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RiotACT Face Off: Does Light Rail measure up for Canberra?

By Canfan - 7 July 2014 91

light-rail

Plans for Light Rail in Canberra have caused heated debate among our Rioters. A recent poll asking Are you in favour of Light Rail for Canberra? resulted in 48% voting No, 38% Yes, 11% Not Right Now and 6% On the Fence.

We asked former Chief Minister, Kate Carnell and Ex MLA, John Hargreaves ‘Do you think the benefit to cost ratio measures up for Light Rail in Canberra?’ and this is what they had to say…

Kate Carnell
kate-carnell-image

Trying to make public transport usable and affordable has been an ongoing problem for all ACT governments. Action buses has been reformed , upgraded , downgraded more times than I have had hot breakfasts – but it still operates at a significant loss and the sight of almost empty buses is a normal in Canberra. A number of Governments have also looked for other options – light rail being the most common possible ‘solution’. My government looked at a form of light rail when I was Chief Minister. Our rhetoric was a bit similar to that of the current government. It would be good for the environment, in courage innovation, would take Canberra to a new and exciting stage of its development – sound familiar?

The problem was we couldn’t make the business case work. Why? Because of the Canberra plan. We all know, Canberra is spread out with very few areas of medium or high population density. It is the BushCapital with lots of green spaces and buffer areas and very little high rise residential accommodation . And what do you need to make light rail cost effective – medium to high density nodes of population that can be linked to places where these people work.

I am not talking about a few high rise buildings , I am talking enough to house the thousands of people needed to make a mass transit system sustainable. It is also important to remember that these high rise buildings must be within walking distance of a light rail stop. If people have to drive to the stop and park , it will often be quicker to drive to work so the price differential between the light rail and parking in Civic will have to be huge. This will mean there will be pressure to keep fares low which will add to the viability problems of the system.

Canberra has grown since I was Chief Minister, but most of the growth has been in low density new suburbs, with the possible exception of Kingston and Civic. This means it is hard to see that a light rail is any more cost effective or affordable than it was 15 years ago.

John Hargreaves
JohnHargreaves-a

There is a lot of white noise going on about the light rail proposal and it seems as though the usual NIMBYs have come out in force. In this case though they are saying NOW In My Back Yard!

So if Belco and Tuggers people can’t have it, no one can. So… they blame the cost so that they are not outed as light rail deniers.

The tram is half empty if people continue to bag it, to continue to be selfish, to continue to conjure up excuses for not embracing it, to continue to have no vision for the city.

The tram is half full, if people understand that it is the start of something great for the city, something responsible for environmental sustainability, something really attractive for our now mature City.

Remember when people bagged out the Arboretum? A $20 million tree zoo, if I recall. Now everyone loves it. Remember the bagging the Gungahlin Drive Extension got? Now everyone loves it.
Remember the dam? Now everyone loves it.

So, how about we get positive, people! Take ownership in innovation, in vision and in courage. This light rail will be fantastic for the city, and for Belco, Tuggers, Molonglo and Woden, over time. Don’t give me all those NIMBY reasons why not, don’t give me alternative things to spend the money on, show me how we are looking to the future not backwards.

This project is not a competition with buses; it is a complementary rapid transport system. It can only enhance Canberra in the eyes of visitors and provide responsible commuting to the workplace.
I live in Tuggers and can’t wait for it to come down South. But as all roads lead to Rome, they start somewhere and that somewhere is the City to Gungahlin route.

Don’t be like that old Irish joke, “Paddy was asked which way to Dublin, replying “well, if I was to be going to Dublin, I surely wouldn’t be starting from here!”

Bring it on! For me the tram is half full!

What’s Your opinion?


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91 Responses to
RiotACT Face Off: Does Light Rail measure up for Canberra?
1
dungfungus 10:09 am
07 Jul 14
#

What happens to light rail infrastructure when there is a riot like the one last week in Jerusalem:
“Among the damage caused by rioters at the stations was the destruction of ticket machines, the destruction of rubber tracks by rioters who set fire to them, demolishing of the traffic lights at intersections of the road and the tracks, vandalism of the electricity and communication infrastructure, and the ransacking of at least one electricity control center……”

It could happen here also.

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2
John Hargreaves Ex M 10:13 am
07 Jul 14
#

Kate has a couple of good points here. I think the issue of public transport has been a live one since well before self government but only on self government did it become such a visible issue. We spend a lot on subsidising the busses and have done a lot, between both sides of the Assembly in trying to make it an attractive alternative to taking the polluting motor car as a commuting vehicle.

Where Kate is absolutely right is that for light rail to work, and indeed a rapid bus system, there needs to be thousands of people living on or near the transport route.

So what comes first, chook or googie?

The light rail proposal suggests that “if you build it, people will use it”. I agree with this preposition. we need now to encourage the development sector to get behind the proposal and build higher rise accommodation along the proposed routes. And if this means tearing down some dreadful old and tired buildings along Northbourne, so be it. I’m all for preserving the heritage stuff but not all the horrid, ugly monstrosities which line our main thoroughfare.

Have the public housing tenants rehoused into state of the art accommodation, and release the land for the enticement of the generation of apartment dwellers who will not need a car.

I am a fan of St Kilda Road near the City precinct of Melbourne – let’s just get on and do it…

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3
dungfungus 10:17 am
07 Jul 14
#

Johno says:
“Remember when people bagged out the Arboretum? A $20 million tree zoo, if I recall. Now everyone loves it. Remember the bagging the Gungahlin Drive Extension got? Now everyone loves it.
Remember the dam? Now everyone loves it.”
You must have different news feeds to the rest of us Johno because a lot of us are still bagging the arboretum and the cost is approaching $100 million (not $20 million).
The bagging your government was getting over the GDE was mainly because you wouldn’t do it 4 lane from the beginning.
And the dam, well there was calling for a dam for ages but it took a 100 year drought to get people moving. Let’s not talk about the cost either lest it be a precendent for cost blowouts on the light fail.

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4
rosscoact 10:36 am
07 Jul 14
#

dungfungus said :

What happens to light rail infrastructure when there is a riot like the one last week in Jerusalem:
“Among the damage caused by rioters at the stations was the destruction of ticket machines, the destruction of rubber tracks by rioters who set fire to them, demolishing of the traffic lights at intersections of the road and the tracks, vandalism of the electricity and communication infrastructure, and the ransacking of at least one electricity control center……”

It could happen here also.

I’m speechless

Report this comment

5
mountainman 12:00 pm
07 Jul 14
#

I agree with Kate here! But really we should just firm up Action it needs a royal commission ha, or recruit a very good CEO to change the culture and create new systems.

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6
dungfungus 12:17 pm
07 Jul 14
#

rosscoact said :

dungfungus said :

What happens to light rail infrastructure when there is a riot like the one last week in Jerusalem:
“Among the damage caused by rioters at the stations was the destruction of ticket machines, the destruction of rubber tracks by rioters who set fire to them, demolishing of the traffic lights at intersections of the road and the tracks, vandalism of the electricity and communication infrastructure, and the ransacking of at least one electricity control center……”

It could happen here also.

I’m speechless

I assume you are commenting on my suggestion that “it could happen here” ridiculous?
Well, it wasn’t that long ago that there was a riot at Parliament House which was instigated by trade unionists and the front doors and lobby were trashed. Also, a mentally disturbed man drove a 4WD into the great hall at the same address. Imagine what would have happened if the vehicle was loaded with explosives?
Another mentally disturbed man regularly smashed windows at the Legislative Assembly building, eco-extremists destroyed crops at the CSIRO etc.
Are you still speechless?

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7
HiddenDragon 12:50 pm
07 Jul 14
#

From Kate:

“….. And what do you need to make light rail cost effective – medium to high density nodes of population that can be linked to places where these people work.

I am not talking about a few high rise buildings , I am talking enough to house the thousands of people needed to make a mass transit system sustainable. It is also important to remember that these high rise buildings must be within walking distance of a light rail stop. If people have to drive to the stop and park , it will often be quicker to drive to work so the price differential between the light rail and parking in Civic will have to be huge. This will mean there will be pressure to keep fares low which will add to the viability problems of the system….”

That sums it up very nicely, and no amount of spin, “vision”, wishful thinking or heavy handed planning and social engineering will change those facts of life. One way or another, there will be a high price to pay.

Report this comment

8
JessP 2:05 pm
07 Jul 14
#

dungfungus said :

Johno says:
“Remember when people bagged out the Arboretum? A $20 million tree zoo, if I recall. Now everyone loves it. Remember the bagging the Gungahlin Drive Extension got? Now everyone loves it.
Remember the dam? Now everyone loves it.”
You must have different news feeds to the rest of us Johno because a lot of us are still bagging the arboretum and the cost is approaching $100 million (not $20 million).
The bagging your government was getting over the GDE was mainly because you wouldn’t do it 4 lane from the beginning.
And the dam, well there was calling for a dam for ages but it took a 100 year drought to get people moving. Let’s not talk about the cost either lest it be a precendent for cost blowouts on the light fail.

+1

Lets not do it. Please.

Report this comment

9
Postalgeek 2:59 pm
07 Jul 14
#

dungfungus said :

rosscoact said :

dungfungus said :

What happens to light rail infrastructure when there is a riot like the one last week in Jerusalem:
“Among the damage caused by rioters at the stations was the destruction of ticket machines, the destruction of rubber tracks by rioters who set fire to them, demolishing of the traffic lights at intersections of the road and the tracks, vandalism of the electricity and communication infrastructure, and the ransacking of at least one electricity control center……”

It could happen here also.

I’m speechless

I assume you are commenting on my suggestion that “it could happen here” ridiculous?
Well, it wasn’t that long ago that there was a riot at Parliament House which was instigated by trade unionists and the front doors and lobby were trashed. Also, a mentally disturbed man drove a 4WD into the great hall at the same address. Imagine what would have happened if the vehicle was loaded with explosives?
Another mentally disturbed man regularly smashed windows at the Legislative Assembly building, eco-extremists destroyed crops at the CSIRO etc.
Are you still speechless?

I think you would then discuss risk probabilities. Risk has not ceased development and deployment of transit systems in the past e.g. planes crash, brought to a standstill by terrorism and volcanos, but millions still fly them. And cars, well, if you want to talk about regular grinding halts, the M5 is a prime example. Many arguments to be made against light rail, as opposed to other transit systems, but I don’t think risk of riots is a particularly persuasive one.

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10
Kalliste 3:39 pm
07 Jul 14
#

I can’t believe how different these opinions are. Kate’s is based on facts and a history of how her government considered it and that the same issues affect us now.

John’s is a bunch of emotional spin with no facts to back it up whatsoever.

As someone who lives in gungahlin, I’m not sure why I’d waste time catching a bus and then the light rail (or walking and then light rail) that would take more time than I currently take to catch the bus now.

I was also originally for the rail, until further information became available, now it seems like a massive waste of money and I don’t want my rates increasing for a service I don’t see a need for.

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11
AgentK 4:33 pm
07 Jul 14
#

dungfungus said :

rosscoact said :

dungfungus said :

What happens to light rail infrastructure when there is a riot like the one last week in Jerusalem:
“Among the damage caused by rioters at the stations was the destruction of ticket machines, the destruction of rubber tracks by rioters who set fire to them, demolishing of the traffic lights at intersections of the road and the tracks, vandalism of the electricity and communication infrastructure, and the ransacking of at least one electricity control center……”

It could happen here also.

I’m speechless

I assume you are commenting on my suggestion that “it could happen here” ridiculous?
Well, it wasn’t that long ago that there was a riot at Parliament House which was instigated by trade unionists and the front doors and lobby were trashed. Also, a mentally disturbed man drove a 4WD into the great hall at the same address. Imagine what would have happened if the vehicle was loaded with explosives?
Another mentally disturbed man regularly smashed windows at the Legislative Assembly building, eco-extremists destroyed crops at the CSIRO etc.
Are you still speechless?

A riot at Parliment house? Please. That was a far from being a riot. Despite the media sensationalism.

All your points are speculative and border on the ridiculous.

Are you suggesting we should not risk building the light rail because there might be a riot and that riot might damage the rail infrastucture?

I suggest you don’t risk leaving your home. You never know when one of these “maybes” could strike.

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12
switch 4:40 pm
07 Jul 14
#

Think the artists responsible for these pictures will ever get the catenary right? They usually show no wires, while the above picture has two wires above each track. Two wires will quickly get entangled with the pantographs and bring the whole system to a grinding halt. One is the correct number, and needs a lot of additional poles etc to hold it up, also not shown above. I know many others have pointed this out in the past, but surely it’s about time they got a more realistic picture in their advertising. It’s not like trams are new untried technology.

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13
bundah 5:19 pm
07 Jul 14
#

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

I am a fan of St Kilda Road near the City precinct of Melbourne – let’s just get on and do it…

Well i’m a fan of realistic outcomes so the thought of being burdened with a white elephant is leaving me perplexed.

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14
rommeldog56 5:40 pm
07 Jul 14
#

HiddenDragon said :

From Kate:

“….. And what do you need to make light rail cost effective – medium to high density nodes of population that can be linked to places where these people work.

I am not talking about a few high rise buildings , I am talking enough to house the thousands of people needed to make a mass transit system sustainable. It is also important to remember that these high rise buildings must be within walking distance of a light rail stop. If people have to drive to the stop and park , it will often be quicker to drive to work so the price differential between the light rail and parking in Civic will have to be huge. This will mean there will be pressure to keep fares low which will add to the viability problems of the system….”

That sums it up very nicely, and no amount of spin, “vision”, wishful thinking or heavy handed planning and social engineering will change those facts of life. One way or another, there will be a high price to pay.

I’m no fan of Kate Carnell, but what she said in the Face Off was very accurate and well substantiated in understandable terms, IMHO. Kate wins, hands down.

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15
Pandy 6:45 pm
07 Jul 14
#

When Northbourne Avenue is wall to wall 6 story stone buildings with copper sheeted Mansard roofs, and all of the gum tress cut down in the median strip and replaced with something oh la lay Parisian trees, that will be the right time to build light rail.

Cr%ppy C grade multi story one bedroom flats just does not cut the croissant for me.

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