A majority of older Canberrans are anti-light rail but overall capital residents are for the Capital Metro according to new survey results.
Only 46% of over-65s are pro-light rail compared to 67% of 35-49-year-olds.
ACT Minister for Capital Metro Simon Corbell has released a summary of data from surveys undertaken by Piazza Research for the government showing the level of support for light rail overall has remained steady at 54-56% over the past 16 months.
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Support for light rail increased to 67% when people knew it was part of a wider plan to connect the whole city with an integrated transport system, the Minister said.
“Light rail helps attract new people to public transport with 61% of respondents saying they were more likely to use public transport if it involved light rail,” he said.
The most recent survey showed 49% of people considered traffic congestion a problem now and 69% believed it would be in the future.
Sixty-three per cent (63%) of ACT residents agreed or strongly agreed that the Capital Metro development will provide a good economic stimulus to the Canberra economy.
Statistics on the government’s motives for investing in light rail showed 43% believed the move was to upgrade or improve transport options. Twenty nine per cent (29%) thought it was to reduce or prevent traffic congestion, and 24% believed it was for political reasons.
“While there is a very vocal minority opposition to this project it is clear that the majority of Canberrans want investment in a modern, reliable public transport system that will provide for them both today and into the future,” Mr Corbell said.
Each of the Piazza Research surveys contained sample groups of at least 1190 people and were therefore accurate to within a +/- 2.8% margin of error, providing a 95% confidence interval for the results.
The government issued the research after The Canberra Times ran a report on a survey of its own this morning. The Canberra Times survey was based on a larger sample size of more than 7000, but rather than being random like those of Piazza Research, was self-selecting. Visitors to The Canberra Times website chose to participate rather than being randomly selected from the broader population which would include those who don’t access the Fairfax paper’s website generally or didn’t during that period, and perhaps more of those who don’t have strong views on the light rail either way. A self-selecting sample such as this can’t be generalized to the entire ACT population as a random sample could.
Inherent bias aside, the survey found support for the light rail line was at 49% with opposition to it at 47%. Some 4% were undecided.
The ACT Opposition spokesman on transport Alistair Coe pounced on the newspaper’s flawed survey results, saying they demonstrated most Canberrans didn’t support the light rail line between Gungahlin and the City.
“This is despite the ACT government spending $50 million to progress light rail, including a large amount of taxpayers’ money to promote light rail over the last year,” he said.
“The poll also shows that the majority of Canberrans [read: the majority of a self-selected group of Canberra Times website readers] would rather see investment in buses over light rail, with 52 percent of Canberrans [read: 50% of a self-selected group of Canberra Times website readers] believing that taxpayers’ money would be better spent on improving the bus network. This is compared to the 41 percent who support building light rail over investing in the bus network.
“The Canberra Liberals believe that investment in our bus network is the best way to improve public transport in Canberra. Buses provide a sensible low-cost option which will improve public transport services for all Canberrans.
“Investing in the bus network instead of light rail will also free up money to spend in other critical areas such as health and education.
“Overall, the results show that light rail is a divisive issue in Canberra. It is more confirmation that the ACT government should delay signing the contracts to build light rail until all Canberrans can have their say on the project at the October 2016 Election,” Mr Coe concluded.