HK Metro Case Failure

HONG KONG MTR MODEL OF PUTTING HIGH-RISES OVER METRO LINES WAS NEVER GOING TO WORK ON THE BANKSTOWN LINE, AS BEREJIKLIAN WAS WARNED.  GSC’S RIDICULOUS DWELLINGS TARGETS OF SAY 67 HIGH-RISES IN BEAMISH ST CAMSIE ALONE DEFEATED HER. 

CLUMSINESS LED TO LABOR’S PROMISE TO CANCEL.

ADD THE LIBS’ NORTH SHORE HEARTLAND, WE’LL DEAL WITH THE PENINSULA ELSEWHERE.

The Metro was never going to work because the densification model is high-risk and infeasible, the constrained spread of services means a small contribution to housing (probably less than 5% of growth to 2031 which is when WestConnex runs out of capacity), and metros can run on Bradfield tracks which RG expounded and Berejiklian has stolen inter alia.

The Final Summary Business Case for the confusing new Stage 2 to Bankstown (there had been 3) was released some 8 months after the Environmental Approval, which is whacky sequencing.

Inadequate pre-planning was an understatement, with the wrong alignment of the Barangaroo station and a public spat between SydUni and Urban Growth over a silly Redfern or dumber Green Square station, decided by the totally conflicted Planning Minister who owned Urban Growth.

The Greater Sydney Commission has no evident economic or other assessments behind its route, technology, engagement or taxation streams.  It meets none of the previous bullet points although scores high on decorative presentations.

It did no social, economic, environmental or other scenario-testing of its preferred and other options (it ignored all of the latter).

It was happy to force a change in living patterns with fundamental affordability, living quality, parklands, education and congestion costs, without any electoral legitimacy or Parliamentary mandate.  Its time has passed.

The current entanglements through just Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and associated official bodies is amazing when one recalls the effectiveness of NSW TRANSAC which had no commercial entanglements.

In 2017 DOP (including GSC) had North Shore targets which were raised in 2018 by GSC, now under Berejiklian, by 300 dwellings or about 10%, meaning Berejiklian was trying to get away with hurting her own constituents, having failed in Bankstown, GSC being fully complicit in both.

Is the pain worth it?  300 dwellings could be expected to each pay say $150,000 in a capital levy (penalising that precinct’s market attractiveness), and say $500 per year in a “Metro levy”, making a capital contribution of $450,000,000 and annual $150,000, which is assuredly insignificant in a $20,000,000,000 project.  The bankers’ reducing balance model puts the project’s annual instalments at $1.89 billion – the ratio making the annual levy contribution 0.008%.

The total of 4,550 dwellings is 0.12% although the corridor will become known as a high-cost canyon – the trains being full when they pull in, Chatswood also being a mess of direct services from Epping through to Chatswood and forced transfers from Hornsby.

In fact, it might have nothing to do with housing supply.  The Crows Nest Application includes just 350 dwellings, a 17 story hotel, and an 8 storey commercial building (as stated but the Real Level heights in the Crows Nest Heights Rezoning Discussion Paper are misleading).

The planning companies working for the Metro are well-paid, the budget for getting the Application through is enormous, but there are no traditional planning ethics – one major planning shop has the contract to persuade the community to get on-board which reflects its long-term determination to do “whatever it takes” going back to IMROC’s disastrous Parramatta Road Plan.

Planning Minister Roberts is now telling the developers they have to do more to persuade the community after his record of forced interventions, but has committed hari-kari – the North Shore feedback on densification has been deferred from early Dec to early Feb!  which will allow the Independents to fertilise the angry victims and leave Berejiklian with loud questions, not healed wounds, in March.  This repeats the blundering everywhere.

The Bankstown Metro was an iterative blundering compromise from the deceitful 2012 brainsnap.  It has failed, with Roberts threatening high value-capture levies (making a bad situation much worse), and Constance speculating about the need to subsidise Central State hotel developers by several billions.  This is a Keystone Kops debacle and both housing targets and value capture will be flagged as failures under Bairdijiklian Malenomics.

Baird and the Metro lied about their wonderful four minute headways between trains (15 per hour on Bankstown), saying their standards had “never been seen before”.  They are wrong on so many levels but start with Bradfield in 1915:  ES 40 trains per hour, 25 on the Bankstown Line, 200 per hour through Wynyard-square.

Add that Berejiklian is forcing the Metros through a CBD funnel and we have created a new capacity for service disruptions, ventilation possibly being the limiting point as it was in 2009.

In the course of all this, where the metros could have run on existing lines, and without any election mandate or due diligence legitimisation:

  • 40% of the Bradfield city system will be depopulated and possibly de-activated, cost implications will sit as contingent liabilities on the State’s balance sheet
  • commuters will have to change trains at four points or more, with longer transit times but no proportionate increase in capacity, losing special events capabilities, in perpetuity as the current metro extension stupidity must end
  • commuters were have to queue behind chutes on platforms which is ridiculous in most suburban stations
  • commuters will face extended close-downs of their lines, incurring additional costs and possibly leaving the degraded system.