31 March 2022

New Multimodal Network Plan in development to synchronise urban development and transport links

| Ian Bushnell
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Artist's impression of the Woden interchange

The new Woden Interchange will be a multimodal facility. Image: ACT Government.

Transport and urban development will be more tightly linked under a new plan to build an integrated network that will guide the ACT Government for the next 30 years.

Transport Canberra and City Services has contracted consultant SMEC Australia to develop a Multimodal Network Plan so it can implement the 2020 Transport Strategy which aims to develop a sustainable system with seamless connections involving all modes of transport from buses and light rail to cars, freight, e-scooters, bicycles and walking.

This is a new approach in the ACT where, like other jurisdictions, transport planning has previously focused on individual modes.

It will also bring together other policy arms such as the Planning and Climate Strategies, and the contract document hints at the key role light rail will play in the future development of Canberra.

“The MNP shall also consider the city-shaping opportunities offered by transport initiatives to help influence future land use, liveability and economic growth,” the contract says.

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The $442,000 contract also reveals how ill-equipped the current bureaucracy is to make the Transport Strategy a reality.

It says that, at present, it is unclear precisely how the objectives of the Strategy will be translated into tangible actions but that the ACT Public Service is not set up for cross-agency collaboration on the Strategy’s common goals.

TCCS is yet to develop internal processes to ensure that teams are working towards common Strategy objectives, while other directorates and agencies do not have formal structures to ensure related initiatives, especially planning and climate change, are consistent with the Strategy.

SMEC’s initial research and consultation will focus on ACT Government agencies and the Commonwealth’s planning agency for the Territory, the National Capital Authority.

Bus stop sign and bus

The bus network will face technological changes. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A government spokesperson said the Multimodal Network Plan was an internal government document that would help guide transport investment and government decision-making over the coming decades.

“That is why it is being developed in close collaboration with ACT and Commonwealth government agencies, with the assistance of specialist transport planning expertise,” the spokesperson said.

“Multimodal networking planning will help the government to make balanced transport investments in infrastructure to support all modes of transport – from walking, cycling and scooting, to public transport and private vehicles. This will ensure the projects we invest in link to the objectives and priorities outlined in the Transport Strategy.”

According to the contract, the ACT Multimodal Network Plan will include integrated infrastructure and non-infrastructure initiatives across all transport modes and also consider the facilities needed to support connections such as interchanges, park-and-ride and bicycle end-of-trip facilities, and transit-oriented developments.

It outlines three stages: research and the development of different scenarios; transport project options and preferred solutions; prioritising solutions and production of the MNP, including a detailed list of potential transport projects and their timing.

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The MNP will take a coordinated approach to identify future transport needs and infrastructure, including interchanges between both public and private transport modes, the concurrent delivery of complementary projects, multimodal initiatives within a single route or corridor; and end-of-trip connections, such as paths to destinations, car parking and facilities for cyclists.

Although the MNP will not explicitly cover aviation, it should consider access to Canberra Airport and its role as a major transport hub for the region.

The MNP will also need to consider changing technologies, not just electric vehicles but also autonomous vehicles and different ownership models – public, private, shared vehicles, and mobility as a service, where users plan, book, and pay online for multiple transport options.

SMEC is to deliver the MNP in October this year.

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Whilst working mega projects in the UK I was always made aware of the Customer/Supplier relationship. This contract is all about the Supplier. What could possibly go wrong?

buses used to work till cm barr and his clowns ruined it with a 2 billion dollar train set
then the roads are 20 years behind
so the best outcome is ..to just hope one day after billions wasted they maybe get it right but doubtful

“develop a sustainable system with seamless connections involving all modes of transport from buses and light rail to cars, freight, e-scooters, bicycles and walking.”

“Freight”? How much freight can you carry on a Bus or Light Rail?
A brief case? Maybe a bag of groceries?

Do we really need a seamless connection to e-scooters, bicycles and walking?
When I get off the bus, I just start walking. It’s already pretty seamless, because, I know where I live.

Probably referring to having good connections between local area bus services and main route light rail. Also e-scooter provision at certain stops where they’re known to be well used; bike-carrying capacity on bus and light rail, bike parking facilities at major stops, etc. There’s quite a lot in coordinating a system in a rather spread out city like Canberra. Also, because it’s main development occurred at a time when the car was king there are still people who react in a rather knee-jerk fashion, to any initiatives to improve the way we get around (and also improve the general health of the community we live in.)

Much of what you are referring to already exists.

The bus network was redesigned to feed passengers to LR.
2 bikes fit on a bus bike rack and 4 bikes can be carried per LR carriage.
Bike storage cages exist at the park and ride sites and so on.

If we ignore the more questionable “active transport” side issues like walking, biking and riding an e-scooter where people can work out things for themselves, the issue comes back to why can’t the Government do its transport planning?

Just how much value will the taxpayer get from paying $442,000 to an external consultant? To me, this amount looks too small for it to be a comprehensive redesign. I’m guessing it’s one of those reports where the external consultant endorses a Government agenda.

Yes, that’s right, there have already been encouraging developments in this direction.
However, in relation to connections to bus and light rail, there are still 3 more stages in the current program, 2(A & B), 3 and 4 so there will need to be further connection planning from local area services (bus) onto these light rail corridors. Also, apart from the obvious need for planning in the newer suburbs of Canberra, there are also existing areas that are having urban infill (such as Eastlakes and Dairy Flat Rd in the inner south) and older areas such as Oaks Estate that have no public transport. So, clearly, there is more design work to be done in integration of services and encouraging core transport options of walking, cycling and e-scooters (they’r’e not “side” issues by the way).

They already have problems trying to connect footpaths to each other and find it impossible to provide pedestrian crossings where needed or traffic lights that focus on walkers instead of cars, so it it ridiculous to think they can link all these different modes of transport when they can’t even provide for pedestrians.

thoughtsonthesubject8:30 pm 02 Apr 22

As stated above, the first of the three stages of the Multimodal Network Plan is “research and the development of different scenarios”. I suppose it is too much to hope for that this means an independent and well researched comparison of the financial and ecological cost of the light rail and electric buses. This should, of course, have been done before the first light rail track was laid down. Transparency of government demands that now this comparison is at least done before the clover-leaf access to Commonwealth Ave is destroyed in order to raise London Circuit for an extension of the rail line.
Claiming that the information is “commercial confidential”, the government has refused to inform voters about the cost of the rail. The Auditor General’s severe criticism of the extension is ignored and remains unanswered. The claim that the electorate has validated the tram by supporting the present government in three elections rings out hollow when the cost of the tram both in financial terms and that of environmental damage caused by building the infrastructure has been carefully hidden from voters. Instead we are permitted to take a virtual tram ride through a scenario of open green plains while the real purpose of destroying the clover leaf access is to fill the area with high-rise, creating the very heat islands the IPCC report so adamantly warns the world about. And Sydney-siders and Melbournians are purchasing in Canberra to escape these heat islands …

HiddenDragon6:31 pm 02 Apr 22

The big-picture, meta-policy framework – always a favourite refuge from reality for those who are bored by and/or not overly good at doing their day jobs.

Gerald Lynch5:06 pm 02 Apr 22

Hallelujah! It seems someone in the bowels of the ACT Government basement has seen the glimmer of a light and come to the realisation that transport serves us all not as individuals but as a society and should be viewed as a community asset. But how far will the study remit take us – including our trans-border hinterland, connexions to Goulburn, better freight and passenger rail to Sydney or the wider national network? Then perhaps actually doing something, anything to implement what is needed not just improved roads forever.

current plan is to
1, create a plan
2. spend money

however we skipped 1

ChrisinTurner1:54 pm 02 Apr 22

Years ago RoadsACT were working on adopting the Sydney SCAT traffic signal linking giving priority for buses that were running late. Perhaps this new cooperation will favour public transport over private cars. Remember the modal priority illustration which was removed from the latest transport strategy, probably because it didn’t put the private car first.

Shouldn’t this have been done prior to the implementation of the light rail phase 1 & possible phase 2, the disturbance to the South siders with the Raising of London Circuit. Talk about ‘cart before the horse’
Typical of the ACT Government.

You expect logic from this government?

I was under the misguided impression that the new Planning Act would ensure all relevant government strategies (e.g. transport, housing, climate) were integrated into all planning decisions. Also, what happened to the ‘one government’ approach heralded some years ago?

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