Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Infrastructure Australia supports Civic to Gungahlin project

Today's release of the 2013 Infrastructure Australia 'COAG Report on National Infrastructure Plan', contains very good news for Canberra's light rail supporters. In the list of infrastructure projects receiving support, there are at least 10 rail submissions (p.98) and 'City to Gungahlin', or what is now known as 'Capital Metro' is one of them. This is a far better response than the previous light rail submission which was rejected as it did not meet the criteria for support or funding.

Confusingly, there is a reference on p.41 to 'Northbourne Avenue bus lanes', but ACT Light Rail believe this reflects ALP policy up until the ALP/Greens 'agreement to govern' following the Assembly election late last year. ACT Light Rail are keen to hear Minister Corbells response though.

Shadow Transport Minister Alistair Coe has issued a media release titled 'Wheres the Light Rail?'. Instead of searching on the word 'Canberra' in the text, it would perhaps be more profitable to read the full report. Doing this reveals a very different picture that supports light rail in Canberra.

Simply by reading p.34 'Better Use of Urban Networks', you can find the very reasons Canberra needs Light Rail discussed in a broader national context.

Action 1: Better Use of Urban Networks
Capital cities across Australia struggle with under performing, legacy transport and infrastructure networks, many of which were not designed with the needs of a 21st century population and economy in mind.

Better use of urban networks will be critical to lifting infrastructure productivity, optimising network performance, managing limited capital budgets, and deferring costly new investment in ‘mega’ projects.

It recommends actions, that ACT Light Rail support, that can only be achieved with a light rail project, and not a bus only solution. These are:
    ⁃    manage transport demands
    ⁃    integrate bus and light rail
    ⁃    encourage Transit Oriented Development
    ⁃    investment in public transport

P.40 contains even more support for the principles behind the Capital Metro project with an observation about the future uses of government investment in transport being directed toward public transport:

"Although cars are presently the dominant form of private travel, we need to shift the balance of investment and regulation to prioritise higher volume or higher value transport options. This could involve priority for buses, commercial and freight vehicles at peak times and improving the efficiency and convenience of our transport network.

The smarter solutions to our urban transport needs focus on freight, commercial and public transport, and for local trips, cycling and walking.

Public investment in urban transport should focus on public transport, with expansions to the urban road network funded by users, not all taxpayers.

Australia’s cities are growing at different rates. Appropriate public transport solutions depend on the size of our cities.
The national priority list has identified well developed proposals that would support liveability in our cities and benefit growing urban areas."

The report also mentions that 'the project needs to be accompanied by a change in the pricing of parking in Civic and other centers in Canberra.'

By encouraging investment in public transport, Infrastructure Australia send a clear signal to those who would be keen to provide finance to the ACT Governments Capital Metro project, that the Federal Government has a long term plan to invest in public transport infrastructure.

ACT Light Rail are not opposed to further bus lanes in Canberra, we see the full integration of bus and light rail as the only way to service Canberra's public transport needs. We do believe that investment in Capital Metro needs to occur, and the ACT Government has signed an agreement to govern committing to construction commencing prior to the expiry of this current Assembly term.

Northbourne Avenue is Canberra's most congested road, and the Gungahlin to Civic corridor is the first route planned for Capital Metro, as it will alleviate the most urgent road congestion problem in an area that requires urgent attention to public transport infrastructure. 

ACT Light Rail have met with senior ESD staff and are convinced this Government is carefully planning and implementing a program to deliver on that commitment. Avoiding project management debacles such as the GDE are what the Opposition demands, and what the ACT public expect. by proper planning and good management, that can be achieved.

The COAG report sends a clear signal that the project has the support of Infrastructure Australia.

Please follow the Light Rail for Canberra facebook page for more frequent updates.

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