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Government to spend $375 million on light rail

By Canfan - 2 June 2015 153

light rail artist impression

The ACT Government will make a capital contribution of $375 million towards Canberra’s light rail project, Capital Metro, ACT budget papers have revealed.

The budget papers explain that the contribution, which is half of the project’s estimated $750 million cost and mostly funded by the sale of ACTTAB and old government office blocks, will be set aside for future costs of light rail. It will only be paid after construction is completed and services from the city to Gungahlin are underway.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-2016.

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153 Responses to
Government to spend $375 million on light rail
gooterz 8:27 pm 03 Jun 15

At least if the government locks in the light rail there is no reason that the north siders will need to keep them in government.

The South Side will no doubt vote against them in greater numbers, due to the parking mess.

rubaiyat 4:44 pm 03 Jun 15

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

Meanwhile, the ACT Labor government has struggled to make ends meet, has subsidised a huge IKEA store near the airport (as if to mock them) and plans to get all ACT ratepayers to finance a toy train that will only be used by several thousand people.
I hope the residential developments behind Canberra airport are gated communities and have tax free status.

You keep repeating this Ikea nonsense, yet there is absolutely no evidence any money has changed hands to provide Ikea a reason to come here. Businesses like Ikea don’t set up because a government subsidises them. Its an unsustainable model that means the business can fail when the government money stops flowing. The government did however rezone the land so they could build straight across the road from Majura park land which they didn’t control the zoning of. Seems like some commonsense has prevailed here.

As for light rail, I say again, the proposal actually makes sense, but I’m still unsure about it. I suspect though light rail will offset the need to build more roads into and out of Gungahlin, offset the need for inefficient use of land by needing more car parking in the city also. But on paper it seems expensive, yet lots of expenses also go away if the patronage is good, which is the elephant in the room as it would need better patronage than the buses get. I don’t think free buses solve the problem because the cost of using buses is already substantially lower than driving.

Large companies like Ikea regularly get all sorts of tax breaks and concessional land deals. It is all too common in the USA and has unfortunately spread to Australia because Politicians don’t pay for the consequences but get to big note themselves when they do the ribbon cutting and claim to have brought jobs and businesses locally. Ignoring the usually greater number of jobs destroyed and taxes lost from the local businesses that did not get the same preferential deal.

The fact that land was rezoned for the convenience of Ikea rings alarm bells. Of course all of this will all be “Commercial in Confidence” another thing bureaucracies and governments love because they can hide all their stuff ups from the public who has a right to know what is happening with public assets.

I agree that free transport is generally not a good idea but it has a useful affect when applied within select core areas, as it encourages people to leave their cars at home because they can easily and quickly get around their destination. It works well with students, tourists and inner city workers, dramatically cutting the need for the wasteful soul destroying eyesores of car parks and heavy CBD traffic.

watto23 3:09 pm 03 Jun 15

dungfungus said :

Meanwhile, the ACT Labor government has struggled to make ends meet, has subsidised a huge IKEA store near the airport (as if to mock them) and plans to get all ACT ratepayers to finance a toy train that will only be used by several thousand people.
I hope the residential developments behind Canberra airport are gated communities and have tax free status.

You keep repeating this Ikea nonsense, yet there is absolutely no evidence any money has changed hands to provide Ikea a reason to come here. Businesses like Ikea don’t set up because a government subsidises them. Its an unsustainable model that means the business can fail when the government money stops flowing. The government did however rezone the land so they could build straight across the road from Majura park land which they didn’t control the zoning of. Seems like some commonsense has prevailed here.

As for light rail, I say again, the proposal actually makes sense, but I’m still unsure about it. I suspect though light rail will offset the need to build more roads into and out of Gungahlin, offset the need for inefficient use of land by needing more car parking in the city also. But on paper it seems expensive, yet lots of expenses also go away if the patronage is good, which is the elephant in the room as it would need better patronage than the buses get. I don’t think free buses solve the problem because the cost of using buses is already substantially lower than driving.

rubaiyat 11:04 am 03 Jun 15

dungfungus said :

At the time the Feds sold Canberra Airport, The ACT Government was invited to make an offer – they declined.
What has happened since?
The Snow family has built a virtual city (commerce first, residences later) which has won awards and wide acclaim. I would expect that it also gives a good return to investors and it only imposes fees on users.
Meanwhile, the ACT Labor government has struggled to make ends meet, has subsidised a huge IKEA store near the airport (as if to mock them) and plans to get all ACT ratepayers to finance a toy train that will only be used by several thousand people.
I hope the residential developments behind Canberra airport are gated communities and have tax free status.

I understand that both Labor and Liberal ACT Governments have thrown taxpayers’ money at the Airport and various failed airlines without demanding a return on that investment.

Canberra International Airport has a huge financial advantage over all external properties in that, as I understand it, they do not pay rates, got a huge serve from the “privatisation” bargain, and are in cahoots with their landlord, Infrastructure Australia, which passes projects favorable to itself but unfavorable to the population at large.

Hardly surprising Infrastructure Australia is against public transport projects that they and the Liberals unthinkingly hate because they don’t use them. Despite public transport, especially non-fossil fuel based public transport, makes excellent economic, social, environmental and strategic sense at all levels for our country and the community at large.

rubaiyat 10:48 am 03 Jun 15

Holden Caulfield said :

rubaiyat said :

Light Rail is more durable, efficient and long lasting than roads, cleaner and healthier for its users and doesn’t hospitalise large numbers of our citizens.

Need more capacity? No need to build another road, just add a carriage or two, or run it more frequently.

The price of the fuel for the Light Rail is more likely to drop than rise and there will be no interruption to supply in the future. The fuel does not fund ongoing horrendously expensive wars nor does it finance extremist religions that send refugees fleeing to our shores.

Heck it actually seems like a really good idea…

In theory, light rail makes absolute perfect sense. It is a great idea, I agree with you! But in practice, in Canberra, I’m not so sure.

I assume we’re all working on the basis that improved public transport and reducing C02 emissions and traffic are the goals here.

I understand and agree with your comments regarding ongoing costs, fuel supply etc. As I said, light rail does make great sense. Common sense, in fact.

Roads networks and ACTION are inferior to the perfect light rail solution. But I don’t think we’re going to get the perfect light rail solution in Canberra, or even close to it. Ever.

So how much do you spend on a perfect scenario for a minority of residents when the infrastructure currently exists to cater to the majority with a more practical, albeit inferior, solution?

With the kind of dollars and time frame we’re talking for light rail, I think a six or 12 month trial of free ACTION rides to try and gauge customer response would have been worth a try.

I dislike the short term theory I’m suggesting, inasmuch as increased bus use will add to maintenance of road and bus infrastructure and so on. However, I just can’t help but think it is the better and more practical long term solution for all of Canberra when compared with an expensive light rail solution over our spread out city with a relatively small population density.

I agree the Light Rail could go either way.

Generally I am not in favour of the Gungahlin route and have been trying to secure the Red Rapid usage figures which disappeared earlier this year with promises that it “was being updated”.

I could be wrong because I have no real feel for what it means to commute from Gungahlin and it is quite likely that over the life of the project, the projected growth will occur as it always has in Canberra from nothing to something, just not as well planned as made out by the Government planners.

What disturbs me most is that it is not working on overall need, and no pre-planning has gone into this one solitary and to my view lower priority route. Commuter routes should go through the middle of housing and developments to bring it close to both, not on the periphery which is what you do with roads because they are so awful you want to keep them well away form everyone.

I have proposed an initial Inner North and Inner South circuit that would meet most commuter and tourist needs, to be expanded outwards as that takes on, and the deeply unimaginative finally get it.

Planning needs to plot commuter, student and tourist movements then work on a tight intimate route with potential for substantial inner urban development that will support it. The best transport system encourages close development that supplements the short movements by foot and other means.

That all leads to a much more interesting urban environment, improved retailing, restaurants and entertainment spaces, but principally a cleaner quieter city with a healthier population who gets more daily exercise and less road deaths and injuries. Financially healthier and a huge plus for environment and resources security.

Holden Caulfield 10:14 am 03 Jun 15

rubaiyat said :

Light Rail is more durable, efficient and long lasting than roads, cleaner and healthier for its users and doesn’t hospitalise large numbers of our citizens.

Need more capacity? No need to build another road, just add a carriage or two, or run it more frequently.

The price of the fuel for the Light Rail is more likely to drop than rise and there will be no interruption to supply in the future. The fuel does not fund ongoing horrendously expensive wars nor does it finance extremist religions that send refugees fleeing to our shores.

Heck it actually seems like a really good idea…

In theory, light rail makes absolute perfect sense. It is a great idea, I agree with you! But in practice, in Canberra, I’m not so sure.

I assume we’re all working on the basis that improved public transport and reducing C02 emissions and traffic are the goals here.

I understand and agree with your comments regarding ongoing costs, fuel supply etc. As I said, light rail does make great sense. Common sense, in fact.

Roads networks and ACTION are inferior to the perfect light rail solution. But I don’t think we’re going to get the perfect light rail solution in Canberra, or even close to it. Ever.

So how much do you spend on a perfect scenario for a minority of residents when the infrastructure currently exists to cater to the majority with a more practical, albeit inferior, solution?

With the kind of dollars and time frame we’re talking for light rail, I think a six or 12 month trial of free ACTION rides to try and gauge customer response would have been worth a try.

I dislike the short term theory I’m suggesting, inasmuch as increased bus use will add to maintenance of road and bus infrastructure and so on. However, I just can’t help but think it is the better and more practical long term solution for all of Canberra when compared with an expensive light rail solution over our spread out city with a relatively small population density.

dungfungus 10:01 am 03 Jun 15

rubaiyat said :

JC said :

The Majura parkway is costing $288,000,000 with estimate usage of 40,000 drivers a day. Now for convenience lets assume the cost is spread over a year (which seems to be what you have done), that means that the government is paying $20 for each and every trip made on this road.

Reality though the cost of major projects is spread over many years and ‘cost recovery’ even longer. So even assuming Majura Parkway takes 20 years to pay off it means every trip over those 20 years has now cost $1 per trip.

Just sayin.

JC The “40,000” is not the current usage for the Majura Parkway, it is a guesstimate for 2030, the same as the Government’s projected usage for the Light Rail which has been rejected by the Light Rail denialists here.

The current estimate is 18,000 vehicles a day, again only a guess, mostly with one driver in each vehicle.

If they are getting that from visitors to Majura Park, which is on the old road, then that is that is greatly inflated.

So you can double or triple your estimate for every trip. Then add the cost of the vehicle itself which is largely born by the driver which is currently around $8 one way at current rates. So around $60-70 per trip with no recovery of the cost at all because it is as is every road in Canberra, a Freeway.

A fully government subsidised form of transport, born by all Canberrans whether they use it or not, and most will not. Producing zero income, only costs.

It is also very much a Canberra bypass and will do for Canberra what the freeway bypass of Goulburn did for Goulburn, take away business and income.

For local transport it will improve access to Brindabella Park, Majura Park and the upcoming Fairbairn Park all privately leased real estate by Canberra “International” (ROTFL) Airport, and outside the ACT Government’s jurisdiction, paying rent to the Commonwealth, ie Infrastructure Australia, the body who recommended the freeway and got the ACT government to pay half the cost to subsequently reduce the ACT’s income.

Just sayin’ 😉

At the time the Feds sold Canberra Airport, The ACT Government was invited to make an offer – they declined.
What has happened since?
The Snow family has built a virtual city (commerce first, residences later) which has won awards and wide acclaim. I would expect that it also gives a good return to investors and it only imposes fees on users.
Meanwhile, the ACT Labor government has struggled to make ends meet, has subsidised a huge IKEA store near the airport (as if to mock them) and plans to get all ACT ratepayers to finance a toy train that will only be used by several thousand people.
I hope the residential developments behind Canberra airport are gated communities and have tax free status.

rubaiyat 9:51 am 03 Jun 15

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Holden Caulfield said :

For convenience let’s assume a daily ticket on ACTION cost $10/day.

That’s 37.5 million free daily bus rides. At least ACTION might meet their annual patronage forecasts then.

Just saying.

I’d suggest we make the buses free. They cost us about $20M a year anyway, and if they were free (and we stopped bothering with the tech needed for payment and billing, which must cost many hundreds of thousands a year anyway) I reckon a lot more people would use them. And isn’t that the goal?

According to this SMH article:

http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/act-opposition-announces-roads-and-bus-expansion-plan-if-elected-20150531-ghcniy.html?skin=dumb-phone

The Liberal Party proposes more buses, which I am betting they will renege on. Easy to do with buses, just don’t buy them, buy less, shuffle them around, reroute them and make them vanish, hardly anyone is the wiser. We have that already with only 420 buses (many not on the road) offering a much reduced service that only 6.8% of Canberrans use because all the money goes into roads and buses are actually a worse means of using those roads.

The Liberal Party’s estimates are marginal costs (whatever that is) of $150,000 per bus plus $75,000/year lease. ie $225,000 per bus per year. One tram = 3.5 buses, and requires only one driver which are hard to get here and everywhere in Australia, and has much lower running costs. So that values a tram at approximately $750,000/year

Buses have an effective working life of about 10 years but the ACT’s set of rattlers have been on the road twice as long which explains the inordinate amount of breakdowns and extra servicing required. Buses can reduce traffic congestion only if they dramatically replace the cars they share the road with. Otherwise they are trapped in the same system with the same congestion.

Trams have a very long service life and low maintenance. They actually remove traffic from roads as they run in their own right of way, they also run on the ACT’s own fuel supply from the solar farms which should take quite a few diesel tankers off our roads and a heck of a lot of pollution out of our air. Trams also replace a considerable number lanes in our roads which will free up what is left for those who persist in driving. You’d think drivers would be for them, but then there is not much rational thought goes into running a car.

ACTION currently runs a fleet of 420 aging buses. Most are up for replacement which the government has delayed to stretch their budget. I am guessing that the Liberals will claim the normal replacement as “new” buses and since research here and in the Canberra Times is practically zilch, they will get away with it for a net improvement in ACT public transport of less than zilch.

rubaiyat 9:08 am 03 Jun 15

JC said :

The Majura parkway is costing $288,000,000 with estimate usage of 40,000 drivers a day. Now for convenience lets assume the cost is spread over a year (which seems to be what you have done), that means that the government is paying $20 for each and every trip made on this road.

Reality though the cost of major projects is spread over many years and ‘cost recovery’ even longer. So even assuming Majura Parkway takes 20 years to pay off it means every trip over those 20 years has now cost $1 per trip.

Just sayin.

JC The “40,000” is not the current usage for the Majura Parkway, it is a guesstimate for 2030, the same as the Government’s projected usage for the Light Rail which has been rejected by the Light Rail denialists here.

The current estimate is 18,000 vehicles a day, again only a guess, mostly with one driver in each vehicle.

If they are getting that from visitors to Majura Park, which is on the old road, then that is that is greatly inflated.

So you can double or triple your estimate for every trip. Then add the cost of the vehicle itself which is largely born by the driver which is currently around $8 one way at current rates. So around $60-70 per trip with no recovery of the cost at all because it is as is every road in Canberra, a Freeway.

A fully government subsidised form of transport, born by all Canberrans whether they use it or not, and most will not. Producing zero income, only costs.

It is also very much a Canberra bypass and will do for Canberra what the freeway bypass of Goulburn did for Goulburn, take away business and income.

For local transport it will improve access to Brindabella Park, Majura Park and the upcoming Fairbairn Park all privately leased real estate by Canberra “International” (ROTFL) Airport, and outside the ACT Government’s jurisdiction, paying rent to the Commonwealth, ie Infrastructure Australia, the body who recommended the freeway and got the ACT government to pay half the cost to subsequently reduce the ACT’s income.

Just sayin’ 😉

rubaiyat 11:13 pm 02 Jun 15

Holden Caulfield said :

For convenience let’s assume a daily ticket on ACTION cost $10/day.

That’s 37.5 million free daily bus rides. At least ACTION might meet their annual patronage forecasts then.

Just saying.

That is a capital expenditure and less than the cost of the Majura Parkway, which does not include the capital invested in the vehicles or their extreme running costs.

Were you equally as concerned about the freeway?

Light Rail is more durable, efficient and long lasting than roads, cleaner and healthier for its users and doesn’t hospitalise large numbers of our citizens.

Need more capacity? No need to build another road, just add a carriage or two, or run it more frequently.

The price of the fuel for the Light Rail is more likely to drop than rise and there will be no interruption to supply in the future. The fuel does not fund ongoing horrendously expensive wars nor does it finance extremist religions that send refugees fleeing to our shores.

Heck it actually seems like a really good idea…

JC 9:57 pm 02 Jun 15

The Majura parkway is costing $288,000,000 with estimate usage of 40,000 drivers a day. Now for convenience lets assume the cost is spread over a year (which seems to be what you have done), that means that the government is paying $20 for each and every trip made on this road.

Reality though the cost of major projects is spread over many years and ‘cost recovery’ even longer. So even assuming Majura Parkway takes 20 years to pay off it means every trip over those 20 years has now cost $1 per trip.

Just sayin.

oh_ 9:57 pm 02 Jun 15

Im not massively against light rail on the whole for forward thinking growing (and most likely densely populated) cities, but still not convinced the case stacked up compared to doing something better with the bus services. For example reclaiming the Northbourne cycle lane and part of the verge for an extra “bus only” or T3 lane, then putting the bike lane down the centre median (which would mean no need to remove the trees people are attached to). Plus remove some of the unnecessary intersections on Northbourne (dont need so many so close to each other that turn any direction). Better more rapid bus services that either link to town centre express services or go through to where people work (eg Northside to Barton, Russell, Woden, Airport) etc) so you dont have to transfer and take 3 times as long as it takes in the car.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 6:54 pm 02 Jun 15

Holden Caulfield said :

For convenience let’s assume a daily ticket on ACTION cost $10/day.

That’s 37.5 million free daily bus rides. At least ACTION might meet their annual patronage forecasts then.

Just saying.

I’d suggest we make the buses free. They cost us about $20M a year anyway, and if they were free (and we stopped bothering with the tech needed for payment and billing, which must cost many hundreds of thousands a year anyway) I reckon a lot more people would use them. And isn’t that the goal?

Masquara 5:51 pm 02 Jun 15

Once it’s built and in use (assuming a Liberal government can’t can it), how many dollars per ticket will non-Gungahlin residents be forced to pay to subsidise the tickets?

Holden Caulfield 5:10 pm 02 Jun 15

For convenience let’s assume a daily ticket on ACTION cost $10/day.

That’s 37.5 million free daily bus rides. At least ACTION might meet their annual patronage forecasts then.

Just saying.

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