Results: Common Open Response Questions 6 and 7 (4 and 5 for Small Business Owners) for each Individual Survey
The last questions of the motorist’s, commuter’s and resident’s survey was an interconnected, qualitative primary data extraction methodology which was aimed at answering Aims 1 and 2 by raising a discussion as to what should be done and if nothing is done then what will happen. The questions raised some interesting answers amongst the 80 people who were surveyed all together and was left as an open ended, free response question in order to allow the responders to express their personal opinion rather than being restricted to particular options. Moreover, these two questions in themselves were a type of 2 question interview targeting not just a couple of people but a whole spectrum of people affected by the socio-economic impacts of urban growth in Parramatta.
In Question 6, there was a variety of responses as to what should be done in order to reduce the impact of urban growth on traffic. Most people said that because of the large volume of cars which use the roads around Parramatta, the number of lanes should be increased from the current level to at least 3. Another common response was that the number of traffic lights should be reduced. Some people also commented on the location of the Parramatta Westfield being a major hindrance to traffic conditions and hence; something should be done with regards to that.
In Question 7, the majority of people replied with the same comment that if nothing is done in the near future then the effects of traffic congestion in Parramatta could affect the business of local companies, as well as affecting traffic conditions in other regions. One person even made the comment that “if nothing is done Parramatta will go into urban decline”, which may be a slightly farfetched statement. Overall, though motorists were deeply concerned with the situation and felt that things could take a turn for the worse.
For Question 6, the most common response was that the train station needed to be expanded in terms of platform width and also with respect to the number of platforms and train connections. Some people also commented that Parramatta station should be a major interchange or have a second train station. Moreover, people at the bus depot said that train frequency and promptness needed to be increased and for this to be done so, more integrated bus lanes would have to be built.
For Question 7, the majority of people said that if the volume of commuters continued to increase then public transport delays would only continue to rise. Moreover, because cityrail’s networks are interconnected and thus interdependent, urban growth’s detrimental impact on society could be felt across the western and Cumberland train lines.
For Question 6, residents commonly responded by saying that the government should develop alternative routes in both the public and private transport areas to divert traffic away from local residential complexes. However, many failed to answer this question because they probably thought that the government could not do anything to help them as local residents, whatever they would do would inadvertently result in primarily affecting commuters and motorists and thus there other responses were similar to that of the above section.
For Question 7, most people said that without government intervention the traffic and transport condition would inevitably continue to disintegrate and cause further problems which may heighten the influence of such influences on their quality of lives.
Small Business Owners
For Question 4, local businesses owners felt that they should be subsidised for their losses, reduce the role played by the local Westfield or create extra transport services that would attract consumers to Parramatta without causing transport issues.
For Question 5, like all previous categories the common response was that the conditions would only continue to worsen however, compared to the other responders a lot of small business owners said that they would prefer the government not to do anything as increased population only benefited them.
Analysis of Results
Extent of Issue: Patterns and Trends – Aim 1
The general patterns and trends found in the extensive primary and secondary research conclusively supported the hypotheses as highlighted earlier in the report. In general it was found to be the case that congestion, as a result of the insufficient availability of transport infrastructure, was prevalent in both the public and private networks. 90% of motorists and 95% of public transport commuters from first-hand experience found the traffic and public transport conditions respectively to be either congested or heavily overcrowded. This is further backed up in the qualitative field study which suggests that there was a general pattern of congestion and over crowdedness specifically around major roads and on train platforms. Furthermore the primary and secondary photographs all visually communicate this trend since the traffic is not just prevalent in one area but is concentrated in surrounding areas which inevitably points to an expanding pattern of congestion. ABS data collected over 10 years has suggested that Parramatta’s population is growing at a mean rate of 10.4 per day and at this rate the extent of the issue will only increase in the future unless some action is taken. The long term extent of the issue was assessed in the final free response question of the surveys and overall there was a general trend, as mentioned in the processing of results section earlier in the report, towards interviewee’s inclining to the concept that conditions would only get worse without government intervention. 70% of commuters and motorists, according to survey questions 3 and 1 of the motorist’s and commuter’s surveys respectively, use the respective transport facilities nearly every day and this also affects the current situation and further reinforces the long term extent of the severity of the issue.
Causes of Issue – Aim 1
Parramatta Westfield: at more than 40,000 people visiting on an average day the car park offers less than a 10% conversion rate and from the primary data survey (which was conducted at Westfield) it was found that 40-50% arrived by car which highlights the lack of spaces available. Whilst the Westfield complex may seem like an arguably small part of the problem it plays an integral part in contributing to aggravating the situation.
Urban growth: Population growth and the general urbanisation of the Parramatta LGA has resulted in a greater demand for goods and services and because of the fact that no major developments have been made to either transport networks, i.e. the supply has remained constant, the current situation centred around congestion as shown in the various photographs with a high density of people has inevitably resulted. In terms of private transport, there as the number of people have grown the number of cars has grown as well and this further heightens the severity of the issue.
Urban Sprawl: the population movement primarily towards the greater western regions has increased the reliance on Parramatta as a commercial, residential and business centre
Overseas Migration: The major cause of the congested traffic and overcrowded public transport facilities is the lack of well planned transport infrastructure which has resulted as a result of inadequate state funding for the sector. However, if it was not for the increased demand for public and private transport facilities then such funding would not be necessary. Therefore, the underlying cause is the disequilibrium caused as a result of the of a greater influx of residents into the western suburbs and overseas typically Asian migration whose habitat epicentre tends to be in the Parramatta region.
Polycentric Model of Sydney: The demographic of Sydney as a structurally polycentric organisation means that population density is not concentrated in just one area but spread out around with one major centre and 2-3 smaller centres such as Parramatta. These smaller centres serve as the major region of consumer interest for surrounding suburbs. This has resulted on a lot of the pressures of Sydney CBD being shifted to Parramatta, which currently serves as the second largest city in terms of population. This can be seen in the population centre map in the secondary data table.
Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts – Aim 2
Parramatta railway station and bus interchange are linked to Parramatta Westfield and therefore any congestion with transport will have a direct impact on the massive shopping centre as well as the smaller local brads which operate around the densely populated area. The most prominent impact of the issue. Urban growth is both beneficial and detrimental for the economy of a rapidly growing centre as Parramatta.
growth of business and growth of surrounding area, reducing the dependence on the Sydney CBD.
Such urban growth has an immense impact on the existing transport network which as a result of its inability to cope has resulted in produced external effects such as traffic congestion. Such congestion is detrimental to businesses as it detracts consumer interest and delays labour movement which impacts the ability of the firm to provide. This is evident in the results of the local business survey which shows that 85% of small business owners think that urbanisation has had negative effects on their business in the way that it has resulted in a deflation of their business activity.
The key economic repercussions of urban growth in Parramatta have been concerned with traffic volume and insufficient transport facilities. They can be considered as economic impact because they are essentially factors which are driven by money and funding. Along with the growing population, the insufficiency of transport facilities has served as the major reason behind the current transport situation of over-crowdedness on the transport sites as well as congestion within trains and buses respectively. The traffic situation in and around Parramatta is caused not only by an increasing population but also by an inadequate number of lanes per road as expressed in most responses to Question 6 of the motorists survey whereby most believe that more lanes needed to be added to existing roads, but however this will lead to more congestion in the short term. A greater number of car ownerships in the Parramatta region and Sydney at large can also be blamed for the situation. With the majority of commuters and motorists being workers in Parramatta according to question 5 of Survey 1 and 2, the respective economic impacts of urban growth in the area are long term and extensive. This indicates that most of the regions residents still require some form of transport to go to work and this in turn is further aggravating the economic impact of urban growth in Parramatta.Whilst in some aspects it may lead to a residential boom and thus raise residential prices it may also detract consumer attention from the local residential market due to the implications of transport and traffic. Individuals prefer to live in less problematic and well connected centres with access to services rather than a congested metropolitan centre.
Due to the nature of this issue, the societal impacts are secondary to the economic impacts however some important impacts which may have or will result as a consequence of this issue includes:
decreased standard of living for local residents due to factors such as noise and sound pollution (this was a comment provided by a couple of respondents).
potentially disrupted sleep habits due to the need to wake up earlier than should be required due to expected traffic or transport delays.
Air and noise pollution are two major factors because of the dual nature of the congestion both affecting public and private transport. The congestion attracts consumers to alternatives such as walking or riding a bike to work but however this is not possible in most cases since most professional work is situated within the CBD area. Furthermore, any type of development to suppress the extent and impacts of this issue would inevitably lead to some sort of environmental issue, as demolition and construction are generally associated with environmental impacts such as increased pollution, removal of trees, and increased traffic volume, which has been seen through various projects and schemes that have been hatched by the government.
Management Strategies – Aim 3
Urban growth is a pressing issue, however with the correct methods and actions it can be managed efficiently. Individuals can help by petitioning for greater containment of the impacts of urban growth, writing letters to the local government expressing their concerns and also joining groups. Such groups who are inevitably formed by individuals can protest to the different levels of government and responsible companies in solving this issue. Individuals and groups should call upon greater volume of police on Parramatta’s streets, increased number of lanes on roads and greater capacity on public transport facilities and services. Because individuals and groups cannot physically enforce actions to contain the impacts of urban growth in Parramatta, it is primarily the government’s responsibility in resolving this issue. The local and state governments have to work with companies such as Westfield, Cityrail and the Roads and Traffic Authority of Australia to find potential solutions to this slowly aggravating issue. The main issues to consider are reducing traffic in and around the Parramatta region, providing greater transport facilities with a greater capacity for Parramatta’s steadily increasing population and reducing crime rates, which at present, are on the rise.
In order to deal with negative repercussions of urban growth in Parramatta, the Local and State Governments in accordance with various aforementioned companies must develop appropriate strategies.
Evaluation of current strategies
Currently there are a number of strategies which are being adopted by both the private and public sectors
Parramatta transport interchange: As mentioned in the secondary source (Wikipedia article), the development was actually a boost to the actual infrastructure in the way that it provided more access to commuters and shoppers through the way that it linked the bus terminal to the train station which was in turn linked to the Parramatta Westfield. This has been a largely advantageous development because it has reduced detracted demand for parking in the already congested car park by providing alternatives. But in doing this it has affected the other spectrum of transport, even though it has had a significant environmental impact this is because while the interchange was built no significant change was made to the existing platform structure or availability of trains which is the main problem: limited resources, constantly increasing demand.
Parking meters: recently the local government has installed parking meters on essentially all streets of the city whilst this has had some positive impacts, it has resulted in negative repercussions. Prior to such meters people would park their vehicles on the roadside for long periods of time to avoid the cost of parking in a car park for extended periods, for reasons such as work, and this shifted the pressure on the local shopping centre. However, with the added cost of street side parking, the overall pressure has been shifted to the shopping malls or full day car parks which increases the economic impact of visiting Parramatta for individuals and only helps to raise government revenue, which currently they are not investing in transport infrastructure in the Parramatta region.
The installation of parking sensors and external display of parking space availability in major car parks has made parking easier since it prevents the delay in traffic caused when people are trying to find a parking space in a full car park. However, upon investigation of the parking sensors on level 5 of the car park it was found that many of the sensors were faulty in that they were displaying an empty space when there was a car parked already and this undermines their reliability and validity.
Proposition and Justification of new strategies
Proposed Governmental Actions:
According to various news reports there have been proposed clearways on major Parramatta roads but this would mean a loss for businesses on Parramatta road due to less ease of access for consumers, but would mean a major reduction in traffic.
WestConnex: is the largest transport infrastructure project in the country and is thus associated with a large economic budget but would have inherently beneficial effects in terms of reducing traffic conditions as it involves: adding more lanes to roads and improving the condition of the existing M4 east which connects the western suburbs, including Parramatta, to the eastern suburbs. However, as mentioned in the article the proposition promotes the use of private vehicle and thus detracts attention from the public transport network , leading to a major environmental impact. This could in turn just mean more people choosing to travel by private transport and whilst this would reduce public transport pressure it would inevitably lead to traffic congestion on the private network once again. Also this would increase the impact on local residents located along the network and thus would have an increased societal impact.
Commuter and Motorist proposed actions:
The following is a number of survey extracted potential progressive strategies which could be implemented for each respective impact in order to suppress its extent and severity; hence preventing it from escalating:
increase number of lanes surrounding roads of major traffic volume
create an alternate route towards the city and eastern suburbs from the west to avoid Parramatta CBD traffic and congestion
moving position of Parramatta Westfield or at least creating a separate car park astray from traffic
increase size of railway station and hence; increase width of railway platforms
increase number of platforms from 4 to at least 6 to allow for a greater frequency to city
increase number of lines so people do not have to interchange at another station in order to get to their destination
develop a large centralised bus depot to accommodate for growing commuter population