Who is Paul Gardner-Stephen.
As we know from these pages it is very easy to create a scenario which gets people motivated.
A few leaflets, a bit of an over the fence gossip and you have a public meeting. Select the people with an interest that lines with yours and you effectively have a rent-a-crowd. Even if they are not getting cash in their pocket they are having their perceived interest tickled.
A public meeting is no better. The average Joe/Jenny does not care if it is an under pass, over pass or impasse so will not go to the meeting. The only people who will go to the meeting will be those who consider they have a grievance; that is they have something to gain by going to the meeting. You get a group of vocal people who have something to lose if they listen to the ideas against theirs. Rational discussion stays away. Pity the poor people from DPTI trying to make a sound case, they will not be listened to.
That said, any public project must listen to public concerns. BUT it must also be recognised that opposition to a project sometimes does not embrace ALL of public opinion. Paul G-S is a human and I am sure as a human he is not encouraging those who disagree with his position to attend a meeting or sign a petition.
As an aside.
The reason persons do not use underpasses is because they are trying to take a short cut to the platform.
This was a problem at Hove where people took short cuts from Brighton Road to the platform. Two deaths were caused this way. The first I recall in the 60s when a young woman tried to climb onto the platform as the train was coming. She got rolled between the train and the platform with here torso above the platform. My school friends who caught the train at Hove saw it while I waited at Warradale for a train which didn't come.
In that Warradale, Woodlands Park, Brighton and Edwardstown have retained their underpasses there must be another reason for its removal from Hove than simply the urinal factor. Was it structural? Was it the two deaths I referred to?
Who is Paul Gardner-Stephen? Well, me, basically. Someone who lives near the station, and wants to protect the local community and the local environment that the community has worked hard to improve over the last 60 years.
I don't know that I follow your argument about a public meeting necessarily being a renta-crowd. For the record, we were not selective in our invitation, and people with different views to our own were welcome to attend the meeting. I understand that at least one did. Apart from our objection to the underpass proposal, the meeting was called because we were having great trouble getting honest and complete information from DPTI, and for them to genuinely hear our various concerns. We have never claimed that everyone does (or must) subscribe to our view, but rather that a substantial number of the people who live in the area and use the station have great concerns about the proposed underpass, or other aspects of the project, such as insufficient attention to the local environment. A key point of the meeting was that many of the 140+ people who attended had signed statements attesting to having been misled by the DPTI process to that point, typically with the impact on local vegetation being systematically understated, irrespective of whether they were willing to accept an underpass.
Also, we were not being negative, but spent many hours of our own time to understand the issues, and produce credible alternatives that are not only cheaper, and faster to build, but that we believe are safer for the community, and more in fitting with the local environment. Our intention has been to improve on what DPTI were offering, to obtain the best possible outcome for the area.
But coming to your point about why people avoid underpasses, we are in somewhat of agreement.
While not the only reason, people certainly do avoid underpasses simply to reduce the distance to the platforms. This is one of the major problems of the proposed underpass: it will be at the end away from Westminster School, and so the students will have a hundred metre plus detour as incentive to find short cuts across the tracks, even more than they do now. We know from people living on Minchinbury Terrace that students already make such unsafe crossings to avoid the existing overpass, which involves a lesser distance than will be required to minimally transit the underpass (about 180m towards the city, 30m down and up the stairs, and 180m away from the city compared with the ~256m transit distance of the current overpass). Thus any grade separation needs to be at that end of the platform, and an underpass is not possible because there is a massive underground drain at that end of the station (which is why the overpass was built in the first place).
But people also avoid underpasses because they are unsafe and disgusting from a personal perspective, that is apart from rail collision safety factors. It is this that I understand to be the reason why many platforms that previously had only grade-separated pedestrian access in the 1970s (including Marion Station) gained at-grade crossings in the following decades, because people quite reasonably refused to be forced to use what they perceived as unsafe and disgusting access, especially in the wake of assaults and murders in and around railway stations. Having only a single point of access increases both the perceived and actual danger.
Were this not the case, then it seems very difficult to explain why all the underpass-only stations now have at-grade crossings, with the sole exception of Ascot Park station where the local geography doesn't make it practical.
As evidenced by this, an underpass combined with an at-grade crossing is generally reasonable and acceptable to society, because it offers choice and diverts some fraction of at-grade crossings into grade-separated crossings, and affords the best safety for those who choose to cross at-grade for whatever reason.
One of the great problems with the underpass proposal at Marion is that DPTI seemed to have forgotten this, and proposed an underpass-only solution, with no at-grade alternative. As mentioned, this was placed at the city-end of the platform due to engineering difficulties at the Westminster end. Thus the community were denied reasonable choice of access, and the school community was unnecessarily endangered by increasing rather than decreasing the incentive for unsafe illegal crossings.
It seems that the lack of an at-grade was either an ideological point on the part of DPTI, or that they were worried that local schools would not tolerate an option that had an at-grade crossing closer to them than the grade-separated crossing.
All this was hurriedly put together because as best as we can figure out, DPTI had previously planned to put a new overpass in place, and only in May or June this year decided that it would be too expensive or otherwise unattractive to them, and started to look at alternatives.
So again returning to your point about people taking shortcuts is one of our very real concerns about the current underpass proposal.