Part 3 Chris Standen : Forty reasons why Westconnex fails to meet objectives

(Ed.: This is part three of a submission to the New M5 EIS process by Chris Standen, a transport modeller and specialist. Read Part One and Two.) 

Westconnex has key objectives that the whole project is supposed to meet.

The stated objectives for the project were contrived to fit the project after it had already been announced. In a democratic strategic planning process, objectives are set first based on the needs and desires of the community, and then alternative projects/policies are appraised against their ability to meet those objectives.

Westconnex’s stated objectives have no associated targets by which their achievement can be ever be determined. For example, how can it ever be determined if the objective to “maintain regional air quality” has been met?

Objectives/targets need to be:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-bound

Even though the objectives of Westconnex have been contrived to fit the project, the project still does not meet them.

Each objective below is accompanied by an explanation of why the project does NOT meet that objective. ( Ed: We counted them and there are 40) 

  1. Support Sydney’s long-term economic growth through improved motorway access and connections linking Sydney’s international gateways and south-western Sydney and places of business across the city. 
  • There is already an extensive and high–capacity road and motorway network linking Sydney’s international gateways (Sydney Airport and Port Botany), Western Sydney and places of business across the city. The operation of this network could be improved significantly with demand management such as road pricing reform. There is no need for costly and destructive new motorways.
  • The most efficient and economical way to link large trip generators is with mass transit. A single motorway lane can transport only 2000 passengers per hour, under ideal conditions. A single railway line can transport 20,000 passengers per hour.

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Transport Planning expert Chris Standen identifies major flaws in New M5 EIS – Part One

Chris Standen is a Transport planning and modelling expert.  He has prepared this submission in response to the EIS for the New M5.  His submission will be published in four parts. Standen provides many important reasons for not supporting the project.  Draw on his ideas to prepare you own submission

  1. The EIS does not comply with the Secretary Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARS).
  2. There are major issues with the Traffic and Transport Assessment. There is insufficient information about the modelling inputs, assumptions and methodology for the forecasts to be independently verified. There is no sensitivity analysis of key assumptions.
  3. The social and environmental impacts described in the EIS are unacceptable and far outweigh any benefits of the project. Because of flaws in the modelling, the actual impacts are likely to be even greater than those forecast.
  4. The project does not meet the project objectives.
  5. Many of the project objectives, such as congestion relief, could be met through better management of demand on the existing road network, e.g., through reform of road pricing. The corridor already has an extensive and high capacity road network; there is just too much demand at present for it to operate effectively. Adding more capacity will not lessen this demand; it will only serve to increase it.
  6. A claimed benefit of the project is that daily traffic on the existing M5 East would reduce by 20-40 percent due to the new tolls. If it is acknowledged that tolls alone can be effective in meeting the main project objective (reducing congestion), then what is the rationale for adding more capacity
  7. The project makes little sense from a transport planning and policy perspective. The role of motorways is to allow traffic to circumvent densely populated areas. For radial transport into and out of urban centres, mass transit is more efficient and economical, and has less impact on the human population.
  8. The project is not in the public interest. It will be used by less than 1% of the NSW population each day. The rest of the population will pay dearly in terms of higher traffic impacts, poorer air quality, and state and federal taxes being diverted from public transport and other more worthy causes?
  9. The project has a high financial risk. The flaws and optimistic assumptions in the traffic modelling mean that toll revenue is likely to be significantly lower than forecast. AECOM has a history of providing over-optimistic traffic forecasts for toll roads, resulting in previous financial failures (e.g., Clem7).
  10. The average daily travel time in Sydney has been stable at about 80 minutes per person for decades, while the average trip distance has increased substantially (see graph below). In this time, billions have been spent on tollways. Travellers are spending more than ever on tolls, yet are not spending any less time travelling. Time:Distance travelled StandenThe higher speed of tollways has simply encouraged people to move further from work, drive more, and make longer trips than before, for example, visiting shopping malls instead of local shops. It has made road more attractive than rail for freight.
  11. This predict and provide approach to transport planning has been a failure, and is being abandoned by advanced nations. In a city of 5 million people, we can never provide enough road capacity to enable everyone to live as far from work as they like, and drive wherever and whenever they like in free flowing traffic.

 

The rest of this submission is in four Section. This post covers only the first section which  describes general issues with the EIS, the project and the broader WestConnex scheme (Section 1). The following sections will deals with non-compliances with the SEARs (Section 2), non-compliances with the project objectives (Section 3), and major issues with the Traffic and Transport Assessment (Section 4).  Continue reading

Vol-1C Chapter-31 Project-justification-and-conclusion

Previous chapter: Vol 1C Chapter 30 Summary of environmental management measures

Vol 1C Chapter 31 Project justification and conclusion

hi-res pdf: New M5 EIS Vol 1C.pdf

Low-res pdf: New M5 EIS Vol 1C Chapter 31 Project justification and conclusion.pdf

Section Pages
31 Project justification and conclusion 31-1
31.1 Project justification 31-1
31.2 Conclusion 31-9

Next chapter: Vol 1C Chapter 32 References