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Capital Metro

By 16 May 2014 195

light-rail

The closer we get to the magical fairytale of light rail in Canberra, the more it appears that the accounting on this big ticket item has come from the Brothers Grimm.

At the start of this week, Treasurer Andrew Barr was up in arms because of the story that the Canberra Times had run suggesting there would be a city wide levy on rates to pay for toy train line.

He told me that was just incorrect.

“Ok Minister, so you can categorically rule out a city wide levy ?”
“Oh no,” said Mr Barr, “I’m not in the business of ruling things in and ruling things out at this stage.”
“So was the Canberra Times correct in their suggestion ?”
“No they were wrong.”
“So you can rule it out ?”
“No I can’t”

It became an endless conversation and it left my listeners believing that there was as fair chance they would be subject to a city wide levy.

I spoke to the Chief Minister, the morning after the Federal Budget and she wasn’t much clearer.

I put it to her that government “didn’t seem to have any idea how we were going to find the money for this project.”

She explained to me that, it’s not like that I have no idea, it’s just that they have lots of ideas and they haven’t decided which one to go with yet.

And NOTHING is being ruled in or out.

I’m not diametrically opposed to light rail in Canberra. I think if we could wave a magic wand and create a line between Gungahlin and Civic tomorrow it would be wonderful for our city. But we can’t.

Is there anyone reading this who believes the project will be delivered on time and on budget?
Yes Capital Metro has the potential to genuinely propel our city into the 21st century, but at what cost?

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195 Responses to
Capital Metro
damien haas 5:25 pm
16 May 14
#1

Yes.

If properly managed, the project can be delivered on time and on budget.

The question you ask Mark is not related to the point you are trying to make in your article. The article alludes to financing options that aren’t yet decided upon, are part of a range of options, and which you (and other journos) have singled out as the one to focus upon.

I am heartened that you think light rail is a good idea.

As the project is going ahead, It has to be paid for in some form.

The federal governments of both liberal and labour flavours preferred not to invest in ACT public transport infrastructure. If we both agree light rail is a good idea, we agree it must be paid for, then the points of difference come down to the method of financing. I suggest its best to explore all options and then arrive at the method most likely to ensure that it actually can be built.

Let us wait and see what the real financing option is before hyperventilating about magical fairytales.

Damien Haas
Chair, ACT Light Rail

davjp 5:45 pm
16 May 14
#2

What does light rail offer that a bus doesn’t? Do a bus lane down Northbourne and it’s pretty close to the same thing.

I don’t see a reason to waste money on it there are plenty of other things that are more important at the moment.

jase! 6:09 pm
16 May 14
#3

davjp said :

What does light rail offer that a bus doesn’t? Do a bus lane down Northbourne and it’s pretty close to the same thing.

I don’t see a reason to waste money on it there are plenty of other things that are more important at the moment.

fantastic question davjp. what does light rail provide that a dedicated t-way down the same route wouldnt provide?

goggles13 6:35 pm
16 May 14
#4

the difficulty I have with the light rail project is that it is many years too late for Canberra and the current plans only cater for a proportion of Canberra’s population.

the ACT Govt should not be planning in this way, it is very shortsighted and fraught with danger.

regardless of what the cost of the project, the citizens of the ACT will have to pay for it, and I cannot see the burden only being put on those directly advantaged by the project, otherwise there will be large migration from Gungahlin to other parts of Canberra.

quite bluntly it’s time for the ACT Light Rail project to stop and be buried forever.

milkman 7:11 pm
16 May 14
#5

jase! said :

davjp said :

What does light rail offer that a bus doesn’t? Do a bus lane down Northbourne and it’s pretty close to the same thing.

I don’t see a reason to waste money on it there are plenty of other things that are more important at the moment.

fantastic question davjp. what does light rail provide that a dedicated t-way down the same route wouldnt provide?

This is the question I need answered too. If there’s a sensible answer then great, but if not, forget it.

gooterz 8:38 pm
16 May 14
#6

Everyone in Gungahlin will have access to NBN soon enough.. and not just NBN the fibre version.

So Gunganites will have the option of being able to easily work from home cheaply, drive to work, bus to work, find work in Gungahland or travel by magical light rail.

Many parts of the south are only able to drive to work, and then once they get to work parking is a nightmare.

$600 million in light rail for 13kms ~ 20 million taxi fares. ~ 100 million trips by taxi.

Which would create a huge number of jobs and the money goes back into Canberra.

It would take 13 years for 20,000 people to make taxi trips every day to break even with light rail, and yet a taxi isn’t fixed to a particular location.

bigred 10:18 pm
16 May 14
#7

The whole idea of the light rail project is to provide an economic stimulus during the coming downturn. Don’t really care where they get the $, but the economy needs this to start asap. The secondary benefits inlude fixed transport linkages and increased land tax revenue. Bit of a no lose really.

JC 11:41 pm
16 May 14
#8

gooterz said :

Everyone in Gungahlin will have access to NBN soon enough.. and not just NBN the fibre version.

So Gunganites will have the option of being able to easily work from home cheaply, drive to work, bus to work, find work in Gungahland or travel by magical light rail.

Many parts of the south are only able to drive to work, and then once they get to work parking is a nightmare.

Many parts of the north (Belconnen for example) are in the same boat. So what exactly is your point? Somewhere needs to get infrastructure first, and Gungahlin was the logical choice for NBN considering the internet was worse than anywhere else in Canberra (not saying pockets elsewere weren’t) it is also the only part of Canberra where light rail can really be justified.

You also seem to think light rail will service Gungahlin as a whole, but reality is only those along the actual corridor. The rest of Gungahlin will have to get the bus like everyone else in Canberra.

Ben_Dover 12:37 pm
17 May 14
#9

Hopefully the light rail will be the “straw which breaks the camels back” for ACT voters, and we’ll be rid of the Greens and their; “we will spend billions of your tax $$$ on something useless that no one wants or needs just to satisfy our prejudices” schemes.

Mark Parton 3:13 pm
17 May 14
#10

Northbourne Avenue will never be the same !

Masquara 3:18 pm
17 May 14
#11

davjp said :

What does light rail offer that a bus doesn’t? Do a bus lane down Northbourne and it’s pretty close to the same thing.

I don’t see a reason to waste money on it there are plenty of other things that are more important at the moment.

+1. Canberra does not need light rail. Just bus priority down Northbourne, and restrict the Gungahlinites to two lanes (and keep booking selfsame Gungahlinites on Ebden Street as they rat-race through Ainslie, please!)

bundah 4:18 pm
17 May 14
#12

It’s simply too expensive, unnecessary and ostentatious. We don’t have the population base to make it viable!

jgsma 6:44 pm
17 May 14
#13

How are passengers to get to and from this nonsensical means of transport? If I live or work anywhere but along the route or Civic or Gungahlin, will I be getting in my car or on a bus to get to the light rail, then getting off the light rail and bussing to my destination?

I don’t think so.

Wonderful means of transport but not here, not now.

pepmeup 6:58 pm
17 May 14
#14

davjp said :

What does light rail offer that a bus doesn’t? Do a bus lane down Northbourne and it’s pretty close to the same thing.

I don’t see a reason to waste money on it there are plenty of other things that are more important at the moment.

This is exactly my argument, why not put a new bus only lane down the middle of northboune ave. It will be exactly as quick at moving people through traffic as a street level light rail system.

Also why does so much new spending have to be in Gungahlin? The inner north and inner south pay way more in rates and get nothing. Why not light rail from Manuka/Kingston via Parlo triangle to civic?

JessP 7:26 pm
17 May 14
#15

gooterz said :

Everyone in Gungahlin will have access to NBN soon enough.. and not just NBN the fibre version.

So Gunganites will have the option of being able to easily work from home cheaply, drive to work, bus to work, find work in Gungahland or travel by magical light rail.

Many parts of the south are only able to drive to work, and then once they get to work parking is a nightmare.

$600 million in light rail for 13kms ~ 20 million taxi fares. ~ 100 million trips by taxi.

Which would create a huge number of jobs and the money goes back into Canberra.

It would take 13 years for 20,000 people to make taxi trips every day to break even with light rail, and yet a taxi isn’t fixed to a particular location.

$600m to transport Gungahlinites (not that there is anything wrong with Gungahlinites).

How about fixing Action buses for all of us instead??

gooterz 8:08 pm
17 May 14
#16

JC said :

gooterz said :

Everyone in Gungahlin will have access to NBN soon enough.. and not just NBN the fibre version.

So Gunganites will have the option of being able to easily work from home cheaply, drive to work, bus to work, find work in Gungahland or travel by magical light rail.

Many parts of the south are only able to drive to work, and then once they get to work parking is a nightmare.

Many parts of the north (Belconnen for example) are in the same boat. So what exactly is your point? Somewhere needs to get infrastructure first, and Gungahlin was the logical choice for NBN considering the internet was worse than anywhere else in Canberra (not saying pockets elsewere weren’t) it is also the only part of Canberra where light rail can really be justified.

You also seem to think light rail will service Gungahlin as a whole, but reality is only those along the actual corridor. The rest of Gungahlin will have to get the bus like everyone else in Canberra.

Where do we start building the Mag lev? Someone needs to get it first. What about nuclear power which part of town will have that first?

You also missed that light rail is going to work for everyone along the corridor.. who also works along the corridor.

banco 9:33 pm
17 May 14
#17

damien haas said :

Yes.

If properly managed, the project can be delivered on time and on budget.

Those of us live in the real world know there is zero chance of that happening.

dungfungus 8:08 am
18 May 14
#18

Perhaps the best gauge of credibility of Capital Metro Agency is their failure to recall the “artists’ impressions” of the trams that are constantly shown in related media reports and articles. These “impressions” falsify the facts, for example, there should be only one overhead electrical wire (not two), the wires (catenary) are not showing stanchions to hold them up.
If the said agency is too lazy to commission proper depictions within the millions of dollars they are spending outsourcing reports and studies (which are really re-hashes done for other LRT networks in Australia) then they deserve the outcome also depicted in the picture above which is empty trams.
We rayepayers however do not deserve to underwrite this folly.

qbngeek 8:20 am
18 May 14
#19

damien haas said :

Yes.

If properly managed, the project can be delivered on time and on budget.

The question you ask Mark is not related to the point you are trying to make in your article. The article alludes to financing options that aren’t yet decided upon, are part of a range of options, and which you (and other journos) have singled out as the one to focus upon.

I am heartened that you think light rail is a good idea.

As the project is going ahead, It has to be paid for in some form.

The federal governments of both liberal and labour flavours preferred not to invest in ACT public transport infrastructure. If we both agree light rail is a good idea, we agree it must be paid for, then the points of difference come down to the method of financing. I suggest its best to explore all options and then arrive at the method most likely to ensure that it actually can be built.

Let us wait and see what the real financing option is before hyperventilating about magical fairytales.

Damien Haas
Chair, ACT Light Rail

Damien,
I don’t want this to sound like an attack on you personally, but I have noticed that the only people who seem to be willing to fight to tooth and nail for light rail are those that live in or around Gungahlin or on the route it will take. Would you fight so hard for it if it was running to Woden and not going to assist Gungahlin at all?

The ACT government has spent many years catering to Gungahlin and what its people want, while letting other areas of Canberra go without until its time for an election and they need some votes. The worst part is that I am not from the ACT and I can see this so I wonder how people who actually live in south ACT feel.

urchin 9:07 am
18 May 14
#20

milkman said :

jase! said :

davjp said :

What does light rail offer that a bus doesn’t? Do a bus lane down Northbourne and it’s pretty close to the same thing.

I don’t see a reason to waste money on it there are plenty of other things that are more important at the moment.

fantastic question davjp. what does light rail provide that a dedicated t-way down the same route wouldnt provide?

This is the question I need answered too. If there’s a sensible answer then great, but if not, forget it.

The answer is that putting in light rail will allow the gov’t to sell land in the rail corridor at a premium. The ACT enjoys nothing more than selling overpriced land.

A straight shot from Gungahlin to Civic without traffic is about 13 minutes. In rush hour its around 35 minutes. Putting in a dedicated bus lane for the parts of the journey that lack it now would improve things immeasurably, cost significantly less and require much less time to actually implement.

It would give other, non-Gungahlin busses running down Northbourne a big boost as well.

If it ever gets built it will displace existing bus services, resulting in only a marginal improvement in traffic reduction. The enormous cost and semi-privatization will no doubt result in even higher fares, putting a greater burden on those who rely on it and creating a greater disincentive to actually use it.

Seriously, the simple answer is usually the best. Add another bus lane. See how it goes. iIf it turns out to not be enough you can always build a metro later, but the bus lane seems like the easiest, fastest and cheapest solution.

Masquara 11:33 am
18 May 14
#21

I suspect that a lot of people would rather sit in traffic along Northbourne for 25 minutes AND pay $12 a day for parking, rather than catch light rail. Thanks to ABC 666 and the commercial talkbacks and breakfast shows, you can catch up on news & local issues all the way in your car, so it isn’t actually wasted time. Or, for parents, commute time in the car is often their best “quality time” with their kids. Getting from your house to a light rail station will be far less convenient than driving your car to work. And people’s next best option would be the bus – because bus stops are generally more handy than getting to a train station. Is the expectation that people will bus from their homes to the train station? What a hassle! Might as well just bus it all the way. The ACT Government should take note well ahead of this – car commuters are diehard, and will spew at subsidising underutilised light rail as well as paying in full for their own commuter choices. Not a vote winner.

JC 2:01 pm
18 May 14
#22

jgsma said :

How are passengers to get to and from this nonsensical means of transport? If I live or work anywhere but along the route or Civic or Gungahlin, will I be getting in my car or on a bus to get to the light rail, then getting off the light rail and bussing to my destination?

I don’t think so.

Wonderful means of transport but not here, not now.

Your right if you don’t live or work on the route you will do what your doing now. The light rail is for that route only, which if you have driven it you will see is full of high density apartments which will generate the required demand to make it feasible.

The lack of high density corridors elsewhere in Canberra is what makes it unsuitable to anywhere else, unless you want to see Belconnen Way or Adelaide Ave turned into apartment line boulevards.

damien haas 2:29 pm
18 May 14
#23

qbngeek said :

damien haas said :

Yes.

If properly managed, the project can be delivered on time and on budget.

The question you ask Mark is not related to the point you are trying to make in your article. The article alludes to financing options that aren’t yet decided upon, are part of a range of options, and which you (and other journos) have singled out as the one to focus upon.

I am heartened that you think light rail is a good idea.

As the project is going ahead, It has to be paid for in some form.

The federal governments of both liberal and labour flavours preferred not to invest in ACT public transport infrastructure. If we both agree light rail is a good idea, we agree it must be paid for, then the points of difference come down to the method of financing. I suggest its best to explore all options and then arrive at the method most likely to ensure that it actually can be built.

Let us wait and see what the real financing option is before hyperventilating about magical fairytales.

Damien Haas
Chair, ACT Light Rail

Damien,
I don’t want this to sound like an attack on you personally, but I have noticed that the only people who seem to be willing to fight to tooth and nail for light rail are those that live in or around Gungahlin or on the route it will take. Would you fight so hard for it if it was running to Woden and not going to assist Gungahlin at all?

The ACT government has spent many years catering to Gungahlin and what its people want, while letting other areas of Canberra go without until its time for an election and they need some votes. The worst part is that I am not from the ACT and I can see this so I wonder how people who actually live in south ACT feel.

I don’t live in Gungahlin, i don’t own property in Gungahlin or anywhere near Gungahlin or the route chosen. I would be supportive of Capital Metro if the first route was Molonglo to Civic or Tuggeranong via Woden to Civic.

Most members of ACT Light Rail are from all over Canberra. The Deputy Chair and Secretary are from Gungahlin. They were also members of the GCC.

It is a misnomer that there is no support for Capital Metro except from those in Gungahlin that will immediately benefit. I would prefer all Canberrans to take a long term view. You do need to start somewhere, and the Northbourne Flemington corridor is the first route chosen for many reasons.

ACTGOV are already doing some planning for extensions – although I really would prefer all effort was directed to cementing the financing and beginning construction.

I was at a TCC meeting recently and heard some very parochial views on how all money was being spent in Gungahlin and nothing down south, which just defies scrutiny (and i should point out, do not represent the views of the TCC which have always been supportive of light rail). First i would say that it simply isn’t true, there was significant spending on the Monaro quite recently and secondly, i may never need to use a sewage pipe in Gilmore, but I don’t object to them being installed. I hope I live to see light rail running from Jerrabombera to Hall.

banco 4:12 pm
18 May 14
#24

urchin said :

milkman said :

jase! said :

davjp said :

What does light rail offer that a bus doesn’t? Do a bus lane down Northbourne and it’s pretty close to the same thing.

I don’t see a reason to waste money on it there are plenty of other things that are more important at the moment.

fantastic question davjp. what does light rail provide that a dedicated t-way down the same route wouldnt provide?

This is the question I need answered too. If there’s a sensible answer then great, but if not, forget it.

The answer is that putting in light rail will allow the gov’t to sell land in the rail corridor at a premium. The ACT enjoys nothing more than selling overpriced land.

There’s no chance the premium they’d get would pay for this hugely expensive white elephant.

Willoring 5:38 pm
18 May 14
#25

urchin said :

Seriously, the simple answer is usually the best. Add another bus lane. See how it goes. iIf it turns out to not be enough you can always build a metro later, but the bus lane seems like the easiest, fastest and cheapest solution.

Amen, Urchin.

Trams will never be a solution for Canberra. Why can’t people see this? Canberra is too spread out for slow trams on ground level, stopping at traffic lights, to ever be a serious solution. Canberra is not a densely populated European city. Trams will simply replace buses on main routes and be just as slow.

The real solution is a fast metro – underground and overground where possible (such as down Adelaide Ave) to minimise costs. Two lines: Tuggeranong/Woden/Civic/Belconnen and Gungahlin/Dickson/Civic/Defence/Airport. This will be really expensive (try $10 billion – double?) but will work, unlike the waste of money on trams. And will still be servicing our children’s children’s children etc. in a couple of centuries.

I suspect we cannot afford it (although the people of Bradfield’s generation never said that) but at least, please don’t waste our money on trams just to satisfy Simon Rattenbury’s nonsensical prejudices.

gooterz 9:35 pm
18 May 14
#26

What will light rail do, that getting rid of half the intersections along Northborne av couldn’t?

If its 35 minutes in peak.. should we expect an hour with light rail.

What happens during construction?

dungfungus 10:10 pm
18 May 14
#27

gooterz said :

What will light rail do, that getting rid of half the intersections along Northborne av couldn’t?

If its 35 minutes in peak.. should we expect an hour with light rail.

What happens during construction?

What happened to that “What’s Under Northbourne Avenue” audit that the Capital Metro Agency were going to do?
Methinks they have found lots of asbestos water pipes that will have to be re-located and if the authorities are consistent (recent precedent of business closures in Dickson because of asbestos discovery) they will have to completely close Northbourne Avenue while the process of re-location happens at great cost and inconvenience.
We may get a monorail yet. That will guarantee removal of all trees on the median strip.

FHW 1:01 am
19 May 14
#28

The main advantage that light rail has over bus is that the buses are limited to two bicycles at one time.

Having room for more than 2 bikes means
a) families can go for trips together on weekends (eg take the kids to Commonwealth Park)
b) the catchment area for light rail is a lot greater than walking distance from the route. It could take on people from a few kilometres away (depending on how energetic they feel)

It also has a lot of feel-good associated with it. Cities with trams are often more popular than those without.

Pork Hunt 5:57 am
19 May 14
#29

gooterz said :

What will light rail do, that getting rid of half the intersections along Northborne av couldn’t?

If its 35 minutes in peak.. should we expect an hour with light rail.

What happens during construction?

One would imagine that they would synchronize the traffic lights in such a way that the tram doesn’t have to stop at said intersections…

bikhet 7:02 am
19 May 14
#30

damien haas said :

Let us wait and see what the real financing option is before hyperventilating about magical fairytales.

Sorry Damien, but in this case it’s the government that is trying to sell the magical fairytale.

Either they are committing us to light rail without knowing how it’s going to be funded – in which cased they are fools (not unusual for governments) – or they do know how it’s going to be funded and aren’t telling us – in which cased they are liars (also not unusual for governments).

In either case they are setting up the taxpayers to fall for the sunk cost fallacy. They are spending so much money up front that they will eventually claim that the project must go ahead, whatever the cost or funding arrangements, or the sunk costs will be wasted.

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