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.