Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chief Ministers 2016 State of the Territory speech focuses on innovation, light rail and transport

Chief Minister Andrew Barr made his  'State of the Territory' Speech today. It was quite wide ranging, with a theme of 'Ambition and Advantage' with innovation at its core. These are excerpts of his comments on light rail, integrated transport and autonomous vehicles:

Introduction: Ambition and Advantage 

Today I want to talk with you about the ambition and advantage of Canberra. A year ago, at this event, I outlined my vision for the Territory as Chief Minister: a vision of Canberra taking control of its own future. A vision for a Canberra that relies on no one’s efforts but our own. One of the world’s most liveable and competitive cities – welcoming to all. And I outlined a plan to deliver on this vision:
By constructing a modern transport network; by creating a more economically self-reliant Canberra that drives job creation in emerging industries; and by conceiving of Canberra as a true “knowledge capital”, where our world-class universities have structural advantages over their Australian and international competitors.
We have made significant practical progress towards this ambition over the past year:

Light rail
For example, we are getting on with the city-defining project that will help Canberra avoid the productivity-crushing, and morale-destroying, traffic congestion that characterises most other Australian cities.
I spent some time here last year outlining the fundamental benefits that an efficient, reliable light rail system will deliver for the fastest-growing parts of Canberra, as well as driving economic growth and urban renewal along the corridor.
In the year since, we have finalised our comprehensive assessment of shortlisted bidders, and selected a world-class consortium including John Holland and Mitsubishi Corporation with Deutsche Bahn International as the operator.
That is a strong endorsement of our city in itself: these world-class partners have a proven international track record, and they want to do business here in Canberra.
The competitive nature of the procurement meant that costs have come in well under what we originally allowed for.
To put it in context, the total cost will be equivalent to less than one per cent of the ACT Budget over the next 20 years.
Comparatively speaking, for every dollar we’re budgeting for light rail, we’re investing $10 into our roads, footpaths and parks.
Just as we promised before the 2012 election, work will start this year – construction of the first stage will be completed in late 2018 – and operations will begin in early 2019 – sooner than previous estimates, meaning less disruption and faster access for Canberrans.
Simply, for a city the size of ours, at the stage of development we have reached, this is the right project, at the right time, at the right price.

Transport integration

Last year I also made the point that this project is part of an integrated public transport system for our city – essential now, and absolutely critical to Canberra’s ongoing success 20 years from now.
Since then the Government has released our Transport Improvement Plan and Light Rail Network Plan, which set out clearly how every Canberran benefits from a transport network that is convenient, reliable, affordable and efficient. It is mirrored by the Chamber’s Destination 2030’s support for an integrated transport network.
Work has begun. A single agency, Transport Canberra, will commence on 1 July to join the bus and light rail operations, our road network and walking and riding infrastructure.
Transport Canberra’s key deliverable is: one network, one ticket and one fare.
We must do this to achieve our future ambitions; and consolidate our current advantages.
If we want life in this city to keep its essential character, integrated public transport is an absolute must.
That will be our competitive advantage over every other major East Coast city.

I will be taking to the election a commitment to extend the light rail to the next stage. The Parliamentary triangle is an obvious extension, and beyond that the airport is very, very close.

Autonomous vehicles

And it’s why we are pursuing opportunities in semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles. We recognise the mobility and growth benefits that will flow from attracting one or more of the major players to Canberra.
Autonomous vehicles are not a mass transit solution and they are not the solution to congestion. But they are a very promising complement to strong public transport networks and will give mobility to those who need it most, which will make our city even more inclusive.
That’s why we have been engaging with the main players in this space – companies like Google and Tesla – to see what structures they need, so that we have the best idea of future advances before we move to develop a particular regulatory regime. That approach worked for ridesharing in the ACT, and it will work for this technology too.
ACT companies, such as Seeing Machines, are also at the forefront of technology supporting autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles with the work they are doing here and with overseas research partners.

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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