Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Updates to ACT Transport studies page


Image from Canberra Airport Light Rail plan
Over the course of time, many reports on Canberra's transport needs have been created. We live in a planned city, and planners conduct research and publish it. 

On this page are links to resources and ACT transport studies for you to read and form your own opinion about the best form of mass transit public transport system for the ACT.

If you are aware of any resources or studies we do not have listed, please email us with that information and we will update the page. If a link is dead - try the Internet Archive.

We hold paper copies of other reports, but do not have the ability to convert these large reports to PDF at this stage.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Melbourne Tram in Civic 1992 - still operating in Melbourne

Back in February of 1992 (23 years ago...) The developers who were about to build Gungahlin proposed building light rail from Gungahlin to Civic - at their cost - for the ACT. They would acquire land alongside the light rail route, and the ACT would receive a light rail line. It was rejected by the Canberra Liberal government.  
Photo by John Mikita
Comeng were then building a new model of articulated light rail vehicle for the Melbourne tram network, and a brand new one was transported from the Dandenong factory and parked in Garema Place for Canberrans to view. 
Thanks to Daniel Bowen for this photo
This model tram is still being used in Melbourne (and was also sold to Hong Kong). In fact the very tram that was parked in Garema Place, is still operating in Melbourne. At the time of day this iPhone screenshot was taken (of an app called TramTracker) it was transporting commuters home down Sydney Road.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Abbott Liberal Government invests in public transport with $60M for Capital Metro


Earlier this year Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that the ACT would receive 60 million dollars from the Federal Government as part of the Federal Governments Asset Recycling program, with that money to be directed to the ACT's Capital Metro light rail project.

ACT Light Rail covered that announcement here.

Today Joe Hockey made a speech at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce. He was asked about infrastructure investment. In his answer he highlighted Capital Metro as a program the Federal Government supported.

QUESTION:

The Treasurer has kindly agreed to take questions from the floor. There are microphones positioned in the auditorium, just please name your name. Thank you very much. Thank you Mr Treasurer for your talk. Certainly a very upbeat outlook on the economy, one that I didn't agree with before you spoke. I read an article recently saying that in America 9 out of 10 people have identified themselves as midled class and they're feeling increasingly economic insecure and vul nesh. We may be reading different things. My question is to do with record low interest rates in Australia. Interest rates are at record lows. It's cheaper for the Government to borrow money that is for individuals or even lower than the Government. Do you see an opportunity for the Government to take advantage of the record low interest rates to invest in a massive infrastructure project that will benefit Australia for generations to come? An idea I have from Blaney Morgan is for the Government to invest in rail instead of roads and I've read recently, 7 hours ago, that in Japan they've just invented a train that runs at 603km/h. It will take you from Melbourne to Sydney in about an hour, Melbourne to Brisbane in a couple of hours. It sort of takes me that long to get to Melbourne city from an inner suburb in peak hour. So my question is low interest rates, infrastructure project, your thoughts?

ANSWER:

I love travelling by plane from Melbourne to Sydney. 50 years ago or 40 years ago I think it was the case that a scheduled flight took an hour, now it takes 1.5 hours. But I must say coming back from that great World Cup victory at the MCG I had the honour of sitting next to Vivian Richards so I was happy for the plane to take 2 hours. In relation to lower interest rates, money is very much available at the moment. The world is incredibly liquid. It's not about the money, it's about the projects and nothing illustrates, nothing illustrates part of the challenge we have better than the fact that you had an East-West project here in Melbourne with plenty of private money and the State Government has just spent what, $800 million paying for a road that is not being built? Go figure. How does that work? So I don't think there's an issue about the money. The projects need to be advanced. We will back metropolitan rail through our asset recycling program and the asset recycling program I announced in the last budget, $5 billion, I will reward State Governments that sell their assets and redeploy the capital into new productive infrastructure. The first government to sign up was the Labor Government in the ACT. Selling its TAB, selling public housing and redeploying the money with Commonwealth Government support into a new light rail project in the middle of Canberra. I want the Victorian Government to do the same. We will back it if they sell their assets, they've got a fantastic port down the road, I'm backing them on selling that. They sell that asset, redeploy the money into new productive infrastructure including into public transport. In its productive infrastructure we will back it and help to fund it.


END

Saturday, April 18, 2015

1989 Gungahlin External Transport Study

In 1989 the Gungahlin External Transport Study (GETS) was undertaken. It was meant to assess future transport needs for Gungahlin residents - before Gungahlin had even been mapped out or a single new home constructed. These articles are from the Canberra Times and can be found online at Trove.

ACT Light Rail have a copy of the resulting report, but it is in hard copy and yet to be scanned.








Following the GETS study Gungahlin ended up with inadequate roads and finally in 2012 a light rail proposal. This 1991 CT article is quite prescient.

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Expected value for money from Canberra light rail project 'as good as it gets', report says

Professor Derek Scrafton

ABC Online are running a report titled 'Expected value for money from Canberra light rail project as good as it gets' which features the views of Derek Scrafton, the former head of the South Australian Transport Authority, and now a Professor at the University of South Australia. The Canberra Times are running a similar article titled 'ACT Government releases review of Capital Metro business case'.

Professor Scrafton and a university colleague were asked to independently scrutinise the Government's Capital Metro business case. He is quoted as saying:
"We didn't have to have a view about the tram one way or another, we just had to comment on the business case itself,"  "My view was it was fit for purpose. That it would do exactly what [the ACT Government] wanted it to do."
"Some data that might have been useful in interpreting the aspirations for the project is absent or is not readily discernible"."It's always the same, it doesn't matter where you are in the world, there's a load of people who think (light rail) is wonderful and a load of people who think it's a waste of money. "Is there enough material there? I would say for most people there is. But I can understand why somebody with a very specific interest would say 'I want more detail on this'."

"Whether the analysis is realistic will only be determined later, when it can be compared with responses to the [expressions of interest from business consortiums] and the [request for proposal phase], particularly the latter."

"Even if you ignore that, even if you take away 1.2 and work with 1.0, my comment was that if you can get a public transport project that really comes out at 1.0, you're doing pretty well. 
"I worked in the business for 40 years and I've seen plenty of benefit-cost ratios in excess of 1.0 but I don't particularly believe them. In any case, one the best projects that we ever delivered had a benefit-cost of 0.7 and in public transport terms, it is still a good project," he said. 
"You spend a lot of money, and you have low fares, where do you think you are going to get these returns from to get a high benefit-cost?"

"The financial impact on the bus system is uncertain" "So long as the bus system continues to be owned and operated by a government agency, any issues can be internalised. However, if the bus system was to be privatised or contracted out, there could be problems, particularly if the light rail [public-private partnership] included protection clauses that limited competition."

Highlights of the report are:
  • Professor Scrafton describes the Capital Metro business case as highly professional.
  • Professor Scrafton said the inclusion of wider economic impact to reach a 1.2 benefit-cost ratio was standard international practice. 
  • The expected cost and benefit of Canberra's $800 million dollar light rail project is "as good as it gets"
  • How accurate the Government's projected cost-benefit return of $1.20 for every $1 invested was wouldn't be known until the two selected consortia chosen to bid for the project return their proposals.
  • If proposals come back at say 30 per cent over the ($783 million) estimate, the ACT Government reserves the right to say 'that's the end of the project!'. 
  • The government has flagged the possible introduction of private operators on some of the ACTION Bus network. 
Read the full ABC Online article here and the CT article here.

Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell has issued a press release saying:

“Prior to the public release of the business case, Capital Metro Agency engaged academic reviewer, Professor Derek Scrafton from University of South Australia, who has extensive experience in the public transportation field, to provide independent, high level advice on the appropriateness of the methodology adopted in the document,” Simon said.
“The ACT Government has been committed to openness and transparency throughout the light rail project and while the independent review was primarily undertaken for internal purposes, it seems appropriate to release it publicly now to add to the current conversations about the business case.
“Professor Scrafton’s review confirms that the methodology used in the business case is sound and that the document overall contains sufficient details and makes realistic conclusions and recommendations.
“It concludes that the business case is fit for the purpose for which it was prepared, uses appropriate and realistic methodologies in the analytical sections and follows guidelines which are recommended and approved by national organisations.”
“Professor Derek Scrafton is the Professor of Transport Policy and Planning at the University of South Australia and has 50 years direct experience in transport planning, research, regulation, finance, construction and operation.
“The first stage of Capital Metro has also been approved by the Federal Government, which determined the project was a suitable, productive infrastructure project to receive $60 million dollars from the Commonwealth’s asset recycling scheme.”

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Canberra Liberals proposed light rail contract 'ripping up' fallout

PM Tony Abbott advising Canberra Liberals to respect contracts

Following on from Wednesdays announcement that in the wake of the Victorian Government settling the East West Link contract fiasco with the consortium for $339 million, the Canberra Liberals would rip up the Capital Metro contracts if they formed government, there has been a great deal of media and commentary on the issue.

None of it more damaging for the Canberra Liberals than the intervention of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. When asked by a reporter about the Canberra Liberals policy of ripping up the light rail contract (if they formed government) he was emphatic:

"The position of this government is that contracts should be honoured."

This isolates the Canberra Liberals politically. The federal government has already promised $60 million for light rail. Now they are lacking federal political support for their position, and lacking support from any sector of the business community, their objection to the Capital Metro project surely needs to be revisited.

Read the ABC Online article "PM Tony Abbott rebukes Canberra Liberals over plan to tear up ACT light rail contract"  here.

video
ABC Canberra television report with the Prime Minister from Thursday April 16.
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WIN Canberra television report from Thursday April 16
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ABC Canberra television report from Wednesday April 15
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WIN Canberra television report from Wednesday April 15

Canberra Times Stoush over light rail contract reignited by East West Link deal

The ACT opposition has welcomed the Victorian government's agreement to pay $339 million to get out of a controversial road tunnel project, saying it proves Canberra's light rail project could be ditched at a "reasonable" price.
Liberal transport spokesman Alistair Coe said Premier Daniel Andrew's claim the state would pay just 3 per cent of the East West Link's total contract cost in compensation suggested ACT taxpayers could pay less than $30 million if a new government cancelled contracts for the $783 million Gungahlin to the city tram line.
The Liberals have pledged to pay their way out of the deal after the 2016 election but have never specified how much they would be prepared to spend. 
But Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell dismissed the claims and said a future Liberal government would instead face bills of "hundreds of millions" to exit signed contracts and would risk thousands of jobs. 
Mr Coe's comments also left him at odds with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday.

ABC News online Light rail contract will be torn up if the Canberra liberals win the 2016 election

"Should the Canberra Liberals win the October 2016 election we will tear up the contracts if they are signed," he said.
Mr Coe said the Victorian Government's decision set an important precedent
"It goes to show that the Canberra Liberals will be able to stop light rail if we win the next election," he said.
He said in the meantime, his party would do everything it could to try and stop the ACT Government from signing the contracts in the first place.
"But in the event that they do sign them we will cancel them if we're successful at the October election," Mr Coe said.

City News Liberals threaten to tear up light rail contracts if elected

ALISTAIR Coe says the Victorian Labor Government has set an important precedent for cancelling any contract signed by ACT Labor regarding light rail.
“Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews today announced that the signed contracts with the successful East West Link Consortium would be cancelled with a 3 percent penalty of the total contract price,” Alisair said.
“The announcement today includes that compensation for lost revenue will not be paid to the consortium.
“In the event that Andrew Barr and Simon Corbell sign a contract with a consortium regarding light rail, the Victorian decision provides an important precedent for cancelling such contracts.

City News Fighting breaks out over light rail cancellation costs


“The Liberals have highlighted a decision by the Victorian Government to pay $339 million to get out of a contract for Melbourne’s East West Link project as an important precedent in his quest to throw away ACT taxpayers’ money.
“A similar decision in the ACT would cost Canberra its reputation as a good place for private investment in public projects, like a convention centre.
“The successful Capital Metro consortia will also have commenced construction prior to the next ACT election.
“This would increase the amount of any payment needed to cancel that contract without reason.”
“A light rail line from City to Gungahlin delivered as a Public Private Partnership was an election commitment by ACT Labor during the last election.
“How many elections do the opposition want us to take this policy to,” Mr Corbell said.


Canberra Times Editorial ACT Liberals ransom over light rail is a risky business

The ACT Liberals' opposition to light rail and its threats to dismantle are a matter of public record. Mr Coe's preparedness to put a price on how far the Liberals will go to undo what the Labor government maintains is now a fact of life (the choice as to who builds, owns and operates the line has been whittled down to two consortia) is audacious, however. Parties of the centre-right rarely invoke the tactics of their left-wing political opponents as justification for their own plans. That business leaders and senior Coalition politicians have all condemned the Victorian government's "recklessness" in tearing up the toll road contract illustrate the extent to which the ACT Liberals have gone out on a limb. 

Canberra Times ACT Liberals cannot ignore light rail mandate


Complicating this attempt to link the two dissimilar projects is the fact that by the time of the 2016 ACT election, construction on the Capital Metro project will have been under way for some months. Local jobs will have been created and significant investment already made locally by the successful consortium.
That is a far harder situation to reverse, and may make any election rhetoric by the Canberra Liberals quite difficult to walk away from if they do win the 2016 election.
A further complication for the Canberra Liberals is that the Victorian government had the ability to pass an act of parliament to nullify the contract. Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell points out that the ACT does not have that constitutional power. It is specifically prohibited from passing a law that voids a contract.
This means that even if the Canberra Liberals won the 2016 Assembly election, they may not be able to cancel any contract in place between the ACT government and the successful consortium to build Capital Metro Stage One.
As much as the Canberra Liberals dislike the light rail project, they must have a light rail policy to put to the electorate by October 2016. They have only two choices: offer an alternative public transport policy that incorporates light rail, or explain how they can cancel a contract signed by the ACT government while lacking the legal authority to do so. This second option is electorally weak, and difficult to sell.


Australian Financial Review Liberal threat to scrap light rail escalates sovereign risk

The light rail project has been lauded frequently by federal Treasurer Joe Hockey as an example of the success of his asset recycling policy, in which the states receive extra Commonwealth funds towards projects paid for by the sale of assets.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer, told The Australian Financial Review that the recent uncertainty surrounding infrastructure in Australia was a bad look given Mr Hockey, who is in the United States, will this week be signing memoranda of understanding with other nations to establish a global infrastructure hub in Sydney. This would complete a deal the Abbott government engineered at the Group of 20 in November.
"Australia has a very good reputation when it comes to infrastructure development," Ms O'Dwyer said.
"It's absolutely ridiculous to think sovereign risk enters into the discussion now when people are thinking about infrastructure and investment.
"Any government that decides it's going to rip up contracts that have been signed by a legitimate government escalates this issue of sovereign risk."




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


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cancelling the light rail contract is not a realistic policy

Published in the Canberra Times as: ACT Liberals cannot ignore light rail mandate

Making sure that a city can grow in a sensible fashion is a difficult task. As much as people love cars and the ease of use they deliver, the reality of road congestion, lengthening car travel times and decreasing and expensive parking, mean that the age of the car dominating Canberra is over. While Canberra families may always need a car, they may not always need two cars (or more) if a reliable, frequent and attractive backbone of light rail supported by a better bus system are in place. 

Urban planning and public transport planning are complex and expensive areas that have many competing goals. Aside from the NCA having final say and planning control over some areas, Canberra is an unusual city state where the territory government is the local and state planning authority in one. The ACT Government can plan, pay for and implement ideas without navigating multiple council agendas, or by having to compulsorily acquire people’s homes for major projects to occur. Largely.

The East West road tunnel contract debacle in Victoria has been closely observed by those interested in both politics and public transport. In short the Liberal Victorian government signed a contract to build a road tunnel months before the election. The Labor opposition said if elected it would cancel the contract. They then formed government and set about cancelling the contract.

Today they announced that they had – at a cost of 339 million dollars. The now Labor government has settled with the consortium that won the contract, and will refocus state investment on a combination of rail and road projects.

The ripples in the ACT have been fairly immediate. Canberra Liberal transport spokesman Alistair Coe has predictably seized upon the announcement as a justification for a Liberal government (if elected in 2016) to cancel any light rail contract that would be signed by the Barr government ahead of the October 2016 Assembly election.

Complicating this attempt to link the two dissimilar projects is a small matter that unlike the Victorian East West project; by the time of the 2016 ACT election, construction on the Capital Metro project will have been underway for some months. Local jobs will have been created and significant investment already made locally by the successful consortium.

That is a far harder situation to reverse, and may make any election focussed rhetoric made by the Canberra Liberals quite difficult to walk away from if they do win the 2016 election.

A further complication for the Canberra Liberals contract cancelling aspirations is that the Victorian government had the ability to pass an act of parliament to nullify the contract. Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell points out that the ACT does not have that constitutional power. It is specifically prohibited from passing a law that voids a contract.

This means that even if the Canberra Liberals won the 2016 Assembly election, they may not be able to cancel any contract in place between the ACT Government and the successful consortium, to build Capital Metro Stage One.

As much as the Canberra Liberals dislike the light rail project, by October 2016 they must have a light rail policy to put to the electorate. They have only two choices – offer an alternative public transport policy that incorporates light rail, or explain how they can cancel a contract signed by the ACT Government while lacking the legal authority to do so. This second option is electorally weak, and difficult to sell.

Public transport policy and planning is a tough area. Many people with only a passing interest in politics think that the light rail idea came out of nowhere. It did not, a decade of bus-only public transport plans that continued to deliver declining patronage and increased public subsidies led to the ALP and the Greens going to the 2012 Assembly election with light rail as the core of their public transport policies. 

That mandate should be respected. How many elections need to be won before the Canberra Liberals will accept the will of the people?

ACT Light Rail is the Capital Regions peak public transport lobby group.

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Canberra Light Rail network 2035???

Railgallery are a communications company with a focus on the rail industry. They have created a fascinating possible route map for a 2035 Canberra Light Rail network. Who knows how close it will be to the Light Rail Master Plan proposals. 



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