Saturday, October 1, 2016

Mark Parton was loving light rail in 2011 and now that he is a Liberal?

Liberal candidate Mark Parton 30 June 2011
Back in June 2011 Mark Parton was his own man, with his own views, and in this column he discusses that after visiting a city with appalling road congestion, and buses not coping, even with bus lanes, that he thought it was time to talk about light rail in Canberra.

Now it is September 2016 and Mark is a Liberal candidate, running in an election where the singular obsession of the Canberra Liberals to the detriment of all other policy areas, has been light rail.

How much input has Liberal candidate Mark Parton had on the Liberals bus only transport plan? He certainly has some insights from visiting a city with outrageous road congestion. Here is what he said in 2011:
"If Northbourne Avenue was in Bogota there would be six lanes of traffic - each way!"
"Bogota is the classic example of what happens when you don't plan for the growth of a city"
"There is a bus service - some of it designated bus lanes - but it doesn't help much"
"If there is a lesson to learn from my traffic experience in South America, it is that the best time to build a public transport network is well and truly before you need it.
Maybe its time to talk light rail in Canberra again"

I wonder if Mark still holds these views? Does he still feel we need to plan for growth of a city? Does he still feel bus lanes don't help much? Does he want Bogota like congestion in Tuggeranong or the rest of Canberra?

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

Friday, September 30, 2016

Don’t wait for driverless cars - build light rail now

The autonomous car
Light rail has already started construction in the first stage of what will be a Canberra wide network. This will transform our city and change our culture over time, from a car-centric society where each family needs to have at least two cars, to a place where public transport is easily accessible, frequent and reliable.

Opponents of better public transport are largely drawn from the 93% of Canberrans who don’t use it now, and can’t see why they should have to pay for it. They are used to driving everywhere and parking at the door for free. That is what it was like when they arrived in Canberra in the 1970’s and they can’t understand why it needs to change.

Canberra is changing. The Y Plan was of its time and followed current planning trends, but the NCDC is not a religion and logic needs to be applied to future planning. Some elements of the Burley Griffin vision were adopted, others weren’t. Some elements of the Y Plan have been successful, others not. The current trend of a family home having not one or two cars, but four or more in the driveway is a trend the Y Plan fostered, that cannot continue.

Parking is no longer free, and the vast free car parks of Civic and our Town Centres are no longer there. Free car parking in the Parliamentary Triangle no longer exists. As our city matures, those vast spaces are being replaced with buildings that are of greater economic use than having a car sit on them for eight hours or more a day.

Buses in Canberra once coped admirably with the task assigned; yet as the Y Plan stretched to Tuggeranong and Gungahlin, a bus trip became long and circuitous. We asked ACTION to be both a local bus service and a mass transit provider. It has struggled with this dual task, and under varying management and union approaches, it has seen patronage trend down as private car use soars.

At the same time, the intertown routes are at capacity. On some routes the buses sail past people, as they are full. Clearly a better approach needs to be adopted, and in 2012 the ALP and Greens went to an election with light rail as that better approach. 

In 2016 light rail construction has started. Over time a network will link Canberra and encourage greater public transport use, better planning around transport corridors and decrease road congestion.

If you could travel in comfort to work every day, why would you drive? Wouldn’t you rather sit and read, or rest instead of wait in a traffic jam and then spend fifteen minutes looking for expensive parking? 

Opponents of light rail talk up a bus only solution, yet it is obvious that more of the same will deliver us, well, more of the same. More buses wont lead to greater public transport use or encourage Transit Oriented Development. More buses on the roads wont reduce road congestion either. Not on Northbourne, and not anywhere else.

They also claim autonomous cars will suddenly emerge from labs and become the panacea to the private car, and miraculously reduce the need for mass transit. While this technology may eventually become practical, it isn’t now and not for the foreseeable future. Even if it was, it really only replaces one car for another, and a robot car going home and returning twice a day doubles road congestion instead of reducing it.
14,000 Raiders fan leave Bruce Stadium and have to wait for 14.000 autonomous cars
The biggest flaw in the self-driving car dream is what happens when fourteen thousand Raiders fans exit Bruce stadium after a victory? Or when the Department of Inland Drainage closes down at 5.30PM and eleven hundred employees walk out the door at once? Which person’s car arrives to pick them up first? Where do they queue?

We replace traffic jams with driverless traffic jams. Driverless cars are not a mass transit solution. They are a part of a larger transport picture with multiple solutions to multiple demands.

Light rail offers passenger capacity beyond current buses, with 220 people able to be carried in a single light rail vehicle.  When light rail service commences, over a million bus kilometers a year will be freed up to increase frequency of local bus services.

Your once an hour bus service in Kaleen could become once every half hour or better. As each light rail stage rolls out, the integration of bus and light rail becomes better, and service becomes more frequent and more reliable.

Driverless cars and buses alone cannot provide these future options. We need to support the politicians that have invested enormous political capital in our future, by recognising that the Canberra of the past has changed, and we need to let that change happen in a planned way.  

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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Your rates aren't rising to pay for light rail

Your rates aren't rising to pay for light rail. Taxation reform introduced following the 2012 election has seen inefficient taxes removed and stamp duty start to be phased out. Rates and land tax has risen as a result. The reasons for taxation reform are that the ACT requires a reliable revenue stream, and the stamp duty income is heavily dependent upon land sales and real estate booms.

These articles explain this quite well:

The idea to eliminate stamp duty was the result of best practice, non-partisan recommendations from taxation specialists, primarily the Quinlan review. Read the ACT Taxation Review from May 2012 here.  

Rates are also increasing because of our compounding capital and maintenance costs of the city's infrastructure, namely roads, sewerage and draining systems, electrical distribution network, telecommunications, waste management, parks and gardens upkeep, etc. 

This ever expanding infrastructure liability, spread over a very low density taxation base, i.e. Ratepayers, means that each of us has a bigger and bigger bill as we spread our suburbs further into the surrounding countryside.

Light rail and its associated land use relationship is proven to actively combat the problem of suburban sprawl. Making use of already existing infrastructure and attracting development within the established urban footprint it will increase the taxation base such that Canberra will be more than able to afford future infrastructure capital and maintenance liabilities.

Plus, with the uncoupling of the city's reliance on stamp duty as a source of income, we can also combat suburban sprawl by not being reliant on the sale of land to fund these things.

The two graphs below illustrate two things:
  • That light rail is a small component of the ACT Budget
  • That there is no possible way that rates increases are driven by light rail in the context of all other government spending

But aren't our rates skyrocketing? There is no question that peoples rates are increasing. They have not tripled. No ones rates have tripled. Increases have been due to stamp duty reduction and the associated increase in rates, and the increase in your property value since 2012. As property values increase, so will your rates. 

This graphic from the Riot Act demonstrates this well.

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