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A war on cars or visionary policy?

By Steven Bailey - 29 September 2015 245

light rail artist impression

Canberra’s MLAs are not exactly famous for lively repartee, but last week duty called for Liberal MLA Giulia Jones. She gave it a good hard crack, flexing her silver tongue and delivering an unbridled bombardment to the Greens.

“Mums and dads trying to get their kids to school and earn the double income needed to survive these days should not have to pay the price for this minister’s mung bean, soy latte vision of a utopian society where inner city yuppies can catch a tram to work.

“That is [the Greens’] view and it punishes those working the hardest to produce another generation of ratepayers and it is a disgrace. The idea of mode shift is anti mum and anti family, and it is arrogant.

“We know better than you what is good for you. The Greens minister is out of touch and dictatorial,” she said.

Whether it’s light rail or cyclists versus motorists, it seems that not a day passes in our quiet capital without some sort of public vitriol being expressed in the media.

Cyclists disobeying road rules or riding in the middle of the road, motorists overtaking dangerously, and the great light rail debate have all collided into a tinderbox of tension and political opportunism.

For others, the public discourse is more aesthetical in nature. For instance, I’ve never understood the shaved legs and spandex, but I’d never impose my ignorance on others – go for your life!

Canberra deserves a more sophisticated debate on public transport and whether we support light rail or not, a cross-party approach that pursued the best outcome for the future surely would have been fairer and more reasonable for the people of Canberra.

But instead, the battle lines have been drawn and we are beholden to a project that may be legitimately perceived as political pandering to a certain constituency.

Yes, Gungahlin is growing at a rapid rate, but perhaps partly because Tuggeranong has been so neglected. If you live in Tuggeranong and work in Civic, the morning traffic is far more arduous than from Gungahlin to Civic.

A massive influx of parking fees and fines coupled with a shortage of parking spaces; an unrestricted increase in speed cameras; an inadequate bus service; the introduction of 30 km/h speed zones; and un-enforceable mandatory distances for cars overtaking cyclists are but some of the punitive measures against Canberra drivers.

For some, it is a simple argument: people should be discouraged from driving, and people who instead use public transport and bicycles are morally superior to those who don’t.

I support a sophisticated, multifaceted, environmentally friendly, and efficient transport policy for the future, and will have more to add to this debate in the coming months.

What I don’t support is governments attempting to change people’s behaviour through arrogant assumptions and punitive measures instead of intelligent debate and incentives.

Giulia, let me know if you’d like a new speech writer; I’d be more than happy to help.

What’s Your opinion?


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245 Responses to
A war on cars or visionary policy?
rubaiyat 1:48 am 01 Oct 15

chewy14 said :

Where have you got the cost figure of $11-16K per driver from?

That would equate to about $3-4.5B per year for the ACT.

Are you talking about private or public costs? The total ACT government budget for 2015-16 is only $4.6B.

I have posted this innumerable times, this is the updated link:

http://www.google.com.au/url?q=http://www.racq.com.au/cars-and-driving/cars/owning-and-maintaining-a-car/car-running-costs&sa=U&ved=0CBQQFjAAahUKEwig7dSPi5_IAhUnn6YKHcC2BG8&sig2=YaBT1is2uv_5Ih0HgmJeOQ&usg=AFQjCNHTXYr57xFrp2xEuILUhr-AS6zgcQ

It is just the private costs. But does not include the additional costs of parking both at work and at home in the extra 18-20m2 of house that adds $36-40,000 onto your mortgage.

Keep in mind this is calculated for Queensland where petrol costs less. So add the “Canberra Tax”.

You need to add all the taxpayer subsidies from the ACT Government, Federal Government, Ambulance and police costs, the deaths, 20% of hospital beds occupied by car victims and lifetime costs of the ACT’s share of the over 32,000 seriously injured every year in Australia.

Nice to see someone can do the elementary maths to arrive at the huge waste involved., even though I have given the total calculation also several times.

rubaiyat 1:35 am 01 Oct 15

chewy14 said :

rubaiyat said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Grail said :

The Tuggernong to Civic commute has nothing on the Gungahlin to Civic nightmare, don’t kid yourself. Traffic banked up from Belconnen Way to Ginninderra Drice is a regular feature awaiting Gunghalin commuters.

Bus trips from Tuggeranong to Civic are comparable with driving and searching for parking outside the Canberra Centre car parks. My trip between Tuggeranong and Dickson is an hour, which means I save half an hour each way for my reading (which is time I would otherwise have spent driving).

These transit problems are not the result of a poorly planned city, but poorly organised society. Why is everyone from Tuggeranong and Gungahlin trying to get to Civic? Surely not all the jobs are in the city. Well, if they are, then we have a problem.
Government has gone and globalized everything. All the satellite operations in Tuggers and other non-central areas have been migrated back into a one-building-fits-all approach. Budget targets have been met by cutting, merging and relocating staff but now people have to work further from home. That means more cars on the road. Wasn’t there a push some years ago to make Gungahlin a government hub where employment opportunities would be available for local residents? Where have all those jobs gone? Were they ever even created? Tuggeranong also has a huge Centerlink building, but I wonder how many people actually work there.
It isn’t just the government, but also retail and financial sectors causing the issues. Is it because Civic has NBN that business doesn’t want to set up out in the burbs?
Still, I have to wonder why some people would live in one end of Canberra to have to work on the other side. Indeed, just getting to the major hub of Civic seems to be a hurdle for most Canberrans. Is public transport simply not efficient enough? Do people just accept that a half hour in a car beats 2 hours and three different interchanges by bus?
One prohibitively expensive tram to fix the problems of a fraction of one sixth of the state is not going to do squat to the congestion woes. Majura Parkway and Gungahlin Drive will still be gridlocked both morning and evening times. If 50,000 people end up using the billion dollar tramway, it will have come at a cost of $20,000 per head. What that figure means I don’t know, but it sounds very expensive.

$11-16,000 every single year for every driver for the next how many years, not even including the cost of the roads and resultant hospital beds, now that sounds expensive to me.

Light Rail seems to be good for well over a hundred years, so how much does that actually work out to as the number of commuters grows steadily en-route?

Do the arithmetic, not the “dunno, but I rickn”.

Where have you got the cost figure of $11-16K per driver from?

That would equate to about $3-4.5B per year for the ACT.

Are you talking about private or public costs? The total ACT government budget for 2015-16 is only $4.6B.

tooltime 8:55 pm 30 Sep 15

Theres nothing visionary about a method of public transport thats 100 years old, so it must be a war on cars.

Yeah, the world is edging towards that low carbon future loved by some, loathed by others. This means more renewables and less petrol engines. But societies attitudes change towards these sort of things changes, like gay marriage.

The only reason I’d vote for the tram would be a) If the business case for it stacked up and b) if I could see the long term benefit for the majority from it. Neither of these conditions are met, so the ACT ratepayer will be on the hook for another white elephant…so its a no from me.

bj_ACT 4:07 pm 30 Sep 15

I think the under one hour during peak times bus ride to Civic is only available to some commuters from the Valley.

The more limited Bus stops of Tuggeranong are often poorly situated, there are less services than there used to be and a lot of stops picking up commuters on the journey before you get to your destination. Bus takes many tuggeranong residents twice as long as a drive commute.

HenryBaits 3:31 pm 30 Sep 15

Strange, when Joe Hockey says poor people don’t drive cars, he gets slammed. When Steven stands up for poor drivers he get slammed too… and probably by the same people.

chewy14 2:12 pm 30 Sep 15

rubaiyat said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Grail said :

The Tuggernong to Civic commute has nothing on the Gungahlin to Civic nightmare, don’t kid yourself. Traffic banked up from Belconnen Way to Ginninderra Drice is a regular feature awaiting Gunghalin commuters.

Bus trips from Tuggeranong to Civic are comparable with driving and searching for parking outside the Canberra Centre car parks. My trip between Tuggeranong and Dickson is an hour, which means I save half an hour each way for my reading (which is time I would otherwise have spent driving).

These transit problems are not the result of a poorly planned city, but poorly organised society. Why is everyone from Tuggeranong and Gungahlin trying to get to Civic? Surely not all the jobs are in the city. Well, if they are, then we have a problem.
Government has gone and globalized everything. All the satellite operations in Tuggers and other non-central areas have been migrated back into a one-building-fits-all approach. Budget targets have been met by cutting, merging and relocating staff but now people have to work further from home. That means more cars on the road. Wasn’t there a push some years ago to make Gungahlin a government hub where employment opportunities would be available for local residents? Where have all those jobs gone? Were they ever even created? Tuggeranong also has a huge Centerlink building, but I wonder how many people actually work there.
It isn’t just the government, but also retail and financial sectors causing the issues. Is it because Civic has NBN that business doesn’t want to set up out in the burbs?
Still, I have to wonder why some people would live in one end of Canberra to have to work on the other side. Indeed, just getting to the major hub of Civic seems to be a hurdle for most Canberrans. Is public transport simply not efficient enough? Do people just accept that a half hour in a car beats 2 hours and three different interchanges by bus?
One prohibitively expensive tram to fix the problems of a fraction of one sixth of the state is not going to do squat to the congestion woes. Majura Parkway and Gungahlin Drive will still be gridlocked both morning and evening times. If 50,000 people end up using the billion dollar tramway, it will have come at a cost of $20,000 per head. What that figure means I don’t know, but it sounds very expensive.

$11-16,000 every single year for every driver for the next how many years, not even including the cost of the roads and resultant hospital beds, now that sounds expensive to me.

Light Rail seems to be good for well over a hundred years, so how much does that actually work out to as the number of commuters grows steadily en-route?

Do the arithmetic, not the “dunno, but I rickn”.

Where have you got the cost figure of $11-16K per driver from?

That would equate to about $3-4.5B per year for the ACT.

Are you talking about private or public costs? The total ACT government budget for 2015-16 is only $4.6B.

OpenYourMind 1:17 pm 30 Sep 15

rubaiyat said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Grail said :

The Tuggernong to Civic commute has nothing on the Gungahlin to Civic nightmare, don’t kid yourself. Traffic banked up from Belconnen Way to Ginninderra Drice is a regular feature awaiting Gunghalin commuters.

Bus trips from Tuggeranong to Civic are comparable with driving and searching for parking outside the Canberra Centre car parks. My trip between Tuggeranong and Dickson is an hour, which means I save half an hour each way for my reading (which is time I would otherwise have spent driving).

These transit problems are not the result of a poorly planned city, but poorly organised society. Why is everyone from Tuggeranong and Gungahlin trying to get to Civic? Surely not all the jobs are in the city. Well, if they are, then we have a problem.
Government has gone and globalized everything. All the satellite operations in Tuggers and other non-central areas have been migrated back into a one-building-fits-all approach. Budget targets have been met by cutting, merging and relocating staff but now people have to work further from home. That means more cars on the road. Wasn’t there a push some years ago to make Gungahlin a government hub where employment opportunities would be available for local residents? Where have all those jobs gone? Were they ever even created? Tuggeranong also has a huge Centerlink building, but I wonder how many people actually work there.
It isn’t just the government, but also retail and financial sectors causing the issues. Is it because Civic has NBN that business doesn’t want to set up out in the burbs?
Still, I have to wonder why some people would live in one end of Canberra to have to work on the other side. Indeed, just getting to the major hub of Civic seems to be a hurdle for most Canberrans. Is public transport simply not efficient enough? Do people just accept that a half hour in a car beats 2 hours and three different interchanges by bus?
One prohibitively expensive tram to fix the problems of a fraction of one sixth of the state is not going to do squat to the congestion woes. Majura Parkway and Gungahlin Drive will still be gridlocked both morning and evening times. If 50,000 people end up using the billion dollar tramway, it will have come at a cost of $20,000 per head. What that figure means I don’t know, but it sounds very expensive.

$11-16,000 every single year for every driver for the next how many years, not even including the cost of the roads and resultant hospital beds, now that sounds expensive to me.

Light Rail seems to be good for well over a hundred years, so how much does that actually work out to as the number of commuters grows steadily en-route?

Do the arithmetic, not the “dunno, but I rickn”.

Rubaiyat, no matter how much lipstick you put on the pig that is light rail, it’s still an ugly wart on the financial landscape. Even if we are are financially suicidal to build it, a tram is highly unlikely to be the choice mode of transport in 100 years. Like I said before. The Tram is fine, so long as our rates are locked to CPI and we don’t have to fund this disaster plus Mr Fluffy, on top of all that the city already has to pay including our existing underutiised and expensive public transport that actually goes where a decent percentage of the ratepayers live!

Pragmatix 9:29 pm 29 Sep 15

Steven Bailey said :

Grail said :

I hope you get a job as speechwriter for the Liberals. Then discrediting their arguments becomes even easier!

The Tuggernong to Civic commute has nothing on the Gungahlin to Civic nightmare, don’t kid yourself. Traffic banked up from Belconnen Way to Ginninderra Drice is a regular feature awaiting Gunghalin commuters.

Bus trips from Tuggeranong to Civic are comparable with driving and searching for parking outside the Canberra Centre car parks. My trip between Tuggeranong and Dickson is an hour, which means I save half an hour each way for my reading (which is time I would otherwise have spent driving).

As for pricing and fees: welcome to capitalism and supply/demand. As demand for a resource increases, you can expect the price of that resource to increase. Every time a new apartment complex goes up or a new suburb is opened up, expect the price of land and parking spaces in Civic to go up.

Eventually people will wise up and move offices to Belconnen, Woden, Tuggeranong or Gunghalin. This will be facilitated by effective public transport.

Your complaint that public transport is somehow “inadequate” needs some support. It’s perfectly fine for me, and works in my favour since I gain significant portions of my day for doing things other than driving.

But don’t let the facts prevent you from bellyaching!

I’ll be happy to give you a quick response but I won’t bother with an ongoing invective.

Thank you for your lesson in economics but I’ll interpret its simplistic tone as a reflection of your understanding rather than mine. Some people like to apply an economic fundamentalism to every aspect of life; I don’t. The fees and fines to which I make reference are obvious inventions of Government to raise revenue. You need to discern between a publically owned asset and a privately owned asset.

Your assertion that people should ‘wise up’ and move away from Civic is repugnant and arrogant, and if you think so highly of Canberra’s public transport, some may thank you for making an argument against light rail unwittingly.

Regarding your reference to facts, it’s quite an irony that you haven’t supplied any facts to contradict my opinions… this is an opinion piece. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the ACT’s size compared to the density of its population makes it difficult to maintain an efficient transport service.

Here are some facts:

In 2010, a report commissioned by the government found ACTION was spending more than 30 per cent of its $100 million annual budget on waste and inefficiency.

‘With recent concern by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr over entrenched inefficiencies within Canberra’s bus service, it is timely to reflect on advice to the government in 2011, which it effectively ignored.’ Canberra Times, April 2015.

Only someone who is professionally, personally, or politically invested in Canberra’s bus service would defend it as you have done on this website.

Wow.

Steven Bailey 9:24 pm 29 Sep 15

Grail said :

I hope you get a job as speechwriter for the Liberals. Then discrediting their arguments becomes even easier!

The Tuggernong to Civic commute has nothing on the Gungahlin to Civic nightmare, don’t kid yourself. Traffic banked up from Belconnen Way to Ginninderra Drice is a regular feature awaiting Gunghalin commuters.

Bus trips from Tuggeranong to Civic are comparable with driving and searching for parking outside the Canberra Centre car parks. My trip between Tuggeranong and Dickson is an hour, which means I save half an hour each way for my reading (which is time I would otherwise have spent driving).

As for pricing and fees: welcome to capitalism and supply/demand. As demand for a resource increases, you can expect the price of that resource to increase. Every time a new apartment complex goes up or a new suburb is opened up, expect the price of land and parking spaces in Civic to go up.

Eventually people will wise up and move offices to Belconnen, Woden, Tuggeranong or Gunghalin. This will be facilitated by effective public transport.

Your complaint that public transport is somehow “inadequate” needs some support. It’s perfectly fine for me, and works in my favour since I gain significant portions of my day for doing things other than driving.

But don’t let the facts prevent you from bellyaching!

I’ll be happy to give you a quick response but I won’t bother with an ongoing invective.

Thank you for your lesson in economics but I’ll interpret its simplistic tone as a reflection of your understanding rather than mine. Some people like to apply an economic fundamentalism to every aspect of life; I don’t. The fees and fines to which I make reference are obvious inventions of Government to raise revenue. You need to discern between a publically owned asset and a privately owned asset.

Your assertion that people should ‘wise up’ and move away from Civic is repugnant and arrogant, and if you think so highly of Canberra’s public transport, some may thank you for making an argument against light rail unwittingly.

Regarding your reference to facts, it’s quite an irony that you haven’t supplied any facts to contradict my opinions… this is an opinion piece. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the ACT’s size compared to the density of its population makes it difficult to maintain an efficient transport service.

Here are some facts:

In 2010, a report commissioned by the government found ACTION was spending more than 30 per cent of its $100 million annual budget on waste and inefficiency.

‘With recent concern by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr over entrenched inefficiencies within Canberra’s bus service, it is timely to reflect on advice to the government in 2011, which it effectively ignored.’ Canberra Times, April 2015.

Only someone who is professionally, personally, or politically invested in Canberra’s bus service would defend it as you have done on this website.

rubaiyat 7:35 pm 29 Sep 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

Grail said :

The Tuggernong to Civic commute has nothing on the Gungahlin to Civic nightmare, don’t kid yourself. Traffic banked up from Belconnen Way to Ginninderra Drice is a regular feature awaiting Gunghalin commuters.

Bus trips from Tuggeranong to Civic are comparable with driving and searching for parking outside the Canberra Centre car parks. My trip between Tuggeranong and Dickson is an hour, which means I save half an hour each way for my reading (which is time I would otherwise have spent driving).

These transit problems are not the result of a poorly planned city, but poorly organised society. Why is everyone from Tuggeranong and Gungahlin trying to get to Civic? Surely not all the jobs are in the city. Well, if they are, then we have a problem.
Government has gone and globalized everything. All the satellite operations in Tuggers and other non-central areas have been migrated back into a one-building-fits-all approach. Budget targets have been met by cutting, merging and relocating staff but now people have to work further from home. That means more cars on the road. Wasn’t there a push some years ago to make Gungahlin a government hub where employment opportunities would be available for local residents? Where have all those jobs gone? Were they ever even created? Tuggeranong also has a huge Centerlink building, but I wonder how many people actually work there.
It isn’t just the government, but also retail and financial sectors causing the issues. Is it because Civic has NBN that business doesn’t want to set up out in the burbs?
Still, I have to wonder why some people would live in one end of Canberra to have to work on the other side. Indeed, just getting to the major hub of Civic seems to be a hurdle for most Canberrans. Is public transport simply not efficient enough? Do people just accept that a half hour in a car beats 2 hours and three different interchanges by bus?
One prohibitively expensive tram to fix the problems of a fraction of one sixth of the state is not going to do squat to the congestion woes. Majura Parkway and Gungahlin Drive will still be gridlocked both morning and evening times. If 50,000 people end up using the billion dollar tramway, it will have come at a cost of $20,000 per head. What that figure means I don’t know, but it sounds very expensive.

$11-16,000 every single year for every driver for the next how many years, not even including the cost of the roads and resultant hospital beds, now that sounds expensive to me.

Light Rail seems to be good for well over a hundred years, so how much does that actually work out to as the number of commuters grows steadily en-route?

Do the arithmetic, not the “dunno, but I rickn”.

miz 7:27 pm 29 Sep 15

Great article Steven – I am personally desperate for this kind of calling out of punitive measures without real alternatives.
I am particularly furious about after hours pay parking in Civic, surely a recipe for killing off already struggling businesses there. It makes no sense. Actually a lot of govt decisions lately seem to be of that ilk.
Weirdly Tuggers is only 20 mins by Xpresso to my workplace in Barton, so it’s remarkable that Tuggers keeps getting overlooked. It would be perfect for eg the new stadium or using Tuggeranong Town Park for Floriade as it is far superior than Glebe Pk. I just think decision makers are ignorant and don’t do any research.

JC 7:07 pm 29 Sep 15

OP, really “Yes, Gungahlin is growing at a rapid rate, but perhaps partly because Tuggeranong has been so neglected. “

Do you seriously think Gungahlin is growing because Tuggeranong has been neglected? Do you not think that the reason may well be because bulk development in Tuggeranong ended years ago, but still going strong in Gungahlin, because, umm it has land available for development. Coupled to that development started in Tuggeranong in the 70’s and parts are now shrinking (just like Belconnen) as the population ages and kids move on? No, take the populist view, certainly votes in that.

HiddenDragon 5:25 pm 29 Sep 15

“..A massive influx of parking fees and fines coupled with a shortage of parking spaces; an unrestricted increase in speed cameras; an inadequate bus service; the introduction of 30 km/h speed zones; and un-enforceable mandatory distances for cars overtaking cyclists are but some of the punitive measures against Canberra drivers….”

As Grail has pointed out, some of this is almost inevitable in a growing city, but not all of it. If ACT Labor truly represented all the people the Labor Party was established to represent, instead of effectively echoing Joe Hockey’s memorable observations about “poor people” and cars, we would have much less gratuitous, tokenistic, gesture politics in the transport field.

wildturkeycanoe 2:30 pm 29 Sep 15

Grail said :

The Tuggernong to Civic commute has nothing on the Gungahlin to Civic nightmare, don’t kid yourself. Traffic banked up from Belconnen Way to Ginninderra Drice is a regular feature awaiting Gunghalin commuters.

Bus trips from Tuggeranong to Civic are comparable with driving and searching for parking outside the Canberra Centre car parks. My trip between Tuggeranong and Dickson is an hour, which means I save half an hour each way for my reading (which is time I would otherwise have spent driving).

These transit problems are not the result of a poorly planned city, but poorly organised society. Why is everyone from Tuggeranong and Gungahlin trying to get to Civic? Surely not all the jobs are in the city. Well, if they are, then we have a problem.
Government has gone and globalized everything. All the satellite operations in Tuggers and other non-central areas have been migrated back into a one-building-fits-all approach. Budget targets have been met by cutting, merging and relocating staff but now people have to work further from home. That means more cars on the road. Wasn’t there a push some years ago to make Gungahlin a government hub where employment opportunities would be available for local residents? Where have all those jobs gone? Were they ever even created? Tuggeranong also has a huge Centerlink building, but I wonder how many people actually work there.
It isn’t just the government, but also retail and financial sectors causing the issues. Is it because Civic has NBN that business doesn’t want to set up out in the burbs?
Still, I have to wonder why some people would live in one end of Canberra to have to work on the other side. Indeed, just getting to the major hub of Civic seems to be a hurdle for most Canberrans. Is public transport simply not efficient enough? Do people just accept that a half hour in a car beats 2 hours and three different interchanges by bus?
One prohibitively expensive tram to fix the problems of a fraction of one sixth of the state is not going to do squat to the congestion woes. Majura Parkway and Gungahlin Drive will still be gridlocked both morning and evening times. If 50,000 people end up using the billion dollar tramway, it will have come at a cost of $20,000 per head. What that figure means I don’t know, but it sounds very expensive.

Grail 11:47 am 29 Sep 15

I hope you get a job as speechwriter for the Liberals. Then discrediting their arguments becomes even easier!

The Tuggernong to Civic commute has nothing on the Gungahlin to Civic nightmare, don’t kid yourself. Traffic banked up from Belconnen Way to Ginninderra Drice is a regular feature awaiting Gunghalin commuters.

Bus trips from Tuggeranong to Civic are comparable with driving and searching for parking outside the Canberra Centre car parks. My trip between Tuggeranong and Dickson is an hour, which means I save half an hour each way for my reading (which is time I would otherwise have spent driving).

As for pricing and fees: welcome to capitalism and supply/demand. As demand for a resource increases, you can expect the price of that resource to increase. Every time a new apartment complex goes up or a new suburb is opened up, expect the price of land and parking spaces in Civic to go up.

Eventually people will wise up and move offices to Belconnen, Woden, Tuggeranong or Gunghalin. This will be facilitated by effective public transport.

Your complaint that public transport is somehow “inadequate” needs some support. It’s perfectly fine for me, and works in my favour since I gain significant portions of my day for doing things other than driving.

But don’t let the facts prevent you from bellyaching!

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