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‘Bus-ness as usual’ says ACT Light Rail

By Damien Haas - 11 November 2011 26

light rail

ACT Light Rail today provided the ACT Government with their submission in response to the draft ‘Transport for a Sustainable City 2011-2031’ transport planning document.

Mr Damien Haas, Chair of ACT Light Rail, said that the plan was a disappointment in that it was locking Canberra into a high density, congested, car-dependent culture – while the government was trying to pretend that the future high density Canberra would be built around public transport.

He said that while ACT Light Rail were pleased that the ACT Government has finally issued its latest strategic transport document, some two years late, sadly there was too little actual planning provided for mass transit Public Transport in the form of light rail.

The Government have hired expensive foreign consultants to tell them what they want to hear – that buses are the way to go. They talk ‘light rail’ but really its ‘Bus-ness as usual’. Their own bid to Infrastructure Australia proved the benefits to Canberra – but today its the ‘Study that dare not speak its name’, not being referenced at all in their ‘strategic planning ‘ document Mr Haas said.

‘The entire plan really lacks a cohesive vision’, Mr Haas said. ‘Increasing density and buying more buses is the extent of their plan and it means that they are just surrendering to road congestion. Future generations will regard this as an opportunity squandered.’

Today the ACT Government announced another bid to IA which has been sold in the media as a light rail bid. “The actual IA submission calls for light rail or Bus rapid transit, so once again its a case of reading the actual justification that the government put forward, rather than their media spin. Thsi is yet another study with no funding attached, and a hand out for someone else to pay for it.”

The submission by ACT Light Rail also makes the following points:

    · The draft Transport plan discusses openly the aim that medium and high density housing will be built along ‘transit corridors’ which means bus routes.

    · By encouraging medium and high density housing, without providing the proper public transport to support it, Canberra will experience all the disadvantages of high density housing, and none of the advantages.

    · The draft Transport plan is also disingenuous when it talks of light rail. Where light rail is mentioned, it is scant, and promises yet more ‘studies’.

    · Not once is the Infrastructure Australia bid for light rail funding from only two years ago mentioned.

    · There are no real plans for how exactly the government will convince motorists to shift from cars to public transport. The 2031 target is still only 16% of trips taken by public transport.

    · The plan will actually reduce local bus services and increase trip times in urban areas.

    · The draft Transport policy has no funding models attached to it and states several times that buses are the future for Canberra’s public transport.

On the subject of funding, Mr Haas said that this was the area in which ACT politicians could show real vision and leadership. “They had no problem smiling for the cameras when Majura park funding was announced, we would like to see the same effort applied to securing funding for light rail, and we make several recommendations on how they can achieve that funding – ranging from issuing bonds, borrowing money (like they have for the Majura parkway) or entering into a Private Public partnership.” Mr Haas said he had tried to meet with the Minister to discuss this but his meeting was cancelled and not rescheduled.

ACT Light Rail suggest that Transport for Canberra immediately start planning for light rail to be introduced into Canberra, and explore the funding models required for that to occur. To plan for a high density city without an appropriate public transport system to serve it, this Government is locking future residents into a more congested, car dependent, less sustainable future.

Authorised by Damien Haas
Chair, ACT Light Rail

Submission avalable from the ACT Light Rail website

[Photo by edwin.11 CC BY]

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26 Responses to
‘Bus-ness as usual’ says ACT Light Rail
Felix the Cat 1:24 pm 11 Nov 11

Hey Damien, if light rail is going to be such a good thing and everyone will be tripping over themselves to use it why don’t YOU stump up with the money to build a network and buy a few trains?

It’s just not feasible for all the reasons and more that Davo101 has mentioned in his post.

damien haas 1:15 pm 11 Nov 11

Solidarity said :

How the **** is it “green” to plan, construct, run and administer an entire bloody rail system? Electricity doesn’t come from nowhere!

If the current PT number rises from govts claim of currently 8% to 16% it will need a doubling of the bus fleet, which is diesel powered.

Electricity to power light rail can be sourced from renewable sources like the Snowy Hydro, solar, wind etc.

Light rail vehicles have a greater carrying capacity than any bus, so the cost per passenger, in greenhouse emission costings, is also much lower.

Womblenet 1:15 pm 11 Nov 11

Further addendum: von roll, (now adtranz) supplied the monorail system in Sydney

Womblenet 1:11 pm 11 Nov 11

damien haas said :

Womblenet said :

“monorail! it put ogdenville on the map!”

I think a monorail could be used effectively for the inner city areas. Leaving buses for use in the outer suburbs.
1: It wouldn’t increase traffic congestion
2: Requires less infrastructure disturbance than light rail
3: Requires no changing of road behaviour
4:The opportunity for 2 levels of stores at stations (both ground level and monorail level).
5: The opportunity for ride and rail system at these stations
6: It’s green
7: see ogdenvilel comment

There are no commercial monorail systems available. There are multiple light rail vendors and companies in Australia with lightrail construction experience.

Anyway, monorail is more of a Shelbyville thing…

True Shelbyville is a much more “with it” town, but I thought the monorail in Sydney was a commercial venture…?

Womblenet 1:03 pm 11 Nov 11

Solidarity said :

How the **** is it “green” to plan, construct, run and administer an entire bloody rail system? Electricity doesn’t come from nowhere!

Well my point was electricity could be gathered from sustainable resources. Like oh I dunno those huge wind farms out by lake George? Construction I grant you is a matter of compromise, administration..hmm that’s a toughie.. less baked beans for lunch?

damien haas 12:43 pm 11 Nov 11

Womblenet said :

“monorail! it put ogdenville on the map!”

I think a monorail could be used effectively for the inner city areas. Leaving buses for use in the outer suburbs.
1: It wouldn’t increase traffic congestion
2: Requires less infrastructure disturbance than light rail
3: Requires no changing of road behaviour
4:The opportunity for 2 levels of stores at stations (both ground level and monorail level).
5: The opportunity for ride and rail system at these stations
6: It’s green
7: see ogdenvilel comment

There are no commercial monorail systems available. There are multiple light rail vendors and companies in Australia with lightrail construction experience.

Anyway, monorail is more of a Shelbyville thing…

damien haas 12:42 pm 11 Nov 11

winter said :

Why is light rail better than a bus system in Canberra? All I see is a huge expense, with no flexibility in terms of route changes. I would think that a rail system in Canberra should be at least 10-20 years away.

Im glad you read our submission. The gov plan goes out to 2031. We would also like to see light rail in place by then.

Light rail provides certainty, grate carrying capacity and higher speed. The flexibility of buses can be used on feeder services integrated with the light rail.

thanks for your support.

Damien Haas
Chair, ACT Light Rail

Solidarity 12:41 pm 11 Nov 11

How the **** is it “green” to plan, construct, run and administer an entire bloody rail system? Electricity doesn’t come from nowhere!

zippyzippy 12:24 pm 11 Nov 11

I just wanted to say that “bus-ness as usual” is a great headline.

Jungle Jim 11:59 am 11 Nov 11

Womblenet said :

“monorail! it put ogdenville on the map!”

Is there a chance the track could bend?

Womblenet 11:52 am 11 Nov 11

“monorail! it put ogdenville on the map!”

I think a monorail could be used effectively for the inner city areas. Leaving buses for use in the outer suburbs.
1: It wouldn’t increase traffic congestion
2: Requires less infrastructure disturbance than light rail
3: Requires no changing of road behaviour
4:The opportunity for 2 levels of stores at stations (both ground level and monorail level).
5: The opportunity for ride and rail system at these stations
6: It’s green
7: see ogdenvilel comment

Deref 11:46 am 11 Nov 11

Can I have some of what these people are smoking please?

Keijidosha 11:43 am 11 Nov 11

davo101 – nail on the head mate.

davo101 11:18 am 11 Nov 11

Blah, blah, blah, light rail, blah. Seriously ACT Light Rail need to get over it. Don’t get me wrong I love travelling by train and travelling around densely built up cities on them, but Canberra is not Tokyo or Berlin or Singapore.

Think about it. If we built a light rail system in Canberra where would it go? The only option would seem to be between the Town Centres where it would be combined with a great big swag of high rise development. But hang on–we already have express bus routes between these already. Are these bus routes saturated yet? No, we can put more buses on if necessary. Would light rail be faster? Maybe, but the bus service could be speeded up by constructing more bus only lanes and priority lanes at traffic lights. Are you worried about peak oil? Run your buses on CNG. Worried about your CO2 emissions? Put up wires and run trolley buses–still cheaper than light rail.

Light rail is cool and I can understand the dreams but Canberra is a long, long way from needing it.

winter 11:09 am 11 Nov 11

Why is light rail better than a bus system in Canberra? All I see is a huge expense, with no flexibility in terms of route changes. I would think that a rail system in Canberra should be at least 10-20 years away.

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