Saturday, April 30, 2016

Government confirms Capital Metro Stage Two will be an election policy

Facebook page of Tara Cheyne Labor candidate for Ginninderra

Tara Cheyne, Labor candidate for Ginninderra was campaigning at the Belconnen Markets on Saturday April 30th with MLA Meegan Fitzharris, Minister for TAMS (and that includes Capital Metro and ACTION Buses) and Gordon Ramsay. While campaigning, she made a short video on the spot and uploaded it to her facebook page Tara Cheyne - Labor for Ginninderra

Minister Fitzharris briefly lays out the affordable nature of light rail, discussed other transport initiatives like ride sharing and active transport and then revealed that the government would release a Stage Two light rail policy in the lead up to the election. She says that she is looking forward to speaking to people over the coming months about Transport Canberra and the light rail project. 

One thing that Minister Fitzharris said in the video that I think resonates, is this:"No matter where you are we will be getting a transport mode improved for you"
video
"No matter where you live in Canberra, we are improving transport for you"

In the 90 second video Minister Meegan Fitzharris discussed Transport Canberra, light rail, a range of transport initiatives and the ALP election strategy around light rail.

Minister Fitzharris laid out the way that money will be spent and the small proportion of the total budget that would be going to the light rail contract, saying that "It is an affordable project for our city. " For every 100 dollars spent by the government over a 20 year period she says the government will spend:
35 on health and hospitals,
25 on education and schools,
10 dollars on roads and parks,
1 dollar on light rail

She also said that "No matter where you live in Canberra we are improving transport for you. Light rail will free up one over million bus kilometres which will be redeployed around the city"

"No matter where you are we will be getting a transport mode improved for you"

"We are looking to increase the use of park and ride, and bike and ride, upgrade our walking and cycling facilities, and complement that with new and exciting forms of innovation in transport  like car sharing, ride sharing the community transport options like the flexible bus service"

"Now is our chance to do this incredible project. its a great transport project and its also a great city building project."

"We have committed to a Stage One of Gungahlin to Civic, but we will also be taking to the election a Stage Two, a vote in this election is a vote for light rail stage one and stage two."

"We have spoken to the community about where they would like to see light rail go next through the Light Rail Network Plan and we are really looking forward to pulling all of that feedback together and letting you know that Labor will have a stage two light rail, and we will be taking that to the election"

As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news. 




Thursday, April 28, 2016

National Capital Authority approves light rail along Northbourne Avenue

The National Capital Authority has approved the Works Applications for Capital Metro Stage One. NCA Chair Malcolm Snow said that the NCA had a responsibility "to ensure the highest standards of planning and development are adhered to. We must be satisfied that the urban design and landscape quality of the corridor is appropriate for Canberra's main approach, consistent with its national significance."

This endorsement by the NCA enables contracts for construction to be signed between the ACT Government and the Canberra Metro consortium, and construction to commence.
The area with a blue border is subject to NCA Works Approval
As our nations capital, Canberra has two planning approval authorities. ACTPLA are the local authority for most development applications, and the National Capital Authority are responsible for works approvals on National Capital land.

In addition, they have to approve works along approaches to Canberra in accordance with legislation governing the capital. Some of these covering regulations concern limiting building heights in some areas of Canberra (such as Civic, and along Northbourne) so that no building is higher than Parliament House.

Capital Metro Stage One runs from Gungahlin to Civic, along Flemington Road, the Federal Highway and Northbourne Avenue. The Northbourne corridor component of the project was subject to works approval by the NCA. Now that Capital Metro Stage One has been endorsed by the NCA, contracts can be signed between the ACT Government and the Canberra Metro consortium, with preliminary works commencing in June before full construction proeeds in October.

Separate works approvals will still be required for elements of the construction (including lighting, drainage and pedestrian and cycle paths north of Antill Street in Dickson). The NCA made a series of amendments to the submitted plans including removing a right hand turn from Northbourne Avenue to Rudd Street and signalising some intersections.

It is worth reading the NCA report (available here). Many of the submissions object to light rail and those objections are addressed by the NCA.

Another week, another light rail driven investment in Canberra


Last week a major Canberra developer announced a $250 million dollar investment in Gungahlin with light rail as a major driver. This week, Capital Metro Stage One has been the catalyst for another significant investment, this time  by a Melbourne based property group, South Haven. They are spending $29 million on a building on the corner of Barry Drive and Northbourne Avenue with direct frontage to the light rail. This is another clear sign that Transit oriented Development is occurring along the light rail corridor.

Domain reports on the purchase here:

One of Canberra’s most recognisable office buildings has sold to a Melbourne investor for $29.2 million. The seven-storey building at 73 Northbourne Avenue, on the corner of Barry Drive, attracted strong interest from interstate investors during the marketing campaign. It was South Haven Group’s first purchase in the nation’s capital, which according to selling agents, is a sign of continued momentum for the Canberra office market.

The surrounding amenity and the prospect of the light rail stopping just outside the building also resonated with interstate investors, according to Mr Heather.
“That was very attractive to the Melbourne private investors who have seen what the tram system provides to Melbourne.”

We do not expect demand to dwindle,” Mr Stewart said. “If anything, we would envisage greater investor interest along with some yield compression in line with Melbourne and Sydney locations.”

The full article can be read online here.

As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sydney and Tucson Light Rail experience bodes well for Canberra business



The Canberra Business Chamber are running a Light Rail Business Link program to assist businesses seeking contracts or work associated with Capital Metro Stage One construction. The Canberra Business Chamber issued the following media release on the opportunities that can be realised by businesses during and after the construction of light rail:

Sydney and Tucson Light Rail experience bodes well for Canberra business

Experience from cities where light rail systems have been introduced suggest that rather than being anxious about the impact of construction, local businesses should look for the opportunities that can be created during this period and beyond.

Sydney is about a year ahead of the ACT in introducing light rail. A light rail route is currently under construction through the middle of the very busy Sydney CBD, including construction on the major thoroughfare of George Street.

“Many businesses are located on George Street,” Light Rail Business Link Program Manager, Ben Maguire said. “These businesses were understandably worried about the impact construction would have on them – particularly as it was scheduled to include the busy Christmas period.”

The NSW Government kept business informed about the project and worked with them on activation of the area.

Businesses located in proximity to the light rail construction in Sydney were provided with pop-up spaces where they could market their products to potential customers over the Christmas sales period and help draw them to their shopfront.

In addition, the NSW Government implemented a number of activities to draw people to the area, such as the erection of a large Christmas tree.

“Retailers along the light rail route we have spoken with have indicated construction did not negatively impact on sales in the end, despite their initial fears,” Mr Maguire said.

“Accommodation and hospitality businesses in particular can benefit from light rail. I was recently part of a delegation that travelled to the United States to explore urban renewal projects, particularly transit-oriented development.

“Tucson has had a light rail system running for two years ago. Since the city started planning a light rail system, there has been $1.5 billion worth of investment along the corridor.

“Two hundred new restaurants and bars have opened adjacent to the light rail route and 1,500 new jobs have been created,” Mr Maguire explained. “There are currently five new hotels under construction. Prior to this renewal project, there had not been a new hotel development in Tucson in 20 years.

“Occupancy rates for retail tenancy have increased from 50 per cent to over 90 per cent since light rail commenced operation in Tucson.”

The experience in Tucson highlights how vital it is for businesses to work with programs such as Light Rail Business Link.

Tucson established the Main Street Small Business Assistance Program to provide businesses with assistance to prepare for the impacts of construction.

“Businesses who engaged with the Main Street Program and prepared for impacts prior to construction were the best equipped during the actual construction phase,” City of Tucson Assistant City Manager, Albert Elias said.

Some of the initiatives implemented to assist businesses along the corridor included easing signage regulations so businesses could erect temporary signs to let people know they were open and drive traffic and trade through the door. A series of public service announcements encouraged residents to support businesses in the construction zone.

“By partnering with Canberra Business Chamber to establish the Light Rail Business Link Program, the ACT Government has demonstrated it wants to similarly help address potential impacts on Canberra businesses,” Mr Maguire stated.

“We are aware some local businesses along the proposed corridor are concerned about the effect construction will have, particularly in terms of customer bookings and experience,” Mr Maguire said.

The Light Rail Business Link Program is designed to act as a conduit between local businesses, the ACT Government and the prime contractor to limit and assist in managing any adverse impacts on local businesses from construction.

Business Continuity Workshops are being planned for hospitality and accommodation providers situated along the light rail route to explore concerns and discuss possible ways to minimise anticipated issues.

“We look forward to working with local businesses through the upcoming Business Continuity Workshops to ensure they get similar positive results as we have seen elsewhere and ensure predicted problems do not come to pass,” Mr Maguire said.

Any businesses with questions regarding light rail construction in the ACT can contact the Light Rail Business Link program on 6247 4199.


As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Capital Metro attracts 250 million dollars of Transit Oriented Development to Gungahlin

Infinity apartments - to be built in the Gungahlin town centre
Transit oriented development is one of the wider economic benefits that is associated with light rail. The decision by Canberra based developer Geocon to invest $250 million dollars to build several 22 storey residential buildings in Gungahlin, is a sign that providing good public transport access will attract investment.

Property website Domain reported on 20 April 2016:
"Aside from the views, amenities and location were big attractions.
“Amenity is a big sell: the sky park, the infinity pool. That gives it a resort feel,” Mr Georgalis said.
“It’s only a few 100 metres from the light rail terminal. Light rail is quite attractive.”

Mr Georgalis said the the short walk between the complex and The Marketplace shopping precinct had been attractive to buyers and town centre tenants."

The Canberra Times Gang-gang column on 21 April 2016 reported:
"Then in conversation with Nick Georgalis yet another Satanic, knicker-knotting-for-Canberrans issue arose. Light rail. Horror!
He fancies that the promise of light rail ("the terminus will be just 200 metres from here" he rejoices, gesturing to where that amenity will be) is assisting the attractiveness of Infinity Towers.
"It's a big drawcard," he's sure, because it will give the people who live in the Towers an easy "connectivity" with the city. He thinks that is an especially desirable drawcard for people in their sixties."
Artists impression of the view from one of the Infinity apartments
The 426 apartments in the Infinity development will significantly add to the population of the Gungahlin Town Centre, making local businesses more viable. People living in the development that work in Civic or Dickson, or any location along the Capital Metro Stage One corridor, will be able to walk a few hundred metres to the Hibberson Street light rail station and simply step on to light rail for their commute.

Capital Metro Stage One is demonstrably attracting investment along the light rail corridor. It is already proving itself to be a useful planning tool in reshaping Canberra for a more sustainable future. As Canberra's population increases we have the choice of building "up" or "out". It is better to construct taller buildings in town centres, where services already exist, than greenfield developments in areas with complex biodiversity. Light rail provides the transport facilities that make densification along transport corridors viable and sustainable.

As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news. 




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Canberra Liberals support for light rail in 1992 echoes todays support by the ALP for Capital Metro




In 1991 the then Liberal Chief Minister of the ACT Trevor Kaine was in favour of light rail. Politics in the new self governing territory was volatile and ideas abounded. The Follett ALP government had dissolved in acrimony in 1989, just as the Kaine Liberal government did in 1992 (where Rosemary Follett returned as Chief Minister). Even in opposition, Trevor Kaine was still in favour of light rail, as the articles below dated from 1991 and 1992 show. 

As this political instability was raging, the new town of Gungahlin was being planned and municipal services still needed to be delivered across all of Canberra. Public transport, and the future nature of it that would best suit Canberra was a preoccupation then, as it is now. 

Echoing similar comments by todays ALP government on Capital Metro, Trevor Kaine as Opposition leader for the Canberra Liberals in 1992 said about light rail: 
  • The project was just one example of how the Government should be working in a positive way to stimulate job growth. 
  • At the end of the day, the ACT would have a valuable long term asset as well as a number of jobs and a wider skills base. 
  • The project could be undertaken jointly with the private sector and would only involve a "minor investment" by the Government

After Trevor Kaine was rolled as Opposition leader by Kate Carnell, light rail was attacked mercilessly by the Carnell opposition - because it was being championed by the Follett ALP Government. After forming government in 1995 the Carnell led Liberal government abandoned light rail and focussed on roads. 

Although Trevor Kaine passed away several years ago, his daughter Denise Fisher is contesting the 2016 Assembly elections for the Canberra Liberals in the seat of Ginninderra. Her views on light rail are unknown.

Rail the path to new jobs - Canberra Times July 1992

Canberra Times May 1991

Canberra Times May 1991

As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news. 


Monday, April 18, 2016

Capital Metro light rail vehicle depot in Mitchell





Capital Metro is scheduled to begin services in 2019, and it is essential that the new light rail vehicles are housed and supported by maintenance and engineering services. Canberra Metro, the consortium chosen to deliver the project have proposed this depot, which will be built on ACT Government owned land off Flemington Road in Mitchell. Vehicles will enter and exit the depot directly onto Flemington Rd.

As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

ACTION Buses saw the need for light rail in 1985

In the 1980's public transport patronage in Canberra was much higher than it is today. As the city expanded rapidly, the bus system had to also expand. ACTION Buses went from a small metropolitan bus service performing mainly local area services, to a bus service that had to manage intertown commuters AS WELL as continue its local area service role. 

Expansion was carried out, articulated buses were purchased and a new depot was built. Despite this, the observation by ACTIONS General manager in the mid 80's was prescient. He saw what was needed:
"Somehow we have to find the capacity to double the number of people carried on major trunk routes within three years, there was an urgent need to consider some other form of public transport, probably a light rail system." 
Mr John Brigg, General Manager ACTION (1985)

Unfortunately Canberra did not go down this path, and continued to rely on a bus only public transport system. Patronage started to trend down and over time that figure has reached around 6% of trips taken to work (although many people are carried out of work hours and school services carry many thousands every school day). Road congestion has grown in proportion to the number of cars bought. It was rare in 1985 for a family home to have 4 cars parked in its driveway and regarded as normal. 30 years later and Mr Briggs advice is at last being followed. Capital Metro Stage One will start to build that mass transit system on Canberra's major trunk routes. 




Canberra Times 10 August 1985

As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news. 



Monday, April 11, 2016

Are Buses 'half the cost' of Capital Metro Stage One?


Much of the debate since 2012 around Capital Metro Stage One light rail concerns the much bandied around claim that BRT would cost half as much as light rail. The basis of this claim comes from an April 2012 report by URS called 'City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor: concept Design Report'.

Page 13 of this report breaks down the costs of BRT and LRT in table 2.4. The table on page 13 of the URS report does shows that BRT is half the cost of light rail, but it is a table that is seriously flawed and deceptive. The major issue with this breakdown of costs for LRT and BRT is an assumption that no buses will need to be purchased and no depots constructed. In the costs table under 'Vehicles and Depots', the BRT column has no figure. None at all. In contrast, a new depot at Mitchell is being constructed for Capital Metro and 14 light rail vehicles have been ordered. Will a directly comparable BRT system require no new vehicles or infrastructure? Of course not. 

The table that has magic invisible buses carrying 3000 passengers

If there are no new buses being purchased, then where is this 360 million dollars going? It isn't adding capacity to Canberra's public transport network. It is building roads. Effectively, we would be spending (not investing) 360 million dollars for zero return on Canberra's public transport infrastructure. We get no extra public transport capacity in the network whatsoever.

The first stage of Capital Metro will procure 14 light rail vehicles. Each vehicle has a passenger capacity of 220. That is 3000 passengers if all vehicles are full, and these vehicles will operate at high frequency along the 16 kilometre network.

If ACTION ran articulated buses (with a 100 passenger capacity) solely on this route under a BRT model, they would need to purchase at least 30 new buses. At 800,000 dollars per articulated bus, that is a minimum of 24 million dollars of new buses, and several million more for depot facilities. It is a well known transport fact that light rail vehicles are cheaper over the longer term because although more expensive upfront, they are in service decades longer than a bus, and have far less costs to service and maintain.

The next time someone says that buses would cost half as much as Capital Metro Stage One, ask them how that can be when zero new buses would be purchased under the half cost proposal. I know that the flexibility of buses is a much vaunted feature, but magic buses that carry 3000 people without even existing is something that really should be promoted more widely.

As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Grattan Institute fundamentally misunderstand what public transport is for

City living in a world planned by economists

Show me a city planned and built by an economist. Somewhere, this shining example of cost benefit success has transformed peoples lives for the better. All services provided by the government from schools, health, sewage, parks and public transport are run at a profit. I'm sure it exists, outside of the game Simcity or an economists spreadsheet. I just need someone to tell me where it is.

Today the Grattan Institute released its 'Road to Riches: Putting politics ahead of growth' report. It attacks the Capital Metro light rail project and makes two claims on its second page that don't bear scrutiny: "Canberra’s light rail, now being built, is likely to provide no more benefits than bus rapid transit but cost more than twice as much.". The environmental, societal and economic benefits of light rail are well proven, and LRT will not cost twice as much. The basis of the Grattan Institute claim is faulty.

In its 'Case Study' on page 42 The author adopts the classic economist strategy of ignoring the benefits that make a transport project beneficial, to prove somehow that it 'costs' money. Even worse than blind ideology is wilful dismissal of evidence that doesn't conform to the authors chosen agenda.



Complete text of Grattan Institutes analysis

The missing data that the Grattan Institute choose to ignore to 'prove' their case is the April 2012 report by URS called 'City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor: concept Design Report'. Page 13 of this report breaks down the costs of BRT and LRT. The problem with this breakdown is an assumption that no buses will need to be purchased. In the costs table under 'Vehicles and Depots', the BRT column has no figure. None at all. Will a directly comparable BRT system require no new vehicles or infrastructure? Of course not.

If there are no new vehicles being purchased, then where is this 360 million dollars going? It isn't adding capacity to Canberras public transport network. It is building roads. Effectively, we would be spending (not investing) 360 million dollars for zero return. We get no extra public transport capacity whatsoever. Half the cost of light rail with no benefit at all.


The first stage of Capital Metro will procure 14 light rail vehicles. Each vehicle has a passenger capacity of 220. If ACTION ran articulated buses (with a 100 passenger capacity) solely on this route under a BRT model, they would need to purchase at least 30 new buses. At 800,000 dollars per articulated bus, that is a minimum of 24 million dollars of new buses, and several million more for depot facilities. It is a well known transport fact that light rail vehicles are cheaper over the longer term because although more expensive upfront, they are in service decades longer than a bus, and have far less costs to service and maintain.

URS understand this. Even factoring in a fictional cost of zero for thirty new buses, they conclude on page 54 that:
"The estimated capital costs for these two options are $300 – $360 million for BRT and $700 – $860 million for LRT. The higher LRT capital cost is attributed to additional costs such as track, electrical, a new LRT depot, and new light rail vehicles. Additional costs for LRT also come from the larger and more complex stops/stations required. A triple bottom line evaluation undertaken of these options, comparing their social, economic and environmental impacts to the ‘do-nothing’ scenario has shown LRT to provide higher benefits due to its higher social benefits."

Concluding on page 55:
"Overall the study shows that there are significant opportunities to improve the corridor with the implementation of either BRT or LRT, and potentially additional benefits if the corridor were to be extended in the future.
BRT is a cost-effective option, whilst LRT generates the best overall outcome for Canberra."

The full Capital Metro business case from October 2014 also provides evidence that light rail will provide a positive economic return of 1.2. This business case is also ignored by the Grattan Instiute. The author selectively quotes a figure from an earlier report that conforms with the aim of their study, ignoring a later report that does not. I'm not sure how reliable and trustworthy analysis can be when confirmation bias by the author excludes evidence disproving primary contentions of the authors hypothesis.

The Grattan Institute fundamentally misunderstand what public transport is meant to do for society. It does not always exist to make a profit (although it is always great when it does), but it does exist to provide a service to the public. We pay taxes and rates so that the government will aggregate our common wealth and provide services that provide a public benefit. Healthcare, education, painting lines on roads. All sorts of services that would never return a profit, or would even be performed unless we paid for it through governments we elect and fund.

Capital Metro Stage One is a public transport solution for Gungahlin residents, a first stage for an all of Canberra future transport technology (as we grow we will need it), a catalyst for urban renewal, a catalyst to redevelop Northbourne Avenue into a worthy entrance to our Nations Capital, and a long term economic productivity booster. Not just through the immediate job creation though construction, but the longer term economic activity that Transit Oriented Development is proven to attract.

In politics making decisions for the future is the hardest task. Short sighted populist decisions are easy, making the hard ones, making the tough calls for a better future is a risk. In 2012 the ACT Government took that risk and chose the best overall outcome for Canberra by going to an election with light rail for Canberra as a policy. They were returned for another term by the electorate and are implementing the long term plans that will benefit Canberra for decades.

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


Friday, April 1, 2016

Bus only transport policy reactions not positive for Canberra Liberals

On March 31 the Canberra Liberals released their public transport policy for the October 2016 election. It calls for buses to be the sole public transport option for Canberra's future. Response has been muted, as the obvious flaws in the policy - no real costing, unrealistic proposals and promising things that are already planned, emerged.
"It is massively undercosted and we will be challenging them to provide actual costings" 
Transport Minister MLA Meegan Fitzharris 31 March on WIN TV News Canberra 

The Canberra Times covered reactions here 'Liberal bus plan unaffordable, light on detail'.

(TWU Secretary) Klaus Pinkas said the Liberals' proposal, unveiled on Thursday, had "some good ideas and great lines on the map", but was uncosted. He said bus drivers supported the idea of fewer stops on express services. "But it's just not costed. I don't know, you don't know and [Liberal leader] Jeremy Hanson doesn't know what the cost is."
The Liberals believe they can deliver the plan for the same amount currently spent on ACTION and the Capital Metro Agency combined, about $160 million a year. But the party admits it has no firm costings.
The government dismissed the proposal as "massively undercosted", but did not provide any of its own figures on what the Liberals' proposal might cost.
Mr Pinkas said Labor's plan for a tram line to Gungahlin was better because it meant far more jobs in construction. He said the Liberals' proposal would mean more bus drivers, but Labor's project would bring hundreds of construction jobs to build the tram and redevelop Northbourne Avenue.

The Liberals also propose a rapid service to Canberra Airport, plugging a long-lamented gap in bus routes. But it is unclear whether such a route could be delivered, given the current impasse, with the government so far unable to persuade the airport to allow ACTION buses.
A spokeswoman said the airport "welcomes any discussion about ground transport to the airport" but pointed out there were already ACTION buses to the Brindabella Business Park, about 500 metres from the terminal. A privately contracted shuttle bus ran from the terminal to Russell and the city.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the Liberals' proposal would cost hundreds of millions and take years to implement.
She said the policy lacked costings and relied on the Liberals spending millions on compensation to tear up light rail contracts. The government plans to create new bus routes after 2019, including through redeployment of buses from the city to Gungahlin corridor as tram services begin. They could include services to the Molonglo Valley and Weston Creek.
Ms Fitzharris said hundreds of new buses would be required for the Liberal plan, as well as at least two new depots. She said dead running would be an inevitable result of route specific vehicles and she questioned idea of colour coding buses.
"Labor introduced rapid bus routes, so we are obviously committed to those and we will be making further announcements with the roll out of our integrated transport agency on July 1 and also further announcements as we get closer to the election.
"I think there is no detail in the Canberra Liberals' plan. I think it is massively undercosted and I think we will be challenging them to provide actual costings for this, of what it will cost on top of the costs they will need to pay for scrapping and tearing up the light rail line."

ABC Online covered reactions here.

"Chief Minister Andrew Barr questioned the viability of the plan to expand the Rapid bus routes instead of building light rail.
Mr Barr said the consequences of cancelling light rail contracts would be severe.
"The Liberal Party proposes to spend hundreds of dollars on nothing," Mr Barr said.
"That is tearing up contracts and handing $60 million of Commonwealth funding back because the project that that money has been allocated to would not go ahead."
But he said he welcomed the debate.
"We think our plan through Transport Canberra will deliver a better public transport system for the city," Mr Barr said.
"It's a debate we're very happy to have.
"We look forward to that unfolding in the months ahead."




ABC TV Canberra carried this report on 31 March 2016

ABC TV Canberra interviewed MLA Alistair Coe on 31 March 2016

WIN TV Canberra carried this report on 31 March 2016

Minister for Transport and Municipal Services Meegan Fitzharris released the following statement on the bus only policy:

Canberra Liberals bus plan doesn’t stack up

The Canberra Liberals have shown just how out of their depth they are when it comes to public transport with their announcement today that is massively under-costed and will only lead to more congestion on Canberra’s roads.
Minister for Transport and Municipal Services Meegan Fitzharris said the first step in their plan is to spend hundreds of millions of ratepayers’ money on nothing by cancelling the light rail project.
“What the Canberra Liberals won’t admit to is that by tearing up the light rail contracts, for a solution committed to before the last election, they will actually be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on nothing, including handing back $60 million to the federal government.
“The real solution for Canberra is an integrated transport network, which the ACT Government is delivering for our growing city.
“The ACT Government is establishing Transport Canberra on 1 July. Transport Canberra will focus on making the customer service experience even better with more transport choices as our population hits almost 500,000 people by 2035.
“Transport Canberra will also be responsible for integrating buses with light rail, taxis, car sharing and active travel, and ensuring a single ticketing system, a central contact for information and coordinated timetabling. And we are investing in an electric bus trial already.
“Part of Transport Canberra’s focus will also be on re-distributing the million bus kilometres that run along the stage 1 light rail route so they can provide a better service to our suburbs. This is a plan that is sustainable, more efficient and will cut our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Minister Fitzharris questioned the Canberra Liberals’ figures and said with no patronage figures or plan for bus priority around Canberra, more buses will simply mean more congestion on our roads.
“We estimate that the Canberra Liberals plan would actually require hundreds of new buses, more depots and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. Then you have to factor in costs of setting up the depots, maintenance costs, staff costs, dead time running costs, costs of free travel after every eighth trip and costs of running very frequent buses on eight rapid routes. It’s easy to see that their figures don’t add up.
“This is on top of the current costs of running the ACTION network, and the increasing costs of congestion around Canberra which is tipped to reach $700 million by 2030. Their plan must be to cut local services and push up fares, and I think Canberrans have a right to know how much fares will go up.
“I’m also surprised they still have no plan for Northbourne Avenue, our most congested route, which will be transformed by light rail but left to perish by the Canberra Liberals.
“Then there is the lost opportunity costs associated with urban renewal and investment along high priority transport corridors. The facts are clear that light rail routes encourage renewal, investment and economic activity. The Canberra Liberals ignore this proven link.

“The Canberra Liberals’ plan doesn’t address congestion on our roads and spends millions on nothing. Only ACT Labor has a real plan for an integrated transport network for Canberra that improves the way we move around our city,” said Minister Fitzharris.



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