The NSW Government announced yesterday its ambitions to take Sydney-siders into the world of tomorrow by lowering the bar on the state’s public transport system even further.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced yesterday that,
“We have got on-demand movies, we want on-demand transport.”
“I want to do away with timetables. Technology will take us to that point, so we are going to trial this next year and see what happens.”
How would this timetable-less service work? Well, Constance says, “You might just get online and book a service and the next day it will be there on your front door.”
“The key point is that the information and the bookings can provide better planning. So you might get, for argument’s sake, 10 people in a couple of streets who might want a service the next day.”
Alternatively, you might get a complete disaster.
Putting the notion of on-demand trains to the side for a moment (so that the flimsy idea might just do us all a favor and be carried away by a light breeze), there’s also a cavalcade of potential pitfalls here.
Both Andrew Constance’s “Uber-But-For-Buses” and “Uber-But-For-Trains” are unabashedly terrible ideas. Even aside from essentially shifting the burden of managing the transport system to the public, they’re completely unworkable.
On-demand transport is by its nature dynamic. They’ll be no telling whether your on-demand bus will be picking you and three other people on your street up before heading into the city or if it’ll spent forty minutes bouncing over Western Sydney before getting you where you need to be – and that will likely change on a day-by-day basis.
Let that sink in: using Sydney’s public transport to get somewhere on-time is SOMEHOW about to get worse.
You’ll have to keep up and make sure you book your buses ahead of time. What about if you need to catch a bus on short notice? Well tough luck kiddo. Going out on a Friday? Better plan for your exact bus or train home.
What’s more, getting more buses on the road is hardly going to help with the record levels of congestion and traffic. Over 300,000 people take buses to work each morning – and that’s on standard buses that hold 52 people, not these 12-person carriages Constance envisions.
On top of that, the whole “on-demand” premise is super counter intuitive to the entire purpose of public transport – that is that they allow for an efficient and predictable journey. The entire proposal is wildly out-of-touch with the reality of what’s going wrong with public transport in NSW.
Then again, that’s pretty much on-brand for the Baird government at this point eh?