Thursday, August 8, 2013

Infrastructure Australia want worse road congestion before better public transport?

The Canberra Times are running an article titled "Canberra light rail plan: 'Not enough traffic' says Infrastructure Australia report" which, if accurate, contends that Canberra must have worse road congestion before it can receive funding to improve its public transport infrastructure.

The Infrastructure Australia view that Canberra's road congestion must become worse, before public transport improvement is warranted, is extremely disappointing. Canberra already has a declining rate of bus based public transport patronage and the introduction of light rail is the modal shift required to encourage drivers to use public transport for trips to work, ahead of their private car.

By focussing solely on one aspect - road congestion - Infrastructure Australia overlook the other compelling factors which make Capital Metro so important.

  • Unlike buses, light rail will be able to cope with the patronage increases that urban redevelopment along Northbourne Avenue will allow. 
  • Further transit oriented development will not only contribute to treasury coffers, but also alleviate urban sprawl. 
  • Gungahlin residents will have an alternative to a slow road journey and a battle for limited parking in Civic and the Parliamentary Triangle. 
  • Shifting commuters from road to light rail will alleviate road congestion significantly on Northbourne Avenue and decrease rat running in adjacent areas. 
  • The cost benefit analysis of Capital Metro shows that for every dollar invested in light rail, two dollars thirty will be returned to the territory. 

ACT Light Rail are disappointed in this recent report from Infrastructure Australia. We feel that building for the future is essential in planning transport infrastructure. Capital Metro from Civic to Gungahlin will underpin a public transport renaissance in Canberra, and ACT Light Rail urge the ACT Government to work with Infrastructure Australia to progress the project.

The ACT is an entity with a four billion dollar economy and growing. While it would be sound for the federal government to provide funding for Canberra's public transport future, if necessary, the ACT Government could come up with a funding model that did not rely upon federal funds.

The projected construction cost of 600 million dollars over four years is roughly the same amount of money spent on Gungahlin roads in the same period, so the ability to build this ourselves is already there. All it requires is political will

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