April 14, 2016

Horse 2099 - No-One Cares About The Stairs

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying a stairway to heaven.
This is not it.

More than likely this is one of the most boring photographs which has ever appeared on this blog.
You and I and everyone can see that it is nothing more than a photograph of a set of stairs. "Ahah!", you don't hear me say, for this is a text based medium and sounds do not travel via the medium of text. This is a photograph of something special; a world which has long past out of view and which will again hide itself away from prying eyes.

Wynyard Station in the Sydney CBD has been in desperate need of renovation for far too long. The reason for this is that in terms of passenger traffic, it is easily in the top three in Sydney. Every morning when the city breathes in, because of Wynyard's proximity to the financial and business district, it is the point through which most of the joyless business types pass. Likewise in the afternoon, it becomes the point from which the city vomits them all back into the suburbs. At five past five in the afternoon, you can sometimes barely move on the platforms for all the crowds that accumulate. At midday on the weekend though, it turns into a ghost town, with only the memories of the working week before, left to inhabit it.

These stairs though, are remnants of a past which only the observant are reminded of. They are the reminder of what once was. Currently, Wynyard Station has four platforms; they are numbered 3 and 4 upstairs and 5 and 6 downstairs. These stairs are for the permanently closed and deleted platforms 1 and 2.
Once upon a time in the lands of the past when Sydney had the largest tram network in the world, Platforms 1 and 2 served as tram platforms. The trams that headed northbound, went up the North Shore and to places like Mosman and the zoo. Platforms 1 and 2 would have been like the other platforms and breathed passenger traffic in and out. These stairs serviced those platforms.
The obvious question of why they still exist has two possible answers for me. The first is the more likely one, in that simple apathy and dereliction of care is why they were never demolished. Nobody saw a need to and so nobody could be bothered. I have a more hopeful answer though. My hope is that they were saved just in case they were needed again at some point in the future. I hope that the reason that they didn't suffer the indignation of the jackhammer is that someone was and is looking ahead to a time when once again, it will fulfill a useful purpose.

Directly above these stairs and where Platforms 1 and 2 used to be, the tunnels which once saw trams pass through are now filled, rather uselessly, with cars which are parked there. Trams which could move fifty and sixty people at a time, have been replaced by cars which remain static most of the day and given that they're likely to be driven by even richer and even more joyless business types, they will more likely than not be ferrying only a single occupant. It's probably reasonable to estimate that the former tram tunnels now have less people pass through them in an entire week than what would have passed through them in ten minutes. Someone appears to be making money though. I went upstairs to look at the car parking rates and saw that a day rate cost $48 - that's more than I currently pay for a week's worth of public transport usage, or more than I'd pay for a month's worth of lunches.

The scary thing is that these car park expenses are almost certainly being counted as business expenses; which means that you and I are in effect subsidising this inefficient waste of what could be useful infrastructure to the tune of as much as $14.40 per car per day in tax which has been foregone.
Most of the people who walk past this construction site don't know and don't care about these stairs and wouldn't even think to look at them; much less consider what could you been. Once upon a time in the land of the past, these stairs would have been dressed with wooden handrails and possibly with advertisements for Walton's, Mark Foy's, Brylcream and Bonox, in the rises. Right now, the cry out to be used again but face a future of again being hidden behind walls or destroyed entirely.

For me they are a reminder of what was stolen from this city by a past government who didn't consider the future at all and a series of following governments who haven't made good on restoring that which was lost.
The renovation of Wynyard Station is a reparation of degradation yet doesn't change the situation of devastation wrought by past impatience. In the shiny future of tomorrow when Wynyard has been rebuilt anew, these stairs will again be unseen; reminding no-one of what should be.

This is where those stairs should lead to. The fact that they do not, is the result of abject stupidity on the part of a government past and the refusal of all subsequent state governments to fix what they destroyed.

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