Perhaps it is Sydney’s curious geography, full of dozens of small bays and inlets built around low hills, but it seems to have a big problem with public transport.
Not for us the surety and logic of the Melbourne tram network, or the London or Paris underground.
We have been told we haven’t had enough people to justify investment in a major underground rail system, and our miles of tram tracks were ripped up under Premier Cahill in the 1950s in what now seems like an act of urban vandalism.
Sydney once had nearly 300 kilometres of tram tracks and 2500 trams, many of which were ceremonially burned in the late 1950s in some bizarre equivalent to a witch trial.
The hegemony of the automobile has ruled over Sydney for more than half a century, and the results are appalling. Huge commuting times and inequitable tolls, and not to mention the pollution.
It all seems on the wrong side of history as we strive for Net Zero by whenever it is, but no-one with any real influence seems to care.
So while the monstrous roadworks of West Connex continue at Blackwattle Bay, resembling the marshalling yards for Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, and houses through the inner west crack and it’s no-one’s fault, the public seems to be the victim of cruel joke.
Our new ferries don’t work, so we’ve brought the old ones back into service. Some new ferries are too tall to go under bridges.
We should have a ferry to Blackwattle Bay, and they’ve only brought them back to compensate for the trams being out of action. But this single ferry doesn’t operate on weekends, and can’t go up the bay to Annandale due to speed restrictions.
Which brings it back to the trams. Has there ever been a tale of greater incompetence than the new Sydney tram network?
The line to Randwick, with a raison d’etre to take people to the Randwick Races and placate Peter Vlandys, sent dozens of small business people to the wall during its construction.
It might be lovely now it’s finished, but up until now we’ve been told that these trams are a different gauge than the inner west trams and can’t be used.
But more recently we’re told they are trialling these trams on the inner west line. So what is actually going on?
Regardless of the answer, the two lines are totally unco-ordinated. I once attempted a journey from Annandale to the SCG to the cricket, changing at Central. A 90 minute exercise, and one I won’t repeat.
Which is just as well, as I won’t get the opportunity to do that for at least another 18 months with the trams off the road due to cracking.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had a local workshop churning out these trams and repairing them.
But that expertise left Sydney decades ago, when we embraced the god of outsourcing and Australia stopped employing people to make things. If you want to see a locally made tram, go to the Tramsheds for coffee.
Meanwhile, there’s a Viking longboat moored at Blackwattle Bay, just near the Fish Market. I kid you not.
Originally I thought it was some joke substitution for the Blackwattle Bay ferry, but lately I’m hoping its evidence of a Viking invasion.
We could do with a big strong dose of Nordic efficiency and logic. They at least get their public transport right.