15 September 2021

New light rail stop means business in Mitchell

| Ian Bushnell
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Sandford Street light rail stop

A passenger alights from the light rail vehicle at the new Sandford Street stop. Photos and video: John Mikita.

The promise of better light rail access to the Mitchell business hub is now a reality with services commencing on the new $12 million Sandford Street stop.

It’s a case of better late than never for the Mitchell businesses, which suffered disruption during the construction of Stage 1 and always argued that there should be a stop nearby to service the area, besides the one at Well Station Drive.

President of the Mitchell Traders Association Sukhjeet Singh said he was very pleased to see the completion of the Sandford Street Stop in Mitchell.

“Local businesses are excited to see how the new stop will improve and promote access to our thriving business community,” Mr Singh said.

“It’s a difficult time for everyone in our community, but having this new service ready to go will help boost business in Mitchell once we’re ready to open back up.”

The new light rail stop is located on the corner of Flemington Road and Sandford Street, a 15-minute journey to the city and less than 10 minutes to Gungahlin.

Services will depart every five to six minutes during peak times. Journey times between Gungahlin and Civic will still be the same after timetables were adjusted at the start of 2021 in anticipation of it coming online.

Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said the new stop would also serve the future suburb of Kenny, providing a connection to frequent and convenient public transport as soon as residents start moving in.

“Mitchell is also a growing services hub for people in Gungahlin and Canberra’s inner north, so in addition to the stop at Well Station Drive, this stop will also bring significant benefits for local businesses,” he said.

Sandford Street light rail stop

The new Sandford Street light rail stop is up and running.

Mr Steel said local Mitchell businesses had been employed in building key components of the new station, including local steel frame fabricator OzMetalwork.

“It’s a stop for Mitchell built by Mitchell,” he said.

“Mitchell businesses have really warmed to light rail over time and I look forward to hearing from the traders about how being better connected to the City and Gungahlin benefits their businesses in the months and years ahead.

“While we’re still encouraging people to only use public transport for essential reasons, this is something to really look forward to.”

The Sandford Street light rail stop was co-funded by the Commonwealth and ACT Governments.

Sandford Street light rail stop

Wayfinder for the Sandford Street light rail stop.

ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja said the new stop would make Mitchell businesses more accessible to commuters.

“This is a vital piece of infrastructure that the local traders have been calling for over a long period of time and it is fantastic to see this stop in Mitchell operational. This will provide a crucial connection into the growing business hub in Mitchell,” he said.

“This is just one piece of the Commonwealth Government’s massive $1.8 billion infrastructure spend in Canberra over recent years, boosting jobs and supporting our local economy,” Senator Seselja said.

Mr Steel said infrastructure investment had been central to keeping Canberra’s economy strong and growing through a difficult 18 months, and this project had supported more than 200 jobs through the design, construction and testing phase.

He said extending light rail to Canberra’s southside would soon get underway, with early works to relocate utilities and prepare for the raising of London Circuit in 2022.

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ChrisinTurner3:18 pm 15 Sep 21

I was told by their chief engineer that the station was originally omitted to avoid the tram journey-time being slower than the bus it replaced.

That was one reason.

And the other interesting thing is they factored in the stop by doing half the work required to put it in later.

John Kerry Tozer6:57 pm 15 Sep 21

Correct.

That’s not stopping the absurd extension to Woden, a multi-million dollar project to make public transport slower and less convenient for all southside residents.

It won’t’ be less convenient for southside residents in Deakin and Yarralumla as they will be able to access a service that they currently can’t, i.e. there are no stops there on the R4 but will have stops on light rail. This will ultimately mean they have access to a transport corridor stretching from Tuggeranong all the way to Gungahlin. They definitely don’t have anything like that now.

Astro,
If you want to look at it holistically, the amount of people that will have significantly slower trips outweigh the minority who will be better served by a very large margin.

And that even ignores the fact that there is nothing stopping the government building new bus stops in the areas you mention to provide a similar service.

Now whether this applies in a few decades after the proposed infill development has occurred is another matter. But you might want to consult those Deakin residents how they feel about that also.

You haven’t supplied any evidence that the number of people having significantly slower travel times is more than those better served by a large margin. You would need to examine the travel times and where people are getting on and off the service to back up the claim. Also the projections for the inner south are for an increasing population over the next few years. (You would be aware of those planning projections no doubt). If the R4 included stops to include inner south residents it would also be a slower service.
Also “those Deakin residents” were surveyed (refer to the Deakin residents’ association website) and close to 60% said they would use light rail while only 36% said they wouldn’t. A similar result also occurred when inner south residents were surveyed.

Astro,
The government’s own figures are the evidence.

The Woden to City route is a trunk route with many times the public transport users coming from both Woden, Tuggeranong and the City and beyond from the North. Compared to those from the inner south that may get a slight benefit, it’s not even close as I said.

“Also the projections for the inner south are for an increasing population over the next few years.”

Did you read my comment?

“Now whether this applies in a few decades after the proposed infill development has occurred is another matter”.

The growth isn’t in the “next few years”, it’s much longer although the government hasn’t actually released updated forecasts for a few years now, the next ones are are due soon.

“Also “those Deakin residents” were surveyed (refer to the Deakin residents’ association website) and close to 60% said they would use light rail while only 36% said they wouldn’t”

Once again, did you even read my comment? I mentioned nothing of a survey of whether they would use light rail, the comment was specifically about the massive amounts of infill development that would occur in the area and whether residents would be happy with it.

You were right about the popularity of the route R4 however it’s more complex than what you’re trying to describe. It isn’t just “those from the inner south” who would benefit. There are also people from Tuggeranong or Woden who work in the parliamentary triangle who will benefit from the stops around the triangle. Current R4 doesn’t have this. Government’s own figures have shown the need for light rail along this corridor. Claiming that the population increase won’t happen for a while yet so no need to build important infrastructure for the future is obviously wrong. The whole point of building this type of infrastructure is that, based on the population and growth figures, there will be an increasing need over time. it’s pretty pointless getting to the future and then saying “Whoops, we should’ve built some infrastructure to cope with this.” Thankfully the ACT Government takes a forward-looking approach. The survey regarding light rail and support from local residents illustrates the need for a better service. Increasing infill in these suburbs will occur over time. As your previous comments related mostly to the need for light rail in the inner south the survey of inner south residents’ attitude to light rail is certainly relevant to the discussion; which, in any case, was started by a previous poster discussing the extension to Woden. Not that this is all that relevant to the article but it did need to be corrected.

Astro,
That’s a gross misrepresentation.

“Current R4 doesn’t have this.”

How exactly will those redirects benefit? The light rail won’t go into the Parliamentary triangle. And any light rail stop could equally be a bus stop with the existing services.

“Government’s own figures have shown the need for light rail along this corridor”

Not remotely true, the government’s own figures show the next stage doesn’t even come close to stacking up. I’d love to see you provide a link to these “government figures” justifying light rail here. They don’t exist.

“Claiming that the population increase won’t happen for a while yet so no need to build important infrastructure for the future is obviously wrong.”

And you obviously have no idea how infrastructure gets planned, built and funded. You plan for the future but only build when it’s needed. To do so earlier is simply wasting money.

If the ACT Government actually took a forward looking approach they wouldn’t be building light rail. It’s a political decision, not a justified planning or infrastructure one.

“As your previous comments related mostly to the need for light rail in the inner south the survey of inner south residents’ attitude to light rail is certainly relevant to the discussion”

No, it really isn’t. Their attitude to the massive amount of infill development that is coming their way is what the point was about. And we both know that the inner city NIMBYs are firmly opposed.

Hi Chewy, a few things need clarifying here; I’ll try to be brief as I think this topic has gone ‘off track’ from the original article about a Mitchell stop. Unfortunately some people just get a bit hysterical with any mention about light rail and try to bang on with irrelevancies. Anyway, the benefit for inner south would be having stops at Deakin and Yarralumla which currently don’t exist with R4. That’s a simple fact. LR 2B route on the map shows stops at Kings Ave, Melbourne ave and Sydney Ave as well as existing Albert Hall so clearly that’s additional convenience for people that want access to those areas. Need for light rail has been well established however you don’t believe it has and, of course, you never will. Thing is, whether you think it has or not isn’t relevant. Suggesting that major infrastructure projects don’t need forward planning isn’t realistic and i think you probably know why. Not sure what point you’re trying to make about survey results showing a majority of inner south residents wanting light rail. It wasn’t clear from your post.

I agree this has gone sideways but I still think the Woden extension is an expensive step backwards. All passengers from Molonglo, Weston Ck, Woden and Tuggeranong will need to catch a bus to Woden, wait for a tram to Civic, and then get back on a bus to continue to their destination — two lots of waiting around interchanges inevitably means it will be slower. The tram will only benefit Yarralumla and Deakin residents in the flats along Adelaide Ave, so no change for most existing residents. The proposed tram line is further from most offices in Parkes and Barton than existing buses. A longer walk to a service that requires more waiting around interchanges is a step backwards.

Astro,
I asked for the evidence that Stage 2 of Light Rail was necessary and where the need has been proven from “Government numbers”.

A link please for the justification specifically of this stage, not meaningless platitudes.

“Suggesting that major infrastructure projects don’t need forward planning”

Nowhere did I suggest that and I specifically said they do:

“You plan for the future but only build when it’s needed. To do so earlier is simply wasting money.”

The issue is not planning for light rail, it’s building it before it can be justified from a transport, economic or social perspective.

brian – I think perhaps it may have been better to stop at “I agree this has gone sideways…” i’m not sure about the rest of the content you’ve posted. For example: are you sure that all passengers from Molonglo and Weston Creek will need to catch a bus to Woden and then wait for a connecting light rail to the City? I don’t know whether that is right as bus routes, including Rapids, will still continue after 2B is implemented and it is feasible that these will provide access from Molonglo to the city. Tuggeranong residents will be connected via LR stage 4 so they’ll have a direct link to the city via light rail. Passengers from Woden won’t need to catch a bus to Woden either. (Not sure what you meant there). Also more than just inner south residents (Deakin and Yarralumla) giving directly on Adelaide Ave, will be able to access the light rail. You don’t have to be right on top of a light rail stop to access it so existing Deakin and Yarralulma residents will also have access.

The Xpresso buses used to get people from Tuggeranong suburbs like Kambah and Wanniassa or Calwell and Richardson into Civic in around 30 minutes or so.

Light Rail Stage 2 will probably make the same trip about 55 to 75 minutes depending on where you come from.

It’s gonna be hard to stack up the ROI of stage 2 from a transport and productivity assessment.

Hi Astro2, One of their early pronouncements was that the tram would replace Rapids as they rolled out their hub model. It would be great if they have changed their minds, but then wouldn’t you just replace this whole project with more buses? Anyway, extreme example, Mawson to Belco, currently one bus; brave new world, bus to Woden, wait at interchange, tram to Civic, wait at interchange, bus to Belco. Having to go through interchanges is what makes buses painful and why they introduced Xpresso/Rapids to resolve, trams just re-introduce the problem.

There’s something about these two stops that is driving me nuts. Why are they both on the wrong side of the intersection? This results in passengers having to cross the road twice to get to their destination. Why wasn’t it built on the side where most passengers would need to go to? (ie. Wells Station Road, would be mostly residences going to their homes, and the Sanford St side, going to the businesses located? Please enlighten me. (Braking distance? Needs a run to go up hill? etc)

Capital Retro6:15 pm 15 Sep 21

Any side of the intersection is the wrong side with this overpriced and underperforming not-needed vanity project.

Wells station is in the side where it is because it is primarily for the yet to be built park and ride.

Capital Retro9:25 pm 15 Sep 21

Another useless development to waste our money on.

Because the federal government paid for the new stop.

Well thankfully it’s a joint affair , with the Feds picking up some of the bill.
Our share of course will go onto the credit card.
I wonder how the old card is holding up. ?. Must be near the 4 billion mark in the red by now. And thats not taking into account the new tram 2 thing.

Capital Retro8:17 am 16 Sep 21

Plus unfunded public servants’ superannuation.

Would have been cheaper if they built it in the first place. Sheesh! $12M!

My understanding Tilly, (and I’m not sure if this is true or not so local businesses would probably know for certain) is that it was considered at the start but there was mixed response from the business community of Mitchell. So whilst some were keen for a stop there, not all were. After Stage 1 was up and running, more businesses could see the benefit of having a stop located at Mitchell and therefore lobbied the Act government to have one. This was funded by the Australian Government.

Got to wonder where all the money goes.

Astro,
That’s laughable spin.

The strong feedback from Mitchell traders were that they wanted a stop from the very beginning. They ran petitions to attempt to achieve it, with Almost universal support except from those who didn’t want the light rail at all.

The reason the ACT government didn’t include it in their original plans were around cost, project delays and an increased travel time for the Gungahlin to City route.

Hi chewy, perhaps you didn’t read the post? As I said “not sure whether this is true or not….) so it’s not “laughable spin” as I’m not claiming to know the truth of it.
On the other hand, I notice you provided no evidence of your claims so, if you have that, happy to read it, as the post said “local businesses would know for certain” so perhaps you are a local business?

Astro,
Here you go.
https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/build-a-light-rail-stop-in-mitchell-now

As above, what actually happened was originally the government through their wider consultation identified that a stop at Mitchell was not required due to apparent low patronage, cost and performance.

The problem was that this did not involve heavy direct consultation with the Mitchell Traders group and as you know, there was widespread arguments around whether the project should go ahead at all, which clouded all of this.

The Traders came out strongly in support of a stop there before the project began but the government wouldn’t budge at that stage.

The mixed messages you refer to weren’t really around the Mitchell businesses but the community as a whole.

It will be interesting to actually see whether the stop gets utilised or not as per the government’s original claims around patronage.

Hi chewy,
thanks for sending through the link to a petition. I had a look for a date on this petition however it appeared to be undated. However the comments showed dates of 2018/19 so if this reflects the date of the petition it wouldn’t be early enough to support an argument that the Mitchell traders had originally been strongly in favour of a stop. Some may have been but I don’t think it was a unified approach. As you said there was a lot of argument about whether they wanted it to go ahead at all.

Astro,
That petition was from 2017 before construction starts.

Really? It certainly doesn’t look like that. It appears to have been done well into the development phase of light rail. Business groups don’t always have a united voice and it is quite possible that in the early stages a number of businesses weren’t interested in it but only realised later the benefits and then started to lobby for access. Nothing wrong with that but sometimes it is just a little too convenient to blame government for everything. Again, I not saying this is exactly what happened here but I’d be cautious about jumping to conclusions to fit a narrative.

https://mygungahlin.com.au/mitchell-traders-build-a-light-rail-stop-in-mitchell-now/3869/

Astro, here’s a dated version if you don’t believe me. Google searches on the issue will also help you find more info. There was also multiple discussions of this in Hansard at the time.

As I said above, part of the issue is that there was a significant amount of opposition to light rail in general before the project was committed until after the election in 2016. But this didn’t necessarily relate to where the stops would go but was more around the project in general.

I don’t necessarily blame the government here, the Mitchell businesses clearly also had their own self interest at heart, which didn’t align with some of the government’s main drivers for the project.

Thanks for providing the link to the petition which was started in late 2017. Looks like it was started well after the development phase though. Consultation would have originally occurred before Oct 2017 which appears to suggest that they were a little late to the party? (some of them at least).
An article in today’s Canberra Times also appears to support this.
https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6028558/worse-than-the-gfc-suffering-mitchell-businesses-cut-off-by-light-rail/
I suppose there will always differing views after the fact as to why and why not have the mitchell stop. It’s clear though that people appear to be more “on board” the light rail than they were in the earlier stages.

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