13 August 2007

ACT Light Rail Coalition - reforms to refight the good fight.

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I received this in an email today which could be of interest to those who care about the future of public transport in the ACT.

(stuff snipped)

A meeting to discuss reforming (the ACT LRC) as a group to explore options for a light rail network in the ACT region.

The initial meeting will be held at the

Dickson Tradies Club

(in the tram which is located in the dinning room). The meeting time is

5.30pm to 7pm Wednesday 22nd August


There are a number of matters that indicate that this might be a good time to try to get some focus on a light rail network. These include:

1) The Action\ Public transport enquiry, that is due on the 30th August.
2) Options re Federal Government funding for public transport/ environmental initiatives. Should there be a change of government.
3) Continuing media interest in light rail as a public transport option for the ACT region.

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Has ANYONE done the numbers? According to the Canberra Times Phase 1 will cost $870M and there are 151,000 households in the ACT so the cost per household will be $5,166 plus interest plus the ongoing operating losses.

Does your family really want to pay $5,166 for a rail line you may never use? You will pay, look at rising rates and parking charges. The money will be extracted from you. Even renters will pay as landlords pass on rates rises in rent rises.

Even in the government’s own calculations the return on investment is only half as effective as widening roads for new bus lanes.

good question. i think the proposal to turn the time travelling busway to lightrail was a good idea (apart from building it for buses).

a belco to gungahlin link would get traffic as well.

Gungahlin gets the GDE. Work has begun on the Majura Parkway. And now they are getting light rail? Why besides having a tram going down a boulevard of broken trees that will be Northbourne Ave?

What about the residents of Belconnen soon to suplemented by a 20 storey residential block?

i wouldnt expect all of canberra to be joined by lightrail in one hit. id go gungahlin to civic then civic – woden – tuggeranong then jerra qbn – kingston – russell – civic.

you could even link in the new bungendore defence hq with a converion of the heavy rail and some new platforms.

action bus fleet could use smaller lighter vehicles, like they use on the weekends to pickup passengers from suburbs and feed to main interchanges.

action for many years pushed a french o-bahn technology very heavily. this technology was abandoned several years ago. canberra would have been stuck with orphaned technology. this was behind the ‘busway’ proposal originally.

o-bahn is not the way to go for a number of reasons.

its used in one city.

its proprietary technology.

it has no advantage over normal buses in passenger volume.

lightrail is superior to o-bahn as its:

an international standard technology – multiple suppliers.

multiple vehicles can be joined in peak volume periods.

doesnt belch diesel fumes.

Light rail just isn’t right for Canberra. Try this instead: O-Bahn busways.

The Belconnen “busway” and the other bus lanes are a total joke compared to the O-Bahn system. It would be perfect for Canberra, we have the spaces for tracks (which are smaller, turn better, and can be steeper than rail), we’re committed to buses, we need quick transport between distant town centres (100 km/h), O-Bahn buses can do the necessary loops through our circituitous suburbs to collect and drop off without the hassle of transferring, and we don’t want to ruin our city with rail tracks and all their attendant mess!

Having lived in the area the O-Bahn services in Adelaide I can say it works well. It combines the best bits of rail and buses, and could be added piece by piece to Canberra’s bus system as each new section proves it’s worth. There is a mention of it in the transport plan, but like the last time I posted this here it tends to get totally ignored…

Gungahlin Al9:23 am 14 Aug 07

Pandy I don’t think it’s a full change of local government needed – just a change of Transport Minister.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt9:13 am 14 Aug 07

Rail would have to be an order of magnitude more expensive than buses. Perhaps an alternative is to build some dedicated bus roads between major centres. That way the same bus fleet can service the ‘express’ and ‘regular’ runs. I really think the costs of setting up and maintaining rail are being underestimated here.

As long as you build it to Belconnen first, upgrade the buses and tell us what it will really cost.

Maelinar the Democrat will support light rail development, in kitset stages, which will spread the cost over several years.

The Government did the study years ago andf decided that the route to Belconne was best. It would link-up the student campii at UC and ANU to Civic. It would cater for 20,000 fans at Canberra Stadium. It would allow a Park and Ride at AIS. It would cater for the high density housing at Bruce.

Yes great idea, build heaps of units in the town centers so people can get off their fat asses and walk to work.

I’ve never seen any serious discussion about where a light rail system would go. And how would this city pay for it, anyhow? Keeping ACTION buses on the road already costs taxpayers something like $65 million per year. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to get some more urban densities so people could walk to work?

Light rail 5 years ago was estimated to cost $800 million for a start. As with the cost blow-outs for GDE, those costs have probably sky=rocketed. Canberra just cannot afford $ 1 billion dollar projects without substantial Federal funding.

OK I know you will say again that the costs are based on heavy rail, but from what I have seen and what you will not accept that there is lots of recent Australian construction and unit purchase costs to show that the figures are valid.

If costs were so low, why did the Federal government reject the old-time tram line between the National Museum and the War Memorial that ws proposed some 5 years ago? Why don’t the developers of Tralee extend the line rail line and run a rail car to Civic-better than expect ACT residents to expect to upgrade Monaro Highway yes?

Also, you still will need a bus network to feed in to the rail network. We cannot even afford to run a decent bus network with clapped out buses. So what hope is there to run,let alone a bus network, replaced with Ero V diesel/LPG/NG/hybrid buses? Frankly, the local government should be seeking funds to replace the bus fleet.

Anyway, the light rail route if built should be first built to Belco (yeah!) because nothing has changed since it ws decided that the busway should be built to Belconnen.

BTW: You will need a change of local Government first.

Well if we’re going to trade something uneconomic (buses) for something completely uneconomic, lets go the whole hog and get an underground subway system.

Ralph what is with all the underground comments? – Elaborate?

Underground would be best.

its a volume issue.

buses are excellent in moving say 30-100 people.

but the volume of cars pouring out of say gungahlin and surrounds heading towards civic would indicate that mass transit in the form of lightrail would service this more effectively.

when teh voluem of passengers increases, you add another carriae. this doesnt require an extra driver.

personnel scheduling and costs are the major issues behind action route timetable problems.

while you may still require the same number of drivers for lightrail and schedules it would follow – increased volume is more easily catered to.

also physical tracks encourage higher density development and employers to build. they dont need to provide as many car spaces when proper pt infrastructure exists.

buses are very good for pt but they are not a good solution to the increased pt patronage the city is experiencing and this is only going to get worse.

lightrail has no downside except initial installation cost. bite that bullet and the benefits to this city would be great.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt4:58 pm 13 Aug 07

Why can’t the buses be made to go where the light rail would go? Is it a timing issue?

the ‘sustainable transport plan’ indicated that there would be more use of public transport if a light rail system existed. the govt chose not to go that route. the KBR report calculated light rail costs based on us heavy rail figures.

we keep extending the boundaries of urban density via new city centres (gungahlin, stromlo etc) and consider that a part of planning, yet installation of a suitable transport system is bizarrely the responsibility of some future govt.

the act labor govt has made it clear its a bus only supporter. light rail does require a change of govt.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt2:31 pm 13 Aug 07

Seems to me to be a classic case of trying to define the problem in terms of a preconceived solution. How about working out exactly what the public transport issues are (I mean doing real analysis not just capturing opinionated crapola), and coming up with a series of options that could be considered as solutions. If this was done for real we may have a way forward. At the moment I suspect we are in one of two possible situations:
1) We haven’t done the analysis; or
2) We have the analysis, and it says that we don’t have the population size or density needed to make public transport work effectively.

But defining a problem in terms of a solution? No, no, no.

So the Feds are interesting in funding light rail only if there is a change of government ?

Call it what you will, I’ll call that discrimination with a hint of pork barrelling.

Put it underground.

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