Sunday, November 29, 2015

ABC TV special on Capital Metro light rail - Fast track to the future or a new set of problems?

ABC TV Canberra have assembled a program looking at Canberra's largest infrastructure program to date - Capital Metro Light Rail. It runs from Gungahlin to Civic (and a Russell extension is 99% certain). To say that it has become controversial is an understatement.
The ABC TV Program broadcast on 27 November 2015

The program 'Fast track to the future or a new set of problems?' takes a look at the project, the problems it is intended to address, the way in which light rail can be used as a tool for urban renewal and city building, the funding and cost issues, and the political issues. Several critics are lined up and asked questions.

Although not a direct transcript, the ABC site has a good summary of the program. I would direct you to their website to read it.

It would be easy to criticise some aspects of the program, but there are people that have concerns and doubts regarding the light rail project and those concerns need to be listened to and addressed. In the ABC program the critics were given their opportunity, and so were the supporters. The politicians stated their case for and against.

Ultimately light rail is a tool that we can use to address real problems we have now, and use it as a tool to build a better Canberra for our future. If we build light rail we can prevent future problems that congested cities experience.

There are two major flaws with the ABC program, the first was the 'pearls on a string' example. The reporter and his subjects completely ignored Mitchell, the race track and EPIC. Urban renewal along the route also creates the conditions further pearls can be attracted to. After dismissing the route, the reporter at the end quickly mentions the extension to Russell that serves CIT in Reid, the Convention centre and Russell's tens of thousands of employees.

The second flaw was positing that it is either light rail or car/bus. It is not. The light rail option will bring integrated public transport - that is light rail as the mass transit backbone, more frequent local bus services and active transport (walking and cycling). The bus option delivers what we have now - declining public transport patronage. Although extending the network was discussed, integrated transport was not.

Overall, the report was a good summary of the issues and politics of the Capital Metro project. It is controversial, it is bold, it is going to change our city and its culture - and it is needed.

The observations of Dr Burke towards the end ring true - for the system to work we must get on and build light rail stages two, three and four as soon as possible. We have to build through the Parliamentary Triangle, to Woden, and create a network that works for Canberra. Light rail will start to make more and more sense.

Finally, this bizarre comment by Leo Dobes cannot go without comment.

"How many people will die because of the tram?"

This sadly, indicates the level to which opponents of light rail will sink to attack a project that will deliver benefits to our city for many generations. It was a truly sad spectacle for which he should be ashamed.

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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Canberra Liberals position on Capital Metro light rail

Alistair Coe "There are no circumstances whatsoever in which the Canberra Liberals will go ahead with light rail. Absolutely none. If we get elected in October of 2016 it will be to stop light rail."

Reporter "Why are you painting yourself into a corner over this though? If you get to the next election and construction is two or three months down the track and you have to pay a compensation fee for cancelling the contracts, it may be cheaper to just let it go?"

Alistair Coe "I simply do not accept that it's going to be cheaper to allow light rail to go ahead than to simply stop the project." 

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gum trees and light rail - an example in Melbourne

Tram heading towards Bundoora from stop at Plenty Road and Kingsbury Avenue.

The central median of Northbourne Avenue will be used to host the Capital Metro light rail tracks. Many of the existing trees will be removed and replaced with new trees when light rail construction has been completed. Over time, they will grow and become a majestic feature of the avenue into our Nations Capital.

View from footpath at the side of the road. Catenary wires are almost invisible, all I see are trees.

An example indicating how this may look can already be seen. On Plenty Road in Melbourne a light rail line runs down the median strip of a six lane arterial road. It has stops about a kilometre apart. These photos were taken around the tram stop at the intersection of Plenty Road and Kingsbury Avenue in the northern suburb of Reservoir in Melbourne.
Tram pulling away from stop at Plenty Road and Kingsbury Avenue.

Bus interchange servicing several local bus companies and services in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

Across the road from this tram stop is a bus interchange. To the left of this interchange is the Latrobe Uni health Centre. Latrobe University is about a two kilometre walk away. It is actually just behind the bus interchange, but its a hike into the main university complex. This doesn't seem to have an impact on patronage, as students use this stop heavily.
Give me a tram among the gum trees!

I can see a tram pulling into the stop! Thank you Google maps. 

Visualising how Northbourne Avenue will look when the current gum trees are replaced can be difficult. I know it wont look pleasant when construction is underway, but trees will grow, and they will look beautiful. Northbourne Avenue will be iconic.  

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Canberra Liberals view of the anniversary of the Capital Metro Business Case

Ten lanes of traffic and a narrow median strip - and no light rail
The Canberra Liberals have issued a press release on their assessment of the Capital Metro light rail project.


October 30, 2015 | Alistair Coe MLA

This weekend marks one year since the release of the Capital Metro Full Business Case, making it a good time to re-evaluate whether light rail is viable in Canberra. The Business Case demonstrated exactly why light rail shouldn’t be built, and a year on, there is only more evidence to discredit the project, Shadow Minister for Transport Alistair Coe said today

“Over the last year, questions raised by experts, further studies and unexpected events should cause the ACT government to re-evaluate light rail. We need to remember the wafer thin Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) is likely to worsen from 1.2 with even just a minor cost blowout or incorrect assumption,” Mr Coe said.

“Contrary to further evidence to support light rail, there is much to discredit it:
Economist and former ACT Treasury public servant, Dr David Hughes critiqued the Full Business Case and described the project as ‘worse than folly’. He also noted that ‘unsubstantiated and implausible claims about light rail’s effects on land use and the ACT economy’ were included in the Full Business Case.

Economist and Associate Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University, Dr Leo Dobes noted there was a ‘disturbing lack of facts on the table’ when it came to the cost-benefit analysis included in the Full Business Case.

“Furthermore, the Capital Metro Environmental Impact Statement indicated that traffic would not improve as a result of light rail. TAMS responded to this saying even with light rail there would be no significant traffic improvements. Also, the Heritage Council decision protecting 17 properties along Northbourne Avenue limits the government’s ability to redevelop land on the corridor and hence reap any benefits.

“The case for light rail is getting worse and the government knows it. This issue needs to be put to Canberrans at the October 2016 Election,” Mr Coe concluded. 

See also 'Huge week for transport reform in Canberra - Light rail, Buses and Uber' here.
See also 'Canberra Liberals left behind in transport debate' here.

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