24 April 2007

Hallejuah! Hargreaves comes down for the car!

| johnboy
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The Canberra Times reports that Simon Corbell’s efforts to force us onto crappy busses have been shelved!

“Mr Hargreaves said he would use his new-found power to restructure the troubled bus network, instead of backing initiatives that were too expensive for a city which was “designed for the car”…

Mr Hargreaves said last week the busway would not be built “in the foreseeable future”. He said he had not asked for funding for it in this budget round and would not have supported the bid. He had concerns about spending $115million “to save 10 minutes on the journey”. Mr Hargreaves said people in cars might not look kindly on a new road just for buses, and the money would be better spent on the Majura Parkway.”

We’re seeing a lot more sensible policy since Simon got sidelined. Anyone want to bet the Liberals will even hold the seats they’ve got at this rate?

UPDATED: Busnews is very upset.

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Nemo: Nail on the head.
But you don’t pay the same rates: every suburb pays different.
I suggest you compare land prices in your suburb and an equivalent boondocks ‘burb for your rates review this year. If you are getting a lesser Action service than demand to have your rates reviewed.

It’s all very well to make the bus free, however for many people who are moving to new suburbs, there is no bus to catch.

The infrustructure is just not there – and it isn’t something that can be fixed in the future because the roads are too narrow.

If they used Dunlop’s bus service as the model for the ACT, we could move to three bus routes servicing Belconnen, one down each of Ginninderra dr, Southern Cross Dr and Belconnen way – everyone would have to walk to the main road.

The Govt is creating pockets within Canberra. The have’s, and the have nots.

Why should every house in Forde have a bus stop within 400m, whereas other new suburbs have none.

I pay the same rates, I expect the same service.

Ignoring the environmental issues for the moment, how much would it cost to buy a car for each of the tiny minority of us who catch a bus?

Alternatively, would we be better off increasing the price signal between car and bus by making buses free rather than making cars more expensive?

Bonfire, at the top of the page you said it would cost $115 million to
build light rail from Civic to Gungahlin. You took those figures from the
CC verbatim (thus mantra) right? Later to justify your figure you said it
would cost a mere $15 million for the 8 or 9 tram units.

You poo-pooed the figure I quoted of $200 million that the consultants
quoted in 2004. I have provided you with ample evidence from recent
projects around Australia that your figures are unrealistic and yet you
still cling to your figures. Why pray tell?

No wonder I get frustrated with your pig-headed attitude.

The figure of $1 billion quoted by Hargraeves was for a WHOLE of Canberra

I see that the reports in todays paper shows support from developers to
dropping the busway and light rail. Well gee that is a complete turn

When you admit that you are wrong and are willing to back-down on your
figures then I’ll stop calling you a raving foamer. If you however can
give a credible backing-up of your costings then I’ll shut-up.

Furthermore, buses are at a peak because the coffers are bare and the
government has cut back on services. If on the other hand funding for the
buses had been increased by 10% then we would not be having this
conversation right now.

And yes think BIG: it comes at a cost to society too. At present I think
that water security is a FAR more important issue to spend my taxes on
than to support the whims of trainspotters.

those of you saying we cannot afford to fix public transport should be saying we can’t afford not to. Not fixing it is actually a big cost shift from government to households. Why? Because if a government doesn’t provide adequate transport everyone goes and buys a car instead. In Canberra there is close to 2 cars for each household, on average. If the average second car cost $10,000 and there was say 50,000 of them we could do away with the cost shift and would need the $$$ to fund decent public transport.

OpenYourMind5:43 pm 24 Apr 07

Is this a whole new Bonfire??
Next thing you’ll be putting your cigarette butts in the bin and riding a recumbent!

neanderthalsis4:41 pm 24 Apr 07

1072/73… Must have been for all those fleeing Britian after the Battle of Hastings.

i meant 1972-73.

there was a serious report for the ncdc in 1072-73 on monorail like vehicles which came on demand to ‘stations’ around canberra.

its a fascinating read.

at the time of the report belco had just started, tugg was a dream, gungahlin not even a proposal.

its interesting reading through these old proposals.

almost everyone of them says public transport ie lightrail etc is a good idea ‘for the future’.

i think the future is now.

Snahons_scv6_berlina3:08 pm 24 Apr 07

The ACT Govt should invest in human sized vaccuum tubes for transport like in futurama.

More park and ride spots would be good too.

The afternoon peak is quite long,with school getting out from 3ish, and people leaving work between 4.30-6.30.

The morning peak is extended with pensioners using their cheap tix after 9.00.

I like the idea of smaller busses running thru the day to save on petrol.

The problem for public transport is the lack of capacity at peak hours vs. the wasted capacity the rest of the time, but they can’t pay drivers to work for an hour a day.

I’d like to see peak-hour capacity increased in other ways — incentives for carpooling, things like that. Maybe big businesses / govt. departments could give out a few people-movers as company cars in exchange for running a private shuttle route.

neanderthalsis11:14 am 24 Apr 07

On a recent week in Perth for work, I discovered that they have a FREE inner city bus network that runs every 15 or so minutes during the day (the CATs Central Area Transit). On 3 seperate routes, it covered an area that would essentially compare to running busses in loops through Fishwyck, Kingston, Civic, Ainlsie Turner, Lyneham, Russel and out to the Airport with stops every 400m. All Outer suburb busses and trains feed into this network via interchanges at key locations. It keeps a lot of traffic out of the city and is very convenient for perambulating tourists.

A similar system here could link all the major national monuments/attractions and service the CBD/ANU/Airport.

avidmxreader11:11 am 24 Apr 07

If you want to see how Northborne would work with trams & cars, I’d suggest a trip to Melbourne and take a look at St. Georges road (north of the city, 112 tram route between North Fitzroy & Preston.) Cars, bikes, pedestrians in the mix and the trams scream along! No boom gates required because Victorians are actually better drivers!

i stole it from somewhere – cant take credit.

“More roads to reduce traffic is like putting another hole in a fat mans belt.” – bonfire

Now there’s a quote for the top of the page!
Bonfire I am lock-step with you on this issue, and you nailed it with that comment.

Golly VY – going into bat for bus services! Okay – I’m being facetious. I guess you’d be more likely to use them if they were any good…

Unbeliever – that was very well articulated. I agree that we need to look at public transport as a social investment, rather than a financial one. I know it’s terribly “softhead” to look at social capital; but I reckon sometimes you’ve gotta spend money ‘cause it makes things better for people.

The thing with this debate that really gets me wound up is when people talk of the cost of public transport as a burden on the government budget.

The public transport budget and the roads construction budget must be combined so that the proper cost-benefit relationship is recognised.

And that is the simple reality – money spent on buses or whatever PT you choose off-sets road construction costs. It also off-sets medical costs (very tangible) and environmental costs (more difficult to quantify).

The ACT transport strategy shows this very clearly, with a calculated 2 to 3 times return on investment in public transport: http://apps.actpla.act.gov.au/transportplan/5_Benefits/index.htm

I had hoped that when Hargreaves took over the planning end of the transport portfolio to add to the delivery end he already had, that there might be opportunity for him to take a wholistic view on the issue.

But instead we have him diving right into this bullshit mantra that “Canberra was designed for the car and you can’t make public transport work.”

What a load of crap.

Brisbane was designed for the bloody horse and cart. Hasn’t stopped them building an outstanding network of dedicated busways. Hasn’t stopped them integrating the Council buses and the State rail (which runs amazingly on time – most unlike NSW rail) into a brilliant service, albeit with room for more improvement.

The problem is that too many people in Canberra THINK SMALL. It is evident in the position taken this week by Hargreaves. It is evident in a disturbingly large chunk of the discussion in this thread.

Take a step back and really think about the big picture people.
We criticise politicians for being unable to see beyond the next electoral cycle.
Well how about trying to look beyond 5-10-15 years? How do you really want Canberra to look and function in 30-50 years when your kids are going to work here? Do you really think that 95% of that solution will be/should be cars with one person in them????
Get a grip people.

and pandy – YOU ASKED ME – to ‘prove’ how i would install and run light rail.

dont ask me to provide an answer then accuse me of ‘mantras’, ‘foaming’ and ‘would be engineers’.

you softhead.

if you cant argue the merits, attacking the man is a very poor way to bolster your case.

more roads to reduce traffic is like putting another hole in a fat mans belt.

pandy you overegg your argument by bandying around a billion dollar figure.

it would be closer to 115mil than 1 billion.

investment in lightrail would help shape the city we live in.

developers are so innovative that our city is now filled with endless shopping centres (with all the same franchises) and poorly designed suburbs with cheaply constructed homes.

when light rail is in place, high density housing can be provided which because of available transport would mean a reduction in private car usage, and all the benefits that flowon from there – better health, less traffic, lower personal trasnport costs, less smog etc.

im not an anti-car zealot – i own several – and am mr toad like in my zeal for driving.

but if you cant see the logic in a better mass transit public trasnport system for the act – when buses are at peak capacity 3 years after the ‘sustainable transport plan’ was introduced, then its pointless to try and explain it to you.

you keep counting your beans. i will swap you one of my magic ones for a better bus system.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt9:40 am 24 Apr 07

Maybe we need to consider the plan for future housing development to work out how future transport needs to operate.

For now I’d be a fan of spending whatever $$ we have on building more lanes for major roads and putting on better bus services.

I agree Unbeliever. Love to see a tram going around Canberra. Even an on-time bus that I don’t need to stand on would be nice.

But what I have seen is a mantra from foaming would-be engineers that this is what light rail will cost so as to convince the great unwashed to build their utopian pet project: Like Bonfire saying that approx 9 tram units will cost $15 million whereas the references I have provided from Melbourne and Adelaide say that the cost will be $49 million. I bet Bonfire will comeback and say that these figures are misleading/gold-plated/not relevant etc. Its the head in the sand syndrome.

If however, the advocates started spreading the real cost of light rail for public debate I wonder what the voting public would say? I know for a fact that from the half dozen talks I have had with different residents of Adelaide, each and everyone says that the $31 million tramline extension is a waste of money. One said that with the rise of child obesity, why can’t people, walk around the compact and walkable CBD?

Two things come to mind reading these comments. (1) Light rail will cost a shit load. (2) Why should the ACT govt. invest in this?

On the first point, all this talk about cost seems to imply waste as in throwing money away. Investment in useful public infrastructure is a move of assets from one part of the public purse to the other, not a waste. That infrastructure is a potential source of dollars and could be sold off if ever needed.

Secondly, the private sector in general may be the best at trampling over everyone and anyone to save a buck, but fortunately for us government has a social mandate about investing in services even if it’s an inefficient waste of money. Like healthcare handed out to countless slobs with lifestyle induced illness, just to prolong their donut munching habits, only for them to die later of a chronic illness in a glorious blaze of guzzling up intensive-care, publicly-funded medical goods and services. Because government sees health care as a social service and a basic right. And rightly so.

The argument about the most effective use of money to build what many seem to agree would be a useful service is blind to the fact that many publicly funded infrastructure and services are not the most efficient cost-delivery model, but they happen anyway. If private sector had built this city we may all be living in high-rises and there’d be no need for costly roads and lightrail running the length of the ACT to service only a population of 300000. But we live in our sprawling urban city because socially it’s what we wanted, not because it’s the most cost efficient. May be light-rail is one such thing.

Like cut the bus time table because the coffers are bare. A mere 10% cut in bus services to save $4 million has casued caos on the streets.

What hope a billion dollar light rail system then? Do we forestall the building of a dam and water recycling plant? shut a few more libraries? Cut funding to Summernats and other circus events?

c’mon all you would be treasurers tell us how you would be the ACT treasurer.

One point — I could afford a car, making us a two-car household. However, I don’t want one, so I definitely shouldn’t be forced to get one.

Unfortunately, getting to doctor’s appointments and other essential tasks during business hours is becoming increasingly difficult on buses. There should at least be enough to get people to and from work, and to essential services. There’s not. That’s not right. Something needs to be done.

In the 1950s, public opinion was that with ACTION Buses (or whatever it was called back then), you could be assured that a bus wouldn’t go to close to wear your wanting to go, when your wanting to go there. Its 2007 and things haven’t changed.

As for light rail reducing the commute time from the outer suburbs. Just look at Sydney or Melbourne. Granted their bigger cities, but the point is compared to a car, it would likely be no quicker, no cheaper and no more convenient. After all, you’ll probably has to walk 20 minutes to the nearest stop anyway.

I think the only way light rail could work is as an express service between Bus interchanges and the airport. Smaller, frequent buses wiz around the suburbs closer to wear you want to go. Passenger are taken to the bus Interchange. From their they catch a larger high speed express service to another exchange, say the City Interchange. This idea would still be one for the future given the current economic environment.

Until then, lets hope Ford finally releases one of those flying cars old Henry promised us in 1950!

If I didn’t have to walk 20mins to the nearest bus stop (being that there’s no bus service in my suburb), I’d catch buses more often. So I do think that fixing the bus network is a good idea.

However, I will still have to use a car for the bulk of my daily travel. Because Stupid Stanhope and Brainwashed Barr messed up our primary school network, I am now forced to drive them to pre-school or primary school (no local schools, no buses).

Light rail would be worthy of serious consideration to reduce the commute time from the outer suburbs.

By the way, is Hargreaves also getting rid of Corbell’s policy of limiting the availability of parking in Civic? (which probably isn’t such a bad idea, but only if its linked with increased availability of public transport).

What’s the point of sinking hundreds of millions into rail infrastructure when the traffic on the roads is generally so light that a bus would go just as fast? As it takes less than 15 minutes to get from Civic to Woden by direct bus at peak hour why do we need to build tracks down the middle of Yamba Drive? Similarly, how would light rail going up Northbourne Ave go any faster than a bus given the number of side streets it would have to deal with?

Moreover, as Canberra is a company town where most people work somewhere between 8:30 and 6pm the rail system would be almost unused outside of the morning and afternoon peak hours.

Lets face it, Canberra is a small and very low density city which was designed around the car. Retro-fitting trains of any sort into the city is a fun pipe-dream but is totally uneconomic given that even the existing bus service (which doesn’t require hundreds of millions in start-up costs) struggles to justify its costs, especially outside of peak hours. I’m all for increased housing density and investment in public transport, but light rail simply isn’t feasible or sensible in Canberra.

I think a light rail service along the Tuggeranong Parkway and GDE would be great. Unfortunetly, I think the design of Canberra is fundamentally flawed when it comes to such transport systems.

As for who would fund anysuch service whether it be an inner city thing or something more substantial is pretty easy to guess… no one. I doubt the private sector would be willing to put up the capital and the Government is in no position to with its current financial situation. If the 1970s estimates of a population of half a million were correct, then it might be sustainable, but in a city as spread out and relatively small as Canberra with just over 300,000, it would not be sustainable.

OpenYourMind8:29 pm 23 Apr 07

JohnBoy, I have to disagree on this one. I don’t think a car focus is good for Canberra in the longer term. Sure a car is the logical choice for many Canberrans, but the problem with car use is that everybody else also thinks car use is a good idea. A city doesn’t need to grow too much for streets to get choked up. I already notice this with Canberra traffic – I remember what it was like here 15yrs ago. Now imagine 50 yrs into the future?

The privater sector did not want to pay for the Very Fast Train; or the Federation Tram said to cost a mere $15 million to go from the National Museum to the War Memorial

Who said the government had to pay for it though ?

All they need is a robust business plan, and support for development. I’d daresay too, for the people looking here for inspiration, incorporate fares into your business plan, and ensure they never go above $5 one way, otherwise its too attractive to use cars.

Adelaide Tramway nice:
I’d like it to happen.

Real costs:


Opps! some 42 million to extend a Melbourne tram line by 3 km in 2005

Oh look the study for the Adelaide Tram extension including real world costs:
See 5.1 and 5.2

Or what it costs to upgrade a tramway:

Bugger that 1 billion price tag starting to loo a bit on the cheap (ie unrealistic) side.

captainwhorebags5:45 pm 23 Apr 07

Why does the light rail have to go down the length of Northbourne? It could travel along the GDE, using above grade crossings, stop at UC, Calvary, then swing around the front of Black Mountain to come into Civic from the south, perhaps stopping at ANU as well.

The Canberra airport does have 24/7 flight access I think.

I think trams down Northbourne would be great – and down Yamba drive to Woden – bring it on.

The Bonfire, have you not ignored ALL of the subsequent costings and actual costs for tram units from Melbourne and Adelaide eg that each modern tram unit costs around $5 million each. Proove this wrong.

No boom gates are all my thoughts based upon seeing that the tramway in Adelaide for at least 50 years have had boom gates.

I could go on, but the real costs are out there for anyone to do a Google on.

I am sure that Mr Hargraeves is awaiting you application as procuremnet engineer. Bwahhhhhhhhhh!

When reading Hargreaves rants from the valley, think about his right wing supporter base: CFMEU and TWU. These folk build roads and drive ACTION buses. If Hargreaves stepped out of line on this he would lose his preselection.

y’see pandy – you were sucked right in by the 2004 report – it used the figures from kbr based on HEAVY RAIL costs.

this is reflected in your language re boom gates etc.

i dont think you really understand the difference between light and heavy rail.

read some of the submissions to the SPT report and also some of the material that the conservation council made available at the time.

the figures were grossly exaggerated deliberately, to make busways look attractive.

Sorry John boy, yes it can if it ran at pedstrian like speeds like in Adeliade down the middle of the street. If however it was an axpress service, as in othjer parts of Adelaide, they have installed boom gates to protect the occasional Darwin Award recipient car driver.

You know how much it costs to put in a basic traffic light in Canberra or anywhere else in Australia? Then think how the lights, boom gates have to be co-ordinated with a tram running 80km/h.

>8 light rail vehicles to start.
>plus spares.
Each new tram unit from either Melbourne or Adelaide costs around $5 million That’s around 445 million to start

>plus servicing shed in say mitchell area.
Say $3 million plus turn-outs

>that would be say 15 mil.
$say $55 million

>id use the area between melbourne bldg and sydney bldg at end of nthbourne >to have a lightrail interchange.
>the trees along nthbourne may have to be sacrificed. im sure they would grow back.
Welcome to Save-Our-Trees!

>you can even keep it nice and green using the right track installation.
>civic to gungahlin – about 10k or so, i havent measured it.

>if i couldnt build 10k of track for 100 mil i’d be surprised.
Plus overheads, signalling, boom gates.
>many of the costs the other localities experience are in purchasing land to >build the track on. a cost not factored into my scenario.
?Not so GC. Mainly raods, parks. Adelaide: all roadway.
>frequency ?
>id run two vehicles: one every 10 minutes would be an express gungahlin to civic.
>30 seconds later id run a ’stopping at mitchell, dickson and one or two other stops’ service.
repeat every ten minutes in peak time.
>15 minutes in non-peak hours.
>any other questions for the bonfire lightrail service ?
Look at the report from 2004 and see what real costs are like not what arm chair engineers dream about.

naturally id soon expand my succesful service and spread tentacles to russell, qbn and then across the lake….

8 light rail vehicles to start.

plus spares.

plus servicing shed in say mitchell area.

that would be say 15 mil.

id use the area between melbourne bldg and sydney bldg at end of nthbourne to have a lightrail interchange.

the trees along nthbourne may have to be sacrificed. im sure they would grow back.

you can even keep it nice and green using the right track installation.

civic to gungahlin – about 10k or so, i havent measured it.

if i couldnt build 10k of track for 100 mil i’d be surprised.

many of the costs the other localities experience are in purchasing land to build the track on. a cost not factored into my scenario.

frequency ?

id run two vehicles: one every 10 minutes would be an express gungahlin to civic.

30 seconds later id run a ‘stopping at mitchell, dickson and one or two other stops’ service.

repeat every ten minutes in peak time.

15 minutes in non-peak hours.

any other questions for the bonfire lightrail service ?

Actually the way they’ve re-jigged the lights down Northbourne at least there’s no traffic parked in the middle. Have the tram stops at the lights and it could all run very smoothly indeed down there.

Well you have proof of this Bonfire?

The real costs for a new tram unit is how many million? How many tram units including spares would you suggest for Gungahlin? What is the frequncy of service that you would envisage for the Gungahlin Service? How fast would you send it down Nth Bourne Ave? If it is a rapid service will you require boom gates on the intersections or are you willing to accept the occasional tram/car collision? How many tramstops will there be? One every 400m as per the buses now?

If my understanding is correct the costs for Melbourne are for light rail “extensions”, not for a green filed service as per GC, that would include new power transformers, a control centre, break-down and track maintenance equipment, workshops, cleaning sheeds etc etc etc. Thus the costs are on a much greater basic infrastracture base. So the costs would be lower.

However, I am sure the authorities in Adelaide and the GC would have looked at the costs in Melbourne and queried the costs of their own projects. I am sure that they would have put their projects to tender. I would suggest that these costs are the best and cheapest price they could get at the time.

Anyway if you built a tramway or a busway down the median strip that would involve the mass destgruction of a majority of trees along the route. Proof? tree protection zone=drip line=all those fences around rtrees on building sites to protect tree roots.

Whether Hargreaves likes it or not, the reason there are no trees planted down the middle of the Northbourne median strip was to preserve the corridor for a dedicated public transport link.
Since when did he become the entire government???

lr costs for extensions in melbourne are much lower, and more realistic.

Growling Ferret3:51 pm 23 Apr 07

Once Defence HQ moves to Bungendore, Majura Parkway and a Queanbeyan bypass will be necessary. Imagine another 10,000? cars a day going out along the Kings Highway – through Queanbeyan, up the hill etc.

Its going to be an absolute nightmare

What is your basis Bonfire?

The study in 2004 said light rail to Gunghalin would cost $200million.

Since then we have seen the cost of projects like the Gold Coast light rail increase from $400 to $550 million (and not a sod has turned) and the 2km tramway extension (no extra tram units) for Adelaide cost $31 million.

Anyway Hargraeves likes the look of the median strip along Nth Bourne Ave as is and I doubt he will put a tramway along it. He is looking towards the Majura Parkway to service Gungahlin.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt2:35 pm 23 Apr 07

Perhaps more thought could be given to the ‘Park and Ride’ idea…

220 new buses = 220 new drivers.

with light rail you add extra vehicles without adding extra drivers.

obviously only useful for intertown and peak employment areas, which is why you retain buses to service the suburban routes.

Sammy and Bonfire are spot on in this debate (oh crap, I dang agreed with Bonfire – where will it end???)
JB I really can’t tell if you are being sarcastic on this topic – I’d hate to think you are being serious…

Or you could buy a really cheap and ugly car for all the people who can’t afford a nice one, and a dedicated door to door transport service for the aged and disabled who physically can’t drive.

$115 million for a light rail network? That sort of money could buy you about 220 new buses (or more realistically, a fair number of new buses and lots of bus lanes and B lights at the traffic lights to make the whole bus system work better). And you could use the buses wherever you wanted, not just on dedicated railways.

Personally I think the Majura Parkway is being pushed heavily by Snow and the airport mob. They seem to have visions of making Canberra Airport a transport hub for Sydney.

If Canberra Airport had permission to receive air traffic 24/7, freight planes could land at Canberra at (say) 3am, unload to a truck, and have the goods delivered to Western Sydney by 6am.

Sydney airport has flight restrictions between 11pm and 6am, with only certain low-noise aircraft allowed to land during this period.

This also explains the airports strong opposition to the Tralee development. More residential development under the flightpath means more difficulty getting increased flight hours in the future.

LIght rail is a good idea, but in a time of such financial stress that they are closing schools and libraries, and selling off the bus fleet, they don’t have the cash to get it going.

By all means save some land corridors to put it in later, but I’m glad they are facing the facts that at the moment most Canberrans have to drive to work, and traffic is not getting any less, no matter how expensive they make the parking.

people like travelling in their cars, but offer a viable alternative and they would use it.

as we can all see, the peak load for buses has been exceeded.

replace intertown buses with light rail and let buses feed the interchanges.

I’m for the Majura Parkway, if I’m right in assuming that it will fix the russel/airport traffic nightmare. Has anything else been released on that since the report from October last year? I noticed that there were traffic survey people at the three roundabouts about a month ago…

People like travelling in their cars.

115 mil might buy the property necessary to install lighrail, or it might build the train station hub in Civic, but I welcome the concept.

115 mill would build you a lightrail from gungahlin to civic – solving public transport and some parking issues in one move.

I’ll take that bet. Our system has a high tolerance for stupidity.

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