12 December 2023

Government can't be complacent as Liberals pile on board for another light rail election

| Ian Bushnell
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Will light rail continue to be rolled out after the election? It may depend on what the Canberra Liberals are offering. Photo: Region.

The future of public transport in a city where the car is still king looks like being the defining issue of next year’s ACT election.

Last week’s “good news” announcement that the ACT Government had signed a contract for the construction of the 1.7 km extension of the light rail line to Commonwealth Park has only intensified the renewed battle between the Labor-Greens coalition and the Canberra Liberals over whether light rail or buses should be the rapid transit solution for a growing city.

After several elections and the popularity of the Gungahlin to the city line, it had been thought that the light rail debate was settled, but the Liberals have seized on recent comparative studies favouring buses because they are cheaper, more flexible and would take less time to be implemented.

It also gives them a very big and demonstrable point of difference.

It’s an argument that appeals to cost-sensitive cities elsewhere in the world that are choosing Bus Rapid Transit systems over light rail.

But the Liberals are no nearer to telling Canberrans what their actual policy will be, saying it will be announced closer to the election.

Not helping the government’s cause has been the lengthy lead time for Stage 2A, which won’t take its first passengers until January 2028.

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In 2019, the government split Stage 2 to Woden into two legs in order to at least get a section of the line started, given the complexities of getting across the Lake and through the parliamentary zone.

It will be almost a decade since that announcement before Canberrans can ride the rails to Commonwealth Park.

Granted the pandemic did not help the cause, but the more the project has been pushed out, along with the lack of a timeline for the much bigger leg to Woden, the easier it has been for doubts to grow.

It also hasn’t helped, given the unknown but undisputed high cost, that the government is unable to provide a Stage 2B business case, and now even the route is uncertain.

The government remains committed to light rail as part of a multi-modal public transport system, arguing it is not an either/or situation and that light rail can carry more passengers at one time than buses and is a more effective mass transit mode.

It says buses will just not be able to do the required job as the city’s population grows beyond half a million in the coming decades and will need a mass transit network to shift people to public transport to avoid chaos on the roads.

Light rail is also segregated from other traffic, allowing buses to be removed from major roads to ease congestion.

But modern bus systems also can use dedicated thoroughfares with right of way, just without tracks, and have multiple “carriages” like light rail to boost capacity.

Tracjkless tram in Western Australia

Passengers wait to board the City of Stirling’s trial trackless tram on a community day last month. Is it on the Liberals’ mind? Photo: Facebook.

The City of Stirling in Perth is trialling a Chinese-made electric trackless tram, which does not look dissimilar to light rail vehicles but runs on rubber wheels. But this untested technology weighs a lot and can damage road surfaces, as well as being wider than a light rail vehicle and needing more space.

Whatever the Liberals are planning, any workable bus system will still require separate corridors along medians or elsewhere to be secured. Any notion that an increasingly busy road system can tolerate more buses is fanciful.

The initial cost of a bus system would obviously be less than light rail, which requires the supporting infrastructure of tracks and overhead wires, although wire-free sections will be part of the Canberra network.

However, light rail and its vehicles are seen to be more cost-effective over time and require less maintenance.

The Liberals won’t tear up the contract for Stage 2A but the Woden leg, which it estimates will cost $3 billion, and future stages won’t happen on its watch. They will stress the cost difference between a bus system and light rail, and the savings for taxpayers and the budget.

But the unknown factor is just what the Commonwealth will contribute, having already put $344 into Stage 2A.

The government argues that it is building a network that will serve the city for the long term and needs to be done before population and urban infill grows.

It also sees light rail as a public transport solution and part of an overall urban development approach in which urban villages and jobs spring up along corridors and around stops.

That can still occur with a bus system, but light rail’s oft-criticised fixed nature provides more certainty.

Buses can also be electric so the emissions and clean air questions are not up for debate.

But the light rail versus buses argument is neither simple nor straightforward, relying on many variables, including how costs are calculated, the urban context of each city weighing its options and individual preferences. What may be right for one may not be best for another.

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The government has been busy getting ink on a Stage 2A contract, and next year, the focus will shift to negotiating the many approval hurdles for Stage 2B. It has had little time to restate its position on light rail.

At the same time, the Liberals will no doubt step up their rhetoric and arguments against light rail and, at some point, offer their alternative transport vision.

The government will need to accept that the debate has been reignited and vigorously prosecute the case that light rail is in the best long-term interests of Canberra if it is to counter a resurgent Liberal opposition staking much of its election hopes on Canberra becoming disillusioned with the tram and the government promoting it.

The outcome of the election may hang on it.

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Leon Arundell7:46 pm 02 Jan 24

The ACT Government’s most recent comparison shows that bus rapid transit is far more cost-effective than light rail:
• a $249 million investment in bus rapid transit would generate $243 million worth of net benefits, including a reduction of 40,300 kilometres per day of car travel; and
• a $524 million investment in light rail would generate only $11 million worth of net benefits, including a reduction of 42,600 kilometres per day of car travel.
The costs of stage 2 of light rail would exceed its benefits:
Stage 2 would take ten minutes longer than buses to travel between Civic and Woden.
The ACT Government estimated in 2019 that stage 2a of light rail would cost $268 million, stage 2b would cost over $900 million, and stages 2a and 2b would generate a combined $1.2 billion worth of benefits. The government has so far committed $869 million to stage 2a.
Even if stage 2b costs only $900 million, the government would have spent $1.769 billion to chase only $1.2 billion worth of benefits.

mikaloviche112:07 pm 02 Jan 24

Light rail in Sydney has changed the life of the CBD there are literally thousands of people about and going back and forth to Circular Quay . All the noisey dangerous buses and cars are gone. Parramatta also is about to change. There was a report done on Melbourne trams and environmentally the carbon foot print didn’t look good in terms of the amount of electricity used but taking into account the actual amount of people it moved a cost analysis found them to be better in the long run after maintenance and other costs. Build it and they will ride it. Just Commonwealth park alone will stop 10’s of thousands driving and parking at Floriade . tourists love to travel this way. Street cars in San Francisco are the highlight of any trip . Originally tunnels were built and the people did not like it so they put them on the surface .They are still there for the historical tourist. So please stop being hysterical and let the tunnel vision Canberra has created and get on with the job. It doesn’t really matter how much it costs , Sydney had one of the best trams systems in the world and they ( some government bean counter ) lied to a politician with incorrect stats and they tore it up . Now we are paying for past mistakes . Dulwich Hill light rail on an old goods line we waited 50 years for .

Capital Retro1:01 pm 02 Jan 24

There is no “tunnel” vision involved with immediately creating light rail/tram-trains from Canberra to Bungendore (even Goulburn) and that would stop thousands of cars coming in and out of Canberra daily via the Kings Highway.

For goodness sake, the rail line (with tunnels) is already there!

But no, this government cannot get past the myopic vision is has namely City to Woden at all costs.

If light rail ran to Goulburn it would make a cheap trip to Sydney for seniors, if time was no issue. Off peak trip to Goulburn, and then switch trains and use an Opal card to Sydney. Potentially, only $2.50. Long day though.
However, this is NSW, so it would be more complicated to run an ACT light rail on that route. NSW owns the rail. Still, should be investigated, starting with light rail to Bungendore and potentially Tarago. Bus services would need to be improved to meet the train at Kingston. Or next project, light rail from Civic to the railway station. Fyshwick could have a couple of stations added to the line going to Bungendore.

$577m for 1.7km and 4 years is outrageous, but I bet it is a drop in the ocean for what stage 2B to Woden would end up being! Light rail isn’t a bad idea but going to Woden down Adelaide Ave is going to end up costing way, way too much! Better to explore Belco to Airport than this pork barrelling cost blowing out nonsense!

Only read the first line which was enough wrong for me.
Light rail is not public transport issue.

The only benefit for light rail is that it’s too expensive to move the tracks so pushes up development around the route. Its another development push for developers.

Why is there so little competition in the development sector?
If anyone is still the king its the construction union.

The only impact that light rail has on public transport is that public transport is cut to pay for it!

@Keir Donald Dubh Andersen
I’m not sure about your “90% of engineers, transport planners and economists will tell you that light rail is a waste of time”. I’d like to see the factual basis for that assertion.

Nevertheless, your raising of the Adelaide O-Bahn busway (with which I’m very familiar) and the Brisbane busways (of which I have some familiarity) is appropriate. I’ve never understood why the concept – a dedicated bus-only “track” with traffic light priority, could not have been applied as the solution currently being delivered via the tram project. I imagine it would have been delivered at a much lesser cost and in a speedier timeframe. Also, the upside would definitely be no overhead wires and the technical challenge (if any) of negotiating Lake Burley Griffin would be much easier to resolve. Similarly expanding the coverage to the airport, say via Russell, and so on would be much simpler I would have thought.

The vast majority of the population of Canberra will never be located anywhere near where this massive waste of money is implemented but we’ll all sure be paying for it for decades.

They could have invested money purchasing electric busses and paying for more extensive and regular routes, which would make them a more attractive option for people to use but instead they pursue this mess.

Phase 2B, coming to you in, what …2035?

The vast majority of the population of Sydney will never be located anywhere near where the Sydney Harbour Bridge is; however Sydney siders paid for that over 50 years.

@astro2 – terrible comparison as the government hadn’t previously done a cost benefit analysis showing there was a better solution to cross Sydney harbour for half the price unlike the mess they are implementing here.

Wow that’s shocking Bob – no cost -benefit study for such a large infrastructure project as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And everyone knows they had a perfectly good punt crossing the Harbour to take the vehicular traffic and “the vast majority of the population” lived nowhere near the proposed site.” What a terrible waste of money. Pity there weren’t a bunch of keyboard warriors writing letters to the editor about such monumental waste whilst in the middle of a Depression.

Ironically Astro should look into the funding of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the value capture tax that was devised and instituted to pay for it directly from those who would benefit the most, landholders in close proximity.

A tax that was in place for a number of years until politics and rent seekers got in the way. It paid for 16% of the bridge.

Or maybe the tolls on users to ensure they paid for the service they were using til the bridge was paid off some 56 years later.

Or maybe the fact that it took 80 years to build after first proposals literally because the economics and costs got in the way. With decades of “print and ink pen warriors” arguing the waste of the expenditure, that it wasnt needed or who should pay for the extravagance.

Or maybe even the fact that it’s construction nearly sent the state of NSW broke in the aftermath of its construction.

Hahaha, talk about shooting yourself in the foot, what a great example.

Considering Walter Burley Griffin included a tram system in the original designs for Canberra over 80 years ago it seems that these large infrastructure projects can take time to come to fruition. Thankfully the “print and ink pen warriors” of the day were listened to about the same as today’s anti-light rail complainers and the Bridge was built regardless of their gripes. Seems to be functioning reasonable well anyway as is Canberra’s light rail. You’ve aimed well for your foot there Chewy14.

We don’t have a tram Astro, it’s a light rail system, I thought you knew?

Strange also that you think Griffin’s plan for inner city trams or streetcars in his city of a maximum 75,000 people is somehow relevant to today’s light rail decisions.

Truly hilarious to see someone so comprehensively out their ignorance of major infrastructure projects with an example (Sydney Harbour Bridge) they thought would bolster their argument, when the actual facts completely destroys it.

Shows the puddle deep level of thought light rail boosters put into their unwavering support, no matter what the actual evidence shows.

Any actual response to the facts raised Astro? Or more meaningless emotional dribble?

Steady on there chewy14, you’ve just misread the comment. WBG plans were based on tram or streetcar similar to Chicago. He didn’t refer to light rail which is a more modern concept. So I was referring to the terminology used at that time, not the present. Hope that clarifies. I’ll leave the rest of your diatribe as it doesn’t contain anything new apart from the usual anti-light rail fact-free emotional stuff. It must be upsetting having to watch something you’re so implacably opposed to continue to be rolled out (if a little more slowly than some would hope.) Cheers.

“Steady on there chewy14, you’ve just misread the comment. WBG plans were based on tram or streetcar similar to Chicago”

Yes, I agree. A city with a fundamentally different form of tram system than Canberra’s proposed light rail. Thanks for clarifying your error.

And of course you won’t reply to the other points because you are unable to. With your attempted example clearly discrediting your own points. Too funny. You are right about one thing though, there’s nothing new there, the evidence against light rail in Canberra right now is solid and hasn’t changed.

“It must be upsetting having to watch something you’re so implacably opposed to continue to be rolled out (if a little more slowly than some would hope.)”

Of course someone so emotionally driven attempts to project having an emotional response onto others as a substitute for an argument. Sorry champ, not upsetting at all. The choice for light rail is simply a complete failure of governance, which means we all end up worse off in the end.

Although I do have to laugh at your optimism about the roll out, Stage 2B won’t happen at the earliest before the mid 2030’s. We’ll all be long gone before the ACT has a city wide system.

Nah, no error there you’re just confusing different traffic modes. Walter Burley Griffin didn’t refer to a light rail as such although a similar system was envisaged, I don’t think that’s in doubt. Certainly Canberra wasn’t designed around the same model as Los Angeles so that’s probably a good thing. You’re speculating around dates for 2B. There hasn’t been an outcome date put on that stage yet, only for 2A. Bit wishful thinking on your part saying “we’ll all be long gone before the ACT has a city-wide system” or maybe just reflecting on your age?

“Walter Burley Griffin didn’t refer to a light rail as such although a similar system was envisaged, I don’t think that’s in doubt.”

Ah yes, that’s exactly what’s in doubt. WBG’s tram system for a city of a maximum population of 75k was fundamentally different from today’s light rail plan. The stated aim was 90% of the population to be wothin 500m of a stop. Or the comparison with Chicago that had 2.2 million people living there in 1910. Not even close to similar.

Also ironically for you (getting to be a habit) the reason why the early Canberra tram system never got built was because it was far too expensive for such a small local taxpayer base and would have required enormous subsidy from the federal government that they werent willing to provide. I’m sensing some sort of pattern here.

“You’re speculating around dates for 2B”

You’re right, good pick up. I was very generous with my assessment of mid 2030s, considering it’s going to take them 10 odd years to build a 1.7km extension that’s technically far simpler than stage 2B.

I’ll amend that to late 2030s or beyond, considering the enormous cost and technical challenges involved.

Fundamentally he was designing the city to work with a light rail system (or tram), it’s all there in the design documents. He didn’t say that Canberra will never reach a population more than 75,000. Nor did he say that there has to be 2 million people for it to work. If you find the original designs problematic, then that’s just too bad. Delays in the development of Canberra were more down to the Depression and World War 2 than anything else. And you’re still speculating about the outcome of 2B. But, hey, you can have a punt on that date if you wish, won’t make a difference either way.

Probably a good thing the bridge was built, eh? Could you imagine the amount of ferries needed to support the amount of people who cross daily.

Yes, in a city of over 5 million people, it probably is a good idea to connect both sides of the harbour.

How that relates to Canberra having light rail or how it is paid for is anyone’s guess.

It also made sense to Francis Greenway in 1814 when the population of Sydney was about 13,000, and to others during the 19th century while population was rising to over 700,000 in 1914 when Bradfield pushed arguments for the bridge and nearly a million when construction was started in 1923, long after final design and planning. Not so different after all.

Based on other recent comments I take it you favour a value capture tax for development along the line. That is your objection, the funding model?

Doubtless you have noted and published here the fact that as a proportion of total trips patronage of light rail is rising while that of bus transit is falling, an interesting result given the extent of relevant capture zones. Have you noticed that yourself, frequenting busses or rail? Or don’t you do that?

Yes, the planning and economic assessments of infrastructure projects of centuries past didn’t often take into account costs, benefits and the equity of who exactly should be funding them to the level they should and do today.

So no, not close to the consideration of light rail for Canberra in the 21st century. Although as above, the reason why the bridge wasn’t constructed for such a long period of time, despite the “vision”, was that the cost could not remotely be justified. So I suppose light rail in Canberra is similar in that regard.

I also would have no problem if the government was planning for and reserving alignments for a future rail system, when/if it was needed. But that demand doesn’t currently exist and won’t for a long time.

“Based on other recent comments I take it you favour a value capture tax for development along the line. That is your objection, the funding model?”

That is one objection. If it is to be built, the main beneficiaries should be funding it. It’s not remotely equitable for outer city residents who are on average poorer, to pay for a system they don’t benefit from now and are unlikely to ever benefit from. Landholders along Stage 1 have reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars of windfall property gains, paid for with taxpayer money.

“Doubtless you have noted and published here the fact that as a proportion of total trips patronage of light rail is rising while that of bus transit is falling”

Yes, that often happens when bus routes are replaced, reduced in frequency and made almost unusable for suburban residents. Almost like the funds provided to light rail have drained the budget for other public transport routes.

As someone who used to catch the bus daily, it’s no surprise to see bus patronage reduce when my own buses had the frequency reduced/cancelled and the travel time significantly increased due to covering far longer routes.

Doubtless you have noticed that the light rail patronage has still not exceeded the 2021 forecasts contained in the business case, despite population growth along the corridor being higher than predicted.

And that they are just about to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on Stage 2A that provides almost no transport benefits whatsoever.

Where do you get your figures from Keir Donald Dubh Andersen? I would argue that 90% of engineers, transport planners and economists believe that light rail is a waste of time.

Adelaide and Brisbane both have integrated public transport systems offering bus, tram and train services. Both cities, as well as the Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne are expanding their light rail networks due to its success!

Adelaide and Brisbane have populations that make us look like a backwater, so light rail makes sense. For Canberra, it’s a toy for the Greens

The ACT is the fastest growing city in Australia Futureproof. ABS statistics tell us so! Our population growth increases the need for our government to make those bold decisions for our city’s future transport needs. A sustainable and viable transport system that reduces car use and congestion on our roads so that we can move around effortlessly and comfortably. Buses only transport has not, and will not be able to cope with our growing city into the future. Light rail will.

Thank goodness the adults are in charge doing the hard yards and making those tough decisions!

“The ACT is the fastest growing city in Australia Futureproof. ABS statistics tell us so!”

Someone should probably tell the ABS that then.


Strange though that with this clear vision to meet an obvious and well defined need, the “adults” can’t produce an options study or robust business case to provide an evidence base for their predetermined decisions.

Nor submit it for independent assessment by Infrastructure Australia for inclusion in the priority infrastructure funding list.

But wait, what projects are included for Canberra? Oh, that’s right, bus transit ways.


The ABS Census data (Greater Capital City Statistical Area) 2021 revealed that the ACT has the fastest growth of any capital city in Australia with a 14.4% (57,102 person) increase since 2016.

The Estimated Resident Population data released by the ABS in July 2022 revealed that the ACT experienced the highest annual average growth rate at 2.4% with most of the growth occurring in the newly formed outer suburbs.

Interestingly, and unrelated, Nepali featured in the top 5 languages used at home in the ACT and Tasmania (both 1.3%).

This information is on the ABS website for all to see!!

Jack D,
Oh, so you only want to select a specific time frame and metric that suits your position? Yes the most recent and long term data is on the ABS website for all to see, strange you didn’t feel the need to provide a link.


The gross population increases in many of the other capital cities is also far in excess of Canberra’s increase, which is what actually drives infrastructure requirements.

And just to complete your inability to read data, you said fastest growing city outright, not “Capital city”. Many other smaller areas of Australia have significantly higher popupation percentage increases than Canberra. All on the ABS website as you say.

Any thoughts on the lack of a business case or supporting project justification Jack?

Too funny seeing Light Rail boosters attempt to spin any reason to justify the project no matter the cost. They’d also be the first to squeal like stuck pigs around “pork barrelling” and corruption if a right wing government was making such a blatantly wasteful expenditure.

The same adults who just cost us taxpayers over $77 million on a scrapped HR project.

Its a modern steam train. The steam is generated at the coal power station, by burning coal.

Stream drives the turbines making electricity and running a motor instead of directly turning the wheels.

For the same price we could have had a cool actual stream train and planted a billion trees to offset it.

Hmm… offsets you say? How about the offsets the ACT has already put into place in the form of renewable generation which actually accounts for 100% of our electricity use?
Or is that too hard to get on board with, as it doesn’t fit certain narratives?

Capital Retro8:23 am 13 Dec 23

I don’t know about whether it doesn’t fit certain narratives but the form of renewable generation which is supposed to give us emission free electricity simply isn’t credible.

Send me some cash and i’ll ‘offset it’ later, at a time where its more convient to generate it.
You know that accounting isn’t a physical phenomenon.

Is this like the offset of our manufacturing? It all goes to china and accounts for 95% of the goods we use in Australia?

New Zealand ship their fish to china so it can be processed and ship back. NZ meet their energy target and China don’t have one.

DId you factor that into your ‘accounting’?

Capital Retro5:03 pm 05 Jan 24

We pay for 100% renewable but still get up to 60% coal fired generation.

@Capital Retro
By “We pay for 100% renewable …”, CR, I assume you are referring to the fact that for every watt of power the ACT consumes, it pays one back through its renewable investments around the country.

About five per cent of the territory’s electricity is generated locally. While the ACT cannot choose where it’s power drawn from the national grid is generated, through its investment in renewable energy generation around the country, the ACT is offsetting the amount of power it draws from the grid. That’s not fancy accounting, it’s actual power being generated from renewable sources and input back into the grid.

So, your attempt to discredit the ACT’s use of power generated from renewable sources is just part of your usual denialist rant.

The government has signed a $577m contract for the construction of light rail Stage 2A and the Commonwealth has tipped in a further $125.5m for the project. Not the wildly inaccurate and exaggerated figures bandied around by the Canberra Liberals and their support trolls!

The Canberra Liberals have never taken Canberra’s public transport needs seriously. I remember quite well Mark Parton and his party’s scoffing at the ACT’s first trials of electric buses. Canberra’s roll out of electric buses has been so successful the scheme is being expanded with the purchase of an additional fleet to add to our ageing network. The expansion of electric buses in our city is in line with other major capitals in Australia including Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

It is a foregone conclusion that the Liberals will be putting forward an alternative transport plan than light rail. This will be the fourth election in ten years that the Canberra Liberals have taken us to rejecting light rail. That is all they ever offer, negativity. Their proposal will probably include an extension of our bus network or possibly trackless trams. We can be sure though that it will be a “Homebrand” model; the cheapest, smelliest and nastiest alternative they can come up with.

Bring on the light rail extension!

Just because people don’t support light rail, doesn’t mean they are being negative. They are highlighting that light rail is an expensive indulgence that this territory can’t really afford.

2024 is the fourth election the Canberra Liberals will be taking us into opposing light rail. At none of these elections have they provided voters with an alternative vision for Canberra’s future public transport needs. The results have been clear, voters want light rail. The Canberra Liberals will have to come up with an alternative vision for our inadequate bus network in a rapidly expanding and populated city.

Your comment that the light rail is an expensive indulgence that we can’t really afford does not make sense. The light rail project is a small part of our government’s total expenditure, delivered through a public private partnership. The Commonwealth government will also contribute. The existing light rail contract, which includes design, construction and maintenance will be delivered over a period of 20 years. It will cost our government less than 1% of total expenditure, a pittance in comparison to our health and education budgets.

Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth all have integrated public transport networks consisting of trains, buses, trams and ferries. All of their governments have seen the benefits of introducing light rail into their cities. They have all expanded their networks and delivered the projects through PPP agreements with Commonwealth assistance.

Why can’t Canberra?

Jack D, just because the liberal rabble can’t get in, it doesn’t mean that Canberrans want light rail

Well Futureproof why has the party taken light rail to every election since 2012 rejecting the plan? Opposition to light rail has been the Canberra Liberals main policy commitment at every election since 2016. Then opposition leaders Jeremy Hanson and Alistair Coe threatened to tear up the already signed contracts putting our city and our future budgets into disrepair.

The Gungahlin to City line is popular and seen as far superior in comfort and mass transport than buses. The line has also taken buses off the road and reduced congestion. Contrary to your claim Canberrans have been clear, they want light rail and other areas of the city deserve it as well!

Swing and a miss again Jacky boy. Liberals went to the last election committing to light rail. If I had a dollar for every-time you were wrong I would almost have enough myself to build the $3 billion light rail to woden


I will quite willingly admit I am wrong Tom Philips if you provide details of the Canberra Liberals policy on the light rail project that they took to the last election. Not just the empty election commitment or the changed policy position Mr Coe announced on ABC radio during campaigning that not even his colleagues or the party’s candidates were aware or informed about but their policy in rolling out the light rail extension across Canberra?

This was a major change in the Canberra Liberals policy position but did not stop the party or its candidates campaigning against the project right up until the election.

This government deserves to be punished for the profound lack of foresight that has led to them building this ridiculous extension which is a solution to nothing.

The highest public transport demand is between Civic and Belconnen so they should have started work on that route before stage 1 was complete and before all the skilled workers left town.

Instead, political calculations have trumped evidence-based planning leaving us with this obscenely expensive Floriade shuttle. I suspect those political calculations will ultimately turn out to be seriously flawed.

I am a strong supporter of light rail, but not the way this government is doing it.

Ian Bushnell is once again at his Light Rail cheer squad best saying “ Last week’s good news announcement that the ACT Government had signed a contract for the construction of the 1.7 km extension to the light rail”.

Any half decent journalist would instead be asking how the heck could 1.7km of light rail be costing over $800 million and how can the Transport Minister justify that CIMIC Group, Pacific Partnerships and Capital Metro will collect $577 million for their part in the project.
That should be the real story.

Capital Retro8:24 am 13 Dec 23

It’s Canberra Metro, not Capital Metro.

Do you catch a bus?

The ACT Government has its priorities all wrong. At an estimated cost of $3 billion, Stage 2 cannot be justified given the poor state of our health system. What about a hospital for Gungahlin instead? What about better paediatric services so parents don’t have to take their sick children to Sydney? What about more dental specialists so that people don’t have to wait 6 weeks for difficult extractions and other dental work? How about more immunologists so people don’t have to go to Goulburn for treatment by a visiting doctor from Concord Hospital? Etc

Utter nonsense to suggest $3billion could be gained for other worthy purposes. First off deduct the cost of supplying alternatives (eg bus-ways), then deduct the cost of underground services needing renewal/upgrade if not done as part of light rail and/or bus-ways, and deduct the capitalisation of the net additional on-going costs of expensive to operate things such as the hospital suggested.
Diverting the capital into maintenance or daily operating costs is a short term fix and long term fail.
If all the alternative goodies were provided for the whole $3billion, it is clear the overall cost to the Community would be much, much higher.
The wishful thinking exhibited is akin to believing in the ‘cargo cult’.

A one-off $3 billion for infrastructure which will serve the community for a century or more? As opposed to $2.3 billion (and climbing) spent every year on health? I think you’ve got your numbers a bit mixed up. This narrative that the government is diverting health dollars to the LR in any meaningful way is just plain dumb.

Ian, perhaps the tram will be an issue, or perhaps the main issue will be the level of debt.

A recent article by Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed says “Debt is already at an unsustainable level, and is forecast to increase in the foreseeable future at an average of $1 billion a year.”

Earlier analysis by Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed found “ACT debt will increase at the rate of $3.2m every single day. Over this period, interest will increase from $250m to $595m annually.”

When Labor and Greens first hopped into bed, their prenuptial agreement included this clause, “The parties confirm their commitment to fiscal responsibility and the maintenance of a balanced budget through the economic cycle.”

Riotact should be asking questions about the debt.

Capital Retro8:26 am 13 Dec 23

That won’t happen.

Elle Cehcker8:16 am 11 Dec 23

More Gov cheer leading and propaganda by Ian

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