Apparently it s so expensive to build public transport infrastructure in Canberra, that 12 kilometers of light rail, from Civic to Gungahlin, would cost 870 million dollars. That is twice the cost of building the proposed Majura Parkway - a six lane freeway quality road that does not exist yet. How has the ACT Govt arrived at this figure?
Thanks to a journo advising me of the Ministers Press Conference this afternoon, I managed to attend and listen to it in entirety. I had already read the press release – which did not contain the reports figures in it.
As a general rule, The ACTGOV like to issue a press release ahead of the actual report, so that journos dont have time to read it. This avoids the possibility of any informed questioning. I raised this with a Transport for Canberra employee at the launch, who told me the report and figures would go live after the press conference. Great. Plus one for ‘open government’.
When Minister Corbell announced that BRT would cost 300 million and Light Rail would cost 870 million I was just stunned. How on earth could he arrive at these figures ? How can a two lane light rail system travelling 12 kilometres cost more than twice the cost of the Majura Parkway ?
I wish the journos had asked him.
Post press conference I talked to journos and expressed ACT Light Rails disappointment. Based on Minister Corbells comments today, it is clear that the ALP are going to implement BRT. This being the case – why didnt they just say so a year ago, and spend that intervening year doing it. I’m sure the commuters of Gungahlin would appreciate that. Instead we delay any decision until – oh wow – an election year!
I then went back to my office and discovered the reports were now online. I downloaded and digested the reports that had been kept from the public and media until after the opportunity to ask Minister Corbell informed questions had passed.
Both reports make for interesting reading. Go here: http://transport.act.gov.au/studies_projects/northbourne_study.html
I recommend the Concept Study for close scrutiny. Light rail – 700 to 870 million. 700 is a pretty high figure. Much higher than previous estimates. But lets take out say 200 million for the worlds finest, cutting edge, light rail vehicles rolling along on unobtainium coated wheels. Would it REALLY cost 500 million to build a 12 kilometre line ?
(according to the ACT Government today)
Then we arrive at the sleight of hand accounting trick that has been used to inflate the cost of light rail: do not count any vehicle cost for BRT, and make 20 percent of the 870 million LR figure the cost of LR vehicles. This is disingenuous at best as there are only a limited number of 100 plus passenger capacity vehicle in ACTIONS fleet, and IF the BRT was to achieve the service levels of the report – significant numbers of 100 plus passenger buses would need to be procured. Apparently these buses are FREE.
For the report to be credible, these figures need to be added to the 360 million cost of BRT.
The rest of the report is quite the read. Turning the rego office in Dickson into a shopping mall/bus station. I hope someone got a bonus for that idea.
No one has ever said light rail is a cheap option, but it is the best long term option. The concept report says that – on page 55.
And if anyone thinks this ALP government can actually deliver Bus Rapid Transit for 300 million, I refer you to every significant project this government has tackled and ask if any have been delivered on budget or on time. Its an empty cupboard of achievement.