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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.

What’s Your opinion?


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Fresh meat for the light rail nerds
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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.

ricketyclik 7:45 am 11 Apr 09

#46 posted by sepi

sepi said :

And the argument that we need to improve on the cr$p bus system we have now, to encourage people to use public transport, before we offer them a better system in light rail – it doesn’t make sense to me.

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.

You just give them the new improved thing, and that of itself convinces people to use it.

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?

deye 3:12 am 11 Apr 09

Improve the buses while building the light rail system, then integrate them so that the nearest rail station is either a short walk or short bus trip away (ie less than 15 minutes on the bus). Have only major stops on the rail network so trip times are short.

Gungahlin Al 9:39 pm 10 Apr 09

What Sepi said.

Gungahlin Al 9:38 pm 10 Apr 09

imhotep said :

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

(VY)”The problem is that there isn’t enough people who would use it to justify the expenditure, when there are more needy projects elsewhere. Canberra just isn’t that big.”

Yes, we aren’t that big, but if the claim above -that we’re prepared to spend $183m for 9 km of the GDE (say it ain’t so!) – then light rail begins to look pretty cheap. Maybe the problem is that building bigger roads is simply the safest option politically, not necessarily the cheapest in the long run.

And that seems to be the approach being touted by Zed, according to the journo called me today – build more roads.

It is a blinkered, short-sighted approach. Roads are the insatiable beast. As long as you keep building roads, you will always keep building roads, and the costs (as you’ve pointed out) are as high or higher than better options. EG: $240M for Majura Parkway coming up soon.

We clearly need some more elected representatives with vision.

sepi 9:34 pm 10 Apr 09

And the argument that we need to improve on the cr$p bus system we have now, to encourage people to use public transport, before we offer them a better system in light rail – it doesn’t make sense to me.

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.

You just give them the new improved thing, and that of itself convinces people to use it.

imhotep 9:28 pm 10 Apr 09

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

(VY)”The problem is that there isn’t enough people who would use it to justify the expenditure, when there are more needy projects elsewhere. Canberra just isn’t that big.”

Yes, we aren’t that big, but if the claim above -that we’re prepared to spend $183m for 9 km of the GDE (say it ain’t so!) – then light rail begins to look pretty cheap. Maybe the problem is that building bigger roads is simply the safest option politically, not necessarily the cheapest in the long run.

The problem is that there isn’t enough people who would use it to justify the expenditure, when there are more needy projects elsewhere. Canberra just isn’t that big.

There’s also the same problem as we have with buses, in that if you don’t live right next to an interchange, or on an interchange route, it takes so long to get anywhere that for most full time it just isn’t viable. There’s also the issue that it often doesn’t go where people need to be.

Ramp up the buses and get people used to decent public transport first, then think about the transport medium.

sepi 8:45 pm 10 Apr 09

Al, I’m sorry to say I think light rail will never happen. Even tho it clearly should.

For about 2 decades people talked as if the Very Fast Train to Sydney was about to happen any day now, and nothing ever happened at all.

These large projects just don’t get off the ground in Canberra – noone wants to make these kind of big decisions.

farnarkler 8:14 pm 10 Apr 09

PriceWaterhouseCoopers must have thought it was christmas when they won the tender or however it was they got to do the business case. Charge a fortune for something that won’t see the light of day.

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