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The state government has pledged to cut journey times for trams on Sydney's $2.9 billion light rail line over the coming months, following concerns they are much slower than buses.
After carrying about 115,000 passengers in its first 28 hours of operation, the new line between Randwick and Circular Quay faces another major test on Monday during the morning travel peak.
While delays and several incidents marred the opening on Saturday, light rail operator Transdev said trams operated smoothly on Sunday apart from one tram halting services briefly due to a mechanical brake failure while passing through Surry Hills in the inner city.
More than 115,000 people travelled on the light rail line for the first time at the weekend. CREDIT:EDWINA PICKLES
The government came under fire from Labor over the trams' average travel time of about 50 minutes between Randwick and Circular Quay, which is slower than forecasts several months ago of 38 to 40 minutes. Buses can take about 35 minutes to complete the same route.
Labor's transport spokesman, Chris Minns, said people would be "scratching their heads wondering why $3 billion has been spent on a project that is so slow".
"When you consider it's quicker to get from Penrith to the city, than from Randwick to the city, you have a major problem," he said.
But Transport Minister Andrew Constance rebutted Labor's criticisms and said the government was focused on reducing average end-to-end-travel times from about 50 minutes to as close to 40 minutes as possible. "We said this would take about six months to bed this in," he said.
And Mr Constance said passengers still had to get used to boarding and alighting trams, which can increase the length of time trams are held at stops. "I would hope they will start to speed up as people get used to them but it's not going to happen on day dot," he said. "People need to get used to pressing the buttons on the doors – it's not like a bus."
Labor also pressured the government to reveal changes to bus services in Sydney's south east planned for April, which will occur after a branch of the line to Kingsford is opened in March.
Mr Constance said transport officials would look at demand patterns to determine the changes to bus services but he insisted that "we are not going to cut transport services" to the eastern
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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