Tuesday, August 2, 2016

2016-2017 Appropriation Bill committee report excerpts on Light Rail and Action buses

The following are Light rail and ACTION Bus related excerpts from the report of the ACT Assembly Select Committee on Estimates 2016-17, looking at the APPROPRIATION BILL 2016-2017. The full report can be downloaded from here where all associated material including submissions, questions on notice and transcripts can be found.

The recommendations of the committee are also included below.

On page 219


8.17 The Committee inquired about the Light Rail Master Plan including the information contained in the plan and when the information would be available. The Committee was advised that:
[T]he planning part for the Light Rail Master Plan does not involve costs for construction. That is a separate item within the business case that Capital Metro or Transport Canberra will be doing. The Master Plan is proceeding well.

8.18 Further to this the Minister noted:
The studies that we are doing for the Light Rail Master Plan will include the feasibility in a technical sense and the issues that we might have in that sense, as we have heard— crossing the lake or going into ridges along a route to the airport, for example. The further work that will be done will be done by CMA [Capital Metro Agency] or Transport Canberra in the future.

8.19 The Committee was advised that decisions about routes for the light rail network are government decisions and that these discussions will be ongoing. The Minister noted that there has been strong representation from the community with ‘many hundreds of people taking the opportunity to express their views.’

8.20 On the matter of whether Kings and Commonwealth Avenue bridges are suitable to carry the weight of the tram, the Committee was advised that investigations are ongoing. The
Directorate is ‘working closely with the NCA [National Capital Authority] on corridor alignments and on matters related to infrastructure that they control.’


8.21 The Committee understands that studies and investigations must be carried out to properly understand the feasibility and cost of routes set out in the Light Rail Master Plan. Given the prominence of the issue and the considerable interest in the community, the Committee encourages the Government to provide a greater level of clarity about the likely timeframe for further stages of the Light Rail.

Recommendation 102

8.22 The Committee recommends that the Minister for Planning and Land Development inform the ACT Legislative Assembly before the last sitting day in August 2016 of the estimated timeline for progressing the Light Rail Master Plan.

On page 287


11.15 Output 1.1 includes oversight of the construction of light rail, the Government subsidy paid to ACTION buses, and the strategic oversight of the public transport network, public transport asset management and the Active Travel Office.


11.17 The Committee considered the following matters on 27 June 2016 with the Minister for Capital Metro:
  • commencement of track laying for light rail and construction of stops;
  • order of light rail vehicles;
  • CMA component of TCCS Output 1.1;
  • staffing in CMA and TCCS;
  • penalties for non-performance in operations of light rail;
  • contract management skills in TCCS;
  • light rail contracts; 
  • components of service payments and calculation of capital contribution;
  • availability payments;
  • communication with stakeholders;
  • local business involvement in construction;
  • integrated ticketing;
  • potential cost of cancelling light rail contract in October 2016;
  • costing of extension of light rail to Russell, over Kings Avenue Bridge and over Commonwealth Avenue Bridge;
  • comparative impact of light rail upon ACT Budget; and 
  • enhancements from light rail, including lighting, Alinga Street terminus and activating
  • space between Sydney and Melbourne Buildings.



11.18 The Committee inquired as to why the Minister who would be responsible for light rail for the coming the year was not the Minister answering questions on the subject at the public hearing. The Minister for Territory and Municipal Services noted:
That is a good question, and one that was discussed. I am happy to take some of those questions, of course, but Mr Corbell is currently the Minister for Capital Metro. These changes do not come into effect until 1 July; therefore he will be appearing this afternoon as the current Minister for Capital Metro.


11.19 The Committee notes that at the time of hearings the Minister for Capital Metro was still responsible for that portfolio for a few more days. Given that the hearings are focussed on the Budget estimates for the coming year, the Committee believes that it would have been more appropriate for the Minister who would be administering the relevant Budget to answer questions about it.

11.20 The Committee notes that the cost of ACTION to the ratepayer is clear in the Budget Papers. The integration of CMA and TAMS makes the cost of light rail less easy to discern and the Committee believes that it could be made clearer.

Recommendation 132
11.21 The Committee recommends that the Minister who is responsible for the allocation in the Budget be the Minister to appear before the Estimates Committee to answer questions on that allocation.

Recommendation 133
11.22 The Committee recommends that light rail receives its own budget output within the Transport Canberra Output.

11.23 The Committee inquired about the availability payments and their components of operational and maintenance, finance and capital. The Committee asked about the interest payments for each year and was informed by the Minister that interest rate information is considered ‘sensitive to the consortium because it could reveal the nature of their commercial arrangements with their financiers and others’.

11.24 The Committee notes the Minister’s comments about commercial confidentiality but believes that it is important that the ACT Legislative Assembly is aware of the components of payments it is being asked to appropriate money for.

Recommendation 134
11.25 The Committee recommends that the ACT Government completes a detailed business case and staging analysis before committing to further stages of light rail.
11.26 The Committee did not hear evidence on the removal of trees from Northbourne Avenue but is aware that it remains an issue of community concern.

Recommendation 135
11.27 The Committee recommends that the ACT Government provide advice to the ACT Legislative Assembly on the removal of trees on Northbourne Avenue by the last sitting day in August 2016.

page 293

11.28 Output 2.1 provides management of the Territory’s road and associated assets, stormwater infrastructure, community paths, bridges, traffic signals, streetlights and car parks. This output also includes the provision of asset information services, capital works and development approvals relating to the acceptance of new infrastructure assets.

  • impact of light rail on roads investment

Page 300

11.59 ACTION delivers bus services throughout the city to ensure transport is accessible to all Canberrans. ACTION services are delivered in line with the ACT Government’s vision to provide a convenient, efficient, affordable, reliable and integrated public transport system for the community. Public transport services provided by ACTION include scheduled route bus services, school bus services, community and special needs transport and management of the ACT rural school bus contract.

11.60 The Committee considered the following matters: 
  • patronage targets;
  • cost of operation by kilometre;
  • subsidy per passenger boarding;
  • trial of electric buses;
  • fleet strategy;
  • rebranding of, and advertising on, ACTION busses;
  • city loop bus route;
  • services to Weston Creek and Coombs;
  • implementation of new timetable; and
  • new ticketing system.

11.61 The Minister took a question on notice regarding the budgeted subsidy per ACTION bus passenger boarding in 2016-17. The Committee received an answer providing that each trip is subsided $6.07.


11.62 While it received no evidence on the matter, the Committee believes that it would be worthwhile trialling services directly linking the town centres in the north and south of Canberra.

Recommendation 143

11.63 The Committee recommends that the ACT Government consider trialling a rapid bus service between Gungahlin and Tuggeranong via Belconnen Town Centre."

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