Monday, August 29, 2016

Canberra light rail construction timeline for Capital Metro Stage One

This brochure detailing the construction timeline for Canberra Metros build of Capital Metro light rail Stage One was distributed to prospective tenderers at last weeks Canberra Business Chamber Light Rail Forum. Construction began on July 12 2016.

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

ACT Government release new rapid bus routes and bus expansion for 2017

The ACT Government today released details of new rapid bus routes and expansion to the ACTION Bus fleet, accompanied by funding details to support the expansion. These improvements to the bus network are aimed at increasing public transport patronage and have been planned to follow growth along public transport corridors. In time, several of these routes are likely to be replaced by light rail. The start of light rail service in late 2018 will free up over one million bus kilometres that can be allocated across the ACTION Bus network. It is the equivalent of buying a new fleet of buses and extra drivers.

The new routes include expansions of existing bus routes to enhance the 'rapid' aspect, and completely new routes. Importantly, funding is attached to the plans - $55 million for the services and $51 million for 80 new buses and a new depot to house them. This is a government announcement, not an election policy, with funding to be allocated in the pre-election budget update.

Buses and light rail will always coexist in an integrated transport plan, and we need to make sure we get maximum utility and value from our bus fleet. The big picture plan is that we need more people using public transport.  Light rail, more buses, better frequency, better routes. It's a very compelling plan, and achievable.

The only way to convince Canberrans to use public transport over the private car, is to offer reliable, frequent and attractive public transport. Bus fleet renewal, expanding the reach and frequency of bus services, integrating bus services with light rail and planning for future expansion provide that alternative. This will also lead to reduced travel times and reduced road congestion.

Seven new lines are added to the current Blue and Red Rapid services, with new services supporting Woden, Weston Creek and Canberra Airport every six minutes during peak times and every 15 minutes at other times. The network expansion starts with Belconnen to Gungahlin and Woden to the City rapid services commencing in 2017.

The announcement of new rapid services in 2017 follows on from last weeks announcement of extensions of the Blue Rapid bus from Lanyon to Kippax, and the introduction of a new ACTION Timetable on 27 August. In 2017 a new Green Rapid from Woden to the City via Manuka and Barton, and the Black Rapid from Belconnen to Gungahlin will commence. 

These new services will be phased in through to 2020.
  • Woden to City via Weston Creek (2018)
  • Belconnen to Watson via Dickson (2018)
  • Tuggeranong to City via Erindale (2019)
  • Lanyon to Airport via Barton (2020)
  • Belconnen to Airport via City (2020)
It may appear as if these are simply extensions to existing routes, that is not correct.
  • The Green Rapid is a new route from Woden to the City via Manuka and Barton
  • The Grey Rapid is a new line that goes from Belconnen to Watson via Dickson
  • The Purple Rapid is a new line that goes from Tuggeranong to Civic via Erindale, Woden and Barton
  • The Pink Rapid is a new line that goes from Lanyon to the airport via Tuggeranong, Woden, Barton and Russell
  • The Yellow Rapid is a new line that goes from Belconnen to the airport via Civic and Russell
Also important things to note about the new Rapid Network:
  • All rapid services will run at least every 15 minutes everyday with increased frequency during peak periods
  • The Blue Rapid now extends to Kippax and Lanyon
  • The Black Rapid from Belconnen to Gungahlin will have increased frequency 
  • These routes have most likely been planned thoroughly using data available to the government (MyWay, traffic)
  • These routes have been depend on the fact that light rail will be implemented, which will free up more than 1.2 million kilometres of bus travel

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said "When people know that there's always going to public transport where they need it ... that really drives patronage," "That's exactly what these rapid bus services already do and what future rapid bus services will do."

Minister Fitzharris also said that the debate about Canberra being a car-centric city was over and more rapid bus routes were planned for Molonglo and Gungahlin as the population grew.

The new bus route plans differ markedly from the release earlier in 2016 of the Canberra Liberals bus plans, in that they are funded, are based on research and future population patterns, and integrate light rail services with future transport planning.

ACT Government media release
Canberra Times article 'ACT Govt announces seven new rapid bus routes in network overhaul' here
ABC News Online 'Labor reveal nine line Rapid Bus network for Canberra' here

WIN TV Canberra covered the announcement on the 29 August 6PM TV News

ABC TV Canberra covered the announcement on its 29 August 7PM TV News

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

Northbourne Avenue trees and light rail - facts not fiction

A diseased tree being removed from Northbourne Avenue (Canberra Times)
Yes the trees are going
Yes they will be replaced (with more than there are now)
Yes they will be replaced with semi-mature trees 4 to 5 metres high
No tree that is removed before construction begins is because of light rail.
No Northbourne Avenue will not be defoliated permanently

There will be more trees when we have light rail, then when we didn't. 

The trees on Northbourne Avenues median strip will be removed during the construction of light rail. Trees are being removed now because they are diseased or damaged. Construction has started on the light rail project, but it is not yet at the stage where trees will be removed on Northbourne Avenue. See this post on the light rail construction timeline.

Fact - There are only 202 healthy trees left along Northbourne Avenue after years of disease and storm damage to the current planting. Many of these would have to be replaced over time in any case.

Fact - When light rail construction concludes an extra 1000 trees will be planted to replace those removed.

Fact - semi-mature Eucalyptus Mannifera will be approximately 4-5 metres high when first planted during the construction phase of Capital Metro. The NCA endorse this species.

Fact - light rail tracks will occupy about seven metres of the total 27-metre wide median strip, leaving about 10 metres on either side for landscaping and trees

Northbourne Avenue with light rail, mature trees and sympathetic landscaping 
In time the entrance to the Nations capital will become a grand tree lined boulevard, with trees and light rail. People may actually enjoy walking or cycling along it. It will be more than simply a funnel for cars and a long strip of sickly gum trees. It will be the entrance we have needed since Federation.

Many trees have fallen since the current planting matured, and they continue to fall or be removed on safety grounds. Sometimes this program is misinterpreted as being part of the light rail project, and those with an anti light rail agenda fulminate and distort reality in their political campaign. Even the Canberra Times (Independent always...) plays this game with misleading headlines.

Example - "First Northbourne tree removals costing $32,000" implies that the trees being removed are part of the first stage of light rail construction. In fact the removal was about public safety.

"the tree removals were not linked to the government's planned city to Gungahlin tram line, which will see 444 trees cut down on Northbourne from later in the year. They will be replaced with 671 new trees, expected to be grown at the Yarralumla Nursery. On the Federal Highway, 211 trees will be removed and 157 new trees planted."

Understandably it is hard to get the true facts on tree removal along Northbourne when even the local newspaper distort the truth to sell papers. That is why this website will alway provide a range ofviews to enable you to form your own.
Northbourne Avenue has had several generations of tree plantings in its lifetime. It is a harsh environment for native trees, and their lifespan is significantly shorter in a congested urban area, than sitting peacefully in Namadgi. In 2015 the ACT Government advised that:
"The selection of a suitable replacement tree species for the Northbourne corridor is significant as it represents the fourth generation of trees to be planted within the median since around 1913.
“Many of the trees remaining in the median on Northbourne Avenue are in decline and will need to be replaced in the near future regardless of the light rail project,” Mr Corbell said.
“Between 2010 and 2014 the number of trees on the Northbourne Avenue and Federal Highway median of the light rail corridor reduced from 802 to just 484 through failing health, storm damage and removal of dead and dangerous trees. Furthermore, the 2014 assessment of the trees in the corridor found only 59% of the remaining trees were healthy."

In June 2015 the ACT Government informed the public that:
"The light rail corridor between Gungahlin and City will see an increase of nearly 1000 extra trees as part of Capital Metro stage one according to the recently released environmental impact statement for the project, Minister for Capital Metro Simon Corbell said today.
“Although the project requires the removal about 860 existing trees along Flemington Road, the Federal Highway and Northbourne Avenue there will be 1,800 new trees planted in their place,” Mr Corbell said.
“This includes the replacement of about 450 Eucalyptus elata along the Federal Highway and Northbourne Avenue with approximately 700 Eucalyptus mannifera.
“This will result in fantastic medium to long-term results for the aesthetic of the gateway to Canberra but the government is also exploring possibilities for the staging of replacement of the existing trees and the procurement of pre-grown replacements in order to minimize the short-term visual impact of these changes.
The Eucalyptus elata have been struggling over recent years and through natural attrition the number of these trees in this area have reduced from more than 800 in 2010 to about 480 in 2014.  Many of these remaining trees are in decline and only 59% are rated as being in good health. 
“Eucalyptus mannifera is a common tree in Canberra with 100,000 already planted in our urban forest, including as boulevard trees in areas like Captain Cook Crescent in Griffith.  The new plantings will emphasise the ‘bush capital’ look and uphold the character of Northbourne Avenue as a grand boulevard,” Mr Corbell said.
“The Capital Metro project provides a key opportunity to redefine the gateway to the nation’s capital and improve the landscape character for the light rail corridor for all residents and visitors to enjoy. Development of light rail stage one provides an opportunity to refresh the Northbourne Avenue, Federal Highway and Flemington Road corridors, adorning the alignment with new native and exotic trees
“An opportunity also exists to improve the landscape character of Flemington Road, which at the moment doesn’t feature many trees in the median. The draft EIS identifies an opportunity to greatly improve the visual appeal and amenity of the corridor through tree planting in the verges and median.”
A number of native and exotic trees are proposed to be planted along Flemington Road and the Federal Highway. A key focus for the Flemington section of the light rail corridor will be to compliment the surrounding native temperate grassland and lowland woodland character."

Even the ACT Conservation Council appreciate the need for tree replacement.

Of course, politicians will ignore facts and create their own reality where any tree that falls along Northbourne, or is removed for safety reasons is somehow related to the light rail project. despite the facts presented here that shows that many of these trees will have to be replaced regardless of whether light rail was coming down Northbourne Avenue or not. These people are lying to win votes. They don't really care for trees, they just don't want light rail and will use anything they think people will fall for, even cheap deceptive publicity stunts.
Canberra Liberal candidate Elizabeth Lee deliberately misleading people in an attempt to win votes

Canberra Liberal candidate Candice Burch misleading the public to win votes

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.