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Fresh meat for the light rail nerds

By johnboy 9 April 2009 70

Chief Minister John Stanhope has announced that he’s releasing the PricewaterhouseCoopers produced business case for light rail in the ACT.

Apparently the findings included:

    — Light rail could potentially decrease Canberra’s traffic congestion and commuting time and as a result reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution;
    — The project would cost approximately $2 billion; and
    — The project has a benefit-to-cost ratio of 1.62.

Enthusiasts can check out the whole thing on the TAMS website.


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Fresh meat for the light rail nerds
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Pandy 8:48 am 20 Apr 09

As the PWC report says:

“Infrastructure investment for the development of a bus rapid transit system,
with exclusive right of way arrangements for buses, is considered a viable
alternative given the lower capital expenditure costs than light rail.
Consequently, bus rapid transit would warrant a comparative cost benefit
analysis study with light rail to determine the most effective use of economic
resources. Due to the time constraints on this project, such a comparison has
not been included in this analysis.”

However, while ACT light rail has repeatedly called for a cost benefit analysis for light rail, they don’t want one for bus rapid transit.

Light rail route #1 to Belconnen has been already planned for.

At PM:
Is that a government bridge bound to blow out in price or a ACTLightrail one that is way under costed? 😉

damien haas 3:54 pm 18 Apr 09

VYB – I want better public transport in the ACT and capital region. As the PWC report shows, buses are not meeting that need and costing the economy.

The reason that buses alone will not satisfy ACT public transport requirements, is that buses are being directed to a task they are not best suited to meet once certain capacity/distance figures are exceeded. The solution is to use a mass transit backbone to link the major population and employment centres in the ACT (and QBN) and retask buses to deliver passengers to hubs.

This uses lightrail capacity and speed to move higher volumes of passengers from one part of canberra to another, and then the bus takes you to your part of the town (or you walk, ride or collect your car from the park and ride).

Sadly, the CM thinks that the light rail business case is an indication he needs to spend more on buses. Im not sure exactly what that means, but im cynical. By all means spend more money on buses, but begin planning how to implement light rail route no 1.

Buses and light rail will deliver integrated public transport. buses alone will leave the ACT in exactly the same situation it is in today.

PM 12:16 pm 17 Apr 09

Pandy said :

#41 does not answer why ACTlight rail likes to use a lower cost figure from the PWC report to indicate capital costs while everyone else use 2 billion. Plus the CBA seems rubbery.

Bridge. Build one.

Pandy 6:28 pm 16 Apr 09

#41 does not answer why ACTlight rail likes to use a lower cost figure from the PWC report to indicate capital costs while everyone else use 2 billion. Plus the CBA seems rubbery.

Damien – is it that you want better ACT transport, or light rail in particular? Any particular reason?

damien haas 3:15 pm 16 Apr 09

Many components (maps, costings, other figures) of the PWC report come straight from the 2004 KBR report. I was wondering why the airport/BBP and Molonglo were not included, and this appears to be the reason.

I am preparing a long form response to the PWC business case, but briefly, i’m pleased that the report has been released. It supports the case for light rail and integrated transport in the ACT.

PM 1:15 pm 16 Apr 09

Pandy said :

At PM. The PWC report specifically indicates that time was short and the CBA for bus transit like the O-Bahn was not done. This should be done before money is handed over.

Pity Molonglo was not included in the network.

I would have studied all the options years ago. Speak to the government if you’re that interested, or get involved some other way. I’d have thought it would be nice for those future residents of Molonglo to have somewhere to go on their light rail 🙂 But, yes, I take the point that the govt should have directed the consultants to look at the proposed development of Molonglo. Too much work of the bureaucracy is short-term and piecemeal.

As for your quotes re cost, please look at comment #41.

If someone has a crummy wood heater, and you want them to have instant gas, you don’t keep on improving and improving the wood heater til it is nearly as good as the gas, and then give them the gas heater.

Lets continue with idea a bit. The reality is that the wood heater does the job ok, but you could see some improvements. Would you personally be willing to spend several thousand dollars our of your own pocket to buy the new gas heater, knowing it would be only a little more effective, and you would still have to keep the wood heater going anyway?

It’s easy when you don’t think about it as your money. People also forget about the opportunity cost – what else could the money be spent on to benefit us? (Education, health, etc)

Digga 8:05 am 16 Apr 09

Ah yes, another $2bn project – this time to reduce greenhouse gases, to off-set the bucket-load of emissions to come from that other “$2bn” project the gas-fired power station & data centre.

Good to see they’re aiming to get back to square-1.

For the obvious responses that will result in cries of NIMBY – wake up and smell the coffee. Greenhouse gases = backyard, city, territory, country and world-wide.

Pandy 11:47 pm 15 Apr 09

At PM. The PWC report specifically indicates that time was short and the CBA for bus transit like the O-Bahn was not done. This should be done before money is handed over.

The total capital cost of just over 2 billion has been ignored by ACT Light Rail and they like to use the figure of 1.65 billion from the PWC report (9/4/2009). But then they confuse me and state that their estimate is 1.7 billion (CT 11/4/2009)to build the network. I wish they could substantiate this. Still it is a big back down for them and a sign of enconomic sanity when only on 9/7/2008 Damian Haas spokeperson for ACT Light Rail was quoted as saying “he
believes the $1 billion price tag is exaggerated” to build the network.

Pity Molonglo was not included in the network.

PM 9:25 pm 15 Apr 09

#50
“Isn’t a tram basically a bus that is limited to super-expensive tracks? Wouldn’t it be better to have more busses, going more places more often? Wouldn’t that be a more flexible system with less embodied energy/cost?”

It’s not like that. Light rail is far more able to handle heavy loads of passengers; that’s why there’s no proposal for carriages to go down every street like Melbourne and why the proposal is for between the town centres.

In fact, light rail between town centres would free up buses to be more flexible within their regions. At the moment, the juggling of buses between northside and southside etc is tremendous – there are empty routes or out-of-service buses going from one place to another because the interchange timetables and the suburban crawl aren’t separated, and clearly during the week if you move a bus to one side of canberra it needs to get back to where it started in preparation for the next day.

The next point is a bit pie in the sky but, who knows as there’ve been experiments with it – in the future there may not need to be a proper timetable around the suburbs per se at all times of the day, as the bus might be able to act like a Club Members’Mini-Bus when appropriate eg off-peak. That means the bus service could reach potentially everyone at certain times of the day whereas there’s no way that could happen now.

But that aside, and back to reality, when it comes to routes, residents and businesses have much greater certainty over access to light rail than buses. Some think that’s a small thing. I don’t.

Cities around the world, comparable to Canberra in size in both geography and population, have light rail. There are always nay-sayers. Why don’t they get over the fact that finally some economists have supported this? These economists were employed by, quite obviously, a government which is anti-light rail. Think about that.

Nobody is stopping the existence of the car or the bus. In fact, the car or bus experience would be improved! Sure, details need to be worked out with any project – I mean, look at the GDE. But what’s the alternative? Undertake no more projects ever?! With the mentality of some I suspect they’d be happier being Amish.

Chop71 11:58 pm 14 Apr 09

Less cars on the road ……… who is going to keep up the dusk and dawn roo cull on William Hovell if we take the cars off the road.

What a top idea. We should be thinking more about this…

dvaey 11:48 pm 12 Apr 09

nota, thats the coolest thing ive seen all year.

nota 10:24 pm 12 Apr 09

dvaey said :

That O-Bahn looks like a brilliant idea, …

Yes, a cost effective mass-transit solution offering ‘your local street’ passenger pickup/delivery!

It appears far superior to what myopic light rail ‘visionaries’ keep proposing, and may well suit our city.

Apologies for not finding it earlier but here is a very informative SA-govt promotional video, aimed towards other governments, which explains and details all aspects of the O-Bahn system. It’s available to view on youtube and comprised of three short videos (with ongoing ‘Related Videos’ links to part2 and part3 presented at right-of -screen).

Well worth the time to look imho, and easily found by googling these keywords below:

youtube The Adelaide 0-Bahn Part1

youtube The Adelaide 0-Bahn Part2

youtube The Adelaide 0-Bahn Part3

TP 3000 8:58 pm 12 Apr 09

dvaey said :

On a semi related note, I noticed the busway in Belconnen has been closed and barricaded off, anyone know the story?

Belconnen Town Centre is being done up, all the information can be found at http://www.actpla.act.gov.au/topics/significant_projects/infrastructure_works/belconnen_town_centre. To answer your question in short, Westfield Belconnen is being extended over the busway & all buses will use 3 bus stations along Cohen Street at Belconnen Bus Depot, Westfield & the current bus station which will be renamed Australian Beau of Statistics Bus Station. So this means that the busway will no longer be of any use. The busway has been closed since the February 2009 timetable changes.

dvaey 8:03 pm 12 Apr 09

That O-Bahn looks like a brilliant idea, it makes one wonder why such a system isnt built for traffic other than buses though. They seem to go to great lengths to ensure no other traffic uses their accident-proof shortcuts through the city. Maybe they could get rid of the new bike lanes they painted down since no-one uses them and convert them into guided bus lanes, along arterial routes anyway.

On a semi related note, I noticed the busway in Belconnen has been closed and barricaded off, anyone know the story?

sepi 8:01 pm 12 Apr 09

Light rail is slightly different to trams.

One benefit is that if the route is busy, another carriage can be attached to the first, doubling passenger capacity, but still only needing one driver.

Other benefits over buses include that the light rail can’t get stuck in traffic, and the routes are fixed so everyone knows where the light rail will go, enabling people to catch it infrequently without working out a new timetable system each time. People can also choose to live near light rail hubs, without fear they will be abolished (aka my local bus).

nota 2:02 pm 12 Apr 09

ricketyclik said :

I’m not anti-light rail BUT…

Isn’t a tram basically a bus that is limited to super-expensive tracks? Wouldn’t it be better to have more busses, going more places more often? Wouldn’t that be a more flexible system with less embodied energy/cost?

Agreed, and your observances are ‘on the money’ imo.

Speaking of applicational flexibilty, I wonder if Adelaide’s O-Bahn system could be of benefit here in Canberra?

http://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/guides/obahn.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAsjgE2-stg

As an aside, any cyclist who grew up in Melbourne will remember the perils posed by slick metal tram tracks (crashing out in the rain or getting your wheels stuck within, etc) and to motorists too.

ricci 11:02 am 12 Apr 09

I am surprised that Rioter Jonathon Reynolds hasn’t put his oar into this thread. Perhaps getting his photo in the paper has gone to his head.

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