A light-rail line between Canberra and Queanbeyan could be on the cards as residents call for better connections between the two CBDs.
Community feedback on the Queanbeyan Region Integrated Transport Plan is in and second from the top in the report’s list of design considerations is “the potential to start planning for the future integration of Queanbeyan’s transport network with Canberra’s light rail”.
Over four weeks between February and March this year, Transport for NSW invited comments from the community on a 10-year plan to improve the border town’s capacity for getting around.
The focus was on active travel – such as walking, cycling and running – as well as public transport, road transport, freight connectivity, parking and public spaces across Queanbeyan.
“Key constraints and issues experienced when travelling in and around Queanbeyan include on-street parking, traffic queuing, delays in peak periods, public transport availability and the future transport needs of the community,” the report read.
Extending Canberra’s light rail into Queanbeyan emerged as one solution in both the online survey and social media campaign components of the consultation.
“The need for improved infrastructure investments was reported with some commuters suggesting the linkage between Canberra’s light rail network and Queanbeyan’s transport system to support anticipated future population growth.”
The population of the Queanbeyan-Palerang region has increased by more than 11,000 people between 2015 and 2020, so it’s now comparable to one of Canberra’s regions. The neighbouring towns of Jerrabomberra and Googong have also grown significantly in that time.
Not only is there a lack of local public transport, but it’s also serviced by a different provider – Transport for NSW – so connections to Canberra’s services remain disjointed. Both use different payment methods and timetables, so most commuters opt for the car.
The ACT Government has a master plan for rolling out light rail across Canberra, with the immediate priority being to establish a north-south line from Gungahlin to Woden. This is the spine from which further extensions east to west will be made.
ACT Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel told Region he met with NSW Minister for Infrastructure Rob Stokes earlier in the year to discuss Canberra’s light rail, including “future opportunities for cross-border connections to Queanbeyan”.
“The suggestion of a connection to Queanbeyan, particularly along Canberra Avenue, is consistent with our light rail master plan and it fits with our multi-decade vision of establishing a mass-transit system as our city and our region grows.”
According to the report, first and foremost in the list of Queanbeyan priorities was “the need to improve the reliability, efficiency and frequency of the Queanbeyan public transport system”.
This includes more frequent services around town, more covered bus stops, and an upgrade to the bus interchange on Morisset Street.
When asked if they had any other comments regarding the transport network within Queanbeyan, up to 38 per cent of respondents opted for improving public transport, 13 per cent for improving active travel options, but only 8 per cent for integrating a tramline.
“We also received feedback requesting the need for frequent rapid bus routes from Queanbeyan to Canberra City and create better connectivity between Googong and Jerrabomberra to Canberra that do not travel via the Queanbeyan CBD.”
Transport for NSW will use the community feedback to inform the next stage.