Sunday, November 23, 2014

ACT Light Rail support Capital Metro PPP contract transparency

On Sunday 23 November ABC Canberra ran a short story on the 7PM television news covering the use of PPP's between governments and the private sector to fund infrastructure projects.   

ACT Light Rail agree that the contracts reached between successful bidders for the Capital Metro project and the ACT Government should be made public. Transparency is good for governments and leads to good outcomes. 

We disagree with the contentions that some of the experts made. The Australia Institute said that bus services may be reduced to force people onto light rail. They said that the number of buses might be reduced. The government policy since 2012 has been to integrate light rail and buses, with increased bus services feeding commuters to light rail. All Capital Metro literature is consistent on this.

Other aspects of the story referred to closing roads. This is unlikely and does not make a lot of sense in the Northbourne Flemington context. It is not something ACT Light Rail  have heard of in any discussion held with engineers associated with Capital Metro or SMEC. It is in the  interests of toll road operators to close public roads. It is not in the interest of a public transport operator to close roads. 

The story did point out the benefits of PPP's in deferring upfront costs for governments, and letting private companies bear risk. Where the story fell down is in not making it clear that all the PPP failures featured, were road projects relying on tolls. 

The current proposal from Capital Metro is that the fare revenue (electronic card only through the MyWay card) goes to government and that the ACT Government will pay the operator a yearly fee. The private operator does not bear the risk of falling patronage and farebox revenue. Of note is that one prospective PPP bidder has already indicated that it would like to receive a bonus for higher patronage.

Contemporary light rail introduction has seen increases in public transport patronage that exceeded project estimates. Gold Coast Light Rail has been a tremendous success.

It is good that the ABC has decided to cover the PPP issue as Capital Metro light rail is a significant ACT infrastructure program, and affects the city and its future. Perhaps the journalist preparing the story should have read the business case and other Capital Metro literature first. Some of the misconceptions it raises, will now linger in peoples minds.

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

A review of Canberra traffic from 1962

This 1962 traffic survey of Canberra has just been located. It is a fascinating insight into the future that transport professionals saw, at that time, over 50 years ago. 

W. Morison
B.E., Dip.T.P., Traffic Engineer, National Capital Development Commission, Canberra

paper No. 46

"It outlines the 1961 population and employment structure and vehicle ownership of Canberra before briefly describing a comprehensive origin destination survey conducted in 1961 as the first stage of a transportation study and report for the National Capital.
Total trip generation is discussed for Canberra as well as for some suburbs more closely studied. Generated traffic is related to population all day employment; 1961 parking generation also is related to floor space all day employment. The paper discusses some of the future implications of Canberra's expansion, its road planning and traffic needs, and concludes by noting the possibility of some pure research projects being based on the 1961 origin-destination survey."

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

Thursday, November 6, 2014

ACT Government deserves support for Capital Metro business case and the bold vision it represents

The release of the full business case detailing both the costs, and the economic benefits of Capital Metro, is another positive step towards better public transport and the future planned growth of Canberra. For a small community based group that has been lobbying for light rail for over a decade, it is a vindication of ACT Light Rails beliefs that a mass transit backbone of light rail, and an integrated bus system, are the key to encouraging Canberrans to choose public transport over the private car for their daily commute.

This form of transparency is rare with governments and this ACT Government deserves support for the political courage it is demonstrating in continuing to move forward with a project that has faced determined opposition from those that view the world through the windscreen of their car, those who would never use public transport, and those who resent public money being spent on infrastructure unless it directly benefits them. By looking at Canberra in 50 years time, instead of the Canberra of 50 years ago, the current government are taking a bold progressive stance.

As well as leading to decreased road congestion, increasing light rail patronage will ensure that over time less money will need to be spent by government on building more roads and parking spaces. Decreased road construction is one of the difficult to quantify advantages of light rail, as the road will never be built, it is money you never spend, instead of money you need to plan to spend. It is money that can be spent on other areas of equal importance, such as schools and hospitals.

How will the Canberra Liberals respond? By 2016 construction will have commenced. The current Opposition has no public transport policy and no light rail policy. It is not a sustainable position for an alternative government to go to the electorate lacking a policy on the Territorys most important infrastructure project. They must announce a viable policy on light rail, or they will not be able to be taken credibly by the electorate. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Capital Metro Business Case documents all in one place

It is useful to place all the Capital Metro Business Case documents in one place. You will find them on a new page created on this website. The documents include the full business case, the business case in brief, the brochure and the EOI documents.

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

Operational cost of light rail in Canberra - around $22 million a year

Canberra currently spends around $110 million a year to operate ACTION Buses. The operational cost of light rail has been the subject of much speculation. The Capital Metro Business Case informs us that the estimated cost of this is $22 million a year

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

Television news coverage of light rail Capital Metro Business Case announcement

The electronic media gave very generous coverage to the release of the light rail business case for Capital Metro on the day of release, and over the weekend. Here are the major news reports and interviews with local politicians on both the ABC and WIN.

WIN Canberra coverage 31 Oct 2014

ACT Light Rail meet Heavy Rail proponent

Canberra Times story from Oct 13:

Opposite sides of the track: light rail campaigners square off

ACT Light Rail Deputy Chair Ian Ruecroft (left) Dr John Smith (right)
Canberra Times photograph   

Long before construction begins on tram tracks linking the city and Gungahlin, Canberra's light rail line has already divided public opinion and established a key policy fight for the 2016 election. 

After decades of debate about the best public transport options for the capital, two opinion makers from opposite sides of the fight visited the proposed location for a Northbourne Avenue terminus at Alinga Street to share their views.