Non Light Rail options

Various forms of public transport technology have been raised as an alternative to light rail for Canberra. They all have advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of light rail are:
  • installed worldwide user base
  • off the shelf technology
  • multiple providers of vehicles
  • existing support network from multiple sources
  • non-proprietary technology
  • scalable
  • attractive to commuters 
Not all of these features can be found in other transport technologies.

Public Transport Technology (non-Light Rail)

Trains (Heavy Rail)
Used all over the world in scales small and large.

Bus Rapid Transit
Grade separated bus only roadways. Used worldwide. Often replaced by light rail. Best example in Australia is the Brisbane Busway. An article on the Brisbane busway can be found here.
photo by James Saunders
Grade separated bus only track with guided buses. Used in Adelaide. A good report on it can be found here.
photo by Martin Lawrence
Electric Buses
A bus with the same capacity as a diesel powered bus, but powered by electric motors, and using battery packs. It is a technology with a long history dating back to trolleybuses with catenary wires. Contemporary use has occurred in Adelaide (no longer operating) and Noosa. It has been looked at by the ACT Government.

Tried in Sydney (now removed). No large roll-out in Australia as a mass-transit technology. Wikipedia page here.

It has been looked at several times for application in Canberra. See article here.

Pods or Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)

Best roundup of the different attempts can be found here.

A thorough review of the technology and its challenges and limitations can be found here.

A good look at a recent refurbished PRT: The revolution that didn't happen here.

Innovative Transport Technologies - a large variety can be found here.


Bishop Austrans (Canberra connection)
ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell announced in 1998 that  a test track would be constructed. it never eventuated. It was discussed in this article No Vision on transport issues in Canberra. CSIRO Press release here. A good website on the technology is here.


From an LA Times article here: What are Hyperloops? They are transportation tubes, in which people and goods would travel hundreds of miles in train-car-sized capsules, propelled by electricity, magnetism and air pressure. The tubes would suck the capsules, suspended in air, almost like a vacuum cleaner. Travel time from Los Angeles to San Francisco? Half an hour, according to Elon Musk. With renewable energy sources and novel design, Hyperloops promise to be more resource-efficient and faster overall than car, plane or train.

Artist's impression of a Hyperloop capsule: Air compressor on the front, passenger compartment in the middle, battery compartment at the back and air bearing skis at the bottom.

Wikipedia has an article on Hyperloops here.

If you know of other technologies please email us and we will update this page.

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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