7 May 2020

Light rail boosts property values along route, says review

| Ian Bushnell
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Light rail

Light rail has been a huge success with wider economic benefits, the government says. Photo: File.

Population and property values have increased along the light rail Stage 1 route, according to a 12-month review of the project released by the ACT Government.

It has also reported less traffic along Northbourne Avenue since light rail began running.

The review, released after a year of operations, highlights the project’s economic benefits and will help inform planning, design and delivery of future city-shaping infrastructure projects, including the next stage of light rail to Woden, the government says.

Transport Minister Chris Steel said light rail had been a huge success with the project coming in under budget and experiencing an immediate jump in public transport use.

“Comfortable, reliable and frequent services has seen a sustained increase in people using public transport, with more than 4.2 million boardings over the year,” he said, although the COVID-19 restrictions impacted travel in March and April.

Mr Steel said the review confirms the projects wider economic benefits, saying living and working next to light rail has proved popular and is contributing to the Northbourne corridor’s rejuvenation

It says that based on 2016 ABS Census data, population growth in suburbs along the light rail corridor has exceeded what was initially expected in the business case by nearly 2,500 people.

From 2014-2018, average house prices increased by 17 per cent across the whole of the ACT but were higher in the areas incorporating the light rail corridor – 39 per cent in the Inner North and 27 per cent in Gungahlin over the same period.

There was also an average increase between 2011-2018 in the unimproved value of blocks of 35.2 per cent, which was significantly greater than the Territory average of 21.7 per cent for the same period.

The review says that the project helped grow a more diversified Canberra economy through increased business and commercial floor space along the light rail corridor.

“Redevelopment of the corridor, particularly Northbourne Avenue, is attracting new business and commercial operations, including the new ACT Government office and mixed-use development at the Dickson interchange,” it says.

The Asset Recycling initiative also allowed the replacement of 1,288 aged public houses and relocation of public housing tenants to newer, higher quality homes.

The review says there has been a consistent upward trend in footfall including Civic, Dickson and Gungahlin, indicating higher commercial activity occurring along the corridor from April to December 2019.

Road count data also shows up to a 20 per cent reduction in vehicles travelling along Northbourne Avenue during the morning peak period.

Based on February 2020 survey data, around three in five customers used active travel to get to a light rail stop – 57 per cent walked while 3 per cent rode a bike and took it on board and 1 per cent rode a bike and left it at the station.

Community feedback has included concerns about overcrowding in light rail vehicles, safety issues for women at stops, a need for more end of trip facilities, better access for people with a disability and construction of a stop at the Mitchell industrial area.

“Canberrans can already see the broader economic and social benefits that light rail has brought to our city,” Mr Steel said.

“This is a long-term infrastructure investment, and more benefits will continue to be realised and measured over the years and decades to come.”

He said Stage 1 of light rail created 4,750 jobs, and Stage 2 would also have an important role to play in supporting more construction jobs and assisting the ACT’s economic recovery.

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HiddenDragon7:17 pm 08 May 20

Stand clear, here comes the Value Capture Tax – toot toot!!

It’s a shame that the government specifically rejected this option despite it clearly being the obvious truly equitable way to fund the project.

Not that their decision was in any way influenced by wanting to buy votes along the stage 1 route that went a long way to assist them in winning the last election of course.

russianafroman1:40 pm 08 May 20

The tram hasn’t made Canberra a more connected or friendly place at all. Northbourne Avenue now seems to segregate the east and west, reminiscent of the American highways of the 60s which destroyed communities and promoted racism. I’m curious to see how this narrowly impassable barrier to movement and exchange will foster animosity in the coming decades. I imagine the northbound roads will become even worse, while properties on the southbound roads will become even more exclusive. Classic polarisation. As a wealthy individual, why live in a property where you have to drive north and sit in deadlock traffic before you can drive south to work? even still, as a wealthy individual, why rush around trying to get on the southbound tram and enjoy the company of the common folk, when you can simply live in the southbound side of the avenue? digress.

Prime inner city land has risen in value higher than the rest of Canberra. Well blow me down with a feather.

Can the government please release the data and calculations in detail and show us whether they are counting the actual Light Rail corridor or all of the Inner North as suggested in the article. Are they factoring in land use rezoning and the land value shift between low value use land to high value apartment building development?

Agreed, the article mentions above average growth for the corridor in the period prior to locking in and operating the line so it’s probably difficult to get an accurate read of what growth is down to the LR and what would’ve occurred anyway.
Not a LR hater, I use it semi-regularly and think it is useful (albeit crowded and limited in who can use it.). But would like to see the data and methodology behind these claims.

So here is the exact evidence of what I told you was occurring that you argued against and you’re still not convinced?

Anyone looking at property price sales data over the last 5-10 years has seen the impact on areas near the light rail route. It’s irrefutable.

And where are these land use changes from low value to high value that you’re talking about?

Most of the changes were small like changing allowable heights and similar, there was barely any large value changes from non residential to residential land uses. And even if there were large changes, the only thing that made those land use changes feasible was the large improvement in transportation brought by the light rail itself. Although as I’ve said previously, these transport benefits could have been delivered far cheaper with alternative options.

Face it, the light rail did exactly what light rail projects have everywhere else in the world, brought property price increases along the corridors well in excess of the rest of the cities.

A publicly funded gift to landowners along the corridor as I’ve always said and the main reason why if it was to be built, it should have been partially paid for with a land value capture tax.

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