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Murrumbidgee now the real election battleground

By Chris Mordd Richards 2 September 2016 31

light rail artist impression

ACT Labor has today announced a City to Woden connection as the Stage 2 light rail commitment they will take to the election. Having made the decision on this in their final cabinet meeting before entering Caretaker period, they have set up the seat of Murrumbidgee as the real battleground electorate for this election. Gungahlin is already getting its own slice of light rail, and despite the heated contest emerging in Tuggeranong (the Brindabella electorate), by committing to extending light rail to Woden if re-elected, Labor has just turned Murrumbidgee into the real contest.

This decision opens the door to an extension to Tuggeranong as a stage 3 in 2020, which works for Labor in Brindabella to some extent also. I suspect that this played a small part in their decision to go with Woden as the Stage 2 instead of an Airport-City or Airport-City-Belconnen connection.

The new light rail leg to Woden will see trams “cross the lake over the Commonwealth Avenue bridge, travel through the Parliamentary Triangle, and down Adelaide Avenue to the Woden town centre”. Labor decided at the last minute for reasons unknown to jettison the proposed end point of Mawson, though, and will terminate the tram at Woden itself for the stage 2 build. The stage one and two combination is being dubbed the “north-south spine”, from which branches can grow out to connect all of Canberra eventually. This makes extending to Woden as the stage 2 logical from this perspective, even if ending at Mawson would have been desirable to take advantage of the park and ride facilities there. I hope Labor now commits to exploring options for expanding park and ride access at Woden to match the new service.

Labor and the Greens have today made election pledges to sign the contracts for the stage 2 during the next term of government. The bridge over the lake may require strengthening work, and the approval of the National Capital Authority will be required (for the section that travels through the Parliamentary Triangle). It is not clear exactly when construction of the stage 2 would commence if Labor is re-elected, but the Government is keen to minimise any delay between stage 1 finishing and stage 2 commencing. I expect that we will learn of their estimated start date later in the election campaign itself.

The head of lobby group ACT Light Rail, Damien Haas, released a statement regarding the stage 2 announcement that read in part:

By declaring a bold stage two of light rail, the ACT Government firmly indicates to all of Canberra that the light rail project will eventually reach their town centre. Crossing the lake and travelling through the Parliamentary Triangle are the two big factors that the rest of the network depend upon.

Future extensions to Tuggeranong, or even Queanbeyan are now extremely feasible. A Civic-Russell-Airport route would connect to a light rail network that travels to many national attractions and hotel/entertainment precincts. Going across the lake opens up the other routes from the Light Rail Network Plan for realistic implementation.
The ability of light rail to act as an urban renewal catalyst, as well as a tool to deal with road congestion and increase public transport patronage is well known, and the main reason Canberra chose light rail over BRT.

This announcement is well timed, and politically savvy. It will appeal to voters in the south of Canberra and provides an overwhelmingly superior policy when compared to the Canberra Liberals’ bus only policy.

With this plan in place, Labor is clearly demonstrating their commitment to a Canberra wide Light Rail network and are demonstrating they will proceed to build it out piece by piece with that goal in mind at all times. Once the spine is established, from there the branches will grow.

What’s Your opinion?


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Murrumbidgee now the real election battleground
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KentFitch 4:19 pm 08 Sep 16

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

Off the top of my head and without double checking, I believe “26 minutes” is either spot on or pretty close to the travel time it will actually be, yes. Personally i would never say 15-20 minutes, I know that is not realistic atm (although with changes to the road in 10-20-30 years time, sure maybe then).

I really encourage you to “double check” and to do so using sources other the ACT Government’s propaganda. I really encourage you to look at the Gold Coast and Dulwich Hill extension light rail planning and design docs (including signalling priority) and their operational timetables, all readily available on the web.

I really encourage you to consider how a fast “light rail” travelling through 23 intersections, which, if Capital Metro’s plan is taken on face value, will be travelling as fast or faster than Melbourne’s heavy rail trains are doing on, for example, the Cranbourne line. These crossings cause massive safety and traffic problems in Melbourne, so much so, that the Vic Gov is spending over $2b to remove 20 of them by 2018: http://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/about So, whilst the Vic gov is removing rail/car interactions at great expense, we are about to add 23, including at the very busy Federal, Barton, Mouat/Antill, Macarthur/Wakefield and Barry/Cooyong intersections.

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

As to the other points you raise, I will need to do some research and talk with some people and I will endeavour to get back to you on that soon. Out of curiousity, how many Greens voters specifically do you know of who are against Light Rail, Labor and Liberal are broader churches, both have some former voters crossing the aisle this time over Light Rail, but I am specifically curious about these claims that Greens voters are actively against light rail. If you have anything to back this up, even anecdotal only, please do share with us if you don’t mind.

I did not claim “Greens voters are actively against light rail”. I said that I, a person who has hitherto voted ALP or Greens locally and federally all my life, cannot now vote for either at this election. As I said, the tram is a second order issue compared to the vast human trauma and compounding of disadvantage caused by the deliberate running-down of public housing (currently 294 days waiting time for priority housing, 741 days for high-needs housing: http://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/hcs/services/social_housing/waiting_lists ), the neglect and mismanagement of the education, child welfare and health systems, and the continual stench around the LDA and links with property developers.

I was however, encouraged by a Greens voter to analyse the claims that the tram will be a net saver of green-house gases, despite the construction directly causing 61,000 tons of CO2 equivalent, according to the CM EIS. Well, it turns out the tram may save 1,600 tons in 2021, but those annual savings will rapidly decline as commuter transport moves to electric (bus and car) over 10-20 years, and new fossil-fuel cars will likely have to adhere to the stricter Euro-6 emissions starting in 2018 (https://theconversation.com/australias-weaker-emissions-standards-allow-car-makers-to-dump-polluting-cars-48172 and http://www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au/reviews/light-vehicle-emissions-standards-australia ), If you are interested in green-house gases, maybe read this: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/faq.html#ghg

JC 5:59 am 08 Sep 16

For the record please note I said 15 to 20 minutes from the park and ride location, which I believe is going to be near the Flemmington Road/Well Station road intersection in Mitchell.

Mordd / Chris Richards 10:45 pm 07 Sep 16

Blast! I didn’t format that quite right either it seems. This is why it’s bad to try and manually edit the quote tags, it’s easy to mess up and results in complications when stuff gets attributed to the wrong person.

@Admin – can we have a “multiquote” function please, like ticking a box on each comment to quote, then when ready, clicking a “reply to all comments” link that adds all the comments in the right order with the tags correct, or something that achieves that same effect.

Failing that, I recommend people mainly stick to quoting 1 person at a time per comment, even if that means you post 2 or 3 comments in a row. Either that or delete the comment tags entirely and just manually “quote” each comment and attribute the name of the quoted comment author.

Mordd / Chris Richards 10:39 pm 07 Sep 16

KentFitch said :

Now to use that journey on light rail, using the planned park and ride it is 15 minutes drive to the park and ride, 5 minutes to park and then 15-20 minutes to the terminus in the City. You also need to factor in you may have to wait up to 6 minutes for a tram in peak hour. So 45 minutes MAX.

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

‘If you believe that Canberra’s trams will avoid stopping at traffic lights for cross traffic then you would also believe in the tooth fairy.”

Forgot to add – yes they will have to stop a little bit, but since they will have traffic light priority built in that senses them approaching, this will be at best maybe 5% of the time they will have to stop, and even then, for only seconds till going again. Most of the time they will sail straight through without needing to stop at all just for lights (except for where stops are at the lights, this will also add an occasional short wait but again not often and not much).

In the unlikely event this is achieved, it will give acceptable (for the contract) journey times of 26 minutes (not “15-20 minutes”).

First of all, if you are going to manually quote more than 1 post in your comment, then please please please make sure you get the tag formatting correct!! At the top is how it should have appeared. Instead it makes it look like the first paragraph along with the 2nd and 3rd are all mine, whereas they are not, the 1st is JC, the 2nd & 3rd is me. The fact that you then don’t acknowledge in your reply where you are replying to me vs JC makes it seem even more like you are thinking I said JC’s comment, whereas I did not clearly if you scroll back up the page.

Off the top of my head and without double checking, I believe “26 minutes” is either spot on or pretty close to the travel time it will actually be, yes. Personally i would never say 15-20 minutes, I know that is not realistic atm (although with changes to the road in 10-20-30 years time, sure maybe then).

As to the other points you raise, I will need to do some research and talk with some people and I will endeavour to get back to you on that soon. Out of curiousity, how many Greens voters specifically do you know of who are against Light Rail, Labor and Liberal are broader churches, both have some former voters crossing the aisle this time over Light Rail, but I am specifically curious about these claims that Greens voters are actively against light rail. If you have anything to back this up, even anecdotal only, please do share with us if you don’t mind.

rommeldog56 11:17 pm 06 Sep 16

KentFitch said :

Yes, rates will rise, other services will be reduced, better transport alternatives will be resisted for a few years until they can no-longer be ignored, but the world wont end. And “Stage 2” to Woden is very unlikely to happen – its clearly an election bribe, particularly after how the Gov so earnestly spruiked the benefits of Stage 2 to Russell and even got tenders to build it, then dropped it because it led to much worse transport outcomes ( see page 12, http://canberraautonomouscars.info/developmentApplicationAndTables.pdf ).

For me, the main disappointments with this government are public housing ( provision for public housing places has fallen from 45 per thousand residents in 1995 to just 27 in 2015 and Stanhope’s plans for affordable housing have been sacrificed for short-term revenue from inflated land prices to the detriment of home buyers), mismanagement of the hospital system, making it the worst in Australia on several important measures, mismanagement of education system leading to the pressures resulting in incidents such as the “boy in a cage”, the tragic failures in child protection (documented so bravely and well by Ewan Gilbert last week) and the unseemly closeness of the government and property developers, as described by Jack Waterford (another “Liberal sycophant”?) a few months ago: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/pygmies-blocking-andrew-barrs-view-of-the-future-20160624-gpqvz6.html

Very well said.

KentFitch 3:46 pm 06 Sep 16

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

Now to use that journey on light rail, using the planned park and ride it is 15 minutes drive to the park and ride, 5 minutes to park and then 15-20 minutes to the terminus in the City. You also need to factor in you may have to wait up to 6 minutes for a tram in peak hour. So 45 minutes MAX.

‘If you believe that Canberra’s trams will avoid stopping at traffic lights for cross traffic then you would also believe in the tooth fairy.”

Forgot to add – yes they will have to stop a little bit, but since they will have traffic light priority built in that senses them approaching, this will be at best maybe 5% of the time they will have to stop, and even then, for only seconds till going again. Most of the time they will sail straight through without needing to stop at all just for lights (except for where stops are at the lights, this will also add an occasional short wait but again not often and not much).

Capital Metro’s website originally promised a 40km/hr journey speed (including stops), as set down as the minimum speed in the ACT Gov’s “Transport for Canberra: Transport for a sustainable city, 2012–2031” document, giving a journey time of 18 min (to see the archived website from Apr2014, click the link on this page then expand the “Operational” section: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/143280/20140408-1315/www.capitalmetro.act.gov.au/news-and-publications/frequently-asked-questions.html ).

However, this is not feasible. The new Gold Coast light rail averages 22km/hr over a similar type of route, with some traffic light priority and 2 quite long stretches of completely separated and fenced track where it can reach max speed. The new Dulwich Hill extension in Sydney, which is 100% segregated (no road crossings), new track and rolling stock, averages 26km/hr. Capital Metro is now hoping to average almost 30km/hr, but this is extremely optimistic and has yet to be approved by the rail safety authority. In the unlikely event this is achieved, it will give acceptable (for the contract) journey times of 26 minutes (not “15-20 minutes”).

Apart from the Gold Coast and Sydney examples using similar rolling stock, to understand why 30 km/hr is extremely unlikely to be achieved, have a look at this model by Dr JL Smith: http://www.canthetram.org/simpleModelVersion4.pdf

Yes, Dr Smith is a member of “Can the Tram”, but he is a member because he is a former CSIRO scientist with a deep expertise in transport systems and he knows the proposal is bogus. The model concluded that if the tram uses maximum service acceleration and deceleration (which won’t be comfortable for the 66% of passengers standing in peak periods), under ideal conditions, the trip will take 27 minutes with full signal priority.

But full signal priority at 23 intersections for trams travelling in both directions (required, because the tram in the return direction has to make the trip in the same time to maintain the service interval) creates severe traffic congestion for cross traffic (which includes ACTION buses at a few intersections). Here’s a simulation of what happens at Mouat-Antill with full signal priority: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/simMouat.html With a 6 minute service interval in each direction, a tram crosses the intersection during most signal cycles.

If you “back off” from full signal priority to something more like the GC light rail uses, you get journey times like this, a stochastic model of journey times with max accel/decel and speed assumptions you can change: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/tramSim.html Note, each run will appear “random”, so you’ll need to press “Run” a few times and look at the aggregates.

Finally, whilst I am not a member of Can the Tram, from the members I’ve met, they are certainly not “Liberal sycophants”, and some are like me, hitherto “rusted on” ALP/Green voters. To me, the tram is a 2nd order issue – sure, if they build it, about $1.3b (in 2016 dollars based on the Auditor-General’s analysis) will be splashed against the wall, but hey, the Feds are about to blow $50b for submarines of dubious defensive value, and no-one-knows-how-much for the deeply troubled JSF. Yes, rates will rise, other services will be reduced, better transport alternatives will be resisted for a few years until they can no-longer be ignored, but the world wont end. And “Stage 2” to Woden is very unlikely to happen – its clearly an election bribe, particularly after how the Gov so earnestly spruiked the benefits of Stage 2 to Russell and even got tenders to build it, then dropped it because it led to much worse transport outcomes ( see page 12, http://canberraautonomouscars.info/developmentApplicationAndTables.pdf ).

For me, the main disappointments with this government are public housing ( provision for public housing places has fallen from 45 per thousand residents in 1995 to just 27 in 2015 and Stanhope’s plans for affordable housing have been sacrificed for short-term revenue from inflated land prices to the detriment of home buyers), mismanagement of the hospital system, making it the worst in Australia on several important measures, mismanagement of education system leading to the pressures resulting in incidents such as the “boy in a cage”, the tragic failures in child protection (documented so bravely and well by Ewan Gilbert last week) and the unseemly closeness of the government and property developers, as described by Jack Waterford (another “Liberal sycophant”?) a few months ago: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/pygmies-blocking-andrew-barrs-view-of-the-future-20160624-gpqvz6.html

Mordd / Chris Richards 2:00 pm 06 Sep 16

devils_advocate said :

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

The public transport choices are going to be:

1. Stand in a tram and arrive later than a bus travelling the same route.
0r
2. Sit in a bus and get there faster.

Why spend billions for something inferior to what is already available?

And for Damien Haas to suggest that trams are a solution to road congestion is totally false as anyone who as ever travelled on a Melbourne tram knows.

Melbourne is for the most part a tramway network, with trams running on roads mixed in with all the other traffic. Except for half of two lines 96 and 109 which operate as light rail (you do know there is a difference between a tramway and light rail?). Anyway anyone who has ever travelled on them knows they go fast and are not effected on the light rail section by traffic.

The maximum speed of Canberra’s trams running on light rail will be 70kph but with regular stops and starts the average speed between city and Gungahlin will be lucky to be average 25kph.

Conversely, travelling by car from Gungahlin to City via GDE and Barry Drive the speed limit is 90kph most of the way, with fewer stops.

While Melbourne has the world’s longest tram network (250 kilometres) it is also one of the slowest, with an average speed of just 16kmh as trams spend more than 17 per cent of their journey time stopped at traffic lights.

If you believe that Canberra’s trams will avoid stopping at traffic lights for cross traffic then you would also believe in the tooth fairy.

Sure, please record your trip during peak times and show me how much of the time you spend doing 90 in peak hour traffic… what’s that, doing 90 in peak hour traffic is impossible? Oh yeh, that’s right, it is! More spin and lies from the rusted on Liberal sycophants.

Well to be fair Canberra’s “peak hour” lasts for about 30 mins.

Well to be fair Canberra’s peak hour lasts between 30-45-60-75 minutes depending on which exact feeder routes and sections of Canberra you are referring to and on which days of the week (Friday is worse).

devils_advocate 12:00 pm 06 Sep 16

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

The public transport choices are going to be:

1. Stand in a tram and arrive later than a bus travelling the same route.
0r
2. Sit in a bus and get there faster.

Why spend billions for something inferior to what is already available?

And for Damien Haas to suggest that trams are a solution to road congestion is totally false as anyone who as ever travelled on a Melbourne tram knows.

Melbourne is for the most part a tramway network, with trams running on roads mixed in with all the other traffic. Except for half of two lines 96 and 109 which operate as light rail (you do know there is a difference between a tramway and light rail?). Anyway anyone who has ever travelled on them knows they go fast and are not effected on the light rail section by traffic.

The maximum speed of Canberra’s trams running on light rail will be 70kph but with regular stops and starts the average speed between city and Gungahlin will be lucky to be average 25kph.

Conversely, travelling by car from Gungahlin to City via GDE and Barry Drive the speed limit is 90kph most of the way, with fewer stops.

While Melbourne has the world’s longest tram network (250 kilometres) it is also one of the slowest, with an average speed of just 16kmh as trams spend more than 17 per cent of their journey time stopped at traffic lights.

If you believe that Canberra’s trams will avoid stopping at traffic lights for cross traffic then you would also believe in the tooth fairy.

Sure, please record your trip during peak times and show me how much of the time you spend doing 90 in peak hour traffic… what’s that, doing 90 in peak hour traffic is impossible? Oh yeh, that’s right, it is! More spin and lies from the rusted on Liberal sycophants.

Well to be fair Canberra’s “peak hour” lasts for about 30 mins.

Mordd / Chris Richards 10:00 pm 05 Sep 16

‘If you believe that Canberra’s trams will avoid stopping at traffic lights for cross traffic then you would also believe in the tooth fairy.”

Forgot to add – yes they will have to stop a little bit, but since they will have traffic light priority built in that senses them approaching, this will be at best maybe 5% of the time they will have to stop, and even then, for only seconds till going again. Most of the time they will sail straight through without needing to stop at all just for lights (except for where stops are at the lights, this will also add an occasional short wait but again not often and not much).

pink little birdie 11:42 am 05 Sep 16

gooterz said :

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

HiddenDragon said :

“….This announcement is well timed….” – particularly for south-side voters who have recently received their Annual Rates notice, and can now reflect on the costs of gesture politics on an epic scale.

Canberrians are too well paid but also seem to be too apathetic or rusted on Labor/Greens to care much about Annual Rates (and other ACT Govt charges) rises I’m afraid.

I like this bit in the OP “… and provides an overwhelmingly superior policy when compared to the Canberra Liberals’ bus only policy”.

So, as well as the tram, ACT Labor/Greens will introduce an expanded express bus network.

Last I heard, ACTION was subsidised to about m$100pa. Fair enough, it has infinately greater coverage than the Tram ever will. Tram stage 1 will cost about m$70+pa.

Makes u wonder where all this $ will be coming from ?

But, minor technicalities like that never seem to worry Greens or rusted on ACT Labor supporters. Labors Tram policy is after all “vastly superior” to the bus based Liberals policy, so stuff the $ I suppose.

The terminologies “rates and stamp duty” being phased out I think. They are being replaced with something called “property tax”.

Whatever they call it it is too excessive for the basic services we need.

I would like to see a basic property tax to cover the municipal necessities and another voluntary “opt in” tax for all the people who support the blank cheque mentality of this government.

In other words the Labor/Green voters could put their money where their vote is.

So in 10 years time everyone has to move into one of 3 zoned suburbs. Labor Liberal or Greens.

Greens have door to door light rail down every street, Solar panel roads that everyone rides bikes on and laws to prevent keeping pets, or eating anything other than vegan food.

Labor has artwork everywhere its like the Sistine Chapel. Every road has multiple lane bikelane and speed bumps every 10 metres. Residents are rich have 10 million dollar homes or apartments. Everyone living in a house here is a millionare, some parts of the suburbs are like the Kowloon walled city. There is much ‘culture’ with a population densities upto 40,000 people/sqkm.

Liberals section. No one really knows what goes on here, because no one has been here in a very long time. The tram doesn’t venture down this far and the bus service was cancelled long ago. However most of the businesses have moved here and has the biggest increase in population as the rents are normal compared to the other two types of suburbs.

Actually I think you’ll find at a federal level at least business are more successful under Labor governments. People generally are more confident in spending their money and actually have money to spend under Labor governments.
I was only a kid from a low socio-economic demographic (for Canberra) last time Liberals were in Government in the ACT so I’m not sure about the quality of life of adults.

I’d expect the Liberal section would be full of religious people with a lack of community. It would be split into two. A very wealthy area and a very poor area – with separate schools for both. The wealthy would continually be agitating for the services policies of the Labor areas but as soon as they get it would spend their time advocating for it being too expensive for everyone else. The majority of the business that they own would be in the Labor area because the people with the money to spend and the willingness to spend it would be there.

pink little birdie 11:22 am 05 Sep 16

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

The public transport choices are going to be:

1. Stand in a tram and arrive later than a bus travelling the same route.
0r
2. Sit in a bus and get there faster.

Why spend billions for something inferior to what is already available?

And for Damien Haas to suggest that trams are a solution to road congestion is totally false as anyone who as ever travelled on a Melbourne tram knows.

Melbourne is for the most part a tramway network, with trams running on roads mixed in with all the other traffic. Except for half of two lines 96 and 109 which operate as light rail (you do know there is a difference between a tramway and light rail?). Anyway anyone who has ever travelled on them knows they go fast and are not effected on the light rail section by traffic.

The maximum speed of Canberra’s trams running on light rail will be 70kph but with regular stops and starts the average speed between city and Gungahlin will be lucky to be average 25kph.

Conversely, travelling by car from Gungahlin to City via GDE and Barry Drive the speed limit is 90kph most of the way, with fewer stops.

While Melbourne has the world’s longest tram network (250 kilometres) it is also one of the slowest, with an average speed of just 16kmh as trams spend more than 17 per cent of their journey time stopped at traffic lights.

If you believe that Canberra’s trams will avoid stopping at traffic lights for cross traffic then you would also believe in the tooth fairy.

I drive into the city every Thursday. I live in the Belconnen town centre. I absolutely have to leave at 5.35 to make it for a 6 pm music lesson.
This is not in peak traffic (it’s going out of the city) the time killers are the traffic lights from Clunies Ross to Lonsdale street. That stretch takes the bulk of the time. I rarely get up to 80km along the Belconnen Way/ Barry drive section (the rest is up mainly 50km/ph but usually much slower with the closeness of the lights to each to other and the lace of synchronisation).

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