Sshhh! Would you mind keeping it down that infernal tappity-tap on your keyboards, please? As for the noisesome flapping of your eyelids - think I wouldn’t notice - be so kind as to observe that this is a Quiet Website and you will answer to us…
Never mind the screaming kids in your nearest McMall and all the sundry squawking they have inspired among; it’s time to bid a (very tight-lipped) welcome to ... the Quiet Carriage Nazi.
CityRail recently created the Quiet Carriage for those who like to travel on Sydney trains with a little less wear on the eardrums. It’s a simple and pleasant idea – in the rear carriage, talking on a mobile phone, playing music and conducting loud conversations are frowned upon and the concept has been popular, CityRail says.
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Are you sick of being stuck in Sydney traffic for hours? Are you annoyed about the near constant traffic chaos around Sydney airport? And do you ever wonder why there are so many cars driving through Sydney’s CBD?
Well, what you are seeing is a general failure of transport planning by successive governments over many decades. Not since Dr JJC Bradfield have we had a true transport visionary in Sydney. What we get is an endless procession of so-called transport experts who are increasingly just free market fundamentalists having this delusional view that the market will fix all transport and infrastructure problems.
The so-called market in this case are those big private sector companies that just want toll roads so they can simply milk motorists for decades with ever increasing tolls. It’s so easy for a private sector company to build a toll road that barely meets the existing transport needs to just rake in lots of easy money until the toll road can’t cope anymore. Then there’s inevitable call for a new toll road with a new income stream to milk motorists.
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Dogs belong in backyards digging up bones. Cats, curled up on couches and starring in viral internet videos.
That’s their element.
But what do you think about them wandering around shopping centres? Scurrying around the workplace? Reigning over the window seat on the train? That’s what some of our pollies want.
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It’s cold in Sydney this week. Really cold. Cold enough that gloves have to be worn and forgetting your jacket means the difference between an average and a very bad day. Oh, and also, it’s raining. So it’s cold and wet.
In these conditions, public transport becomes a true nightmare. Peak hour is not only squashy but it’s wet too. Plus, some particularly annoying people feel the need to keep the windows open in the train, to “let in the air”. Which means it is just as freezing inside the train as outside.
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In the wake of yet another tragic level crossing accident in Melbourne, a Melbourne train driver gives his perspective on the often frightening view from the driver’s seat…
Express running is the worst, or running empty cars back to a depot because you are not scheduled to stop but the punters are attuned to the stopping of trains at platforms.
They assume you’re going to stop and if they quickly duck under the safety barrier they can still catch your train!
A couple of my fellow drivers have hit small children at level crossings. Imagine pulling the train to a stand still, getting out of the cab and being confronted with the grieving parent. One train driver even had the mother screaming at him and physically hitting him.
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Three weeks ago I found myself in a situation that I hoped would never happen, but always suspected would one day.
On a recent Saturday night I went to catch the train home after a pleasant evening out. I hurried to the station as I needed to go and arrived at the access toilet to find it occupied.
There used to be another further up the hall which has been labelled “closed” since some time in 2008. Getting desperate, I went to see if it was open now. It wasn’t.
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Last year, I resolved to buy a car.
My enthusiasm quickly evaporated, however, when I actually started poring through the classifieds and realised the whole thing was going to cost me a substantial amount of cash.
I also became terrified of getting stiffed by some crisp-collared sales-jerk or a bunch of snakes in a floral-print dress disguised as a sweet old lady.
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So I’m on the train recently, and excuse me for being a busybody, but the lady in front, who can’t be a day under 75, is a reading a breathless novel about Rebbekah melting into the muscular arms of Storm. And I think to myself, “gee, I love public transport sometimes”.
The other day, I get off the train at Sydney’s Macquarie Park station. Right outside the station, two motorists are having a fist shaking match in gridlocked traffic and I think to myself, “gee I love public transport sometimes”.
November 2009. I’m in Melbourne for the golf, and I take the train to Huntingdale Station, followed by a free connecting bus to Kingston Heath Golf Club. The bus breezes through a special lane, while Tiger Woods is stuck in traffic, and I think to myself, “gee I love public transport sometimes”.
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First promised in 1823, today’s announcement by Labor that a $2.1 billion Parramatta to Epping rail link will be constructed within seven years is easily the most visionary transport blueprint for western Sydney since the last one, that other one, and the other one just before that.
This model cleverly synthesises the best of the past blueprints to take the passenger experience to dizzy new heights. The seats will be made entirely out of snuggly mohair. Neil Perry will serve canapes. Female commuters will receive back rubs from members of the Chippendales, while the men will be able to watch Foxsports, Top Gear and Wild On! Cancun via an on-demand passenger entertainment system. For the kids, every fourth carriage will be decorated under Walt Disney’s Fantasia theme, with those surly old ticket inspectors replaced by cheery elves.
If you vote Labor in any of five Sydney marginal electorates next Saturday it is expected that construction on the rail link will start one hour later and be completed by the following Tuesday. All aboard the Bullshit Express.
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In a state that dumps transport blueprints faster than premiers, it’s little surprise the NSW Government’s announcement of a multi-billion dollar infrastructure bonanza has been met with all the fanfare of Al Gore at a climate skeptics conference.
In what has become almost an annual spectacle for a government that has turned axing infrastructure projects into an art form, the last grand plan, a five billion dollar metro, has been unceremoniously tossed on the scrap-heap, with a new proposal cobbled together with little more than some blue-tac and sticky tape.
Back on the agenda after more comebacks than John Farnham are the north-west and south-west rail links, only now with increased price tags.
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SQUASHED in a carriage like sardines, two bankers in striped suits bitched about a mutual client, then switched to moaning about how crowded and late the train was.
“Shouldn’t have to pay for this,” harrumphed one. “Bloody public transport. Should be free,” his mate chimed in.
If 10 strap-hangers and their sweaty armpits hadn’t blocked the path, I might have confronted the whingers with the fact no major world city has ever successfully run a free public transport system.
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