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Busway Consultants Dictate

By bonfire - 3 May 2005 8

I went along to the Save The Ridge meeting last night where ACTPLA and the ‘Consultants’ dictated advised what the proposed concrete bus trough would look like.

Its a meandering mess which looks like an engineering solution to a problem which doesnt exist.

Ignoring the sandal clad, kombi driving STR zealots for a moment, lets look at the various reasons for the busway.

Reduce congestion in peak hour.
Need for high speed link from Town centre to Civic.
Make public transport more popular and increase patronage.

ACT gummint proposes to spend between 85 and 150 Million – yews million – on this busway. Its 10km long. thats 15 million dollars a kilometer.

Remember that light rail was rejected on cost grounds….

The various suggestions to the consultants included:

Building an extra lane on Belconnen Way and making it Bus Only.
Adding a ‘green light’ device so the buses could have right of way at intersections.
Instead of throwing 150M at a bus way, just build a damn light rail system.

The head consultant whose name escapes me said that they were only looking at options and that if nceessary they would go back to the minister and advise that no busway was required, that all that was needed was an extra buslane. To say that the STR crowd met this with scepticism would be like saying Hannibal Lecter was a very naughty boy.

Another consultant said he lived in a town in Europe with both buses and light rail and people preferred buses by far and wouldnt use light rail if they had a choice. This of course goes against almost every piece of research conducted on public transport user preferences ever conducted by independent researchers. The ACTPLA honcho was incredulous that people woudl actually want to use light rail, saying something along the lines of ‘I dont understand why you people want lightrail’ after the third or fourth question on the topic.

Unlike the ACTPLA honcho and the engineering consultants, I’d say about 50% of the people in the room identified themselves as bus users – and they were incredulous at the reasons stated for the busway. As a user of the existing service it takes 10-20 minutes at most except in a rarre traffic jam following an accident.

Of course STR banged on about trees etc but they were on the money about this thing being a folly.

So I wonder how the comments in the room will be articulated back to Simon ?

It was curious that unlike all community events Ive been to for the last few years – at this one not a single MLA was present.

What’s Your opinion?

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8 Responses to
Busway Consultants Dictate
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GuruJ 11:42 am 04 May 05

bonfire – you gotta be kidding. Light rail got ripped out of most cities 50 years ago; if anything’s “so yesterday” it is light rail.

I love the Melbourne tram system but I can’t see any significant advantages over a busway to be honest. You need consistently high passenger loads to justify sufficient tram frequencies before it pays for itself. Most Melbourne tram links run one tram every 5-6 minutes — we just don’t need that capacity in Canberra except in peak hour.

johnboy – Light rail is far more flexible than standard rail. Melbourne trams climb 1 in 12 grades frequently in the city and light rail can do 1 in 10 grades without any special equipment.

bonfire 10:02 am 04 May 05

i was going to suggest a tunnel from csiro through black mountain emerging at calvary, but i was in a suit and if im going to ask nutsy questions, i’ll dress like an STR in thongs and tie dye.

johnboy 11:26 pm 03 May 05

Light rail is good for a lot of things.

going up hills is not one of them.

You’d need a funicular to get a train over most of O’Connor Ridge.

I suspect Belconnen Way and Ginninderra Drive are already occupuying the shallowest grades over the ridge.

Which means without massive bridge building, tunnelling, and cutting, that you won’t get a fast rail link along this bus lane.

If someone knows more than me about this issue I’d love to know more, but having maintained real rail lines I can say I’ve never seen anything like the grades needed to link belco and civic.

You think the GDE set the enviro mob nuts? try a rail-suitable cutting through the ridge. It’d be enourmous!

bonfire 5:13 pm 03 May 05

in 30 to 40 years time canberra will have sprawled to fill its entire geographic boundary.

real good time to say hey what about light rail.

buses are so yesterday.

GuruJ 4:04 pm 03 May 05

You are correct in that the consultants are never going to come back recommending light rail this time around.

The idea is just to allow the upgrade to light rail in 30-40 years if required by ensuring that the light rail can navigate around the bends and up the hills.

bonfire 3:45 pm 03 May 05

I agree about Bruce Stadium but the light rail thing is a giant lipservice furphy. I asked how exactly the consultants would be instructed to take light rail into account, and the answer was not good. Something about curves and gradients only.

There are all sorts of tunnels and flyovers that make it sound like something out of the simpsons monorail episode.

GuruJ 2:28 pm 03 May 05

Trust me … all the MLAs would have seen the ACTPLA presentation at least once before. This has been doing the rounds for a while now — I heard it at a Belconnen community meeting about four weeks back.

I’m not completely sold on the busway idea either, but I’m sick of the kneejerk reactions to it as well.

First, once the busway is built, most of the infrastructure is in place to convert to light rail down the track. Spending $150m now will save lots of $$$ if/when light rail is built in the future.

Second, the traffic problems may not exist now, but they will only get worse. 20-30 years down the track is a long time. Just think what Canberra looked like in 1975!

Third, something does need to be done to help people get in and out of Bruce stadium. The ACTPLA person I talked to explained that at present the buses have to arrive 60 minutes before the game finishes since all incoming traffic is stopped after this time.

If you hook up Bruce stadium, you might as well connect to the hospitals and CIT as well.

So where’s the problem?

che 1:31 pm 03 May 05

No MLA’s present? The I guess they can take the consultants words for what was said at the meeting as true

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