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Libs offer up light rail alternatives for Northbourne

By Charlotte Harper - 15 December 2015 80

Northbourne Ave

The ACT Liberal Opposition has today proposed three alternatives to light rail on the Northbourne Avenue corridor based on ideas provided by the community.

Canberrans can read the 19-page paper outlining the alternatives on Shadow Minister for Transport Alistair Coe’s website here.

Until today, the Liberals’ anti-light rail campaign had focused on criticizing the transport plan without offering up alternatives.

Mr Coe said the options paper was designed to show that the debate should not be light rail or nothing.

“There are other infrastructure options using the existing bus network, that can improve public and private transport on Northbourne Avenue,” he said.

Option 1 would involve moving the cycle lane into the median strip on Northbourne, with bus priority measures added along the corridor.

Option 1

Option 2 would see a bus lane built inthe Northbourne Avenue median, with the cycle lane remaining as is. The bus lane would be one-way, and would transport people into the City in the morning and away from the City in the afternoon.

Option 2

Under Option 3, government would build a bus lane in the Northbourne Avenue median with cycle lanes on either side.

Option 3

“Options 2 and 3 will save bus users 10 minutes at peak time and deliver a faster service than light rail at a fraction of the cost,” Mr Coe said.

“These options will be further explored by the Opposition, along with ideas to improve the operation of the bus network.”

A Belconnen-Civic busway, which included a bus lane down the Northbourne median strip, was Labor’s preferred option over light rail for some years. It was included in the ACT Government’s 2010 Infrastructure Plan, under  “future directions”.

The Minister for Capital Metro Simon Corbell himself appears to have favoured the bus lane option over light rail back in 2012, as this earlier RiotACT article indicates. It also includes a light rail timeline opening with the fact that the 1994 Canberra Light Rail Implementation Study found that light rail was feasible for the territory.

 

 

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80 Responses to
Libs offer up light rail alternatives for Northbourne
Masquara 10:45 pm 15 Dec 15

Note that the Transport Minister included the fact that they (Labor) are sewing up the light rail deal such that getting out of any contract will cost ACT residents an arm and a leg, as part of his argument against the Liberal proposal’s cost. Nuh-uh. The cost of getting out of the light rail contract will be sheeted straight home to Barr and his predecessors, Rattenbury and the transport ministers. In no particular order. We will be paying for it for a looooonnnnngggg time and the Liberals will be quite right to constantly remind us of it over what, a decade or so while we pay it off, for nothing?

rommeldog56 10:36 pm 15 Dec 15

watto23 said :

Well no a lot of that comes from those against light rail. Many people like myself have been saying given no alternative you can’t just close your eyes and make a problem go away………. There is this whole idea that they can’t spend money on infrastructure, but that is exactly where taxes should be spent. An idea I had was to build a busway down the middle and underpasses of all the main intersections and green light preferences for other intersections.

“Given no alternative” ? Surely you jest. There have been plenty of alternatives canvassed on RiotAct and elsewhere. It is the ACT Government and the pro light rail’ers who have closed their eyes to anything else but a tram. The ACT Gov’t didn’t even properly evaluate or fully cost alternatives.

Re spending $ on Infrastructure : Certainly. But it has to be affordable and sustainable. The Territory budget is already very deep in the red (a record deficit). You should not spend Ratepayers $ that u haven’t got. That will come at a cost sooner than later.

Busway Down the Middle + underpasses : A comparatively simple solution – so why was it not properly evaluated & fully costed by the ACT Gov’t ???

At the end of the day, the tram is actually not primarily about a better transport system. It is about accelerating densification along the corridor and so accelerating revenue raising in acknowledgement of poor planning in Gunners and the total failure of the ACT Gov’t to really substantially broaden the revenue raising base – except of course for bleeding apparently apathetic ACT ratepayers/voters dry, which is something so many seem happy to roll with.

Maybe its the public service mentality “lead and I will follow”.

Kalliste 9:22 pm 15 Dec 15

nealg said :

I see the Libs have only put in one bus lane in their photo. How is that going to work?
If they are honest and showed bus lanes in both directions, along with their suggested bike lanes, then that too will be encroaching on the existing trees I would think. They would end up with a wide 2 lane road down the middle of the median strip.

Their suggestion is for 1 lane only, they’re not dodgying up their concept photos to make it look prettier than the light rail alternative.

The idea is that during the morning peak buses going towards the city would use the lane and in the afternoon peak buses going toward gungahlin would use the lane. Thereby hopefully decreasing the time spent sitting in peak traffic.

I don’t know if I agree with it but that’s the idea behind it.

farnarkler 9:18 pm 15 Dec 15

Bring on option 3.

dungfungus 9:12 pm 15 Dec 15

chewy14 said :

watto23 said :

chewy14 said :

This is horrible.

How dare they look at things like alternatives or costs and benefits?

Everyone knows that the light rail is THE ONLY OPTION and must be constructed at any cost.

Well no a lot of that comes from those against light rail. Many people like myself have been saying given no alternative you can’t just close your eyes and make a problem go away. that said this plan screams of standard liberal tactics of putting half arsed cheaper options up. It really should be two lanes to run all day. Did no one learn from the single lane GDE fiasco? I’m guessing the idea of a single lane is it runs one way am and the other way in the pm. There is this whole idea that they can’t spend money on infrastructure, but that is exactly where taxes should be spent. An idea I had was to build a busway down the middle and underpasses of all the main intersections and green light preferences for other intersections.

Firstly you have to identify that there is actually a problem, the extent of the problem and then the best way to deal with it. And that’s the point, there are plenty of alternatives, all of which have been railroaded (geddit) for the predetermined option.

The single lane GDE example is actually a perfect example of why light rail shouldn’t be built yet.

The GDE clearly had enough demand to support the construction of two lanes from the beginning but they tried to save money upfront which ended up the debacle it was. In this case, we clearly dont have the demand to support the light rail, so they’re trying to build the final solution and then hoping that the demand arrives at some later date, mainly fuelled by redevelopment along Northbourne.

Wouldn’t be be better to accept that the motor vehicle (which Canberra was designed for) is always going to be the preferred and most practical and efficient way to travel around our city?
How much would it cost to build an elevated roadway above Northbourne Avenue to carry through traffic express to Commonwealth Bridge with exit ramps at Parkes Way? Funding by e-toll (keep the PPP for another day).
Problem solved without ripping up the median strip and the trees can stay.

chewy14 6:38 pm 15 Dec 15

watto23 said :

chewy14 said :

This is horrible.

How dare they look at things like alternatives or costs and benefits?

Everyone knows that the light rail is THE ONLY OPTION and must be constructed at any cost.

Well no a lot of that comes from those against light rail. Many people like myself have been saying given no alternative you can’t just close your eyes and make a problem go away. that said this plan screams of standard liberal tactics of putting half arsed cheaper options up. It really should be two lanes to run all day. Did no one learn from the single lane GDE fiasco? I’m guessing the idea of a single lane is it runs one way am and the other way in the pm. There is this whole idea that they can’t spend money on infrastructure, but that is exactly where taxes should be spent. An idea I had was to build a busway down the middle and underpasses of all the main intersections and green light preferences for other intersections.

Firstly you have to identify that there is actually a problem, the extent of the problem and then the best way to deal with it. And that’s the point, there are plenty of alternatives, all of which have been railroaded (geddit) for the predetermined option.

The single lane GDE example is actually a perfect example of why light rail shouldn’t be built yet.

The GDE clearly had enough demand to support the construction of two lanes from the beginning but they tried to save money upfront which ended up the debacle it was. In this case, we clearly dont have the demand to support the light rail, so they’re trying to build the final solution and then hoping that the demand arrives at some later date, mainly fuelled by redevelopment along Northbourne.

KentFitch 6:25 pm 15 Dec 15

watto23 said :

chewy14 said :

… that said this plan screams of standard liberal tactics of putting half arsed cheaper options up. It really should be two lanes to run all day. Did no one learn from the single lane GDE fiasco? I’m guessing the idea of a single lane is it runs one way am and the other way in the pm. There is this whole idea that they can’t spend money on infrastructure, but that is exactly where taxes should be spent.

I’m not sure, but I’m guessing they are taking into account that the “reverse” direction away from the the “tidal flow” is uncongested, and hence currently in no need of extra capacity. For example, Google Maps trip estimate northbound in the AM peak: https://goo.gl/maps/p1Hz6PJHTy62

This is slightly different from the GDE fiasco, as two lanes south-bound were needed in the AM peak, and two lanes north-bound were needed in the PM peak from day one.

Whether it is better to bring forward expenditure before it is needed whilst interest rates are low I guess depends on whether you think it will ever be needed, or whether this is a stop gap before other approaches to urban planning (such as reducing the need for travel), changes to technology (reducing the need to travel) or transport technology (such as shared fleets of autonomous cars: http://www.projectcomputing.com/resources/cacs/ ) is the type of question I hope politicians canvas in the community.

miz 6:23 pm 15 Dec 15

Oh thank God, finally some constructive discussion about options.
I think I prefer Option one, with the rapid bus priority lanes to the sides (so passengers can get on and off more safely and easily instead of being in the middle of the road), and with cyclists in the middle (off the road).

nealg 5:57 pm 15 Dec 15

I see the Libs have only put in one bus lane in their photo. How is that going to work?
If they are honest and showed bus lanes in both directions, along with their suggested bike lanes, then that too will be encroaching on the existing trees I would think. They would end up with a wide 2 lane road down the middle of the median strip.

IdlePeasant 4:42 pm 15 Dec 15

I really dislike this “either you’re for light-rail or you’re against it” attitude the major parties are pushing. Anyone who has done their research and listened to transport engineers will know that the current iteration of the Gungahlin-to-Civic route an awful idea that is destined to fail. With that said, light rail still has a place in Canberra provided it’s done logically and the train system is initially built to link hubs of businesses with each other.

It’s pretty much transport 101 to build light rail so traffic constantly flows both ways from the get-go. It’s literally one of the first concepts people learn in any sort of transport planning education. I’m simply hoping one of the parties listens to scientific facts and reworks the light rail plan to ignore outer suburbs like Gungahlin for the moment. It would be far better to build light rail around an initial airport-civic-belconnen route considering the amount of businesses, educational institutions and tourist locations in those areas.

I think the Liberal party is making the mistake that most people are inherently against light rail in Canberra. In my experience, that’s simply not true – most people want light rail, but disagree with the plan that the Greens & Labor (and people in Gungahlin) are pushing.

crackerpants 4:23 pm 15 Dec 15

Hmmmmm…package it up with a garden waste collection, switch collection schedules for recycling and regular waste bins (recycling weekly), provide a modest discount on rates for those homeowners maintaining Very Large Nature Strips, take property developers to task for shoddy and environmentally unsound design, call the whole thing Green Canberra, and I might consider it…

watto23 3:57 pm 15 Dec 15

chewy14 said :

This is horrible.

How dare they look at things like alternatives or costs and benefits?

Everyone knows that the light rail is THE ONLY OPTION and must be constructed at any cost.

Well no a lot of that comes from those against light rail. Many people like myself have been saying given no alternative you can’t just close your eyes and make a problem go away. that said this plan screams of standard liberal tactics of putting half arsed cheaper options up. It really should be two lanes to run all day. Did no one learn from the single lane GDE fiasco? I’m guessing the idea of a single lane is it runs one way am and the other way in the pm. There is this whole idea that they can’t spend money on infrastructure, but that is exactly where taxes should be spent. An idea I had was to build a busway down the middle and underpasses of all the main intersections and green light preferences for other intersections.

chewy14 1:47 pm 15 Dec 15

This is horrible.

How dare they look at things like alternatives or costs and benefits?

Everyone knows that the light rail is THE ONLY OPTION and must be constructed at any cost.

Garfield 12:35 pm 15 Dec 15

Good to see the Libs making a positive contribution to the light rail/public transport debate. I think that a bus lane down the centre of Northbourne makes sense. It will allow express services to keep operating and become faster. One concern I always had with light rail was that commuters would have to catch a bus and then get off it and on to the tram before continuing their journey to Civic. With bus rapid transit, the express buses can keep driving all the way to the city, thus eliminating the time lost due to changing modes of transport part way, and they will get there faster than currently as they can bypass a lot of the traffic.

The other advantage with a bus lane is that if light rail later becomes viable, the work regarding moving median strip underground infrastructure has already been done, meaning that a light rail line could be constructed faster. Its always concerned me that the rail business case is wholly dependant on non-public transport gains to be viable. While land values and jobs along the line may well increase because the line is there, values & jobs in other parts of the city could well fall due to the shift to the corridor.

watto23 12:14 pm 15 Dec 15

Finally an alternative plan.

I do see a single lane as a rather shortsighted proposal though. Should at least be a dual lane bus way.
option 2 or 3 needs to be done, but also throughout the city with priority to buses.

I do find it interesting that when Labor proposed a bus way to Belconnen the Liberal government opposed it back then also.

The paper has a lot of very poor paragraphs and comments in it, like the government not explaining why the Gungahlin tram link was first. Seriously, I thought it was very clear that its due to the high density plan for Northbourne. The tram is more about providing a high density area for people to live in, with public transport and not need to own a car.

IMO its step in the right direction for an alternative, but the paper is more about politics and less about a real solution, accusing labor of doing one thing and doing exactly the same, being vague. If they don’t believe Northbourne is the best place to “build a tram” then why build a bus lane there instead? Its kind of admitting the location does need public transport improvement and nullifies that argument.

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