Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Industry briefed on Capital Metro project by ACT Government

The compressed timetable of Capital Metro (construction is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2016) means that the employees and consultants working on the project are extremely busy. The final Business Case is due to go to Cabinet imminently, with a decision in September.

As part of the project, Capital Metro are briefing industry. As it will be private contractors that will build the light rail line and facilities, it is important to keep all interested parties up to date on project developments.

There is a strong focus on employing local companies in the design and construction phase. For companies that may have an interest in tendering, these briefing provide important detail and information they can use to guide preparation of business cases, and tenders.

The office of the Minister for Capital Metro Agency has released the following statement in relation to the briefings scheduled for 15 September:

Capital Metro to update industry on Canberra's light rail project

Released 19/08/2014
The Capital Metro Agency and the ACT Government will provide up-to-date information to all industries that might have an interest in the building and operation of stage one of Canberra's light rail network, at an Industry Briefing on 15 September.
Minister for Capital Metro, Simon Corbell, said he expected interest in the briefing from local, national and international companies.
"The briefing will demonstrate the progress to date of the Capital Metro light rail project," Mr Corbell said.
"It will provide an opportunity to relate the key information that has arisen from the feasibility, design and definition stages of the project.
"A major aim of the briefing is to ensure we remain connected with industry. The community consultation period was concluded earlier this month and it is now appropriate to update industry."
The briefing will include updated thinking around desired urban design outcomes, technical design, operations environment, desired customer outcomes, possible procurement steps and local industry participation.
"This is an excellent opportunity for local industry to get involved in, and be informed on, this exciting major infrastructure project," Mr. Corbell said.
"I am looking forward to the briefing in September and meeting with industry members."
- Statement ends -

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

ACTION Network 14 launched - let's hope it attracts more passengers

The TAMS Minister, Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, has today launched ACTION Network 14. Let us hope that ACTION planners have created a workable timetable and network. Todays plan is mark 2 of Network 14, as planners tore up an earlier version of the plan and started again. It is very important that it succeeds. Bus patronage has been declining, and that decline needs to be reversed. A modal shift to light rail from Gungahlin to Civic is one action in response to declining bus patronage, but both modes of transport need to work together.

ACTION claim that (from ACTIONS website):

Network 14 is the first time that a network has been developed using patronage data from the MyWay system and over 2,300 pieces of feedback from bus passengers, drivers and through a successful community consultation. As a result a number of areas of Canberra will have enhanced services including Molonglo, Gungahlin, Weston Creek, the Parliamentary Triangle, Hume, Brindabella Park and Majura Park. There will also be improved alignment between weekday and weekend services. The new weekend network, which will include improved services in areas such as Gungahlin, Tuggeranong, Weston Creek, West Macgregor and Majura Park, as well as services to the National Arboretum.

How will services be improved?
  • More Direct - Services have been streamlined with the objective of achieving fewer, more evenly spaced and direct routes
  • More Frequent - Additional services have been added to many routes including; Erindale, Chisholm, Gungahlin, Weston Creek and West Belconnen
  • More Services -  Late evening suburban services carrying few passengers have been scheduled to finish earlier to allow more day time services
ACTION Bus webpage with Network 14 routes here.

Map of Network 14 weekday routes here. Small map also shown below.

Changes to the ACTION bus routes in your area of Canberra are here.

Canberra Times report on Network 14 launch is here.

Riot Act user analysis of Network 14 is here

WIN TV News report on the Network 14 announcement.

Weekday routes for Network 14

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Assembly votes for Capital Metro funding

In our last post we covered the debate in the Assembly where the Canberra Liberals argued against better public transport infrastructure. Yesterday, they moved a motion in the Assembly opposing that funding. It was defeated.

Here is the video from WIN TV on the issue. The ABC TV carried no report on it.
Here is a media release issued by MLA Simon Corbell, Capital Metro Agency Minister.

Canberra Liberals' blinkered opposition to light rail lets Canberrans down

The Canberra Liberals have proved once again how out of touch they are with the needs of Canberrans with their blinkered opposition to a project that will deliver positive outcomes for the ACT, Minister for Capital Metro, Simon Corbell, said today.

"With his latest motion in the Legislative Assembly today Alistair Coe continues with his head-in-the-sand approach to tackling transport challenges for Canberra's future," Mr Corbell said.

"Not only is he objecting to a project that will deliver strong transport, economic and sustainability outcomes for Canberra but he is also objecting to a project supported by a majority of Canberrans."

A recent survey by Piazza Research, commissioned by Capital Metro, found 55% of Canberrans supported light rail as a public transport solution for the ACT.

Stage one of Canberra's light rail network will decrease congestion along Northbourne Avenue while providing for the iconic landscape of the wide, tree-lined median.

The Canberra Liberals' alternative to light rail is to either do nothing, allowing congestion to increase into the future to the point where commuters will be bogged down in gridlocked traffic, or to replace the landscaped entry to the national capital with extra road lanes.

"If Mr Coe is seriously suggesting that Bus Rapid Transit is the solution for preventing one-hour commutes from Gungahlin to City in the coming decades he should come clean and tell the people of Canberra whether he intends to either reduce Northbourne Avenue to two lanes of general traffic or if he prefers to put a two-lane road in the place of the median strip," Mr Corbell said.

Not only does the Capital Metro project have a positive Benefit Cost Analysis, meaning it provides more in economic benefits then it costs, but it will also provide social and environmental benefits that other forms of public transport do not.

"Light rail is good for all of Canberra. It is good for people who use public transport, who will have a fast, comfortable, reliable service. It is good for businesses, which will benefit from the increased economic activity. It is also good for drivers, who will benefit from reduced congestion on roads that are already being choked with traffic during peak periods and are only going to get worse if nothing is done.

"Light rail is a modern, sustainable form of public transport that delivers important benefits for Canberrans now, while allowing for Canberra to grow and prosper into the future.

"The government knows light rail is the right public transport choice for the ACT and the upcoming final business case will show it is economically good policy for the ACT.

"The Canberra Liberals need to decide whether they want more congestion and less efficient travel in Canberra or if they want a transformational transport option that provides for Canberra's future."

- Statement ends -

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Canberra Liberals vote against Capital Metro funding

Scrooge McDuck: The Expert
by Carl Barks

Local freebie magazine City News has an online story titled 'Liberals trumpet their impotence as Capital Metro rumbles past them' carrying a press releases from the Canberra Liberals. What the story and press release does not mention is that the funding will be passed, as the Government has a majority in the Assembly, the support of Green MLA Shane Rattenbury.

From the article:

“In the ACT Legislative Assembly debate today on the 2014-15 Budget, the Canberra Liberals spoke against the largest capital works project to ever be constructed by the ACT government,” Mr Coe said.

“The government’s mismanagement of the Cotter Dam, Gungahlin Drive Extension (GDE), and numerous other projects gives the opposition no confidence of the government’s ability to spend taxpayers’ money wisely.

“Given the government’s poor history, the bad patronage forecasts and escalating costs, the Canberra Liberals cannot support the appropriation of funds for light rail.

“The Canberra Liberals will do everything possible to prevent the ACT from spending up to $1 billion, or $6,500 per household, on a project that could then cost us $100 million per year in on-going expenses for a service used by less than 1 percent of the population to commute to and from work,” Mr Coe concluded.

To read the story online click here.

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Light Rail v Bullet Trains - Riot Act Face Off

Local blog 'The Riot Act' has a series of 'debates' called 'Face Offs' in which an advocate and an opponent of idea de jeure are pitted against each other, and given 500 words to convince you the public of the merits of their cause.

ACT Light Rail were recently asked to take part in a 'Light Rail v Bullet Train Face Off'. We had reservations, as aside from rails, the two technologies are very different and serve very different needs. Nevertheless, we decided to take part.

The topic: Given the current financial climate, are our municipal funds better spent on light rail or a bullet train?

Here is our contribution below, as posted on their site. Click on the link, and go to the Riot Act site to take part in their debate.

Comparing the two is the classic apples to oranges cliché, as they are very different transport solutions with little in common aside from rails. However, that is what Riot Act has requested.

For the short and long term benefit of the ACT ratepayer, it is better to build Capital Metro from Gungahlin to Civic, and eventually across Canberra, than a bullet train.

Planning and engineering studies for light rail are well underway. Construction costs can be estimated, as building light rail is a standard and routine engineering task in Australia. Aside from conceptual feasibility studies, no similar work has been performed for bullet trains. If it was ever built, it may never come here, instead running directly between Melbourne and Sydney.

Investing in light rail is not the challenge many believe. The ACT will receive 4.4 billion dollars this year from the Federal government, an amount rising incrementally every year. In this context a public transport investment of 600 million over 4 years is fiscally prudent and a sound long-term investment in a growing city.

Light rail has strong electoral support, with the parties taking it to the 2012 Assembly election forming government. Individuals campaigning for bullet trains attracted a handful of votes, as bullet trains provide few clear benefits. Regular polling conducted since consistently shows a majority of Canberrans supporting light rail. Canberrans understand the short and long term benefits.

The use of public money for any project requires careful consideration using triple bottom line analysis – economic, environmental and societal. In each area Capital Metro delivers immediate and long-term benefits to Canberra, that bullet trains can’t match.

Light rail will provide direct economic benefit in the ACT enhancing productivity, freeing families from needing a second car and allowing parking space to be better used. Increased patronage and retasked ACTION buses will lead to a decrease in the public transport subsidy. Many construction jobs will be immediately created.

Transit oriented development will act as an economic growth driver. Businesses will establish themselves along the corridor knowing that parking wont be required for all staff, and that clients can visit them with ease.

Light rail will alleviate road congestion, mitigate future road construction costs and lead to a reversal in falling public transport patronage by attracting new passengers. Tourists visiting the nations capital will no longer get lost on the wrong bus.

Increased density along the corridor will lead to more walking, and a rise in the number of small businesses to service the needs of new residents. As Capital Metro expands across Canberra, this will be repeated.

The longer term benefits of light rail will be seen as its influence in shaping Canberras growth and culture emerge over several decades. Those preferring a suburban house and backyard will still have that option, but people seeking an apartment style of living will have that option in more quantity, and at lower cost. 

Bullet trains may be wonderful technology and one day in the future deserving of finance, however the immediate priority for Canberra’s ratepayers is not visiting Sydney in 30 minutes, but commuting to work in 30 minutes.  

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