Thursday, June 12, 2014

Canberra Liberals commission a report on Capital Metro and agree with themselves again

In their ongoing campaign to prevent the ACT Government from improving
Canberra's public transport infrastructure, the Canberra Liberals have
commissioned a report on the Capital Metro light rail. To the surprise
of all, the report has concluded that the cost is higher than the
government expects, that the benefits are less then the governments
claims and that disturbingly, the project is not 'economically
Mr Bob Nairn, a retired transport consultant, was commissioned by the
Canberra Liberals to perform this research.  Without access to the
report, ACT Light Rail can only comment on what the media has selected
to use in its reporting.

The first thing that strikes us as odd, is that the costings are based
on US figures. There is ample contemporary light rail construction and
vehicle procurement locally, that Australian figures and costs from
Gold Coast, Adelaide or Perth could easily have been obtained. So why
have the Canberra Liberals and Mr Nairn used US figures?  This is
puzzling, especially as Mr Nairn has experience consulting to
Australian light rail projects.

The report also ignores information already in the public domain. For
example, it is expected that the Myway card will be used on light rail
and the bus, and that the entire trip will be capped (as it is under
the existing ACTION only system). This impacts the liberal

Indeed, this is the trip model being moved to all around Australia,
where all public transport networks are being increasingly integrated
in contemporary public transport networks.

The effect on ACTION services that the Liberal report suggests, also
ignores the reallocation of ACTION buses following the commencement of
light rail service. ACTION buses will be taken off the red rapid run
from Gungahlin to Civic and re-tasked to better serve Gungahlin
suburbs, and to feed greater numbers of passengers to the light rail.

Services adjacent to Northbourne avenue will also be expanded. This
planning is already underway by ACTION, in conjunction with Capital
Metro. The government expects more passengers to use the bus service,
as well as Capital Metro, and is planning accordingly. ACTION will be
buying more buses, not less, as the Liberal report would suggest.

Contrary to the liberal report, contemporary Australian experience
shows a rapid uptake of light rail patronage, exceeding the bus
services they replace. Mr Nairn has not taken this into account.

Sadly, the Canberra liberals fail to understand what makes a public
transport system viable. The best way to make a public transport
system viable is to attract as many full fare paying adult passengers
as possible. They will not use the bus, as bus patronage has been in
decline for years. A viable system, is one that carries passengers,
not empty buses.

It took the ALP government twelve years of bus improvement programs
before they realised that Canberra had outgrown a bus-only solution,
and needed a better mass transit technology. Light rail is the
technology to meet Canberra's existing public transport problems and
ensure that a scalable solution is in place for Canberra future. This
is the policy that was put to Canberra's voters in 2012, and which
they supported.

Unfortunately, the time and money that the Canberra Liberals could
have used to develop an alternative public transport policy, has been
spent on attacking a project that was supported by the electorate at
the last election - a light rail and integrated bus public transport
network. The public deserve better than a constant attack, they
deserve an alternative approach.

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

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