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Gain worth the pain as light rail construction ramps up

By Charlotte Harper - 14 March 2017 77

Gold Coast light rail rushes past. Photo: Charlotte Harper

This year, Canberrans who live and commute along what will be the light rail route between Civic and Gungahlin are the have nots and the rest of us the haves, but once construction is completed, those roles will be reversed for good.

Residents and workers in the Inner North and Gungahlin will be affected all year by works associated with the mammoth construction project, from lane closures on Flemington Road to changes to traffic flow in the Gungahlin Town Centre and cycleway and bus diversions (see the latest update on changes below).

The rest of us will feel smug as we cruise through our daily commutes, but it won’t last. Come 2018, when the light rail comes online, all the upheaval will be forgotten, as those who live on or near the route become the haves to us have nots.

Gold Coast light rail rushes in. Photo: Charlotte Harper

They’ll be wandering down to their nearest light rail stop, tapping on and sitting down to read a book or listen to a podcast while they enjoy a smooth ride on state of the art public transport to their destination.

Gold Coast light rail passenger with backpack. Photo: Charlotte Harper

The rest of us will be sitting in traffic or at a bus stop wondering whether we’ve missed our bus and will have to wait another 25 minutes for the next one, while the light rail commuters will have certainty and stress free travel.

Gold Coast light rail on approach. Photo: Charlotte Harper

Similarly, those of us who are whinging now about the loss of trees and the fact that tourists arriving via Northbourne are greeted by the city’s lengthiest construction site will in time appreciate the fact that our primary gateway will feature our most modern and high tech public infrastructure at its heart. Contemporary landscaping and the renewal of fading urban developments along the route will add to the buzz after decades of living with a tired-looking entrance to the city.

Gold Coast light rail stop. Photo: Charlotte Harper

You may not agree now, but I reckon in a couple of years, you’ll have forgotten all the inconvenience and construction mess and either moved to the light rail catchment or be kicking yourself for locking yourself in elsewhere.

Canberrans will be scrambling to move to or invest in a suburb along the route as the project nears completion – or looking ahead to the Woden link and considering apartments there or houses in suburbs like Curtin, Deakin or Yarralumla. Property prices have already risen in these areas, but will boom as the infrastructure becomes a reality.

Not convinced? Try commuting from the suburbs to the city in Sydney during peak hour. There’s a reason everyone tries to live on a train, ferry or light rail line in the harbour city. Cars are a passport to hell. If you can live without one, you will.

Gold Coast light rail – updates. Photo: Charlotte Harper

Or spend an afternoon on the light rail at the Gold Coast. We visited a few months back and were amazed at the impact this project has had on the concrete jungle that is Surfers Paradise. The tram stops are bright and modern, transforming the precinct from its 1970s origins and providing a seamless link between it and the neighbouring towns. We travelled from end to end just because we could. The kids loved it. I loved it. As you can see from the images illustrating this article, I took more photos of the tramlines and trams than we did of the dolphins and penguins at Seaworld.

The Gold Coast tram has been even more successful than its planners had hoped, with more than 14 million people riding “the G” in its first two years to mid-2016, for an average of more than 20,000 trips per day.

Gold Coast light rail stop. Photo: Charlotte Harper

The tram is going to transform this town, helping it along on its journey from bush capital to world city.

We can bear the pain for the gain. Yes we can, Canberra.

Gold Coast light rail – tapping on. Photo: Charlotte Harper

FLEMINGTON ROAD CHANGES

Long-term lane closures on Flemington Road, primarily around Mitchell, between the Federal Highway and Wells Station Drive, commence March 17 and will continue till December to allow the widening of the road to accommodate the new light rail alignment. Signed detours will be in place but if motorists can, they should consider taking alternate routes in and out of Gungahlin (see below).

• Just north of Sandford Street to south of Well Station Drive, contraflow arrangement will be implemented where both southbound and northbound traffic will be realigned on the section of road currently used for two lanes of southbound traffic only. Traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction.
• Randwick Road to Sandford Street – Northbound traffic reduced to one lane.
• Federal Highway to north of Sandford Street – The southbound bus lane will be closed with buses directed onto the remaining single southbound traffic lane.
• Access to Lysaght intersection will also be closed due to the contraflow arrangement and signed detours will be in place to redirect traffic.
• Access to the businesses on Flemington Road via the slip road between Sandford Street and Lysaght Street will remain open.

SUGGESTED DIVERSION FOR MOTORISTS

• From City to Gungahlin via Barton Highway and Gungahlin Drive
• From City to Gungahlin via Barton Highway, Gundaroo Drive and/or Gungahlin Drive
• From Federal Highway to Gungahlin via Horse Park Drive and Anthony Rolfe Avenue

GUNGAHLIN TOWN CENTRE CHANGES

Hibberson Street in the Gungahlin Town Centre will be closing to vehicular traffic from April 10 between Kate Crace Street and Gungahlin Place, with bus services diverted outside of Hibberson Street.

Construction of the new bus interchange for Gungahlin will begin in April and is expected to be completed in December.

BUS CHANGES

#The following stops will be closed during this work:
• Stops 4927 and 4928 on Flemington Road near Randwick Road

Bus stops will remain open at both Exhibition Park and Mitchell. These stops are:
• 4751: Flemington Rd Exhibition Park
• 4752: Flemington Rd opp Exhibition Park
• 6036: Flemington Rd after Sandford St
• 6037: Flemington Rd after Lysaght St

Flemington Road will remain the major bus corridor for the duration of these works.

CYCLEWAY CHANGES

Cyclists should note that the southbound shared path adjacent to EPIC will be closed.

The following lanes will be made available for cyclists:
• Both northbound and southbound on-road cycle lanes between Federal Highway and Sandford Street.
• Off-road cycle path between Sandford Street and Well Station Drive, adjacent to Flemington Road southbound lane.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit www.transport.act.gov.au for more detail on the changes and to see maps.
For up-to-date information on road closures please call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or visit www.tccs.act.gov.au
Canberrans can also subscribe to a weekly construction update by visiting the Transport Canberra website.

Do you think we'll all forget the inconvenience of the construction stage once the light rail comes online?

View Results

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Gold Coast light rail tracks. Photo: Charlotte Harper

Pictured above are various views of the Gold Coast light rail. Photos: Charlotte Harper

What’s Your opinion?


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77 Responses to
Gain worth the pain as light rail construction ramps up
1
Paul Costigan 12:46 pm
14 Mar 17
#

agree – it will be good one day soon and even better when the rest of the network gets going. I am at the wrong end of Dickson to have easy access but still think it will be great. When in Sydney or Melbourne my Opal and my MyKi cards get used often. Have a couple of cards for other places overseas – it is the way to go!

I really hope that they get the landscape design and architecture right – golden opportunity has presented itself for Canberra to do good design (not the usual crap) – I have my fingers crossed.

2
Serina Huang 2:06 pm
14 Mar 17
#

Having just moved around the corner from a light rail terminal, I am super looking forward to it being up and running. I think it is going to really transform the inner North corridor and help make Gunghalin even more livable.

3
wildturkeycanoe 2:48 pm
14 Mar 17
#

“The rest of us will feel smug as we cruise through our daily commutes”
Yeah, sorry but no we won’t. Now that diversions are in place, more people will be filling the other routes into Civic from Gungahlin, so the Barton Highway, Ginninderra Drive, MacArthur Avenue and Belconnen Way/Barry Drive will be busier than ever. You haven’t mentioned the carnage the roadworks are causing to traffic crossing Northbourne Avenue, which is backing up in to the suburbs. Nobody has it easy now.

“at a bus stop wondering whether we’ve missed our bus and will have to wait another 25 minutes for the next one”. Has this not already been remedied by the dollars spent on Myway and Nxtbus, which not only tells you if you’ve missed the bus but when the next one is coming? Has not the government said that more buses will be available to service other areas of Canberra once the tram is running, meaning all Canberran’s benefit with extra frequency of services? As per the ACT light rail website – “The start of light rail service in late 2018 will free up over one million bus kilometres that can be allocated across the ACTION Bus network. It is the equivalent of buying a new fleet of buses and extra drivers.”. Or has the government already back-flipped on these promises?

“Not convinced? Try commuting from the suburbs to the city in Sydney during peak hour. There’s a reason everyone tries to live on a train, ferry or light rail line in the harbour city. Cars are a passport to hell.”
Well Canberra doesn’t have a harbour, nor anywhere near the population of Sydney. In Canberra cars are almost a necessity, thanks to the point you just made about the wait times for public transport. In Sydney a commute by public transport might only take you twenty minutes where a car could be an hour or more. In Canberra it is the other way around and cars are much faster than the meandering bus networks.

I don’t see why we still need to be convinced of the benefits of the tram when it is already a foregone conclusion. If you think that advertising is needed to drum up support and patronage, then the scheme’s feasibility study had some serious flaws.

4
Skyring 3:01 pm
14 Mar 17
#

What a load of claptrap. The Gold Coast is a long skinny city with skyscrapers. Everything worth traveling to is within a couple of hundred metres of the water’s edge.

Canberra, not so much.

You can take the estimates for cost, construction time and inconvenience, and double them. Based on previous projects.

And you know what? The tram is last century’s transport system. Less flexible and more expensive than buses, it demands a mode change for anyone who doesn’t live and work within a few hundred metres.

Self-driving electric cars are coming. In fact they are here already. What’s coming are the systems of regulation and control.

Assuming that total cost of ownership of a robot car is about the same as a large family sedan – $250 a week – you can run one of them as an Uber 24/7 charging a dollar a ride and with two rides an hour – standard for an Uber – you’ll make 50% profit.

With low cost door-to-door transport a tap on the phone away, what idiot is going to hike several hundred metres in the cold or the sun to pay ten bucks for a tram ride with another hike at the far end?

5
HiddenDragon 3:49 pm
14 Mar 17
#

“Canberrans will be scrambling to move to or invest in a suburb along the route as the project nears completion…..” – and the value capture taxes are introduced.

6
Holden Caulfield 4:01 pm
14 Mar 17
#

Even if we forget the inconvenience, it’s unlikely we will forget the cost and inevitable budget blowouts.

7
agw 4:17 pm
14 Mar 17
#

That poll asks us to vote for a false dichotomy. In time, people will forget the pain, as long as the running of the tram is smooth, as long as it is well funded, advertised, and utilised. Another reader commented on the differences between Canberra and the Gold Coast, and I agree, but my experience is from Adelaide, where the tram is awesome. Im looking forward to new links with Belconnen, Kingston, and Woden in the future.

8
KentFitch 9:05 pm
14 Mar 17
#

Capital Metro’s own modelling shows that the tram will increase congestion: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/faq.html#eisapend . The two main reasons are 1) road capacity is reduced by tram priority at signals, including for traffic travelling across the route 2) increased population due to increased density along the route encouraged by the ACT Government.

Unfortunately, neither spending on roads nor public transport reduces congestion in cities such as Canberra [ “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities” http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/aer.101.6.2616 ]

And only in people’s imagination does increasing density make more than a very marginal change in reducing private-vehicle-km-driven in cities such as Canberra
[ “Urban form and driving: Evidence from US cities” http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Economics/Faculty/Matthew_Turner/papers/unpublished/Duranton_Turner_unp2016.pdf ] .

Bizarrely, the tram in 2019 will carry fewer passengers than current AM peak buses from Gungahlin to Civic do now, and less than half the number of seated passengers.

And for some “before-and-after” daylight shots of how the tram transformed Gold Coast street scape, have at look at Google Street View images compared here: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/GCLR.html

What would work now is congestion charging. What will work in 2021 when Ford, GM, Nissan, BMW and others have promised to have shared fleets of autonomous vehicles on the road is the efficient use of the existing roads by vehicle sharing (2 to 4 people per car in peak periods) providing door-to-door, 24×7 on demand and universal mobility as a service at less than half the price-per-km of a private car: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/

9
JC 10:51 pm
14 Mar 17
#

It’s the same old same old all over again. Everytime there is a light rail article.

Decision has been made construction started, give it a rest.

10
bryansworld 3:39 am
15 Mar 17
#

KentFitch said :

Capital Metro’s own modelling shows that the tram will increase congestion: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/faq.html#eisapend . The two main reasons are 1) road capacity is reduced by tram priority at signals, including for traffic travelling across the route 2) increased population due to increased density along the route encouraged by the ACT Government.

Unfortunately, neither spending on roads nor public transport reduces congestion in cities such as Canberra [ “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities” http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/aer.101.6.2616 ]

And only in people’s imagination does increasing density make more than a very marginal change in reducing private-vehicle-km-driven in cities such as Canberra
[ “Urban form and driving: Evidence from US cities” http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Economics/Faculty/Matthew_Turner/papers/unpublished/Duranton_Turner_unp2016.pdf ] .

Bizarrely, the tram in 2019 will carry fewer passengers than current AM peak buses from Gungahlin to Civic do now, and less than half the number of seated passengers.

And for some “before-and-after” daylight shots of how the tram transformed Gold Coast street scape, have at look at Google Street View images compared here: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/GCLR.html

What would work now is congestion charging. What will work in 2021 when Ford, GM, Nissan, BMW and others have promised to have shared fleets of autonomous vehicles on the road is the efficient use of the existing roads by vehicle sharing (2 to 4 people per car in peak periods) providing door-to-door, 24×7 on demand and universal mobility as a service at less than half the price-per-km of a private car: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/

Autonomous cars don’t cause congestion? Truly amazing technology. You are simply delaying the inevitable. As Canberra gets bigger and population density increases, mass transit systems will come into their own. You can have all traffic jams you like in your autonomous car.

11
Skyring 6:06 am
15 Mar 17
#

KentFitch, those before and after images of the Gold Coast remind me of Joni Mitchell’s song. Here they literally paved Surfers Paradise. Didn’t bother about saving the trees for no museum, though. Just cut them down and threw ’em away..

When did the Greens quit being green? The same thing is happening to Canberra: remove the green and open areas, add poles and concrete. That’s their flagship program.

The case for the tram never stacked up. Canberra’s not that sort of city. It’s not long and skinny like the Gold Coast – even if you like the loss of trees and grass – and it’s not Melbourne. Trying to retrofit Northbourne Avenue to make it like Melbourne or the Gold Coast is not going to work, not unless you think a canyon of high-rise looking down on poles and cement is a step in either direction.

This stupid tram is Trumpism. “I’m going to build a tram, and make the people pay for it.” Like Trump, those who voted for this thing are going to be the ones worst off – the Greens would rather we ditch the family car, replace the freedom and convenience with a trip along an arid cityscape to a set of destinations crowded with others equally constrained, where we consume as much as our reduced disposable incomes will allow.

And, like Trump, there’s no getting off this roller-coaster.

12
chewy14 10:14 am
15 Mar 17
#

Is this article supposed to be a big “stuff you” to the majority of the ACT paying for the light rail who will never be beneficiaries of it?

I’m so glad that people who live along the route will be given tax payer subsidised gifts of hundreds of thousands of dollars to their land value.

13
The_Other_Hendo 10:17 am
15 Mar 17
#

I’ll miss the trees – was sad to see the progress of them being cut down when I was in Canberra in January.

But I understand they were never part of the original plans for Canberra.

The light rail will be absolutely fantastic and I only wish I could have it in my town which is a regional one and has nowhere near the funding to do such things. I watched it happen on the Gold Coast over the last couple of years and it’s been fantastic for the area – we need to bring it back all over Australia in city and town areas.

14
rommeldog56 1:07 pm
15 Mar 17
#

chewy14 said :

Is this article supposed to be a big “stuff you” to the majority of the ACT paying for the light rail who will never be beneficiaries of it?

Reads like it, doesn’t it. Though its an “opinion” piece, it could have just as easily been a press release from the ACT Labor/Greens Govt !

15
crackerpants 1:33 pm
15 Mar 17
#

chewy14 said :

Is this article supposed to be a big “stuff you” to the majority of the ACT paying for the light rail who will never be beneficiaries of it?

I’m so glad that people who live along the route will be given tax payer subsidised gifts of hundreds of thousands of dollars to their land value.

That’s how I read it. Just as she also recently flipped the bird to “whining” ex-ressies of Bruce Hall in a similar puff piece.

The_Other_Hendo said :

I’ll miss the trees – was sad to see the progress of them being cut down when I was in Canberra in January.

But I understand they were never part of the original plans for Canberra.

The light rail will be absolutely fantastic and I only wish I could have it in my town which is a regional one and has nowhere near the funding to do such things. I watched it happen on the Gold Coast over the last couple of years and it’s been fantastic for the area – we need to bring it back all over Australia in city and town areas.

Don’t be too despondent, Canberra has nowhere near the funding either, but look at us go!!

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