a four fold increase.

The other good news is that, while service hours will increase by 11% (funding for ferry services is mainly based on the time vessels operate timetabled services), the increase in farebox revenue will exceed the additional operating costs. This is because the improved usability of the network will drive significant patronage growth, especially in off peak periods.

Hard to believe, but a well designed ferry network providing quality public transport for the Bays Precinct can lead to a reduction in Government subsidies for Sydney Ferries.  

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