Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gungahlin to Civic Transit Corridor - ACT Light Rail submission

ACT Light Rail have provided a submission to the ACT Government on the Gungahlin to Civic Transit Corridor Study. It is available in PDF form from here. This article provides the recommendations from that submission.

Your comments are welcome.

Gungahlin to Civic Transit Corridor - ACT Light Rail recommendations

The recent Civic to Gungahlin transit corridor study has been released and once again the focus has been placed on the cost of light rail compared to bus rapid transit. It is not a valid comparison. Additionally a fantasy of turning Northbourne Avenue into a promenade has been used to inflate construction costs.

ACT Light Rail in their submission advised the ACT Government:

  • to select light rail; and
  • to begin detailed engineering reports for a two track light rail line running from Civic to Gungahlin, with limited stops along Northbourne Avenue. 
ACT Light Rail do not argue that light rail is suitable for every cities public transport requirements, but in the years that we have been lobbying for it in Canberra, it has become more and more suitable for our city. Our consistent stance is that light rail can provide the backbone of Canberra’s mass transit with ACTION buses providing increased local services.

It is important that this model be implemented as road congestion is increasing, the bus network is barely coping and parking is decreasing. Road construction continues without public debate, while proper investment in sustainable public transport infrastructure is opposed by politicians and treasury.

This government needs to be careful or its current transport and planning policies will gift future generations a city with all the disadvantages of high density, and none of the benefits. Failing to build light rail will deliver that outcome. ACT Light Rail therefore submit that the following outcomes arise from the current study:

  • Any investment in modifications to Northbourne Avenue for Bus Rapid Transit would be a waste of public money and should be abandoned.
  • The best option would be to begin planning for light rail and increase the frequency of buses on the Northbourne - Gungahlin route until light rail was running.
  • The kerbside option should be abandoned.
  • The light rail option would consist of two lines running from Gungahlin to Civic, with stops at Gungahlin, Mitchell, Epic, Dickson, Macarthur Avenue and Civic.
  • The light rail line is suitable for access by ACTION buses.
  • Traffic signal priority is designed into light rail vehicles.
  • The stops at Gungahlin, Mitchell and Epic should be ‘Park and Ride’ stations. The stations themselves could be quite simply constructed, to protect commuters from the weather and provide adjacent access to ACTION buses.
  • If more elaborate facilities were decided upon, the private sector may even consider constructing these park and ride stations.
  • Increased frequency local services be coordinated with the light rail timetable
  • A light rail depot is built in Mitchell.
These realistic recommendations remove much of the ridiculous overblown fantasy costs of complete reconstruction of Northbourne Avenue, from an 8 to 10 lane road with light rail running along each side, back to the vision that many Canberrans have.  A vision first created by Walter Burley Griffin when he designed that wide median strip with rails along Northbourne Avenue on his first rough sketches of our nations capital.

The Ministers own consultants agree with him, as they say in the concept plan ‘LRT is the best overall outcome for Canberra”. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Canberra Times uncovering more light rail builds cheaper than Corbells

Following on from recent calls for the costings that the ACT Government have been relying on, to claim that a 12 km light rail from Civic to Gungahlin wold cost up to $870 million, todays Canberra Times carries an article looking at recent light rail construction and the much lower price tags they carry.

The Canberra Times article 'Adelaide tram line cost half ACT plan' is here. 

Minister Corbell may have felt that by inflating the costs to build light rail, he may have driven a stake through the heart of better public transport forever. Instead he has drawn attention to the issue and while most of the public may have bought his line when it came out, now that journalists, industry peak bodies and respected business leaders speak up - the general public is paying attention.

Todays paper carries some more contemporary costings, to add to those printed yesterday. Minister Corbell challenged people to prove him wrong - and  they have accepted that challenge.

"The South Australian government built a tram line into the heart of Adelaide for less than half the per-kilometre price the ACT government has proposed for light rail from Civic to northern Canberra.
A 2.8-kilometre tram line in Adelaide was completed in 2010 and cost $94 million, or about $33.5 million per kilometre, including work to widen a bridge.

The estimated (ACT) costs are also double to triple the cost of other light-rail projects in other capital cities, including Sydney, according to a 2010 feasibility study for light rail in Stirling City in Western Australia."

Chris Faulks from the Canberra Business Council is also quoted. Chris Faulks should be listened to as she was on the panel selected by John Stanhope to oversee the business case for the ACT's Infrastructure Australia light rail bid in 2008.

Canberra Business Council chief executive Chris Faulks said the 2008 study estimated 54 kilometres of light rail for the territory would cost just over $2 billion, but would bring an economic benefit of $5 billion.

Release the figures Minister and allow them to be independently scrutinised.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Support for light rail at 68.5% on Gungahlin to Civic corridor

People want light rail. The many methods the government are using to make it look unpopular, like rigging survey questions, still arent working on reducing public support.

Read the ABC local news story here
Read the actual survey results here (in PDF form)

The ACT Government recently engaged a consultant to contact 1000 homes and determine the level of support for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Light Rail Transit (LRT) on the Gungahlin to Civic corridor.

The results were startlingly clear - 68.5% pro Light Rail v 24.3% pro bus. 

This reflects the sort of PATRONAGE that each system would also attract.

The consultant then put the skewed inflated costs (now being proven as over-inflated) of light rail and the deliberately lowered BRT costs (by leaving the actual costs of BRT buses out of the costs) and the results were  evenly split.

Of course, while ACT Light Rail are pleased at the support of nearly two thirds of people for light rail, it should be remembered that this survey lacks credibility, drawing upon faulty and flawed costings forming the basis of questions put to respondents.

The real message that Minister Corbell should take from this survey is this: Skimp on public transport by going BRT and we will be back here in 20 years going through this again.

HURRY - community consultation period for the City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor Study closes on Friday 25 May

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is a reminder that the community consultation period for the City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor Study closes on Friday 25 May 2012.

Please send your feedback on the study to:

Mail –  City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor Study
Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate
GPO Box 1908
Canberra City ACT 2601

The project update and detailed concept report are available at along with further information about the study.

We look forward to receiving your feedback on the study.


Transport Planning Team
Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate

Peak rail body attacks inflated light rail costing from ACT Government

The head of the Australasian Rail Association, Brian Nye, has questioned the ACT Governments cost figures for the proposed 13km Gungahlin to Civic light rail route. He claims the real costs are between $260 and $520 million.

This industry professional provides firm support for ACT Light Rails view that the ACT Government are inflating the costs for light rail, to make their inevitable decision to build bus lanes, seem rational and considered, instead of the nakedly political decision it will be. Minster Corbell has recently attacked people that question his costings as being part of a conspiracy. 

In that article the Minister said  he was ''sick of the conspiracy theories'' that cast doubt on a recent transport study for the Gungahlin to Civic corridor, which said it would cost $700 million to $860 million to build a 13-kilometre stretch of light rail."

The view today expressed by the peak body is that the Minister is wrong and that the conspiracy theorists are correct. The costs are wrong. the costs for light rail have been inflated. 

"Chief executive Bryan Nye said when he saw the $800 million figure and again heard it on the radio he thought the territory must be after one of the world's most expensive tram networks.

He was even more mystified considering Canberra was designed for light rail.
''What I am really asking for is for the government to release the URS report to see where the difference is. There is so much light rail happening around the world. It just doesn't seem sensible.''
"...including trams, the Tourism and Transport Forum prices a typical light-rail network between $20 million and $40 million per kilometre, making the Canberra estimates of $66 million per kilometre about double the cost of an average light-rail network.
Mr Nye said Canberra was intended to have light rail and so the costs simply didn't make sense.
''The URS figures would make the 13-kilometre light-rail link one of the most expensive in the world and puts the costs of a Canberra light-rail network at about double the cost of the average light-rail system.'' Light-rail networks already in operation had been significantly less costly to build.

ACT Light Rail call on the Transport Minister to release in full the documentation that the ACT Government has based the 700 to 870 million dollar light rail costings on. ACT Light Rail also remind people that the 300 million dollar cost for the proposed bus alternative did not include a figure for any new buses, despite multi-articulated buses featuring heavily in the BRT proposal material.