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The point is that cap­it­al works — from a new police sta­tion to a new port — deliv­er a flow of ser­vices stretch­ing over 20, 30 or 40 years. Bor­row­ing to cov­er, say, half the cost of the work is a way of shar­ing its cost between the present and future gen­er­a­tions who will bene­fit from its ser­vices.
(full art­icle)

Ross Gittins is a geni­us — this art­icle is prob­ably the best explan­a­tion I’ve seen of why the gov­ern­ment should bor­row to pay for infra­struc­ture.

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Fair­fax Media posts a $380 mil­lion loss, and the SMH online puzzle and cross­word ser­vice is clos­ing from August 31 — maybe it really is time for all of us free­load­ers to, god for­bid, start pay­ing for our news.

25 Aug 2009 | No comments

Watch out Sydney: more pub­lic rela­tions cre­ations of Events NSW are com­ing our way.

This time round, we’re being asked to Crave Sydney — incor­por­at­ing such inter­est­ing events as, for example, eat­ing break­fast on the bridge. I do indeed crave eggs bene­dict togeth­er with caffè latte for break­fast but I must say I tend to prefer it sans car exhaust. And appar­ently, we will also be intro­duced to the “world’s fun­ni­est island”. No idea what that is — but could it be a ref­er­ence to how funny it is that this island con­tin­ent spans all of 4000 km from east to west, yet we can’t seem to get excited about any­thing hap­pen­ing in my own back­yard? (The Crave Sydney web­site doesn’t have any­thing sub­stant­ive yet as of writ­ing — but I’m not hold­ing my breath.)

Then there’s the ferry-hop­ping. Fort Den­ison does have some of the world’s best views, but there’s only so much you can do on an island on which you can walk from one end to the oth­er in about two minutes.

Appar­ently, Janu­ary this year was “Viva­city Sydney” (I didn’t even real­ise that exis­ted), but I do recall that Vivid Sydney was on in June (although noth­ing there was par­tic­u­larly attract­ive): take a look at the mas­ter events cal­en­dar 2009.

(Just put­ting it out there: these “mas­ter events” are prob­ably designed purely to lure tour­ists into the hole that is Sydney, but surely they could find some­thing that excites both res­id­ents and non-res­id­ents?)

And finally, to cap off this excit­ing year in Sydney, we have, accord­ing to this mas­ter events sched­ule, Rupert Bunny to look for­ward to in Novem­ber:

Rupert Bunny

Unfor­tu­nately, no, it’s actu­ally this guy.

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Min­im­al funds to fix Sydney con­ges­tion: no sur­prises here, but what will Sydney do? We can’t just sit here while Mel­bourne steams ahead. And what needs fix­ing about the Perth-Fre­mantle rail­way? When I was over there, I thought Transperth was almost a mod­el of per­fec­tion…

13 May 2009 | No comments

NSW only gets $100m for the west metro, while Vic­tor­ia is set to get $3.5bn for a metro rail tun­nel in Mel­bourne. Dis­ap­point­ing, but it’s hard to say the Vic­tori­ans don’t deserve it.

10 May 2009 | No comments

If there’s one thing that I’ve taken away from my IT stud­ies, it’s this: even if you come up with a new, whiz­bang idea, ask your­self, what prob­lem does it solve?

Many innov­at­ive people are prob­ably hav­ing many innov­at­ive ideas right now, but do any of these ideas solve real prob­lems that people care about?

As an example, my pet peeve are those bar­codes on posters that you’re meant to scan with your mobile phone. Tel­stra seems to think they’re a great idea, but really, what prob­lem does it solve? Is it that I can’t get enough advert­ising in my day that I need to access pro­mo­tion­al crap even faster? It doesn’t even save me time, and it’s not easi­er either. I tried it on a bus once: nav­ig­at­ing the menus on my Nokia and try­ing to get the cam­era (which (un)helpfully zoomed in to tele­scop­ic depths) to focus on a little square on the ceil­ing above my head got me nowhere except for stares all round.

Any­way, back to the main point for today. Firstly, I’d say met­ros are good. I like met­ros. Nath­an Rees likes met­ros too.

But what prob­lem does the Cent­ral-Rozelle metro solve?

Accord­ing to the Her­ald today, the first three stops are Cent­ral, Town Hall and Mar­tin Place. We already have a train line that allows you con­vey your­self between those very three points. Then it con­tin­ues on to Rozelle. What on earth is at Rozelle? The idea is, it would be seem, to make people alight from Vic­tor­ia Road buses and fin­ish the bal­ance of their jour­ney on the metro. Yes, Vic­tor­ia Road is a park­ing lot dur­ing peak hour, but does this metro solve the prob­lem? If people aren’t catch­ing the buses right now, there’s no indic­a­tion that more people will be inclined to catch buses that con­nect onto a metro. Look at the map your­self: Vic­tor­ia Road is a night­mare because it’s the free altern­at­ive to the Lane Cove Tun­nel and the Har­bour Bridge, for people up north-west­ern way (Ryde, etc).

Then there’s the Cent­ral end. The idea is to make people get off CityRail trains and force them to change onto the metro… which runs to Town Hall, Mar­tin Place and Wynyard. Apart from the fact that those sta­tions can already be reached by people get­ting off at Cent­ral, what prob­lem is the metro solv­ing? It’s a little crowded at times, but it works reas­on­ably well, and the gov­ern­ment must have been think­ing that they could arti­fi­cially engin­eer a prob­lem by mak­ing every­one get off. It’s not going to work.

Spend­ing $5bn for a pat­ron­age of 5,500 people is pathet­ic. But people will come if you solve their prob­lems.

So what prob­lems are there that could be solved by a metro? Buses. Sydney Buses suck. Espe­cially the ones that run along George and Cast­lereigh Streets. If you stand along George Street dur­ing peak hour, every second vehicle going past you is a bus. The Wynyard bus ter­min­al is also a night­mare; office work­ers queuing up for miles to get on buses destined for the north­ern beaches, along with the Great Wall of China, are the two man-made form­a­tions vis­ible from space.

I’ve had this drawn up for a while, but this is a metro line, if it were built, that I think would solve prob­lems:

Enlarge this map

With this metro, you would ter­min­ate Par­ra­matta Road and City Road buses before Broad­way. In this case, for­cing people off won’t irk any­one because the ride into the city is cur­rently tor­ture any­way. Like­wise, on the north­ern approach, ter­min­ate north­ern beaches buses before they hit the bridge. I’ve only paired two sta­tions with CityRail sta­tions — Cent­ral and Wynyard (I think Town Hall is bey­ond hope) — and moved city sta­tions closer togeth­er. They’re fur­ther apart than bus stops, but frankly, bus stops on every block as it cur­rently stands is a bit ridicu­lous. Com­bined with some light rail on the sur­face, which Clover seems more than happy to provide, this, I humbly sub­mit, is a metro that solves the CBD’s prob­lems.

It’s not that I think a metro can’t be a good solu­tion, but as it stands, the Cent­ral-Rozelle metro gets Sydney nowhere.

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Len­ovo wins $150m NSW schools deal: It’s great to see the NSW gov­ern­ment giv­ing form to the “digit­al revolu­tion” by provid­ing laptops to school­chil­dren, but the dom­in­ance of Microsoft and Adobe soft­ware denies NSW kids the chance to see bey­ond the Win­dows strait­jack­et — and tax­pay­ers more bang for their buck.

16 Apr 2009 | 2 comments

If the SMH can’t get it right, who can?

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Flounder­ing in a sea of change: I still con­sider the New York Times to be the pin­nacle of journ­al­ism, but is it flounder­ing because of the col­lapse of the old guard, and “the cost struc­tures and priv­ileges of the old media are being swept away”?

09 Sep 2008 | 1 comment

‘Human flesh search engine’ in hot pur­suit of the iPhone girl, pro­claims the head­line. I was ini­tially quite curi­ous as to why there is a search engine that indexes bits of human flesh on the plan­et. Update: Tommy sug­gests that the phrase “human flesh search engine” is a lit­er­al trans­la­tion from the Chinese.

29 Aug 2008 | No comments

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