Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Greens push for Light Rail in Assembly

The ACT Greens have announced that they will be pushing for a concerted effort by the ACT Government to develop a proposal for light rail routes in the ACT that can be presented to Infrastructure Australia, and that can be pursued without Commonwealth Government assistance. 

This is the lead item in three pronged transport proposal from the Greens that includes support for the mooted high speed rail linking East coast capitals, and also developing rail transport infrastructure in Fyshwick that would attract freight from road to rail. 

Amanda Bresnan MLA,  the Greens transport spokesperson said:
“Light rail, high speed rail, and an increased proportion of rail freight would bring significant benefits to the ACT region – including economic, social, environmental and travel benefits. These are the services Canberra deserves.
“Rail needs a champion in Canberra. The Chief Minister has lobbied and pushed for new freeways. Sustainable transport projects like light rail and high speed rail should receive the same effort.
The Greens will be presenting legislation to the Assembly this week in support of this proposal.  

Since the initial announcement of the Infrastructure Australia bids several years ago, the focus on Light Rail - at least in terms of concrete support from the ACT Government -has waned, despite overwhelming public support. 

While much effort was put into securing funding for the Majura Parkway, little effort has been made by the ACT government into securing funding for light rail. The main element missing from the ACT bid to Infrastructure Australia for funding, was a 'shovel ready' proposal. This proposal by the Greens, will ask for that work to be undertaken - so that a revised bid can be made to Infrastructure Australia. 

It will be interesting to watch this greens proposal and the reaction from the Assembly this week.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughtful Canberra Times editorial on transport and society

There is an outstanding editorial in todays Canberra Times. Titled 'Public Transport a safe investment', it talks about cultural attitudes to public transport, the increased car-centric society we are creating, and the cost this takes on us as individuals. It also examines the ongoing cost of a driver-centric society.

The Canberra Times has not been terribly pro-public transport in the past, with the odd journo writing very good articles, but a general anti-public transport and definitely anti-ACTION slant reflected in its editorials. Todays editorial therefore is a pleasant surprise, and I hope leads to a permanent shift in the way that the nations capital journal of record covers public transport.

I urge you to read it.

A few interesting quotes from the article:

  • We created a car-dependent city that, in hindsight, we would have done better to avoid.
  • 25 years ago, four in five Canberra schoolchildren either walked or cycled to school. Today, four in five are driven, by their parents, directly to the school gates.
  • The widespread use of cars comes with growing direct and indirect costs to taxpayers. Governments must continually build new roads and maintain existing ones as they deteriorate.
  • the federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates congestion losses in Australia will amount to more than $20 billion a year by 2020.
  • Cars are a far costlier habit than most of us realise, because we never see a bill that lists their true price.
  • census data also shows that the number of cars per household has climbed steadily for decades, as we opt increasingly to drive, rather than walk, to our work, local shops and social events.
  • The ACT Government allocates less than 3c on public transport for every dollar it spends.
  • we need to change our way of thinking about projects such as better bus networks, cycling facilities and even light rail. We see them as costs, when they might actually represent valuable returns on investment; weapons against our sedentary culture.