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RiotACT Face Off: A mandate for light rail?

Charlotte Harper 10 February 2016 146

Corbell vs Coe

Our occasional Face-off series is back to look at one of the most-debated issues around town right now. Plenty of RiotACT readers already have a view on this question, but we decided to give Simon Corbell and Alistair Coe the opportunity to set out their opposing views on what has become a key issue leading into the ACT election later this year:

Does the ACT Government have a mandate to commence construction of its planned light rail network in June?

Simon Corbell, Minister for Capital Metro:

When construction starts on the first stage of light rail in Canberra in June it will be the culmination of nearly four years of work that started with an ACT Labor election commitment prior to the last ACT election.

On 21 September 2012 I stood on Northbourne Avenue with then chief minister Katy Gallagher and made a commitment that if we won the election we would proceed with light rail from Gungahlin to City during our next term.

Our official, publicly released policy document stated that we committed to “establish the ACT’s first large-scale private sector partnership to plan, finance and develop the first stage of a Light Rail Network” with “construction estimated to commence in 2016”.

We provided an estimate for the capital cost of the project, which would be delivered as a PPP and therefore not paid for until after the forward estimates period.

The commitment was clear, we would sign a PPP to start construction in 2016, which is exactly what we are doing.

Any argument to the contrary by the opposition is either mischievous or misinformed.

Meanwhile the Liberals are trying desperately to make this year’s election one about light rail, maybe because they have very little else to offer the people of Canberra.

They ignorantly claim that it is the government’s only priority. In reality the government’s priorities rightly lie in health and education, where we spend more than half of the ACT’s budget every year. In terms of expenditure, light rail is only a small part of the government’s plans. Over the life of the light rail contract, which includes design and construction as well as maintenance and operation for 20 years, the government will spend less than 1 percent of total expenditure on light rail. In the same time we will spend 35 times as much on health and 25 times as much on education.

Alistair Coe, Shadow Minister for Transport:

It’s absolute folly that the ACT Government has a mandate to proceed with light rail before this year’s ACT Election. Prior to the 2012 ACT Election the Labor Party took a $30 million commitment to Canberrans for concept and design work on light rail. That’s all.

The only reason we are in the position we are today, on the cusp of burdening generations of Canberrans with paying back hundreds of millions of dollars for a project that doesn’t stack up, is because after the 2012 Election, Labor slapped together a deal with the sole Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury to build light rail. In return he guaranteed his support for a Labor government.

Since then and with no mandate, the Government has run a spending spree on light rail, not because it’s the best thing for Canberra, but simply to stay in power.

Last week the Labor Party and the Greens confirmed they will hold Canberrans for ransom, by choosing an international consortium to whom Canberra will have a 25-year debt. This is completely unfair and undemocratic. Given how unpopular light rail is in Canberra, the only fair thing for the government to do is take the issue to the 2016 Election. Let Canberrans decide.

This is the biggest infrastructure project in the history of the ACT yet very few will benefit. The Government did not get a mandate to build this project at the 2012 Election, and, we are only months away from the 2016 Election.

Only the Canberra Liberals are giving Canberrans a choice on light rail. The Labor Party and Greens are dictating that it must happen and are preparing to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on their back-room deal.

If you have a suggestion for a Face-off topic or participant, please let us know in the comments below.


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RiotACT Face Off: A mandate for light rail?
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OpenYourMind 7:28 pm 04 Mar 16

rubaiyat said :

pajs said :

Leon said :

Did the Government wait until after the 2012 election to inform the public that it had found that the extra costs of light rail exceeded its extra benefits by more than $230 million, compared with bus rapid transit?

This information was available in the ACT Government’s August 2012 submission to Infrastructure Australia. I for one did not become aware of it until much later.

Personally, I’d prefer a good network of o-bahn-ish dedicated lanes for bus rapid transport, rather than light rail, but the Libs killed off the Belconnen Busway project and there needs to be consequences for such decisions. Play silly buggers with sensible proposals like that and you reap the consequences of Plan B’s that you might like less. Let’s get the light rail built and have done with it.

Squeezed in a run up the O-Bahn.

It is well patronised as it is the fastest way of getting up the north eastern Adelaide suburbs.

It is quite a bit of engineering, the concrete tracks are elevated off the ground in a fenced off right of way about 60 – 80 metres wide. They have mostly excavated down so the tracks don’t intrude too much although the noise must be considerable for a lot of the neighbourhoods where it runs out in the open. It is certainly a noisy teeth rattling ride for the passengers.

It is fast because there are so few stops and it is not using the roads for most of its length. Each of the interchanges have large flanking car parks but don’t seem to attract any commercial developments, except for the rather ugly Westfields at the Tea Tree Plaza terminus, which whilst not as ugly and unpleasant as canberra’s bus terminuses is still pretty grim, and tacked on at the backside of the shops.

The buses are very frequent but as they are heading off in all directions and nothing along the O-Bahn is really a destination or attraction, makes that less useful than would seem at first.

It is purely a mechanical means of getting from outer Adelaide to the CBD. It does nothing beyond that and given the nature of buses I can see no design improvement that would fix that. If it had been the originally planned light rail extension to the Glenelg tram it would have done much more and I suspect would have created neighbourhoods en route.

Curiously one of the objections to the light rail by the public along the route was supposedly the issue of “noise”. Why they chose something noisier remains a mystery.

I also rode the Glenelg tram and didn’t see any of the claimed fare evasion. People were tapping on as required. Seems to be a lot of this in this forum. Claims of crimes, stabbings, diseases and untold (non-existent) horrors to frighten off the impressionable ignorant.

So what you are saying is that you are completely tram eyed. Even when a bus has a dedicated thoroughfare and runs on rails it still isn’t the magic machine a tram is. Can you please assure me you aren’t on the payroll of the tram money machine?? You tell us you have kids at grammar and you had a ski lodge, so obviously money is not a big issue, yet you spruik trams every opportunity.

Just out of curiosity, I took the tram on the Gold Coast. It was ok but nothing special and it hadn’t performed any magic around the stations I stopped at – if it was my 1.6billion or whatever, I wouldn’t pay for it. Fortunately it was quiet so we go seats, but I was painfully aware of the few seats and many standing options. For Canberra, the odd peak time a tram would be an unpleasant place to be, and like our buses, the rest of the time it will run unprofitable and empty. Our roads are like that, we have a ‘peak 5minutes’ then transit is clear. It’s been like that for the last 40 odd years – apart from around Gunghalin (bad planning) and Airport (which is fixed up) and Parkes Way (just needs a few design improvements). The only difference is if you are stuck in traffic for a few minutes you at least don’t have someone sneezing all over you (except if you have a small person!).

As for noise, electric is almost certain, be it buses, trams or cars. Better still, take a look at capacitor buses – they are new tech and still a little expensive but already make the tram wires look like a nasty and unnecessary addition to our fair city.

rubaiyat 10:03 am 27 Feb 16

pajs said :

Leon said :

Did the Government wait until after the 2012 election to inform the public that it had found that the extra costs of light rail exceeded its extra benefits by more than $230 million, compared with bus rapid transit?

This information was available in the ACT Government’s August 2012 submission to Infrastructure Australia. I for one did not become aware of it until much later.

Personally, I’d prefer a good network of o-bahn-ish dedicated lanes for bus rapid transport, rather than light rail, but the Libs killed off the Belconnen Busway project and there needs to be consequences for such decisions. Play silly buggers with sensible proposals like that and you reap the consequences of Plan B’s that you might like less. Let’s get the light rail built and have done with it.

Squeezed in a run up the O-Bahn.

It is well patronised as it is the fastest way of getting up the north eastern Adelaide suburbs.

It is quite a bit of engineering, the concrete tracks are elevated off the ground in a fenced off right of way about 60 – 80 metres wide. They have mostly excavated down so the tracks don’t intrude too much although the noise must be considerable for a lot of the neighbourhoods where it runs out in the open. It is certainly a noisy teeth rattling ride for the passengers.

It is fast because there are so few stops and it is not using the roads for most of its length. Each of the interchanges have large flanking car parks but don’t seem to attract any commercial developments, except for the rather ugly Westfields at the Tea Tree Plaza terminus, which whilst not as ugly and unpleasant as canberra’s bus terminuses is still pretty grim, and tacked on at the backside of the shops.

The buses are very frequent but as they are heading off in all directions and nothing along the O-Bahn is really a destination or attraction, makes that less useful than would seem at first.

It is purely a mechanical means of getting from outer Adelaide to the CBD. It does nothing beyond that and given the nature of buses I can see no design improvement that would fix that. If it had been the originally planned light rail extension to the Glenelg tram it would have done much more and I suspect would have created neighbourhoods en route.

Curiously one of the objections to the light rail by the public along the route was supposedly the issue of “noise”. Why they chose something noisier remains a mystery.

I also rode the Glenelg tram and didn’t see any of the claimed fare evasion. People were tapping on as required. Seems to be a lot of this in this forum. Claims of crimes, stabbings, diseases and untold (non-existent) horrors to frighten off the impressionable ignorant.

dungfungus 11:52 am 24 Feb 16

From across the Pacific Ocean in Austin Texas another Capital Metro is having falling passenger numbers too:
http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2016/02/raise-for-watson-as-cap-metro-ridership-is-in-reverse/
There are so many negative variables for public transport in cities like Austin where private transport is a preferable option (like Canberra).

Arthur Davies 3:36 pm 18 Feb 16

rubaiyat said :

JC said :

The CAF Urbos 3 is an off the shelf modular design, like all light rail vehicles these days, well except the Melbourne E class but Melbourne is happy to pay double so they can say designed and built in Melbourne.

And boy do they say it! They have huge signs on the sides of many of the Trams.

The battery driven design is now integral to the CAF Urbos as I understand from their specs. You simply tick the box and pay for the extra if you want.

I am not sure though if they have the underground recharging solution that some of the other systems have. As the tram moves over a tram stop it makes contact with a charge point under the chassis.

btw I had a look at the Bourke Street Mall tracks and they are as you describe the Sydney tracks. The steel tracks are bedded in a rubber compound in the paving, making what is already quiet even quieter, which is why they have to run the ads warning the pedestrians to pay attention when crisscrossing the tracks, but then Melbournians have been doing this for a very long time and the extraordinary safety record of their system shows that overall it all works, extremely well.

Nobody dares cross roads filled with cars the way they do the streets serviced with trams.

Electric battery buses are also available with automatic recharging at stops too, a Melbourne built one has the current record for range at over 1000km, Melb to Syd. Guess how many electric buses the Govt is buying in this round of replacements. Buses are faster & far cheaper than trams & can be renewable electric too.

rubaiyat 10:26 am 18 Feb 16

JC said :

The CAF Urbos 3 is an off the shelf modular design, like all light rail vehicles these days, well except the Melbourne E class but Melbourne is happy to pay double so they can say designed and built in Melbourne.

And boy do they say it! They have huge signs on the sides of many of the Trams.

The battery driven design is now integral to the CAF Urbos as I understand from their specs. You simply tick the box and pay for the extra if you want.

I am not sure though if they have the underground recharging solution that some of the other systems have. As the tram moves over a tram stop it makes contact with a charge point under the chassis.

btw I had a look at the Bourke Street Mall tracks and they are as you describe the Sydney tracks. The steel tracks are bedded in a rubber compound in the paving, making what is already quiet even quieter, which is why they have to run the ads warning the pedestrians to pay attention when crisscrossing the tracks, but then Melbournians have been doing this for a very long time and the extraordinary safety record of their system shows that overall it all works, extremely well.

Nobody dares cross roads filled with cars the way they do the streets serviced with trams.

rubaiyat 10:05 am 18 Feb 16

Arthur Davies said :

rubaiyat said :

Please can we stop the ludicrous claims of an ACT “narrow tax base”?

Unlike every other government in Australia, the ACT has an extremely broad range of income sources from rates, GST, Stamp Duty, service and parking charges, penalties and above all land sales in the only jurisdiction that owns and leases, NOT sells the land.

Also stop the totally unfounded claims of inevitable bankruptcy which is not shared by any sane person on this planet, nor any of the financial ratings companies which rate the ACT AAA. Those claims are frankly libellous, or would be if anyone outside a small knitting circle of OAPs in Tuggeranong believed them.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/standard-and-poors-retain-aaa-credit-rating-for-canberra-20150925-gjuyto.html

Most of the rise in debt is due to the Mr Fluffy buy back which is an arch example of the public liabilities resulting from environmental damage caused by frankly stupid private corporate and consumer behaviour.

The Queensland Government is facing similar environmental blackmail over the looming Townsville Nickel refinery tailings dam disaster.

http://www.afr.com/business/mining/clive-palmers-qld-nickel-cut-287m-set-aside-to-clean-up-toxic-sludge-20160118-gm8pt6

Qld Nickel has cut $287 million from its environmental obligations despite the estimated $1.4 billion cost to cleanup and somehow, no-one knows how, stop all the poisons in the dams flowing out into the Great Barrier Reef.

A typical bill delivered to the taxpayer after all the “Job Creating” hype has turned into a foul, abandoned, liability.

We are only beginning to get a taste of the astronomic liabilities we are facing for over two hundred years of burning fossil fuels and ongoing environmental damage. Still continuing because of the small minded ignorance and short term thinking of politicians and some members of the public who wrongly associate pollution with economic activity and prosperity.

This is a very common fallacy, not only does the ACT have a narrower tax base than the states, we have a huge tapeworm sucking up our resources & contributing next to nothing, the Federal Govt. It is assumed that the Commonwealth Grants Commission compensates us for all budgetary issues, but it does not.

We have funds going both ways, generally in our favour, for the interstate use of our schools & hospitals etc. The Feds make an “exgratia” payment for rates, but if you look at Parliament, Asio by the lake, & all the other Commonwealth properties they really do not add up. Even worse they pay no payroll tax, stamp duty, etc. The states don’t pay these either but the Feds are around 50% of our economic activity but only around 5 to 6% in the states (census & stats). So we are huge losers by comparison.

Until the Feds pay up & we get rid of our tapeworm we will always have too little money to run our economy properly. I find it very interesting that the Assembly politicians have never taken up this issue. I remember soon after we resoundingly voted against “Self Govt” but got it anyway, a reporter asked the then Grants Commissioner what he would do about the Feds not paying tax & the resulting disadvantage to the ACT. The answer was “this issue has been specifically precluded from my terms of reference”. Maybe some assembly members would like to enlighten us on what they are doing about it.

Oddly enough we agree on most of those points. The Feds shafted Canberra Citizens when they forced self government on the A.C.T. which of course was why they did it.

I recommend we start a Secessionist Party and threaten to make the Parliamentary Triangle the equivalent of Vatican City, cutting off services to anything inside it.

Secession, or the threat of, has frequently worked for the aggrieved. Examples such as Western Australia and Scotland spring to mind. The Confederate States of America not so much. Which raises another lateral thought, based on the success of the Czechs getting rid of the Slovaks, can we encourage Tuggeranong to in turn secede from us?

rubaiyat 9:57 am 18 Feb 16

dungfungus said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

rubaiyat said :

ungruntled said :

Arthur Davies said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

rubaiyat said :

A few questions from the floor:

1. What will 13,000 Prius or Teslas cost?

2. How many Northbourne Avenues have you got in mind for them to drive on?

3. What do you do with the enormous number of vehicles for the 95% of the day that they are doing nothing?

4. Is this more than just a thought bubble?

13,000 sub $50k electric cars would only cost 650 million dollars, but they aren’t being funded by the ratepayer now are they? These would be privately purchased and paid for, giving money to our major lenders on the way. Where will the tram money come from? Everybody’s pockets in Canberra.

We still only need one Northbourne Avenue, because there is also a GDE and Majura Parkway for people to use to get beyond Civic. If they made the speed limit a bit faster, timed the lights better and made the left lane a “Bus Only” lane with more services, I’m sure the congestion problems will not be as bad as they are now.

What do you do with the empty trams that have to run every 6 minutes even when nobody is on them? Now that is a waste of energy, money and continues to add to congestion problems unnecessarily. The 13,000 electric cars will be quietly recharging for their trip home, to pick up the kids, to go shopping and whatever the owners want them to do with the additional benefit of the freedom to go anywhere the owner wants to, not just the confines of Gungahlin.

Mark Ellis’ thought bubble has infinitely more wisdom than the Labor/Green’s 19th century solution. While we are at it, we might as well bring back the horse and carriage, it’ll be just as fast as the tram, uses no electricity or fossil fuels and definitely will make Canberra different to every other major city in the world.

You are quite right regarding the efficiency of off peak lightly loaded trams, the efficiency is woeful unless the tram is full (of largely standing) passengers, lower than an i c car let alone an electric one. But the problem is congestion not efficiency.

History shows us that the electric tram was developed in the late 1800s not to solve a transport problem but to get ride of pollution back then. Around 1900 Melbourne had to get rid of 500T per DAY of manure, as well as the odd dead horse. They had transport, walking (hailed by many as a great health benefit) or on horseback, cart, or carriage. The tram was designed to get rid of manure & it did so very effectively until it in turn was superseded by faster & more effective transport modes (except in 2 out of 25 cities with trams back then). At least the pollution now does not stick to your boots!

Why are we promised a system that solved a problem 130 years ago that no longer exists? The Govt admits publicly that it did not investigate all the available transport options but chose trams essentially as a guess & as they also again openly admit “to drive redevelopment along Northbourne Av”.

Well said Arthur. Why are we getting a 130 yer old solution to a problem we no longer have & no consideration of the problem we do have?

Yeah what is it with those 207 year old internal combustions? Why are we still polluting like there’s no tomorrow? Frankly I blame the Education System, or at least those who slept through it!

Why are we also still burning coal, paying through the nose for cheaper, more abundant locally and more environmentally friendly alternatives such as natural gas? It is about money for the government. Without petrol guzzling cars on our roads, there will be less fuel excise. The government makes $27billion a year on fuel taxes, of which only 25% goes back into roads. The rest goes to general revenue. Until you can find an alternative revenue source, you cannot get rid of cars.
Unfortunately the government is now looking at taxing people with solar installations, to encourage them to disconnect from the grid and use battery storage. I cannot understand this mentality, whereby they are getting this energy from rooftops cheaply but want to discourage more of it. Driving cheap supply away is counterproductive, but it is all probably based on their requirement for a certain component of electricity needing to come from coal power to retain a minimum regular purchase of coal to keep the price cheap.
See, it is all about the dollar, not the environment. Ditching coal power will not become a reality until governments find a way to tax everything else to compensate.

I don’t know why you say natural gas is a cheaper energy source that coal because that is simply not correct.

Whilst you are correct to say that coal is cheaper to buy, that is only because it is free to pollute. If the power utilities had to pay to pollute then they’d rapidly stop dealing in the stuff. We were getting there before the the Mad Monk lied his way into power.

Our pollution was heading down, the power utilities were moving away from coal and the Government had a good stream of income from the sin tax on pollution. Many people moved to solar heating and solar power to the point where the economics have tipped dramatically in favor of renewables.

dungfungus 7:55 am 18 Feb 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

rubaiyat said :

ungruntled said :

Arthur Davies said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

rubaiyat said :

A few questions from the floor:

1. What will 13,000 Prius or Teslas cost?

2. How many Northbourne Avenues have you got in mind for them to drive on?

3. What do you do with the enormous number of vehicles for the 95% of the day that they are doing nothing?

4. Is this more than just a thought bubble?

13,000 sub $50k electric cars would only cost 650 million dollars, but they aren’t being funded by the ratepayer now are they? These would be privately purchased and paid for, giving money to our major lenders on the way. Where will the tram money come from? Everybody’s pockets in Canberra.

We still only need one Northbourne Avenue, because there is also a GDE and Majura Parkway for people to use to get beyond Civic. If they made the speed limit a bit faster, timed the lights better and made the left lane a “Bus Only” lane with more services, I’m sure the congestion problems will not be as bad as they are now.

What do you do with the empty trams that have to run every 6 minutes even when nobody is on them? Now that is a waste of energy, money and continues to add to congestion problems unnecessarily. The 13,000 electric cars will be quietly recharging for their trip home, to pick up the kids, to go shopping and whatever the owners want them to do with the additional benefit of the freedom to go anywhere the owner wants to, not just the confines of Gungahlin.

Mark Ellis’ thought bubble has infinitely more wisdom than the Labor/Green’s 19th century solution. While we are at it, we might as well bring back the horse and carriage, it’ll be just as fast as the tram, uses no electricity or fossil fuels and definitely will make Canberra different to every other major city in the world.

You are quite right regarding the efficiency of off peak lightly loaded trams, the efficiency is woeful unless the tram is full (of largely standing) passengers, lower than an i c car let alone an electric one. But the problem is congestion not efficiency.

History shows us that the electric tram was developed in the late 1800s not to solve a transport problem but to get ride of pollution back then. Around 1900 Melbourne had to get rid of 500T per DAY of manure, as well as the odd dead horse. They had transport, walking (hailed by many as a great health benefit) or on horseback, cart, or carriage. The tram was designed to get rid of manure & it did so very effectively until it in turn was superseded by faster & more effective transport modes (except in 2 out of 25 cities with trams back then). At least the pollution now does not stick to your boots!

Why are we promised a system that solved a problem 130 years ago that no longer exists? The Govt admits publicly that it did not investigate all the available transport options but chose trams essentially as a guess & as they also again openly admit “to drive redevelopment along Northbourne Av”.

Well said Arthur. Why are we getting a 130 yer old solution to a problem we no longer have & no consideration of the problem we do have?

Yeah what is it with those 207 year old internal combustions? Why are we still polluting like there’s no tomorrow? Frankly I blame the Education System, or at least those who slept through it!

Why are we also still burning coal, paying through the nose for cheaper, more abundant locally and more environmentally friendly alternatives such as natural gas? It is about money for the government. Without petrol guzzling cars on our roads, there will be less fuel excise. The government makes $27billion a year on fuel taxes, of which only 25% goes back into roads. The rest goes to general revenue. Until you can find an alternative revenue source, you cannot get rid of cars.
Unfortunately the government is now looking at taxing people with solar installations, to encourage them to disconnect from the grid and use battery storage. I cannot understand this mentality, whereby they are getting this energy from rooftops cheaply but want to discourage more of it. Driving cheap supply away is counterproductive, but it is all probably based on their requirement for a certain component of electricity needing to come from coal power to retain a minimum regular purchase of coal to keep the price cheap.
See, it is all about the dollar, not the environment. Ditching coal power will not become a reality until governments find a way to tax everything else to compensate.

I don’t know why you say natural gas is a cheaper energy source that coal because that is simply not correct.

dungfungus 7:53 am 18 Feb 16

Charlotte Harper said :

Have you ever driven along Northbourne to Gungahlin in peak hour, dungfungus?

Yes, I have and I don’t find it much different to driving along it at any time except in the early hours of the morning.
And it has been the same for many years.
There are a few “pinch points” that could be eliminated to improve things but that is the same on most main arterial roads in Canberra.The light rail appears to be more important.

wildturkeycanoe 7:17 am 18 Feb 16

rubaiyat said :

ungruntled said :

Arthur Davies said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

rubaiyat said :

A few questions from the floor:

1. What will 13,000 Prius or Teslas cost?

2. How many Northbourne Avenues have you got in mind for them to drive on?

3. What do you do with the enormous number of vehicles for the 95% of the day that they are doing nothing?

4. Is this more than just a thought bubble?

13,000 sub $50k electric cars would only cost 650 million dollars, but they aren’t being funded by the ratepayer now are they? These would be privately purchased and paid for, giving money to our major lenders on the way. Where will the tram money come from? Everybody’s pockets in Canberra.

We still only need one Northbourne Avenue, because there is also a GDE and Majura Parkway for people to use to get beyond Civic. If they made the speed limit a bit faster, timed the lights better and made the left lane a “Bus Only” lane with more services, I’m sure the congestion problems will not be as bad as they are now.

What do you do with the empty trams that have to run every 6 minutes even when nobody is on them? Now that is a waste of energy, money and continues to add to congestion problems unnecessarily. The 13,000 electric cars will be quietly recharging for their trip home, to pick up the kids, to go shopping and whatever the owners want them to do with the additional benefit of the freedom to go anywhere the owner wants to, not just the confines of Gungahlin.

Mark Ellis’ thought bubble has infinitely more wisdom than the Labor/Green’s 19th century solution. While we are at it, we might as well bring back the horse and carriage, it’ll be just as fast as the tram, uses no electricity or fossil fuels and definitely will make Canberra different to every other major city in the world.

You are quite right regarding the efficiency of off peak lightly loaded trams, the efficiency is woeful unless the tram is full (of largely standing) passengers, lower than an i c car let alone an electric one. But the problem is congestion not efficiency.

History shows us that the electric tram was developed in the late 1800s not to solve a transport problem but to get ride of pollution back then. Around 1900 Melbourne had to get rid of 500T per DAY of manure, as well as the odd dead horse. They had transport, walking (hailed by many as a great health benefit) or on horseback, cart, or carriage. The tram was designed to get rid of manure & it did so very effectively until it in turn was superseded by faster & more effective transport modes (except in 2 out of 25 cities with trams back then). At least the pollution now does not stick to your boots!

Why are we promised a system that solved a problem 130 years ago that no longer exists? The Govt admits publicly that it did not investigate all the available transport options but chose trams essentially as a guess & as they also again openly admit “to drive redevelopment along Northbourne Av”.

Well said Arthur. Why are we getting a 130 yer old solution to a problem we no longer have & no consideration of the problem we do have?

Yeah what is it with those 207 year old internal combustions? Why are we still polluting like there’s no tomorrow? Frankly I blame the Education System, or at least those who slept through it!

Why are we also still burning coal, paying through the nose for cheaper, more abundant locally and more environmentally friendly alternatives such as natural gas? It is about money for the government. Without petrol guzzling cars on our roads, there will be less fuel excise. The government makes $27billion a year on fuel taxes, of which only 25% goes back into roads. The rest goes to general revenue. Until you can find an alternative revenue source, you cannot get rid of cars.
Unfortunately the government is now looking at taxing people with solar installations, to encourage them to disconnect from the grid and use battery storage. I cannot understand this mentality, whereby they are getting this energy from rooftops cheaply but want to discourage more of it. Driving cheap supply away is counterproductive, but it is all probably based on their requirement for a certain component of electricity needing to come from coal power to retain a minimum regular purchase of coal to keep the price cheap.
See, it is all about the dollar, not the environment. Ditching coal power will not become a reality until governments find a way to tax everything else to compensate.

miz 6:02 pm 17 Feb 16

Nilrem said :

rommeldog56 said :

Congestion……. ?????

The Gov’t own environmental impact statement stated that the tram will increase congestion because of the infill and densification along the route.

Now, on 2CC it has been announced that new traffic lights will be installed along the Tram route (including Northborne Ave) to give priority to the Tram. That’s going to further increase congestion, not reduce it.

And the congestion would be even worse in the future without the light rail, so what’s your point?

I disagree. It makes no difference to congestion per se if people are on the existing buses they take already, or on the future tram; we would save an enormous amount of PT money which could be used to improve bus services in other areas as well, which would save on congestion in those areasl; and we would NOT have the horrible congestion that is going to happen when half of Northbourne is getting ripped up.

Arthur Davies 3:21 pm 17 Feb 16

rubaiyat said :

Please can we stop the ludicrous claims of an ACT “narrow tax base”?

Unlike every other government in Australia, the ACT has an extremely broad range of income sources from rates, GST, Stamp Duty, service and parking charges, penalties and above all land sales in the only jurisdiction that owns and leases, NOT sells the land.

Also stop the totally unfounded claims of inevitable bankruptcy which is not shared by any sane person on this planet, nor any of the financial ratings companies which rate the ACT AAA. Those claims are frankly libellous, or would be if anyone outside a small knitting circle of OAPs in Tuggeranong believed them.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/standard-and-poors-retain-aaa-credit-rating-for-canberra-20150925-gjuyto.html

Most of the rise in debt is due to the Mr Fluffy buy back which is an arch example of the public liabilities resulting from environmental damage caused by frankly stupid private corporate and consumer behaviour.

The Queensland Government is facing similar environmental blackmail over the looming Townsville Nickel refinery tailings dam disaster.

http://www.afr.com/business/mining/clive-palmers-qld-nickel-cut-287m-set-aside-to-clean-up-toxic-sludge-20160118-gm8pt6

Qld Nickel has cut $287 million from its environmental obligations despite the estimated $1.4 billion cost to cleanup and somehow, no-one knows how, stop all the poisons in the dams flowing out into the Great Barrier Reef.

A typical bill delivered to the taxpayer after all the “Job Creating” hype has turned into a foul, abandoned, liability.

We are only beginning to get a taste of the astronomic liabilities we are facing for over two hundred years of burning fossil fuels and ongoing environmental damage. Still continuing because of the small minded ignorance and short term thinking of politicians and some members of the public who wrongly associate pollution with economic activity and prosperity.

This is a very common fallacy, not only does the ACT have a narrower tax base than the states, we have a huge tapeworm sucking up our resources & contributing next to nothing, the Federal Govt. It is assumed that the Commonwealth Grants Commission compensates us for all budgetary issues, but it does not.

We have funds going both ways, generally in our favour, for the interstate use of our schools & hospitals etc. The Feds make an “exgratia” payment for rates, but if you look at Parliament, Asio by the lake, & all the other Commonwealth properties they really do not add up. Even worse they pay no payroll tax, stamp duty, etc. The states don’t pay these either but the Feds are around 50% of our economic activity but only around 5 to 6% in the states (census & stats). So we are huge losers by comparison.

Until the Feds pay up & we get rid of our tapeworm we will always have too little money to run our economy properly. I find it very interesting that the Assembly politicians have never taken up this issue. I remember soon after we resoundingly voted against “Self Govt” but got it anyway, a reporter asked the then Grants Commissioner what he would do about the Feds not paying tax & the resulting disadvantage to the ACT. The answer was “this issue has been specifically precluded from my terms of reference”. Maybe some assembly members would like to enlighten us on what they are doing about it.

JC 2:58 pm 17 Feb 16

dungfungus said :

More evidence that Canberra should be getting catenary free trams.
Perhaps they are but they are saving the big announcement until just before the track-work starts so as to appease the voters.
http://www.railway-technology.com/news/newscentro-to-upgrade-midland-metro-trams-for-catenary-free-operation-4811078

Unless you go for an underground power solution, catenary free operation can only be done for small sections of tracks. For example through the centre of Birmingham City as per the article you have quoted. The trams still need to go on catenary at some point to recharge the batteries.

rommeldog56 1:24 pm 17 Feb 16

Nilrem said :

rommeldog56 said :

Congestion……. ?????

The Gov’t own environmental impact statement stated that the tram will increase congestion because of the infill and densification along the route.

Now, on 2CC it has been announced that new traffic lights will be installed along the Tram route (including Northborne Ave) to give priority to the Tram. That’s going to further increase congestion, not reduce it.

And the congestion would be even worse in the future without the light rail, so what’s your point?

It is really only “congested” on some main roads for 1 1/2 – 2 hrs per day in the mornings & afternoons Monday-Friday and on Saturday mornings. Its just “busy” on those roads during the rest of the daylight hours.

There is probably a time when a more efficient mass public transport system is needed – but its not now.

But then again, the Tram isn’t about public transport or reducing congestion – its about bringing forward development and revenue raising by the ACT labor/Greens Gov’t – dressed up as a congestion buster.

Rather than invest b$1 on Tram stage 1 at this point in time, the ACT Gov’t would be much better off using Ratepayers $ to expand / improve the already loss making ACTION bus network (until the Tram – or some other new technology solution like “pods”, driverless cars, etc, really is needed), improve the Hospital system here from being the worst in the country, by putting more psychologists into primary schools to help head off learning and social issues, by meeting the unfunded liability of ACT public servants, by investing in schemes to widen the employment/revenue raising base, by reducing & eliminating the ACTs budget deficit, hire some decent city planners, etc.

It can be argued that its never a good time to invest in loss making PPPs – but now certainly is not the time for the Tram.

JC 11:05 am 17 Feb 16

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

This is interesting:
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban/single-view/view/midland-metro-trams-to-be-converted-for-catenary-free-operation.html
These trams are similar to the ones Canberra is to get so are we getting the new battery ones or the ones with the old super-capictor technology?
Note the batteries have to be replaced every seven years and the cost is not quoted.
This will probably mean no heating or cooling for passengers when they are running on batteries only.

dungfungus said :

This is interesting:
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban/single-view/view/midland-metro-trams-to-be-converted-for-catenary-free-operation.html
These trams are similar to the ones Canberra is to get so are we getting the new battery ones or the ones with the old super-capictor technology?
Note the batteries have to be replaced every seven years and the cost is not quoted.
This will probably mean no heating or cooling for passengers when they are running on batteries only.

If you took the time the read and comprehend the article you will see that Midland Metro said “catenary-free operation had been envisaged when the CAF trams were ordered in 2012, and the contract included provision for retrofitting. ” and that “four more trams have been ordered which will be supplied with batteries already fitted”

So in other words they thought ahead, ordered a tram that could be retrofitted with batteries and are now buying more already fitted with batteries.

So good result. As for Canberra the tram can be retrofitted with batteries, so if the Russell extension gets the nod it is trivial to retrofit, as is the case for Midland Metro.

And PS you still get a/c when running on batteries.

Canberra Metro is doing it also then?
When are you making the announcement?
Get me proof that the batteries will support heating and cooling please.

The CAF Urbos 3 is an off the shelf modular design, like all light rail vehicles these days, well except the Melbourne E class but Melbourne is happy to pay double so they can say designed and built in Melbourne. That means any option can be added later on if you so like. Modular designs allows operator flexibility and helps keep costs down.

As for a/c and heating, how about you prove it won’t run off batteries? Seriously if the tram is designed to run off wire it is designed to run with all systems active including climate control systems.

JC 11:02 am 17 Feb 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

This is what happens when governments “plan for the future”.
http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/02/15/19/31/ghost-trains-operating-on-sydney-south-west-rail-link
Wow! Only 1655 passengers on a “busy” day from 132 services!
And the population density in that area of South Western Sydney is very high.
Also, trains are virtually empty at the weekend. The NSW government will have to wait until the next ice age to see it start to get near use projections.
A total waste of over $2 billion. Thank goodness our Government knows what they are doing.

Can I suggest that you bring up a google earth image of the area and see where the stations are located.

It kind of debunks you theory that the area has high population density. Rabbits and roo’s maybe. It is a line that has been built very much with the future in mind, which is quite refreshing actually. Because the area WILL be home to many many people over the next 10 years. Compare that to say the Hills district which is only now getting a rail line and even then a half baked one.

The link below will help you find the line and the stations.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-33.9575382,150.8449626,14z/data=!3m1!1e3

The problem will be how to keep the thing either viable or running until that 10 years is up. How will it be subsidized until it starts to make sense? Forward planning is a great idea but throwing money at a problem that doesn’t exist yet without the revenue to keep it afloat is poor planning. The project will get mothballed and/or the government go into liquidation before there is need for it.

Firstly in Canberra the problem already exists in Canberra.

But as for waiting wait too long and the costs will increase which offsets any running costs by building early. Also let us not forget we are creatures of habit, so best to have transport option in first to establish those habits rather than get people use to car only commuting.

rubaiyat 9:33 am 17 Feb 16

rommeldog56 said :

Congestion……. ?????

The Gov’t own environmental impact statement stated that the tram will increase congestion because of the infill and densification along the route.

Now, on 2CC it has been announced that new traffic lights will be installed along the Tram route (including Northborne Ave) to give priority to the Tram. That’s going to further increase congestion, not reduce it.

And Infrastructure Australia today just has discovered that there will be congestion from unsupportable increases in traffic.

See today’s Canberra Times. Now that Abbott is gone the muzzle is off.

rubaiyat 9:29 am 17 Feb 16

ungruntled said :

Arthur Davies said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

rubaiyat said :

A few questions from the floor:

1. What will 13,000 Prius or Teslas cost?

2. How many Northbourne Avenues have you got in mind for them to drive on?

3. What do you do with the enormous number of vehicles for the 95% of the day that they are doing nothing?

4. Is this more than just a thought bubble?

13,000 sub $50k electric cars would only cost 650 million dollars, but they aren’t being funded by the ratepayer now are they? These would be privately purchased and paid for, giving money to our major lenders on the way. Where will the tram money come from? Everybody’s pockets in Canberra.

We still only need one Northbourne Avenue, because there is also a GDE and Majura Parkway for people to use to get beyond Civic. If they made the speed limit a bit faster, timed the lights better and made the left lane a “Bus Only” lane with more services, I’m sure the congestion problems will not be as bad as they are now.

What do you do with the empty trams that have to run every 6 minutes even when nobody is on them? Now that is a waste of energy, money and continues to add to congestion problems unnecessarily. The 13,000 electric cars will be quietly recharging for their trip home, to pick up the kids, to go shopping and whatever the owners want them to do with the additional benefit of the freedom to go anywhere the owner wants to, not just the confines of Gungahlin.

Mark Ellis’ thought bubble has infinitely more wisdom than the Labor/Green’s 19th century solution. While we are at it, we might as well bring back the horse and carriage, it’ll be just as fast as the tram, uses no electricity or fossil fuels and definitely will make Canberra different to every other major city in the world.

You are quite right regarding the efficiency of off peak lightly loaded trams, the efficiency is woeful unless the tram is full (of largely standing) passengers, lower than an i c car let alone an electric one. But the problem is congestion not efficiency.

History shows us that the electric tram was developed in the late 1800s not to solve a transport problem but to get ride of pollution back then. Around 1900 Melbourne had to get rid of 500T per DAY of manure, as well as the odd dead horse. They had transport, walking (hailed by many as a great health benefit) or on horseback, cart, or carriage. The tram was designed to get rid of manure & it did so very effectively until it in turn was superseded by faster & more effective transport modes (except in 2 out of 25 cities with trams back then). At least the pollution now does not stick to your boots!

Why are we promised a system that solved a problem 130 years ago that no longer exists? The Govt admits publicly that it did not investigate all the available transport options but chose trams essentially as a guess & as they also again openly admit “to drive redevelopment along Northbourne Av”.

Well said Arthur. Why are we getting a 130 yer old solution to a problem we no longer have & no consideration of the problem we do have?

Yeah what is it with those 207 year old internal combustions? Why are we still polluting like there’s no tomorrow? Frankly I blame the Education System, or at least those who slept through it!

dungfungus 9:12 am 17 Feb 16

Nilrem said :

rommeldog56 said :

Congestion……. ?????

The Gov’t own environmental impact statement stated that the tram will increase congestion because of the infill and densification along the route.

Now, on 2CC it has been announced that new traffic lights will be installed along the Tram route (including Northborne Ave) to give priority to the Tram. That’s going to further increase congestion, not reduce it.

And the congestion would be even worse in the future without the light rail, so what’s your point?

There is no congestion now, that is the point.

Nilrem 8:27 am 17 Feb 16

rommeldog56 said :

Congestion……. ?????

The Gov’t own environmental impact statement stated that the tram will increase congestion because of the infill and densification along the route.

Now, on 2CC it has been announced that new traffic lights will be installed along the Tram route (including Northborne Ave) to give priority to the Tram. That’s going to further increase congestion, not reduce it.

And the congestion would be even worse in the future without the light rail, so what’s your point?

8

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