Sydney’s new light rail is planned to open on December 14th and will provide a modern and sustainable way for people to travel to and from Sydney’s CBD and south eastern suburbs. Already, the light rail has transformed the shape of the city, opened up its premier street to pedestrians with less traffic, and brought a new energy to the CBD. It has also influenced how deliveries and servicing take place within a changed operating environment.
Since 2015, when George Street in the CBD was closed to buses and general traffic, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and the light rail builder have worked directly with businesses and residents to maintain access to loading docks and driveways throughout light rail construction and the project’s final design. Importantly, access has been maintained to key docks such as Myers and Westfield for articulated vehicles throughout this period. Loading zones and parking were also relocated to nearby streets to ensure deliveries and servicing activities continue to be supported.
Marg Prendergast, Coordinator General at TfNSW, has said that major traffic changes in the CBD needed to consider how the city operates day to day, including freight and servicing activities.
“We worked closely with the City of Sydney and transport providers to successfully implement these changes to the transport network to accommodate the new light rail,” Ms Prendergast said.
“While the new trams will provide vital transport connections between the CBD and south east for customers from December, freight and servicing operators have already adapted to the new transport environment.”
“We’ve supported the freight industry to use strategies such as retiming their deliveries to off peak or overnight; using different modes of transport in the CBD such as courier bikes and trolleys in pedestrianised zones. In response to the CBD challenges, we know several businesses have consolidated their fleet operations to reduce their trips into the city.
“We have also worked really hard to reduce the use of private vehicles in the CBD by promoting public transport, cycling and walking as alternatives.”
Since George Street was closed to major traffic in 2015, fewer vehicles come into the city in the morning peak while more people are using public transport. Compared to 2015, the number of vehicles entering the city centre during weekday AM peak fell by 13% as of June 2019.
Fewer vehicles is good news for freight and servicing operators, as it provides more capacity for those who really need to drive into the CBD.
“We’ve gone to a lot of effort to minimise supply disruption throughout light rail construction. While routes around the city have changed frequently, service to key retailer’s loading docks along George Street has not been interrupted. This is a great credit to all the people involved throughout the project and their liaison with the transport operators to ensure the servicing occurs through disruption.” said Ms Prendergast.
With the arrival of light rail, TfNSW has also developed and launched safety campaigns to educate road users on how to safely operate alongside the new trams along the entire route. For drivers, it highlights that road conditions have changed and that trams cannot quickly stop, and cannot swerve to avoid anything on the tracks. More information can be found on https://sydneylightrail.transport.nsw.gov.au/safety.
Ms Prendergast said the opening of light rail is an exciting time for the Sydney and the CBD. George Street, which was once dominated by cars and buses, has been transformed into a vibrant pedestrian boulevard and an attractive place for people and activities.
“A large component of a successful place is ensuring the businesses are successful. That will mean they can continue to receive deliveries and services efficiently, so we all can in turn enjoy the morning coffee, lunch, and retail offerings of this great city,” said Ms Prendergast.