Sydney traffic chaos: It's time to grow up Sydney, and catch public transport

Last time a car accident brought Victoria Road to a standstill I was in a car. I watched as the buses went flying past on what my family calls the "red carpet" - the bus lane - while we didn't move. I vowed never to travel to work in a car again, no matter how bad the bus is. 

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Harbour Bridge accident causes delays

Traffic is backed up several kilometres after a car and a motorcycle collided on the Harbour Bridge. Vision: Sunrise, Seven Network.

Fast forward a month and another accident creates chaos that impacts on Victoria Road again. I am happily ensconced, in the very last available seat, on a nice big M52 to the city, with two children and four bags, enjoying that red carpet ride through Ryde and Gladesville until ...

On the western side of Gladesville Bridge, we see it. A conga line of cars in the T3 lane. The bus drivers are beeping their horns. The lane is full of single passenger cars. The standing passengers on the bus roll their eyes and turn up the volume. I get out my laptop and start working. My young son wants to play on my phone, which is rapidly running out of battery. 

Cars clog the T3 lane on Gladesville Bridge this morning.
Cars clog the T3 lane on Gladesville Bridge this morning.  Photo: Kathryn Wicks

Here's how T3 works, Sydney. If you're a bus, you get to use T3. If you are a car with at least three people in it, you get to use T3. If you are a taxi, ambulance, police car, fire truck, hire car, motorcycle or very brave bicycle you get to use T3. If you are in a car alone and turning, you can only be in T3 for 100 metres. There are no turns off the middle of Gladesville Bridge, which spans 579.4 metres, that don't land you in Sydney Harbour.

For all the single passenger motorists who used T3 this morning, you risked a penalty of $248.


An hour after we got on the bus we reach Drummoyne, and the red carpet returns. Bus lanes are for buses, taxis, hire cars (not rental cars), emergency vehicles, motorbikes and bicycles. The same 100-metre rule applies. 

Yet still there are cars, and lots of them, in the bus lane. That's another $319.

Three hours after I left my house, I sat at my desk. Usually this takes 60-75 minutes, including dropping off kids and having a coffee.

We have no tram, no train and are unlikely to see either in our safe electorate. (Though the Parramatta fast rail could really do with that stop at Top Ryde.)

I understand why people drive to work: buses are late, full and unreliable (or in the case of the 389, completely useless). I have done it, plenty of times, to avoid the 389 from the city to the Herald's office in Pyrmont.   

When people know the bus is faster in bad traffic, they will choose the bus. On a normal day, leaving at 7am and with nothing going wrong, it takes about 27 minutes for one of those M52s to get from Top Ryde shops to the city. In a car, that takes 40-45 minutes. A bus lane on Anzac Bridge would make it even more attractive.

But you don't get to cheat the lanes when something goes wrong, like this morning.

It's up to authorities to police the lanes (thousands in state revenue went begging this morning) and the Department of Transport needs to listen to the people who compile the bus complaints and provide enough buses, at the right time, on time, to encourage people to use them.

And car drivers need to stay out of the way.

How long did it take you to get to work today? Leave your tale in the comments below.