March 26 - April 1, 2017: Issue 306

Residents trying to Save Mona Vale Village Park - The Village Green - B-Line Protest

Protest Rally at Mona Vale Village Park, Saturday March 25th - photo by Mark Horton.
On Wednesday March 22nd and again on Saturday March 25th residents gathered in the Village Park at Mona Vale to demonstrate against the encroachment of the B-Line bus service and new bus bay on what many consider the village green of Mona Vale, along with the removal of trees, at Mona Vale's Village Park.

Mona Vale Village Park Berms - Tuesday afternoon, March 222nd - photo by Mark Horton

As run in Issue 300, B-Line Proposal For Mona Vale Approved - 26 trees are to be lost and it is a requirement that the Offset for these will be 118 trees planted 'on or near the impacted site'. As part of the approval given in February  the documents state that "The use of advanced plantings would be considered. " - In the film below, 'To B-Line Or Not To B-Line? PART 2 Of 3' one consultant meeting with members of the Save Mona Vale community group states mature trees will be replanted.

This small inconsistency could be ascribed to details that are missing, as North Sydney Council, the other end of the B-Line vision, points out in their report of February 16th, 2017 ( Response to B-Line Referral of Environmental Factors page 7), and available on their website; 

' The B-line REF notes that a strategic justification for the project has been outlined in the B-Line Program’s Strategic and Final Business Cases, completed May 2015 and February 2016 respectively. Neither of these documents are available for public/Council consideration. As such, Council has not had the opportunity to consider the project in terms of an overarching vision for travel demand management: improved B-line passenger travel times, mode shift (motorist to B-line passenger) and traffic reduction along the project corridor. Contrary to the objectives of the project and community expectations, the REF traffic modelling suggests that the proposed B-line project will actually result in increased bus passenger travel times, no mode shift and increased traffic on Military Road. 

In addition, the relative priority of this project in terms of its potential benefits vs cost (BCR) is not detailed in the REF. In June 2015, TfNSW’s Northern Beaches Bus Rapid Transit Strategic Business Case Assurance Review Report, prepared by an independent engineering and cost expert review panel, stated that it was, “not confident that value for money has been demonstrated for the proposed capital expenditure”. Given that the cost of the project has increased from $222 million to over half a billion since this time, it is suggested that an up to date BCR for the project should be provided and include cost increases associated with the construction of 900 multi-story car parking spaces in northern beaches centres as well as consideration of how induced traffic demand (see 3.1.1) will effect the benefits associated with these proposals.'

Mona Vale Village Park Berms - Saturday afternoon, March 25th

The ABS Census of Population and Housing journey to work data, 2011, states 60% of people still preferred to use their car to travel to work and 3% used buses - clearly many in Manly would utilise the ferry service too. Those travelling to the city centre or North Sydney from our area then were Pittwater: 3, 797, Warringah: 14, 766, Manly: 7, 702, Mosman: 6, 509 and North Sydney: 13,907 into town and 9, 657 to North Sydney itself. 

Some opponents state this is simply a replication of the already existing express services to the city, just rebranded. Anyone who has caught an early a.m. L90 is aware these buses can be crowded by Mona Vale - another reason to base a start point for an increased and more frequent service for commuters to adjust the difference between 60% and 3%, especially if projected increases in population needs are to be met. The above statistics would also suggest those living in the former Warringah council area, still extant Mosman and North Sydney LGA's need more buses more frequently much much more though.

The B-Line Update No.5 document dated Thursday March 23, 2017 was uploaded to all the B-Line webpages this week and contains:

How is the B-Line Program addressing extra seating on buses?
New double deck buses will provide more seating capacity than the current buses, and the high frequency of B-Line services in peak periods and throughout the day will reduce the number of standing passengers.

How is ‘park and ride’ connected to B-Line commuter car parking?
Park and ride will be encouraged by provision of commuter car parks that will include bicycle storage facilities and improved pedestrian access to B-Line stops.

What is the frequency of B-Line services, and do they provide services late at night?
The B-Line will generally operate between the hours of approximately 5.30am and 12.30am. Service frequencies will be: 
• every five minutes in the weekday southbound morning peak and northbound afternoon peak commute periods 
• every 10 minutes at other times of the day, and on weekends, up to 11pm 
• every 15 minutes between 11pm and 12.30am every day.

How will the reliability of bus journey times be improved in peak periods?
The B-Line program has identified a number of solutions to reduce delays to buses during peak periods and improve service reliability, while minimising the impact of these changes to general traffic.
These include new turn bays, extended turn bays, closure of local roads and changed parking restrictions. 
Other initiatives are designed to give buses priority and make journey times faster and more reliable including bus lanes, transit lanes, new sections of tidal flow and indented bus bays.

The trees that hold together the berms separating Mona Vale Village Park from the main road are still standing at present - but may disappear by week's end. On Monday, March 20th site establishment works began, including fencing off the trees and berms in the Village Park. A 'B-Line Project Update - Mona Vale - Start of work' document dated March 13 shows the work locations:

Mona Vale work locations

The difference between the above and what still is on the main B-Line webpage for the Mona Vale, the 'Artist's Impression' for the Mona vale/Village Park bus bay has also been a source of anger, attracting comments about 'inappropriate Impressionism' that's so inaccurate it's actually false. 

Others fear this vision is part of a plan to reintroduce the Dee Why-ing of Mona Vale or to service the thousands slated to be moved into Ingleside as the new carpark being built at Warriewood won't be big enough.

Former Labour NSW Transport Minister and Premier Barry Unsworth attended and spoke at both protest rallies - video from Wednesday's runs below. 

The Labour party, although not running a candidate for the upcoming Manly by-election, did speak out as well through Labor MLC for the Northern Beaches, Greg Donnelly, as well. Mr. Donnelly weighed into the debate this week by calling on Mackellar MP, Jason Falinski to 'cease immediately his ongoing attacks on the State Transit Authority, bus drivers and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.'

“I am calling on Mr Falinski to immediately declare, for the sake of openness and transparency, the reasons behind his backing of a private bus operator over the State Transit Authority for the running of the B-Line bus service.

“If Mr Falinski believes that the new B-Line bus service should be privatised now or sometime in the future, he should tell us why”, Mr. Donnelly said in a statement issued on Friday 24th.

On Saturday around 150 concerned local residents attended the second rally, which organisers were pleased with, given the short notice of only only 3 days.

The Save Mona Vale community group reports; " 13 speakers addressed the audience and a motion was put up:-

"This meeting opposes the construction of the proposed B-Line bus stop in Mona Vale Village Park and seeks the retention of the existing bus stop at Waratah Street".

The Motion was carried unanimously."

" Concerns were expressed for the safety of commuters, especially after dark departing a bus at the new Village Park bus stop. The park is extremely isolated being 100 metres from pedestrian activity areas, has no passive surveillance, will place young and older woman at risk of attack, will be difficult for the disabled and wheelchair bound people with very poor connectivity to shops and the increased distance to the Gateway Medical Centre will also make this difficult for seniors and those ill who have to visit both places.

" Forced Council Amalgamations by the Baird Government were also discussed and many expressed hope of a de-amalgamation for Pittwater. 
'It's been done in Queensland so why not here in Pittwater.' remains the objective of many in the community and this is not abating or decreasing with time passing.

" It was interesting that not everyone knew that the main Mona Vale Hospital building is to be demolished by the NSW Government. This too was discussed."

The videos below are your best record for catching up on what has been happening and may be happening next - our thanks to the Save Mona Vale community group for all their dedication and work, and to John Illingsworth for recording these films and records.

B-Line, or Trojan horse? Barry Unsworth tells it as it is.

Published on 23 Mar 2017 by Pittwater Pathways
Mona Vale Village Park is being ravaged for an unnecessary B-Line bus stop. Former NSW Transport Minister and Premier Barry Unsworth says it is a stalking horse for high-rise development; warns Mona Vale citizens to take action now or suffer the fate of Canterbury.

To B-Line or to not B-Line? PART 1 of 3

Published on 18 Mar 2017 by Pittwater Pathways
The B-Line Bus Project team met with Pittwater residents at Village Park in Mona Vale. We appreciate their making the effort. But the B-line business plan remains, after 2 years, cabinet-in-confidence and unavailable for public scrutiny. 

However, reliable sources from within government say conversion of the existing T3 Transit Lane between the bridges to a dedicated bus lane would take 12 minutes off the bus trip, thus solving half the problem. The only cost would be changing the signs and painting the road!

To B-Line or not to B-Line? PART 2 of 3

Published on 24 Mar 2017 by Pittwater Pathways

The arm gesture shows the line of cut, trees to be removed and the initial amount of Village Park that will be lost. 

To B-Line or not to B-Line? PART 3 - WARATAH ST BUS STOP

Published on 26 Mar 2017
The B-Line laid bare and found severely wanting. No business case and more than $600,000 per parking space marks it a political thought bubble. Time for a back-flip Gladys, before it's too late.