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.
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.