WHY IS SYDNEY SUCH A PARTY POOPER?
OPEN LETTER TO THE PREMIER, THE HON BOB CARR
CC: The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph
You can’t be responsible for everything, but as the political leader of NSW, you
have a right to know where Sydney fails its citizens and its visitors, especially on the
eve of hosting the Olympic Games. But even without the spectre of the Olympic dream
becoming an Olympic nightmare, Sydney prides itself on being a major international
metropolis. If so, it needs and deserves much better public transport services around the
Of course, you do not have first hand experience of personal transport problems, being
chauffered everywhere (and rightly so) but that’s why we are writing this open
letter; if we simply whinge about it amongst ourselves, nothing will change. Please accept
this letter in the spirit in which it is written – that is, constructive criticism.
Following the high profile, televised PEOPLE'S CHOICE Awards night * and
professionally organised, entertaining party on Friday November 27, 1998, the 2,000 or so
guests had the same problems that 2,000 or so guests had after the AFI Awards party two
weeks earlier at Pyrmont.
No way to go home. No buses. No trains. No cabs.
And the award night guests weren’t alone. Between 2 am and 3 am, small bands of
people from all sorts of functions, parties and general Friday night outings roamed George
Street – this is the centre of the city, Premier, not George Street in the outer
suburbs – and congregated around the Regent Hotel in the (unsatisfied) hope that cabs
would serve the hotel.
Some, like me, tried booking a cab via mobile phones, without success. We even tried a
couple of limo companies in desperation. Nothing.
Many if not most people on a Friday night prefer to take a cab or public transport for
an evening out – a sensible choice, you would think. Wrong.
Faced with continuing delays, after 3am – nine hours after leaving home to begin
the evening – we had little choice but book into a city hotel for the night.
Imagine the badmouthing this sort of frustration breeds in locals, visitors and foreign
Why is this so? A uniform 3 am driver change-over time drains the streets of cabs at a
crucial time – especially on weekends, festive season and other peak times. Staggered
cab driver change-over time is one step in the right direction. One veteran cabbie told us
(on Saturday morning as we cabbed home in our evening gear), that the extra cab plates
issued to try and overcome this problem were not being properly used. Perhaps this could
be investigated by the relevant Department in conjunction with the Taxi Council.
Mini buses could provide basic midnight to dawn services from the city to suburbs. As
the driver explained, parties and functions drawing people from outer suburbs mean that as
people want to go home, cabs are taken out of the city to various outer suburbs.
Night security guards outside the Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday told us that in
their observation, cabs start to disappear from about 2 am, and start reappearing around 4
am. One could make a Monty Python joke about the service being unavailable exactly at the
time of peak demand – but I won’t, since this is a serious issue.
It also links to the whole question of public transport around the suburban fringes of
Sydney. Our Seaforth location is not alone in the northern beaches area in being
transport-challenged, to put it in today’s idiom. Our teenage children have
documented over recent years the miserable failings of the dis-service public transport
Please Premier – don’t appoint a committee, but get someone with enough
common sense to look into this late night transport problem. It’s urgent.
Andrew L. Urban