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.