Thursday, December 13, 2012

Integrating Capital Metro with existing transport infrastructure

Credit should be given where its due, and the new Greens/ACT Government have started planning for Capital Metro less than six weeks after being returned at the October Assembly election. The ACT Government have advertised a contract seeking advice on integrating existing transport infrastructure with the Capital Metro project. This is a good first step to take. 

Announcing the contract details today, Minister Corbell said: 

"This report will also inform government about what extra transport planning work will be required to ensure this project is delivered properly."

"Light rail will be an addition to our existing public transport network in the ACT, and therefore this study will provide detailed and essential analysis of how the bus network and the new Capital Metro will work in tandem to best meet the needs of our community."

An infrastructure project of the magnitude being undertaken requires good governance, and sound planning before the first sod is turned. Although the government is yet to conduct an engineering study, it is sensible to examine how you might want your existing transport infrastructure - like buses, bus stops and park and rides - to be integrated with Capital Metro.

A major selling point of light rail is capacity on the vehicles themselves. Most modern light rail vehicles can carry 200 to 300 passengers. This will reduce the burden on ACTION buses along the Gungahlin - Civic corridor and enable those buses to be re-tasked. This could result in more frequent local bus services in Gungahlin (ideally a bus every 20 minutes or less), or an increase in frequency on other high volume routes (Woden to Civic, Civic to Tuggeranong, Civic to Belconnen).

An aspect which also needs to be closely looked at is the location of Park and Rides.  If they are poorly located or provided with insufficient car spaces, then they will not provide the benefits to the network that can be achieved. Integrating the light rail stops with the existing bicycle path network would also assist both cyclists and commuters.

On 666 radio this morning Minister Corbell also spoke of Dickson as a major hub. This was a feature of one of the progress reports published in early 2012. At that time, the plan was to convert the ACT Motor vehicle testing shed as a light rail/bus/retail centre. This is a concept we need to hear more details of. Im not sure that diverting the main route off Northbourne into Dickson central, is a sound idea. 

As a first step towards laying the rails, this is a welcome announcement from the ACT Government. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Paying for light rail

Andrew Barr has announced how light rail will be paid for, in a press release addressing the concerns of the Opposition in respect to accommodating both Green and Labor Party election spending promises. 

Third, light rail will be funded in partnership with the private sector. The cost won’t be met upfront from the ACT Budget, and will be spread over the life of the project. In addition, the Government will receive offsetting revenue – such as from redevelopments along Northbourne Avenue – which will help fund the project.

This is the first time language like this has been publicly used by a Labor politician. ACT Light Rail has long maintained that increased commercial and residential construction (and associated stamp duty and rates) attracted by light rail construction, would contribute significantly to the ACT Budget. It is nice to see this concept acknowledged. 

Barr, Corbell and Rattenbury to oversee light rail construction

The Civic to Gungahlin light rail project will be overseen by a sub-committee consisting of Andrew Barr, Simon Corbell and Shane Rattenbury. This was announced on Andrew Barrs facebook page today. 

ACT Light Rail will be contacting this group in the very near future.

The ACT does not have a 'transport minister', transport being such a small and unimportant part of peoples lives. This minor portfolio is divided into components such as road maintenance and ACTION Buses, within the auspices of the Territory and Municipal Services portfolio.  

In the new Labor/Greens coalition government, Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury is now the TAMS Minister, in addition to six other ministries. Today he announced the following:

"Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) provides many of the services that Canberrans enjoy daily, such as building and maintaining paths and roads, libraries and waste management. It also manages Canberra’s urban and natural environment, such as nature parks, playgrounds and streetscapes.

“My goal will be to deliver these local Government services effectively and efficiently, as well as to continue improvements and innovate in key areas.

“The Greens-Labor Parliamentary Agreement sets out several exciting areas for progress in TAMS, such as improved buses and progressing light rail, enhancing biodiversity protection in Canberra’s nature parks and on rural lands, and cleaning up Canberra’s lakes.

Read a Canberra Times article on the new ministerial allocations here. 

ACT Light Rail were advised before the Assembly election that management of the Civic to Gungahlin project would be handled by the Land Development Agency. We will be seeking clarification on the structure of any committees and bodies responsible for delivering the first stage of Capital Metro. 

In one important area it makes sense  as light rail needs to be integrated with ACTION bus services. Improving ACTION bus services is a whole different sack of cats, which is brave for a new minister to tackle. 

I'd urge all reading this to visit our Facebook page. Snippets which don't make the webpage are often posted there. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Light rail determines ACT Government

Today, last Green standing, MLA Shane Rattenbury announced he is supporting Katy Gallagher and the ALP to form government. He is to become a minister in the Greens/ALP government.

The first thing he mentioned after announcing who he would support, was light rail.

Following his statement of support for an ALP government, he took questions from journalists and announced the following:
  • asked by a journalist what his ministry would be he said that hadn't been finalised yet, but he wanted to play a role in the delivery of the light rail system. 
  • light rail works will commence during the course of this term of assembly
  • in briefings from the appropriate bureaucrats they indicated works could begin in 2015
  • the funding model would be in the form of a Public Private Partnership. 
  • Expressions of Interest would be called for
  • There is an 'iron clad commitment' from the ALP to delivering this.

This is an excellent result for Canberra's future. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ACTION bus patronage continues to decline

In disappointing news, figures released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that ACTION Bus patronage continues to decline. These figures are from the 2011 Census and are the most recent and reliable figures available.

Read: New 2011 Census data reveals more about the ACT 

An excerpt from the media release states:

Method of travel to work

The latest Census data further revealed that people in the Australian Capital Territory still prefer to travel to work by car than any other means, with 69.3 per cent of the population reporting this as their primary method of travel to work (either as the driver or passenger). 

While the household car is still the preferred method of travel to work for most people, there is an increasing proportion of people walking and riding a bicycle to work. In 2011, 763 more people walked to work than in 2006, and 914 more people rode a bicycle to work.

There has been a small decline in the proportion of people who catch a bus to work, with 5.6 per cent of people in 2011 compared to 5.8 per cent in 2006, reflecting a slower rate of growth compared to other methods of travel.

While there is a rise in walking and cycling, these ABS statistics indicate that unless an alternative to the private car is provided, public transport patronage will continue to decline. 

Light rail will offer that alternative. Build light rail now!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Light rail may determine who governs ACT

Shane Rattenbury, ACT Greens MLA 
(picture from ABC News)

The ABC television news in Canberra on Sunday night carried a story which has also been posted on their ABC News website in written form. In short, ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury has indicated that light rail has featured prominently in his and the Greens thinking on who will form the next government in the ACT. 

Read 'Light rail may determine who governs ACT' here. 

As the Assembly now consists of 8 Labor MLA's, 8 Liberal MLA's and 1 Green MLA, Mr Rattenbury holds the balance of power and will determine who governs the ACT for the next four years. 

The ABC article states:

"Greens members held a meeting on Sunday to decide on their priorities and discuss strategy with their sole representative in the Assembly.
"They want to see good government in the ACT over the next 4 years to see us become a fair and sustainable city," Mr Rattenbury said.
"So things like light rail were high on the list of things members were interested in."
During the election campaign, Labor committed to building a light rail route between Gungahlin and Civic.
It is part of a larger plan to build a city-wide light rail network in partnership with the private sector, at a cost of $614 million.
The Canberra Liberals have expressed concern over the cost of light rail.
Mr Rattenbury said better public transport and cleaning up Canberra's system of lakes are also priorities for Greens members."

ACT Light Rail urge Mr Rattenbury to stick to the ACT Greens election policy when deciding on where he will place the ACT Greens support for the next Assembly. 

ACT Light Rail calls on Greens to stick to their election committments

Mr Ian Ruecroft, ACT Light Rail Deputy Chair, said today that with the composition of the ACT Legislative Assembly now known, construction of Canberra’s first Light Rail route is now a highly realistic expectation, that would please not just Gungahlin residents but all Canberrans. 

He went on to say “ACT Light Rail call on the ACT Greens to ensure that the priority placed on their light rail policies in the lead up to the recent Assembly election, is carried over to the decision making when deciding who to support for the next four years.”

“The major policy commitment that the ACT Greens made of an investment of $200 million towards the building of a light rail system, should be instrumental in determining which side of politics ultimately governs the territory” stated Mr Ruecroft.

Both ACT Labor and ACT Greens made positive commitments to Light Rail during the election campaign. Whilst the ACT Liberals have indicated that they may have some reservations, opposition leader Mr. Zed Seselja was quoted as stating, “We’ve never ruled out light rail”, in the Canberra Times on the day after the election.

“This election has now has demonstrated there is genuine political, community and business support for Light Rail. It provides major infrastructure investment working towards a sustainable future for the Territory with a robust public transport vision”, continued Mr. Ruecroft

“We urge Mr. Rattenbury to remain true and steadfast in the ACT Greens commitment to implementation of their light rail policy as a mandatory condition of support during his negotiations with both parties” concluded Mr. Ruecroft.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Light Rail policy from the parties in the 2012 Assembly election

Who to vote for? If you are concerned about public transport and light rail then read through this post and make your mind up. ACT Light Rail have summarised the policies of the major parties and independents, where they have been made known. 


After eleven years and several failed pro-bus public transport policies, the ALP  has accepted that light rail with integrated bus services offers the best mass transit option for Canberra's future. The ALP now have a policy that proposes that if they are reelected this year:  

  • They will begin an examination of constructing a light rail line with public private partnership options(and we assume funding models), 
  • If elected again in 2016, would actually begin construction of the Gungahlin to Civic light rail link with an aim for completion by 2018. 
  • They will commit 30 million dollars over the next two years for further work on these proposals. 
  • The name of the proposed light rail is Capital Metro. 
  • Initial link will run from Gungahlin to Civic along Northbourne Avenue
  • This initial link is costed at $614 million dollars

This is an exciting change in policy from a previously pro-bus government. 

There are a few concerns from ACT Light Rail. Firstly - only 30 million has actually been committed and secondly - it must be remembered that the ALP went to the 2008 election campaign with a light rail policy which foundered in silence from Infrastructure Australia who went with Majura Parkway instead. 

Those concerns aside, it appears to be a genuine change in approach and if re-elected, ACT Light Rail will hold them to this proposal.  

More ALP policy details can be found here: Capital Metro Light Rail project
The ABC have a good analysis of the proposal here: Labor backs light rail 

The Greens

The first party to offer a proper light rail policy in the  2012 ACT Assembly election campaign, the ACT Greens fired the opening salvo with an excellent policy proposal.

In summary, the ACT Greens light rail policy is this:
  • Commit to building a light rail for Canberra
  • $200 million initial Government funding committed to light rail
  • An ACT wide light rail master plan, covering existing and developing areas
  • Construction on Canberra's first light rail route beginning by 2015
  • Independently manage the project through the Canberra Urban Transit Authority, a new independent body to design, cost and manage funding and construction of light rail in Canberra.

When asked by the media what ACT Light Rail thought of this proposal, our response was 'This is the most forward looking public transport policy in Canberra since self government'.

Our only concern is the Greens did not make it a mandatory policy for an agreement to govern contract with whatever party they seek to align with in the next Assembly. 

Canberra Liberals

Disappointingly, the Canberra Liberals have not come out with a new policy on light rail for the 2012 campaign. ACT Light Rail believe they are content to run with their policy from four years ago which committed to an engineering study to determine the costs of a future light rail network in the ACT.

Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja advised ACT Light Rail that the Canberra Liberals were not opposed to light rail and remained open minded. They were focussed on getting ACTION working more effectively. 

At a community meeting on 16 October 2012, Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne when asked about light rail policy said that while she was personally in favour of light rail, she had concerns over the cost of the ALP proposal, how it would be paid for and the ability of an ALP Government to deliver it on budget and on time. 

Liberal Candidate for Ginninderra, Matt Watts, is a member of ACT Light Rail. (declaration of vested interest - Damien Haas, ACT Light Rail Chair has been assisting Matt Watts in his campaign). 

Australian Motorists Party

They are not opposed to light rail, but don't consider it viable. Curiously, they did issue a policy proposing a tunnel running underground from the Barton Highway under Civic to Commonwealth Avenue. To confuse matters even further, they would include light rail in this plan. 

The Pirate Party

Pro-bus. They don't even mention light rail in their transport policy. 

Australian Democrats

Darren Churchill is running as an independent, but is a member of the Australian Democrats. At a community meeting on 16 October 2012, he stated that the Australian Democrats are in favour of light rail, and have been for many years. 

On his website, this can be found:

"Work to build an overarching transport plan that includes a comprehensive bus service with late-night and weekend coverage to get you where you want, when you want and integrates a light rail network;"

Marion Le's Social Justice Party

At a community meeting on 16 October 2012, Marion Le stated that she was in favour of light rail. The party does not appear to have an online presence. 

Who to vote for? 

ACT Light Rail make no recommendation to you - we would like you to read this information, seek out information for yourself and form your own opinion. 

Please vote on October 20 and consider the best person and party to represent your interests, beliefs and concerns. We trust that the information on this page can assist you in reaching an informed view.  

Declaration of vested interest - Damien Haas, ACT Light Rail Chair, has been assisting Matt Watts, a Liberal candidate for Ginninderra in his 2012 election campaign. Matt Watts is a member of ACT Light Rail. In any media appearance, or when lobbying to any person or party since August 2012, Mr Haas has declared this. Mr Haas is not a member of the Liberal party. No other member of ACT Light Rail has been involved in Mr Watts campaign. 

ACT Light Rail contains members of all political parties who share a common view that light rail is the best mass transit option for Canberra's future, and work to achieve that aim. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

ALP commits to 'Capital Metro' light rail for Canberra

Today Simon Corbell announced that the ALP had committed to light rail.

He said that 'light rail was the best choice for Canberra'.

The election policy is that the Government will commit $30 million for a series of studies, with an aim to begin construction no later than 2016, and have it up and running by 2018.

The ALP are in favour of a private public partnership. Minister Corbell has had a series of meetings with large international companies experienced in running transit networks. The talks have been focused on these companies building and potentially running that network.

The first link will be from Gungahlin to Northbourne, and will be called 'Capital Metro'.

This is an exciting transport policy announcement, but it must be remembered that the ALP has had four years to propose and announce funding - yet it waits until an election campaign to announce funding for a study. The four year time frame for 'studies' is also disappointing. That takes the actual construction phase to six years from now. There is another territory election in four years.

Some details are available online in this Canberra Times article.

ACT Light Rail will be keenly looking for further detail.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Benefits of light rail - from the WA MAX project

The WA State Government are proposing to build light rail in Perth. The WA Department of Transport  have placed an excellent website for the Metro Area Express or MAX system online here.

The excerpt below is from the section titled 'Benefits of light rail'. Many of these benefits are directly applicable to the ACT.


  • Reduced traffic congestion: The estimated economic cost of traffic congestion in Perth was nearly $1 billion in 2009, with costs predicted to more than double by 2020 to $2.1 billion. Initiatives such as light rail to reduce congestion will have a significant impact on both productivity and quality of life.
  • Cost-effective solutions: Light rail can be built within existing streets in developed areas unlike heavy rail, which needs significant vacant land or a high-cost tunnel-based design. For areas of medium and high demand, light rail is competitive on cost with buses.
  • Large capacity: One light rail vehicle carries the equivalent of three articulated buses, and a light rail system can cater for passenger numbers conventional bus routes can’t handle.
  • Environmental benefits: Transport contributes 14 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gases, of which 90 per cent is generated by private vehicles. Light rail will reduce Perth’s reliance on motor vehicles.
  • Sustainability: Light rail offers developers and planners the opportunity to reduce urban sprawl by increasing population densities near stations and along routes.
  • Infrastructure certainty: Light rail infrastructure provides a sense of permanence, encouraging developers to invest in new commercial, mixed use and residential projects.
  • Vibrancy: New development and greater population density can make areas near light rail more vibrant and active. Public transport supports community fitness by encouraging people to walk or cycle to stations or stops. Light rail vehicles will be quiet, both inside and outside.
  • Easy access: Navigating a light rail system will be simple, with routes marked by permanent infrastructure in the form of rails and stations.
  • Integration: MAX will integrate with the rest of the Transperth network.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

ACT Light Rail meet with Simon Corbell

ACT Light Rail met with Minister Corbell on Thursday to discuss light rail and public transport issues. The meeting was very frank and instructive. It is clear that Minister Corbell understands the competing issues in the BRT v LRT debate, and I expect that a decision will be politically motivated, not necessarily cost related.
The meeting ran longer than expected with the Minister explaining his thinking on several issues that were raised, answering in great detail questions put to him. He also asked several questions regarding our public statements and views, including our support of the ACT Greens recent policy on light rail.

An unexpected bonus was that after querying the $870 million cost, and the failure to release the figures for scrutiny, the Minister offered ACT Light Rail the opportunity to look at the figures. We have taken him up on this, and will write to his office to formalise this early next week.

At this stage we will ask two of our members, a transport economist and a very senior federal public servant with considerable experience in budgeting, project management and operational implementation, to examine the figures provided to the ACT Government by their consultants.

A full brief of the meeting will be provided to the ACT Light Rail executive committee at our next meeting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

ACT Greens release excellent light rail policy ahead of election

In the opening salvo of competing policies for the 2012 ACT Assembly election, the ACT Greens fired the opening salvo with a game changing policy on light rail.

In summary, the ACT Greens light rail policy is this:

  • Commit to building a light rail for Canberra
  • $200 million initial Government funding committed to light rail
  • An ACT wide light rail master plan, covering existing and developing areas
  • Construction on Canberra's first light rail route beginning by 2015
  • Independently manage the project through the Canberra Urban Transit Authority, a new independent body to design, cost and manage funding and construction of light rail in Canberra.
When asked by the media what ACT Light Rail though t of this proposal, our response was 'This is the most forward looking public transport policy in Canberra since self government.'.

ACT Light Rail meet with all political parties as part of our public transport lobbying efforts. We have met with the Greens several times to discuss light rail, ACTION buses, integrated transport and related matters. To say that they 'get public transport' is to obvious. They also understand how it is an essential part of Canberra's future.

To quote from the Greens policy paper "Our transport system will be a key part of Canberra's long-term economic, environmental and social health. Not only will light rail move people efficiently and reduce pollution, it will also help bring significant economic and cultural opportunities. Light rail is an investment today that will mean savings in the future."

The policy is well worth reading. The Greens have gone to some effort to explain how light rail could be financed, with suggestions including government funding, private finance, value capture financing etc. 

A graph from the Greens light rail policy, showing capacity benefits of light rail

Although this is an excellent policy, there is one big problem - it is not a mandatory part of their agreement to govern. The Greens currently hold four seats in the Assembly. It is expected that they may lose one seat in the October election. That will still place the Greens in the position of determining who governs Canberra for the next four years if neither the ALP or the Canberra Liberals are able to achieve a majority in their own right.

The Greens must make this policy a mandatory part of their agreement to govern, for it to be implemented in the next Assembly term.

This policy is visionary for Canberra. It is light years ahead of comparable policy from the ALP or Canberra Liberals. While the ALP have always talked up light rail ahead of an election, they have always squibbed the real opportunity government has given them to deliver it. The Canberra Liberals are too focused on ACTION and the private car to deliver a serious light rail policy (although they did go to the 2008 election with a 4 million dollar proposal to conduct an engineering study, which was what ACT Light Rail were asking for at that time).

In the remaining 40 plus days of this campaign, we will see what light rail policy the two major parties deliver. To date the Greens have offered the most credible light rail policy.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Puzzling transport policy from Canberra Liberals

The Canberra Liberals released many policies today, well ahead of the October Assembly election. One of them was on public transport. I dont really know what to make of it, except to say that it is light on detail and disappointing in its aims. It also seems as if light rail has been ejected from the list for consideration of Canberras future transport infrastructure.  

"Mr Seselja said the Canberra Liberals are committed to improving the ACTION service for Canberrans."

It then lists two objectives: 

  • $3 million for a 12-month trial of a free shuttle service in the Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin to feed into rapid bus lines
  • Conducting a study on intelligent transport systems such as the use and collection of real-time commuter information and driver guidance systems.

To me this means 'guided buses' or O-bahn style buses. This is a trip in the wayback machine for sure. The Canberra Liberals need to issue more detail on what they mean by this. 

At this stage the greens have the most compelling policy on public transport. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Active Transport Forum - Thursday 30 August

Canberra Loves 40% are holding a public transport forum on Thursday 30 August. There will be several speakers, and also a panel that will field questions.

The main speakers will be Professor Cameron Gordon from UC, Jason Ward from GoldLinq (Gold Coast Light Rail)  and Simon Corbell, ACT Transport Minister.

Ian Ruecroft, ACT Light Rail Deputy Chair will be on the panel.

The event will be chaired by Alex Sloan from ABC666 local radio.

I would urge anyone interested in public transport in Canberra to attend, listen and ask questions. Details below.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

'New' costings on Gungahlin to Civic transit corridor approaching reality

Earlier this year Simon Corbell stood in the middle of Northbourne Avenue and keeping a straight face, announced that his government estimated it would cost 870 million dollars to build light rail from Gungahlin to Civic, along Northbourne Avenue. Further, it would only cost 300 million dollars to build bus rapid transit along the same corridor. 

Today the ESDD Minister has announced that those costs have been revised. He has managed to shave $170 million off the light rail costing.  

Naturally, there is no press release, but the Canberra Times article 'Govt lops $220 million from rail, bus costings' is here. 

Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is unknown. The real truth is that we still don't know what these figures actually mean. Both the ACT Greens and the Canberra Liberals submitted FOI application for the data used to arrive at these to look at the actual numbers Minister Corbell uses in press releases, but were denied access to the true figures. What has this government got to hide

ACT Light Rail have studied the publicly released material closely and are of the firm belief that the majority of the capital cost of this project is meant to completely rebuild Northbourne Avenue. The proposals include bus or light rail lanes on the outside of Northbourne, complete revamps of the internal median strip and the edges of each road. 

There was also a proposal to put the bus or light rail lanes along one side of Northbourne, and directing traffic down the other (this was not included on teh publicly released material).  

Northbourne Avenue is Canberra's most used road, and is severely degraded in several areas. The road surface is very poor, and many of the trees on the inner median strip are distressed and at the end of their life.  There is a lot of cost ahead whether this current bus/light rail exercise gets funding, or is quietly abandoned post-election. 

By folding bus lanes/light rail into the design exercise, the ACT Government cunningly makes this a Federal funding decision, instead of the road surface upgrade - which would see the ACT Government dipping into its own pocket. 

This is obliquely referred to in the article:

The government has also been criticised for not releasing the full study behind its cost estimates to date.

''We'll be releasing a detailed assessment of the costings and the assumptions behind them. It won't just be the figures, we will be breaking them up,'' Mr Corbell said.

The government has applied to Infrastructure Australia for funding to undertake detailed design work on the corridor, with the ACT committing to $15 million as long as the Commonwealth matched the figure.

ACT Light Rail keenly await these figures, and trust that the long term benefit of the territory is considered ahead of a short term cost saving. ACTION Buses are at capacity from Gungahlin to Civic in peak hour. The roads are congested, and still more residents are pouring into Gungahlin. 

Mr Corbell also said the government would announce before the October 20 election whether it would go with buses or light rail. ''The government has said it will announce its preference for the vehicle type before the election,'' he said.

The development comes as the ACT Greens candidate for Molonglo and former high-profile president of the Gungahlin Community Council, Alan Kerlin, said the ACT needed a ''transport minister with vision'' and called on the government to commit to building light rail.

''They've got to stop pussy-footing around and making empty promises every four years right before an election,'' Mr Kerlin said.

The timing of this whole exercise is very suspect, but I believe the ACT electorate are now aware of the games that politicians play with promises of light rail prior to elections. The whole Infrastructure Australia light rail bid charade was a perfect example of this governments 'commitment'.

Build Light Rail Now. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ACT Light Rail meets the Australian Motorists Party

ACT Light Rail met today with Chic Henry of the Australian Motorists Party to discuss Canberra transport issues and light rail. I wouldnt say Chic has been converted to our cause, but he was prepared to listen.

We had a very wideranging discussion on Canberra issues, and I came away with a lot of food for thought, and some questions I need to find answers for. This is a good thing.

One common area of agreement was that the current public transport system just isnt working. If Chic is elected, I'd strap myself in tight if I was an ACTION bureaucrat or ACT Govt Transport policy person.

We will meet again, and I trust that I am able to address the questions that the Motorists Party have. Its important to have dialogue - even with people who dont always appear to agree with our point of view.

There is more that unites us than divides us.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

414 residents = 414 new cars on Molonglos roads

A developer today announced construction of 212 new apartments in Molonglo - so lets say 414 people and their cars will be moving in and looking around for non-existent public transport. Unless this development is right next to a bus stop with a sign on it, that will be 414 people driving to work every day. 

ACT Light Rail recommended in a submission to the ACT Government in 2008, that light rail be constructed between Molonglo and Civic to cope with growing new demand. It wasn't. This government can barely construct adequate roads. 

Molonglo, Canberras new Gungahlin (when one transport planning disaster isn't enough!)

Build Light Rail Now.

Keep up to date with our frequent updates on our facebook page

Monday, July 30, 2012

ACTION passenger numbers stagnate - build Light Rail Now!

A story in todays Canbera Times carries the disappointing news from ACTION that it has failed to increase full-fare paying adult passengers.  
From the CT article: 

"Adult patronage of Canberra's bus service ACTION has barely increased over the past six years, despite markedly increased costs, population growth and an expansion of the bus network.

In the 2011-12 financial year, ACTION carried an average of 24,865 adult passenger fares on weekdays. On December 15, 2005, then planning minister Simon Corbell said ACTION had recently carried more than 22,000 adult passenger boardings on three consecutive days.

By May 2006, ACTION had achieved record patronage but with escalating costs, budget overruns and no revenue growth. Average daily adult boardings hit 24,003, a 15 per cent increase over the same day the previous year. Despite this growth, the ACT Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission raised concern over the inability of ACTION to contain costs.

By June 2006, ACTION was claiming a 20 per cent patronage increase over the previous four years. This was contradicted in July that year by then chief minister Jon Stanhope, who said ACTION's costs and staffing levels had risen significantly in recent years, while passenger boardings had remained stable. He said benchmarking studies found ACTION's annual costs were $13 million-$15 million above the cost of an average, efficient operator.
As The Canberra Times reported this month, ACTION's operating costs have increased by almost 40 per cent over the past five years but revenue from fares is less than the peak two years ago.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said patronage continued to increase with about 40,000 people using buses on any given weekday.

Figures now supplied by Territory and Municipal Services confirm there has been very limited patronage growth over the past six years. The 24,865 average weekday adult passenger journeys include transfers between buses to complete a single journey and for most people journeys to and from work.

In 2011-12, the 80 per cent of passengers using the MyWay ticketing system required on average 1.3 bus trips to complete a journey. The claimed 40,000 daily passengers is therefore much closer to 20,000, which includes school students and pensioners. Any patronage increase since 2006 is dwarfed by the escalating operating cost of the service. Fare revenue, even with a full year's operation of the $8 million MyWay ticketing system was $721,489 less last year than in 2009-10."
Read the full Canberra Times article: 'Adult bus passenger numbers stagnating' here
This reinforces the view of ACT Light Rail that a modal shift away from buses for mass-transit is needed in Canberra.

A high speed light rail backbone with more frequent local bus services would serve Canberra better, and provide a reliable, frequent and attractive public transport alternative to the private car.

Increased parking fees will not change peoples behaviour, you should not punish people into using public transport. You must offer them a better option than their car. Build light rail now.
Join ACT Light Rails facebook page for more frequent updates.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

'Parkland' does not mean 'free parking' in the Parliamentary Triangle

Patrick White 'lawns' not Patrick White 'carpark'

Yet again the long running saga of parking in the Parliamentary Triangle raises its head again. This time prompted by the decision to use some parkland for actual recreation. No Canberrans - parkland does not mean 'park my car free of charge for 9 hours while I work'.

Read the Canberra Times article 'Call to correct appalling parking' here

In this recent article a senior manager of Questacon, Lorraine Neish, attacks the lack of parking in the triangle which she claims impacts upon visitor access to the national attractions. this follows yesterdays NCA announcement to return Patrick White lawns to being a lawn, instead of a public servant carpark.

Nowhere in Ms Neishs claims, or in the CT reportage, is the solution to this problem provided. The solution is better public transport which would lessen the requirement for commuters to park all day, and make more parking available for interstate tourists. Parking, either paid or free, would be a second choice for commuters if a better public transport option was available

If light rail were to service the Parliamentary Triangle, it would also be heavily used by tourists outside of peak hours, unlike the ACTION bus system. An express bus service already provides great frequency during business hours to the parliamentary Triangle, although it does not directly serve the main attractions located along the lake.

The fact that this is not referred to once in the article (or readers comments in the online version) speaks volumes about the impact that the express services have had on the public mindset regarding public transport.

The simple fact is that to be effective public transport must be frequent, reliable and attractive. Provide that and the demand for all-day parking will decrease.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Triple the population = triple the road congestion

The Canberra Times are running an article reporting on a plan to replace some existing flats along Northbourne Avenue, with a development that would triple the amount of residences.  "The plan more than triples the existing number of units on the site, from 248 flats to 883." 
The Canberra Times article 'Development to triple flats' can be read here.
ACT Light Rail are concerned that there is no plan in place to accommodate the transport needs and increased road congestion that would follow the tripling of the population in this area.  Have the ACT government and ACTION a plan to run extra services to cater for this rapid density increase? Have they factored in the extra cars that will join Northbourne Avenues existing peak hour road congestion ? 
"(Ms Burch) said sustainable travel choices are a key feature of the master plan. A reduced level of car parking is proposed which recognises that this site is close to a major transport corridor with excellent bus services, as well as being a short walk or cycle way from Civic, with its major retail, commercial, office and recreation facilities.''
No need to worry then, "excellent bus services". Right. I'm sure that the people who move in will not park their cars all over surrounding streets, because that hasn't happened in other areas of Canberra where inadequate parking has been supplied to massive residential complexes (yes, this is sarcasm). 
ACT Light Rail call on the Government and ACTION to provide information on how they plan to cope with a tripling of demand in this area. This is an example of the Government encouraging high density along a transport corridor, without the appropriate infrastructure in place to meet the transport demand that density creates.
The best transport method for Canberras high density future is light rail. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Raiders show their support for light rail

(From the Canberra Loves 40% website)
Canberra Loves 40%, a local community group promoting a sustainable, vibrant and emissions free city, have created a short video that will be aired at Canberra Stadium throughout the rest of the Raiders’ 2012 season.The video shows a new future for Raiders fans, traveling to and from games on a light rail system. It promotes integrated rapid transport as an environmental and social solution for the city.
“The Raiders are demonstrating a real commitment to Canberra by airing our promo,” Canberra Loves 40% spokesperson Phoebe Howe said.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Corbell assures Molonglo residents they will experience road congestion due to poor planning by his government

'Yes we will see more congestion on roads here in Weston Creek and around the city' Simon Corbell.

The local ABC ran an item on its '7.30 report' on Friday Night looking at the new suburbs of Molonglo and the inadequate infrastructure in place to deal with a population expected to grow by a minimum of 15,000 within 5 years. It also looked at the concurrent infrastructure demands that would be felt by Weston Creek, as residents of Molonglo lacking any infrastructure of their own, sought access to services. 

These include: schooling, shopping, recreation (sport, swimming) and of course - transport. Tom Anderson, of the Weston Creek Community Council articulated clearly the lack of existing infrastructure in Weston Creek, and how his area will be expected to shoulder the burden. 

Clearly this government has learnt nothing from 20 years of serious problems arising from a lack of infrastructure in Gungahlin at its inception. ACT Light Rail have previously called for better public transport to be in place before residents begin to move into Molonglo. 

After looking at the lack of public transport infrastructure, the ABC report concluded with the following:

Reporter: "perhaps what Weston Creek needs is Light Rail ?"
Corbell "(nervous giggle)... I'll take that as a comment"

Competition to design Civic light rail terminal

Ask your kids to submit a design for this great competition! More details at the Canberra Loves 40% website

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Darwin light rail $17 million a kilometre

The Australian Rail Association continue to hold the ACT Governments ludicrous costing of light rail at $870 million to scrutiny. In todays Canberra Times the ARA indicate that Darwin are considering light rail at a cost of $17 million per kilometre.

The full Canberra Times article can be read here. 

From the article:

"The peak rail industry group says Darwin's Lord Mayor, Katrina Fong Lim is pushing for light rail in the Northern Territory with costs of $17 million per kilometre."
The ARA says just like the ACT, land is available in the NT to accommodate light rail which helps keep project costs down. However, the ACT has still priced the potential 13 km light rail line at $66 million per kilometre, more than triple the estimates for Darwin.

"The Northern Territory mayor's announcement means every state and territory in Australia except the ACT has seen the light when it comes to light rail." says Mr Nye.

"One tram line can move 10,000 passengers an hour, while the same space dedicated to road moves only 800 cars or 140 bus services."

"Our local Government should be learning from the experiences in other jurisdictions," says Mr Nye."

“Sydney’s bus ways are creating parking lots throughout the city and after ripping up tram lines years ago, the city is now reinvesting in light rail to ease congestion. 

“Canberrans should be calling light rail as a long-term investment to improve the connectivity of the city,” concluded Mr Nye. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Light Rail on local television

ACT Light Rail are occasionally interviewed or asked for comment by the local media outlets. We have decided to list these on a page for future reference. You can access this by clicking on TV Reports tab at the top of this web page.

If you know of other ACT related light rail TV reports, please contact us.

Ian Ruecroft, ACT Light Rail Deputy Chair, appearing on ABC TV in June 2012 

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Molonglo residents moving in - prepare for decades of road congestion

Last week the Canberra Times carried a story on residents preparing to move into the new residential developments in Molonglo. I think It is important to note that there is no adequate public transport infrastructure ready to cater for these residents. ACTION Buses have released 'network 2012' and no Molonglo routes are mentioned. The 'Network 2012 route map' does not even show Molonglo. A massive public transport failure. 

This ACT Government planning failure dooms Molonglo residents to having to use cars to travel around Canberra. It means that a family MUST have two cars or be socially isolated. it means that commuters have no choice but to drive to work. 

Affordable housing is not so affordable when the costs of an extra car are added to the family budget. The NRMA estimate this extra cost to be a minimum of ten thousand dollars a year. 

ACT Light Rail made a submission in 2007 recommending that prior to residents moving in, that  light rail be built between Molonglo and Civic, or Molonglo, Weston Creek, Woden and Civic. This would ensure that the decades of lost productivity, road congestion and bickering over access would not be repeated. 

It of course, did not occur. The ACT Government are road focussed and the NCA really have no power over such a decision. 

Ironically, even though the ACT Government love building roads, they always skimp on that building with a single lane road one year, a dual lane road a few years later, then a dual carriageway ten years on, then after another five or so years a dual carriageway with an extra lane added, which they will then come along and mark oddly to cater for recumbent bicycle fanciers. Pleasing no one, and tripling the cost of the road construction. I present Flemington Road and Gungahlin Drive as prime examples of this bizarre enthusiasm.  

The NCA and ACT Governments own reports on Molonglo development already pointed out that road access into and out of the new development would experience road congestion. Each of the future projections indicated more and more roads would need to be built and expanded. There was no mention of BRT or LRT. ACT Light Rail proposed light rail and a design that favoured public transport access.  

This was the finding of the NCA in May 2008, on these issues:

Report on Consultation National Capital Plan Draft Amendment 63 – Molonglo and North Weston National Capital Authority 

1.17 Transport and Traffic 

Twelve (12) submissions raised issues with planning for sustainable transport infrastructure and implications of new urban development on existing roads. 
A number of submissions raised concern that relevant traffic studies and modelling have not been undertaken, or objected to traffic flow projections produced in the Preliminary Assessment. It was generally established that integrated transport planning needs to be given a high priority, and that any sustainability scenario would envisage a greater provision for public transport initiatives. 
Of note were those submissions that advocated the need to investigate light rail as an alternative to buses for public transport, and to increase public transport patronage. These submissions noted that the existing public transport system in Canberra does not cope with demands placed on it, and is not attractive in its current form and service level. 
Suggestions included a light rail link from Molonglo to Woden and/or Civic to aid in reducing congestion on roads; reducing travel times; and providing an opportunity to increase density along major public transport routes. 
A number of submissions commented on the potential pressures that may be placed on existing roads with the increase in population, and noted the need to upgrade existing major roads such as Cotter Road and Lady Denman Drive. It was noted that Tuggeranong Parkway needs to remain the major transport connection between Molonglo and Woden. 
NCA Consideration 
The detailed design, including the provision of services and infrastructure is the responsibility of the ACT Government, including the investigation and development of transport infrastructure throughout the Molonglo and North Weston area. DA63 identifies a proposed Inter-Town Public Transport Route, however this is only indicative. In this case it aligns with options presented in DV281 and the Preliminary Assessment. 
The indicative route does not specify the mode of transport, and therefore does not preclude light rail. The mode of transport will be determined by the ACT Government. 
Light rail as a public transport option has not been investigated significantly by the ACT Government for the Molonglo and North Weston development. Instead, development of the area is considered an opportunity to expand and strengthen the inter-town bus network by creating an orbital system in additional to the existing line haul system. 
Recommended Changes 
No change. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Great Rail Infrastructure Rip-off

Eco-Transit, a Sydney based public transport lobby group have made an excellent short video examining the cost blow outs of rail infrastructure in NSW, and comparing these inflated costs to contemporary projects. As is clear from the $870 million figure that Minister Corbell straight facedly quotes for a Gungahlin to Civic light rail project, this disease seems to have crept across the border.