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Light rail – Yes, go ahead. No, stop now.

By aussie2 - 24 August 2015 228

light rail artist impression

I am the Chair of the Canberra Public Transport Alliance, and a past Chair of the Combined Community Councils Transport Working Group. I am  concerned with the way the ACT Government is handling the light rail issue.

I do not believe ACT voters have been given any opportunity to collectively vote on whether they want a light rail network or not.

Despite many attempts by the Liberal Party to have a referendum on the subject, the government has chosen to ignore voter sentiments. This is not democracy at work!

It is obvious the introduction of Light Rail is a massive political hot potato that won’t go away.

This is an invitation to you, your family and friends to a meeting next Thursday 27 August 2015.

I propose to run an online poll for the whole of Canberra. We will supplement this with advertising and at least one or two appearances in group centres. We will formalise an association, to reach out to Canberra voters, to facilitate measurable public expression on whether Capital Metro should proceed or not, sooner rather than later.

We need to act now! You should note that the government anticipates being in negotiations with the two tenders from October this year with a contract signature late this year or early next year, but well before the 2016 election.

I also apologise in advance – I wanted to get somewhere more central but that was not available to me next week. I have however been able to get the Calwell Club and I made a booking as follows:

Thurday 27 August 15
Calwell Club Auditorium, Were St.
7-9 pm.

I hope you are available. We will need many hands on deck to make this thing happen sooner rather than later. I hope you will be able to attend, and ask you to RSVP to dabblers2@hotmail.com.

Cheers,

Russ Morison
Chair
Canberra Public Transport Alliance
0262927567
0408947935

What’s Your opinion?


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228 Responses to
Light rail – Yes, go ahead. No, stop now.
rommeldog56 3:58 pm 24 Aug 15

Richard Fox said :

Agreed, no harm in having a discussion at all. Let’s just cut out the hyperbole and present the facts.

+ 1.

From my perspective, the hyperbole and seeking “approval in principle” from ACT voters/ratepayers was given at the last ACT LA election in 2012, even though ACT Labor did not get given a mandate in their own right.

Now, the facts are known in that terrible business case with a BCR of 1:1.2, the draft environmental impact statement + as more detail becomes known – included in the tenedes responses.

This is such a significant financial commitment for such a small revenue raising base as exists in the ACT, that the ACT Labour/Greens Gov’t must go back to the people with ALL the “facts” – not just the concept (as was the case in 2012) – for endorsement or rejection.

Waiting for the next election in late 2016 for voters/ratepayers to pass judgement on the detail/facts as now known is not good enough as contracts will have been signed & work commenced by then ie it will be too late (despite what the Lib’s say).

Rollersk8r 3:36 pm 24 Aug 15

watto23 said :

Richard Fox said :

“I do not believe ACT voters have been given any opportunity to collectively vote on whether they want a light rail network or not.”

I do believe it was a major policy of the ACT Labor Party in 2012 and, as such, ACT voters have already voted on it. Here’s then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher’s media release on it http://web.archive.org/web/20141101011336/http://www.katygallagher.net/?p=2285

+1 it was announced well and truly before the previous election. So while the public were effectively divided 8-8-1 (Lab-Lib-Grn), Labor were federally on the nose as well, there was the triple your rates slogan (While Joe Hockey has commended the ACT government on the tax reform, this will be interesting to see how Jeremy Hanson plays it) and the libs still didn’t get enough to form government. If they put up some visions, plans etc, then we could assess what they want to do.

A solution is needed to transport. I fear the libs solution is to just let things stay as they are, or increase parking costs to encourage bus use. Parking is getting scarce in the city, its not going to improve in either costs or number of car parks. For all the Tuggeranongites out there (myself included), the benefit we get from light rail is parking will be cheaper and more available. Without it parking will get scarcer and more expensive.

I’m willing to bet the cost of parking in Civic rises each and every year, regardless of how effective light rail is – and regardless of demand too. Increases to parking, fines, rego etc, is like clockwork.

Anyway – on the general topic – part of the light rail plan is to dump bus commuters at light rail depots. So my current 10km bus trip from Giralang to Civic becomes 6km to Dickson, then 4km by rail to Civic. Looks like I’ll be driving more often, especially with less buses on Northbourne!

rommeldog56 3:31 pm 24 Aug 15

fernandof said :

BTW, on the informed front. Can anyone point me to where I can read on the cost/value analysis comparison done for the light rail?

See link in post 70 in this thread :

http://the-riotact.com/how-government-propaganda-may-kill-light-rail-and-the-rest-of-canberra/152262/comment-page-3#comments

Enjoy…….!

fernandof 3:29 pm 24 Aug 15

Nilrem said :

fernandof said :

Nilrem said :

Voters cannot get a vote on every issue whenever they feel like it. Every four years they can deliver a verdict on the performance of the Government, at the ballot box. Representative democracy.

Yep. And aussie2 is suggesting to have a public, high profile debate (at least that’s what he’s hoping to), not to enforce the debate outcome on the elected party. Where’s the harm in that?

No harm. Public debate is a good thing and should be encouraged. I get a bit concerned when claims start being made that there is no mandate, and that people haven’t had a say. We have a system for having a say, and for conferring mandates. This system should be informed by an abundance of public debate.

Fair enough.

It’s also worth noting ‘having a mandate’ and ‘people had a say’ isn’t correlated at all. The former is a legal/political item, the later a socially contextualised item. In other words, of course the ACT Labor has a mandate – they’ve been elected, that’s the only mandate they need. Not sure about people having a say though.

Personally, I’d love to see much more debate on this front. Being somewhat engagement and interested in local affairs, I don’t feel there was nearly enough debate for such a huge undertake that will impact our daily life for a fairly long haul.

Richard Fox 3:17 pm 24 Aug 15

Agreed, no harm in having a discussion at all. Let’s just cut out the hyperbole and present the facts.

watto23 3:16 pm 24 Aug 15

Nilrem said :

fernandof said :

Nilrem said :

Voters cannot get a vote on every issue whenever they feel like it. Every four years they can deliver a verdict on the performance of the Government, at the ballot box. Representative democracy.

Yep. And aussie2 is suggesting to have a public, high profile debate (at least that’s what he’s hoping to), not to enforce the debate outcome on the elected party. Where’s the harm in that?

No harm. Public debate is a good thing and should be encouraged. I get a bit concerned when claims start being made that there is no mandate, and that people haven’t had a say. We have a system for having a say, and for conferring mandates. This system should be informed by an abundance of public debate.

Agree, debate is good, but even then if you don’t like an idea people are very good at coming up with reasons in how the public debate is flawed. That is why I’d like to know what the Liberals policy is. I do vote based on the best policies IMO for Canberra or Australia. My concern is the Libs are happy with status quo and/or buying more buses.

So hopefully we actually do get some intelligent suggestions from the Libs at the next election and not just 3 word slogans. Otherwise hopefully people start voting independents and minor parties in.

Nilrem 2:51 pm 24 Aug 15

fernandof said :

Nilrem said :

Voters cannot get a vote on every issue whenever they feel like it. Every four years they can deliver a verdict on the performance of the Government, at the ballot box. Representative democracy.

Yep. And aussie2 is suggesting to have a public, high profile debate (at least that’s what he’s hoping to), not to enforce the debate outcome on the elected party. Where’s the harm in that?

No harm. Public debate is a good thing and should be encouraged. I get a bit concerned when claims start being made that there is no mandate, and that people haven’t had a say. We have a system for having a say, and for conferring mandates. This system should be informed by an abundance of public debate.

rubaiyat 2:01 pm 24 Aug 15

There was no referendum on any of the gold plated freeways.

The gold plated freeways that ACTUALLY have put the ACT in debt, lose money every day and fill our public hospital beds and morgues.

Where is your outrage?

fernandof 1:37 pm 24 Aug 15

Nilrem said :

Voters cannot get a vote on every issue whenever they feel like it. Every four years they can deliver a verdict on the performance of the Government, at the ballot box. Representative democracy.

Yep. And aussie2 is suggesting to have a public, high profile debate (at least that’s what he’s hoping to), not to enforce the debate outcome on the elected party. Where’s the harm in that?

fernandof 1:34 pm 24 Aug 15

Richard Fox said :

I do believe it was a major policy of the ACT Labor Party in 2012 and, as such, ACT voters have already voted on it. Here’s then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher’s media release on it http://web.archive.org/web/20141101011336/http://www.katygallagher.net/?p=2285

Love you optimism about voters’ political awareness. I don’t share that world view, my experience tells me typical voters have very little familiarity on the details of their preferred party’s political agenda; voting is mostly done on the ‘spirit of the party’ and other irrational factors, rather than on a methodical comparison of policies. Sure there are exceptions (and this site hosts quite a few of those), but as a generalisation, political awareness is not that common.

So no, having an agenda item, even a major one, in a party agenda should not be considered as an alternative for public debate.

But regardless, why not supporting an open debate? It may have zero impact on our policies (the party is democratically elected, after all, they don’t have to commit to the debate outcomes), but a debate and an open discussion is almost always a good thing. If it has low public engagement, then maybe the public was indeed already aware and have agreed with the plans, or it may suggest the public just doesn’t care. If it has high engagement, then the public was very possibly uninformed and having a debate could create better alignment between the government and the voters. Either way, I fail to see the harm in having yet another debate.

BTW, on the informed front. Can anyone point me to where I can read on the cost/value analysis comparison done for the light rail?
Like watto23, I too understand we need to address changes in traffic needs, but I lack the knowledge to make a decision whether light rail is the best option, or buses or whatever. I’m keen to learn more on this topic, so would like to review the thorough analysis that surely has been done prior to pursing such a huge undertake.

rommeldog56 12:58 pm 24 Aug 15

It is too late to act now I’m afraid. The postings already in this thread show why – people actually believe that the ACT Labor/Green’s Gov’t has a mandate to build it.

This is dispite the fact that (i) cost has increased from the m$614 disclosed at or after the 2012 election to m$780+, with most estimates now being b$1+ over the life. (ii) The (acknowledged as badly flawed) Benefits Costs Ratio (the business case) of 1:1.2 being released + the draft environmental impact statement recently (showing the flow on impacts to busses, parking, roads, etc). (iii) That the tram will be only 3 minutes faster than a bus and will actually increase congestion on roads along the route. (iv) a blow out in infrastructure costs to be met by the ACT Gov’t (ie. ratepayers), that there was no viable/methodical assessment of alternatives to a tram, etc, etc.

There is no way this ACt labor/Green’s Gov’t can claim a mandate to go ahead – purely based on information that has subsequently (and understandably) come to light since the 2012 election.

But then again, ACT voters gave them a mandate to go forward and to write what appears to be a “blank cheque” to the public private provider on behalf of all ACT Ratepayers, without knowing the detail. How dumb is that ???

Nilrem 12:48 pm 24 Aug 15

Voters cannot get a vote on every issue whenever they feel like it. Every four years they can deliver a verdict on the performance of the Government, at the ballot box. Representative democracy.

watto23 12:28 pm 24 Aug 15

Richard Fox said :

“I do not believe ACT voters have been given any opportunity to collectively vote on whether they want a light rail network or not.”

I do believe it was a major policy of the ACT Labor Party in 2012 and, as such, ACT voters have already voted on it. Here’s then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher’s media release on it http://web.archive.org/web/20141101011336/http://www.katygallagher.net/?p=2285

+1 it was announced well and truly before the previous election. So while the public were effectively divided 8-8-1 (Lab-Lib-Grn), Labor were federally on the nose as well, there was the triple your rates slogan (While Joe Hockey has commended the ACT government on the tax reform, this will be interesting to see how Jeremy Hanson plays it) and the libs still didn’t get enough to form government. If they put up some visions, plans etc, then we could assess what they want to do.

A solution is needed to transport. I fear the libs solution is to just let things stay as they are, or increase parking costs to encourage bus use. Parking is getting scarce in the city, its not going to improve in either costs or number of car parks. For all the Tuggeranongites out there (myself included), the benefit we get from light rail is parking will be cheaper and more available. Without it parking will get scarcer and more expensive.

I’ve said in many posts I’m more in favor of an intercity rapid transport network, whether that be dedicated bus roads or rail of some kind. That may in fact be the solution for Tuggeranong as light rail from Tuggeranong to the city would not be viable (if it takes longer than 30-40 minutes I can’t see it being used, unless forced to by parking costs).

I completely understand why there are concerns with the light rail. What I have a real trouble with in this country is right now the Liberals at local and federal level have absolutely no vision or plans for the country, other than relying on what has worked in the past. Hopefully it will change next year when we are likely to have both elections, we’ll see though.

dungfungus 12:22 pm 24 Aug 15

Don’t expect Richard Fox to attend the meeting.

Richard Fox 11:30 am 24 Aug 15

“I do no believe ACT voters have been given any opportunity to collectively vote on whether they want a light rail network or not.”

I do believe it was a major policy of the ACT Labor Party in 2012 and, as such, ACT voters have already voted on it. Here’s then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher’s media release on it http://web.archive.org/web/20141101011336/http://www.katygallagher.net/?p=2285

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