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Light Rail – Have your say in our poll

By Canfan 2 July 2014 60

We’ve had no end of opinion and argument over Light Rail in recent weeks/months.

To set a bit more fuel to the fire we have asked John Hargreaves and former Chief Minister Kate Carnell to step into the ring for our first RiotACT Face Off and their first topic will be ‘Light Rail for Canberra’.

Keep an eye out for the Face Off posts on Monday.

But, in the meantime – give them a heads up on your opinion by answering our poll.

Are you in favour of Light Rail for Canberra?

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Light Rail – Have your say in our poll
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racergirl 5:16 pm 10 Jul 14

I live in Banks, work in the City – Why should I be paying for something that I will never use? Fix the buses first. I drive my car as it takes me 3 buses and an hour and a half to get to work.
I will never use the light rail, and I should not be expected to pay for it.

rommeldog56 1:33 pm 09 Jul 14

davo101 said :

rommeldog56 said :

Funding/Borrowing – Who Re Pays ?

To quote the FAQS from the Capital Metro people:

Who is paying for Capital Metro?

Project funding to date is by the ACT Government. Future funding is expected from capturing the benefits of the increase in property values along the corridor.

The Capital Metro Agency will explore the potential for Commonwealth Government contribution and the possibility of private-sector investment in the project.

The ACt Gov’t has categorically ruled out a levy or surcharge for those living along the Light Rail corridore. But, it seems inevitable that their Annual Rates will increase in reaction to the increased value of the land. The million dollar question is by how much and will that be in addition to, or included in the avg 10%pa Annual Rates increases over the next 20 years ! The ACT Govt should declare a position on this I would have thought.

The Feds have already once rejected making any contribution. But that may change if the request is resubmitted. Yeah – I wish the ACT Gov’t good luck with that !

Re Public/Private Partnerships (PPPs) and private sector co-funding. Any pvt sector funding would no doubt, need to be undwewritten by the ACT Gov’t such that the pvt sector financier gets a minimum return on investment. This is a common approach for PPPs. So, if it runs at a loss or not to passenger projections (by ACT Gov’t) then ACT Ratepayers will make up the shortfall.

This is what happens in NSW. But, those shortfalls that are made up by the NSW Gov’t, though potentially huge $ in themselves, are met by a much, much larger and diverse evenue base (ie all Ratepayers in NSW) than exists in the ACT.

Will be interesting to see what funding model the ACT Gov’t comes up with – and whether that and its actual/potential impact on ACT Ratepayers is publically disclosed – or will it be “Commercvial-In-Confidence” so not open to public scrutiny ?

HiddenDragon 12:23 pm 09 Jul 14

“Who is paying for Capital Metro?

Project funding to date is by the ACT Government. Future funding is expected from capturing the benefits of the increase in property values along the corridor.

The Capital Metro Agency will explore the potential for Commonwealth Government contribution and the possibility of private-sector investment in the project.”

Reading between the lines….

Who is paying for Capital Metro?

Project funding to date is by the ACT Government [i.e. everyone who pays rates and taxes – direct and indirect – in the ACT]. Future funding is expected from capturing the benefits of the increase in property values along the corridor [the “corridor” is Labor/Green heartland – a sufficiently huge jump in rates/land taxes in the corridor will be entertaining – in the highly unlikely event it actually happens].

The Capital Metro Agency will explore the potential for Commonwealth Government contribution [if there were realistic prospects of this, the wording would be somewhat sharper than “explore”] and the possibility of private-sector investment [as happens elsewhere, the private sector will do it if they’re given a legislated licence to print money at the expense of the public] in the project.

In short, we will all pay for it, for ever after.

A_Cog 10:36 am 09 Jul 14

davo101 said :

“To quote the FAQS from the Capital Metro people:
Who is paying for Capital Metro?
Project funding to date is by the ACT Government. Future funding is expected from capturing the benefits of the increase in property values along the corridor.
The Capital Metro Agency will explore the potential for Commonwealth Government contribution and the possibility of private-sector investment in the project.”

C/W Govt will help fund public infrastructure projects if state/territory governments sell off public assets. So if Barr sells council housing along Northbourne (and other parts of the ACT) and commits that money to this project, there is a sweetener from the C/W Govt.

Additional to that, Barr can borrow money against the projected earnings from all the rates which will be levied against all the high-density flats eventually built along Northbourne.

Then, there are patronage assumptions (projected fare earnings) for the tram which are based on the high-density flats.

They could also announce that they will sell/lease it after a period of time, which would attract massive private sector interest, especially considering that the ACT is apparently the highest usage of cars for commuting (anyone got a stat for this? apparently we’re SOOOOO far ahead of the other states that daylight comes second on the list), meaning that if the private operator could affect a small change in people driving, the increase rate in tram earnings would be massive, turning the tram into a “high-performing asset” which would then boost the portfolio of the operator (this is what operators are really all about).

Lastly, if ACT Govt wanted to be sneaky and take a page out of Sydney’s book (a la Cross City Tunnel), they could worsen the traffic situation along the route so people use the tram.

I still think this risks become a multi-generational debacle. Use the buses. They exist now, can be implemented tomorrow, and will cost hundreds of millions of dollars ($300m to $700m) less.

davo101 10:04 am 09 Jul 14

rommeldog56 said :

Funding/Borrowing – Who Re Pays ?

To quote the FAQS from the Capital Metro people:

Who is paying for Capital Metro?

Project funding to date is by the ACT Government. Future funding is expected from capturing the benefits of the increase in property values along the corridor.

The Capital Metro Agency will explore the potential for Commonwealth Government contribution and the possibility of private-sector investment in the project.

rommeldog56 10:29 pm 08 Jul 14

Funding/Borrowing – Who Re Pays ? The ACT Government has stated that the potentially tripling of Annual Rates (ie. due to abolition of stamp duty) will be Revenue “Neutral”.

At the same time, it proposes to borrow up to b$4 to fund it’s infrastructure “stimulus” projects – including the proposed Light Rail.

Now, I’m not an accountant, but by looking at the ACT Budget Papers, I can not see who those borrowings + interest is to be repaid. If the potential tripling of Annual Rates will in fact be revenue neutral is the ACT Gov’t relying on the GST increasing to 12.5% or higher in future years under the Fed’s plans for States/Territories to take over more of the Commonwealth’s responsibilities (the new federalism as Ive heard it termed).

What other sources of revenue are there – apart from the usual ACT Gov’t charges of course ? Or will the potential tripling of Annual Rates accelerate and quadruple ?

So, I suppose what I’m asking of those who have “vision” as the ACT Gov’t calls it – and who support the expenditure on the Light Rail – how is such a debt going to be carried fiscally and repaid in such a relatively small jurisdiction and narrow revenue raising base as the ACT has ? After all, I think there are only about 380,000 (?) residents here……..

Thanks.

Can anyone enlighten me please ?

dungfungus 1:13 pm 08 Jul 14

HiddenDragon said :

dungfungus said :

miz said :

No, dungfungus, privatising is Not the answer – having lived in places in Sydney with private buses they are more inefficient that State-run – both expensive and very infrequent. What we need is to use the money we are willing to spend on good public transport wisely, in a way that maximises the most ‘bang for buck’ (otherwise known as cost-benefit) for the most number of people. Light Rail as proposed (or, for that matter private buses) do not meet that simple test.
Like anything, people are willing to pay taxes if they feel they get good value for what those taxes are spent on. Hospitals, dams, good link roads, for example, meet this test because they are there for everyone. But again, Light Rail does not meet this test, as it is obvious that all the planned routes bar the first leg are only there to placate the remainder of Canberrans who rarely or never go to Civic or Gunners, and the first leg is going to be so expensive that the rest will never happen.
The only solution to genuinely fix public transport in the most cost effective way is to use what we already have as a base on which to expand – i.e., build on ACTION so there are more direct routes, better weekend coverage (so you don’t have two your waits in the freezing cold or 40 degree heat), etc. We have a bus fleet, we have a great road network. Let’s use them.

There is nothing more inneficient than a $700K bus running with no passengers and there are plenty of those all over Canberra.
The same situation would never happen with a private operator.

“…There is nothing more inneficient than a $700K bus running with no passengers ….” – except, of course, an X? million dollar tram doing the same thing.

Right on!

HiddenDragon 12:20 pm 08 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

miz said :

No, dungfungus, privatising is Not the answer – having lived in places in Sydney with private buses they are more inefficient that State-run – both expensive and very infrequent. What we need is to use the money we are willing to spend on good public transport wisely, in a way that maximises the most ‘bang for buck’ (otherwise known as cost-benefit) for the most number of people. Light Rail as proposed (or, for that matter private buses) do not meet that simple test.
Like anything, people are willing to pay taxes if they feel they get good value for what those taxes are spent on. Hospitals, dams, good link roads, for example, meet this test because they are there for everyone. But again, Light Rail does not meet this test, as it is obvious that all the planned routes bar the first leg are only there to placate the remainder of Canberrans who rarely or never go to Civic or Gunners, and the first leg is going to be so expensive that the rest will never happen.
The only solution to genuinely fix public transport in the most cost effective way is to use what we already have as a base on which to expand – i.e., build on ACTION so there are more direct routes, better weekend coverage (so you don’t have two your waits in the freezing cold or 40 degree heat), etc. We have a bus fleet, we have a great road network. Let’s use them.

There is nothing more inneficient than a $700K bus running with no passengers and there are plenty of those all over Canberra.
The same situation would never happen with a private operator.

“…There is nothing more inneficient than a $700K bus running with no passengers ….” – except, of course, an X? million dollar tram doing the same thing.

dungfungus 9:56 am 08 Jul 14

miz said :

No, dungfungus, privatising is Not the answer – having lived in places in Sydney with private buses they are more inefficient that State-run – both expensive and very infrequent. What we need is to use the money we are willing to spend on good public transport wisely, in a way that maximises the most ‘bang for buck’ (otherwise known as cost-benefit) for the most number of people. Light Rail as proposed (or, for that matter private buses) do not meet that simple test.
Like anything, people are willing to pay taxes if they feel they get good value for what those taxes are spent on. Hospitals, dams, good link roads, for example, meet this test because they are there for everyone. But again, Light Rail does not meet this test, as it is obvious that all the planned routes bar the first leg are only there to placate the remainder of Canberrans who rarely or never go to Civic or Gunners, and the first leg is going to be so expensive that the rest will never happen.
The only solution to genuinely fix public transport in the most cost effective way is to use what we already have as a base on which to expand – i.e., build on ACTION so there are more direct routes, better weekend coverage (so you don’t have two your waits in the freezing cold or 40 degree heat), etc. We have a bus fleet, we have a great road network. Let’s use them.

There is nothing more inneficient than a $700K bus running with no passengers and there are plenty of those all over Canberra.
The same situation would never happen with a private operator.

miz 7:39 am 08 Jul 14

No, dungfungus, privatising is Not the answer – having lived in places in Sydney with private buses they are more inefficient that State-run – both expensive and very infrequent. What we need is to use the money we are willing to spend on good public transport wisely, in a way that maximises the most ‘bang for buck’ (otherwise known as cost-benefit) for the most number of people. Light Rail as proposed (or, for that matter private buses) do not meet that simple test.
Like anything, people are willing to pay taxes if they feel they get good value for what those taxes are spent on. Hospitals, dams, good link roads, for example, meet this test because they are there for everyone. But again, Light Rail does not meet this test, as it is obvious that all the planned routes bar the first leg are only there to placate the remainder of Canberrans who rarely or never go to Civic or Gunners, and the first leg is going to be so expensive that the rest will never happen.
The only solution to genuinely fix public transport in the most cost effective way is to use what we already have as a base on which to expand – i.e., build on ACTION so there are more direct routes, better weekend coverage (so you don’t have two your waits in the freezing cold or 40 degree heat), etc. We have a bus fleet, we have a great road network. Let’s use them.

rosscoact 4:30 am 08 Jul 14

rommeldog56 said :

rosscoact said :

rommeldog56 said :

Well, I hope NOT RIGHT NOW means stopping all expenditure on this thing untill after the next ACT Legislative Assembly election.

With so much more info on the table now and ongoing discussion, the people should have enough info by then to make a more informed decision.

Oh, and I assume that repaying the borrowings for the capital cost and probable operating loss – will NOT mean that the average 10% increase in Annual Rates won’t become something like 12% in a few years or so. The ACT Gov’t must give an iron clad guarantee about that. Pigs might fly too.

Or perhaps, Not Right Now, no need to shout Romsey, means ‘Yes, I agree that light rail in Canberra is a great idea, and in a couple of years or so I’ll be all for it’. You are very passionate about your hatred for particular forms of public transport and that’s great, everyone needs a hobby.

Hey roscoact. Didn’t realise caps was shouting – just meant it to emphasize. Point taken.

But, i certainly don’t hate “particular” forms of public transport.

Public transport is the way of the future (if not the present) but Canberra’s open plan mitigates against that to a large degree. But, technology will make it more cost effective – probably sooner than later.

I just don’t think that getting locked into an early century tram solution – cosmetically modernised, is a viable, economically sustainable option.

And i have plenty of hobbies, thanks very much……LOL

No worries, that’s a reasonable point of view. I have to watch my tendency towards being patronising, it’s very unattractive and not conducive towards reasoned debate

rommeldog56 11:06 pm 07 Jul 14

rosscoact said :

rommeldog56 said :

Well, I hope NOT RIGHT NOW means stopping all expenditure on this thing untill after the next ACT Legislative Assembly election.

With so much more info on the table now and ongoing discussion, the people should have enough info by then to make a more informed decision.

Oh, and I assume that repaying the borrowings for the capital cost and probable operating loss – will NOT mean that the average 10% increase in Annual Rates won’t become something like 12% in a few years or so. The ACT Gov’t must give an iron clad guarantee about that. Pigs might fly too.

Or perhaps, Not Right Now, no need to shout Romsey, means ‘Yes, I agree that light rail in Canberra is a great idea, and in a couple of years or so I’ll be all for it’. You are very passionate about your hatred for particular forms of public transport and that’s great, everyone needs a hobby.

Hey roscoact. Didn’t realise caps was shouting – just meant it to emphasize. Point taken.

But, i certainly don’t hate “particular” forms of public transport. Public transport is the way of the future (if not the present) but Canberra’s open plan mitigates against that to a large degree. But, technology will make it more cost effective – probably sooner than later.

I just don’t think that getting locked into an early century tram solution – cosmetically modernised, is a viable, economically sustainable option.

And i have plenty of hobbies, thanks very much……LOL

rommeldog56 10:44 pm 07 Jul 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

What happens if the “On the Fence” party holds balance of power?

Well, they might : STOP the Light Rail, STOP the potential Tripling of Annual Rates, STOP the waste of ACT Ratepayers $, STOP the skyrocketing Territory debt, STOP…….what ever else they feel so inclined to STOP, I suppose !

mr_pink 3:12 pm 07 Jul 14

Labor has been promising this pipe dream at least since Stanhope got elected in 2001. Light rail should have gone in 20 years ago. I suspect I’ll be ticking yes in a poll like this in 2034 as well.

dungfungus 2:07 pm 07 Jul 14

HiddenDragon said :

A_Cog said :

$17m in design work, before anything starts.

Then the ACT Govt finance the $600m project (which could blow out to $1b) by juicing the usage projections (through promising to increase apartment density along Northbourne, although the special precinct powers have since been abandoned), and committing itself to fund $X,000m worth of the deal, as well as having to eat any cost blowout.

Why not just give all that cash to ACTION buses, and upgrade bus stops to be on the shoulder so traffic flow isn’t interrupted? For hundreds of millions of dollars LESS, the buses which exist now could do what the tram (unproven) is alleged as being able to do.

I can see this becoming a multi-generational debacle.

It would be interesting to see a sober assessment of the potential cost of light rail compared to the costs of upgrading ACTION and, perhaps, offering free ACTION services during “peak hours” – which would benefit far more people, far more quickly than the tram fantasy.

The solution is to privatise ACTION with subsidies (school and remote area services). It is not necessary to buy the most expensive buses available as the ones across the border do the same job at half the capital cost.

HiddenDragon 12:29 pm 07 Jul 14

A_Cog said :

$17m in design work, before anything starts.

Then the ACT Govt finance the $600m project (which could blow out to $1b) by juicing the usage projections (through promising to increase apartment density along Northbourne, although the special precinct powers have since been abandoned), and committing itself to fund $X,000m worth of the deal, as well as having to eat any cost blowout.

Why not just give all that cash to ACTION buses, and upgrade bus stops to be on the shoulder so traffic flow isn’t interrupted? For hundreds of millions of dollars LESS, the buses which exist now could do what the tram (unproven) is alleged as being able to do.

I can see this becoming a multi-generational debacle.

It would be interesting to see a sober assessment of the potential cost of light rail compared to the costs of upgrading ACTION and, perhaps, offering free ACTION services during “peak hours” – which would benefit far more people, far more quickly than the tram fantasy.

dungfungus 10:34 am 07 Jul 14

watto23 said :

rommeldog56 said :

Well, at least the Railway Gazette had the honesty and common sense to show the overhead power lines, unlike most of the ACT Govt’s drawings !

So, wouldn’t a Rapid Bus Transit System also “‘improve the connectivity of the city, reduce road congestion and decrease travel times, all in an environmentally-friendly manner” as the Australasian Railway Associated claim a Light Rail will, in the 1st linked article ? For well less than between 1/3 and 1/2 the cost ?

If the Gunners-Civic Light rail did blow out to close to b$1, then the ACT Gov’t could probably introduce a Rapid Bus Transit system to most or all of Canberra for that sort of $. Now, that certainly would reduce road congestion, decrease travel times and improve connectivity – but for all of Canberra.

Yep build dedicated bus roads which bypass traffic light either via an underpass (easier and cheaper to build) or just different routing and these roads in future could be upgraded for lightrail/metro style rail when needed. I just can’t see the need for another slow service added to Canberra.

I’m happy to spend money on a new public transport system that decreases commute times. I’m happy to pay say 50%-75% of parking fees to use it (also less car maintenance and running costs), but when it takes me over an hour to commute on public transport vs 20-25minutes by car, I’m not going to waste my time. Given the number of Canberra drivers who drive a bit too quick, I’d suggest a large number would like a rapid system.

A system of park and ride/bicycle/walk/bus to the towncentres and a rapid link between them, would work. You can then have urban infill at towncentres also to buildup the population near stations.

The cost of building dedicated bus lanes is about the same as light rail. The axle loading of an ACTION bus is similar to a Euro tram set.
It would be a good idea to do what you suggest as sometime in the future battery technology will be mature enough to power trams and that would be the time to switch over. Battery powered buses will also be an option but trams have a lot less rolling resistence. No wires needed either.

watto23 9:37 am 07 Jul 14

rommeldog56 said :

Well, at least the Railway Gazette had the honesty and common sense to show the overhead power lines, unlike most of the ACT Govt’s drawings !

So, wouldn’t a Rapid Bus Transit System also “‘improve the connectivity of the city, reduce road congestion and decrease travel times, all in an environmentally-friendly manner” as the Australasian Railway Associated claim a Light Rail will, in the 1st linked article ? For well less than between 1/3 and 1/2 the cost ?

If the Gunners-Civic Light rail did blow out to close to b$1, then the ACT Gov’t could probably introduce a Rapid Bus Transit system to most or all of Canberra for that sort of $. Now, that certainly would reduce road congestion, decrease travel times and improve connectivity – but for all of Canberra.

Yep build dedicated bus roads which bypass traffic light either via an underpass (easier and cheaper to build) or just different routing and these roads in future could be upgraded for lightrail/metro style rail when needed. I just can’t see the need for another slow service added to Canberra.

I’m happy to spend money on a new public transport system that decreases commute times. I’m happy to pay say 50%-75% of parking fees to use it (also less car maintenance and running costs), but when it takes me over an hour to commute on public transport vs 20-25minutes by car, I’m not going to waste my time. Given the number of Canberra drivers who drive a bit too quick, I’d suggest a large number would like a rapid system.

A system of park and ride/bicycle/walk/bus to the towncentres and a rapid link between them, would work. You can then have urban infill at towncentres also to buildup the population near stations.

rommeldog56 4:27 pm 06 Jul 14

Well, at least the Railway Gazette had the honesty and common sense to show the overhead power lines, unlike most of the ACT Govt’s drawings !

So, wouldn’t a Rapid Bus Transit System also “‘improve the connectivity of the city, reduce road congestion and decrease travel times, all in an environmentally-friendly manner” as the Australasian Railway Associated claim a Light Rail will, in the 1st linked article ? For well less than between 1/3 and 1/2 the cost ?

If the Gunners-Civic Light rail did blow out to close to b$1, then the ACT Gov’t could probably introduce a Rapid Bus Transit system to most or all of Canberra for that sort of $. Now, that certainly would reduce road congestion, decrease travel times and improve connectivity – but for all of Canberra.

A_Cog 2:07 pm 06 Jul 14

Yep, here is the link: http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban/single-view/view/light-rail-plan-included-in-canberra-agreement.html

So the tram option, using untested tech, very capital intensive, is estimated to cost over $600m, But the bus option estimate is $276m.

And as the recent PC Review found, our public infrastructure sector is squeezed dry by the construction oligopoly and frequently blows out… coz once the project starts, govt cannot let it fail to finish. The main companies [unnamed here, but read the PC Report: http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/infrastructure ] know this, and turn the screws.

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