19 September 2022

Pocock power play calls for light rail rethink, questions infrastructure priorities

| Ian Bushnell
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Light rail in the city

The current light rail terminus at Alinga Street in the city. It may get to Commonwealth Park, but is community resolve wavering on Woden? Photo: Region.

If light rail advocates were expecting the ACT’s powerbroking senator David Pocock to extract funding for the light rail extension to Woden, they might have to think again.

It looks as if Senator Pocock is positioning himself to make other infrastructure needs such as a new convention centre and stadium priorities over light rail, calling for the federal and ACT governments to reconsider the project.

It could spell trouble for the project if Senator Pocock is prepared to use his key vote to win funding for his favoured projects at light rail’s expense.

Senator Pocock has been doing the rounds at community meetings where he has heard arguments against light rail and in favour of cheaper alternatives.

Keen observers of the Australian Story episode last week on the new senator noticed a grab towards the end in which he appears to talk about $880 million of light rail funding. However, the context of the comment is unclear.

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Senator Pocock clarified to Region where he stands on extending light rail, first to Commonwealth Park and then to Woden. It seems he now has concerns about the cost and disruption, questioning where it fits among community priorities.

He also said that there may be cheaper public transport alternatives to consider.

Although he acknowledged that despite early concerns, Stage 1 had been a “tremendous success that has far exceeded expectations”, Senator Pocock said many of the factors that made Stage 1 such a success were absent from Stage 2 (both A and B).

“Speaking to the community it’s clear that while there are some who support it there are others who have real concerns around the next stages of light rail,” Senator Pocock said.

“The fact is that we don’t have a clear picture around costs, people are anxious about the disruption the project will cause in the city and there is a live question about priorities.

“I note the ACT Auditor-General has also highlighted some pretty significant issues, including with the cost-benefit analysis.”

Senator Pocock said significant technological advances since the light rail project was first conceived meant there were more cost-effective options available, including electric buses and trackless trams similar to those being trialled in Brisbane.

David Pocock

Independent Senator David Pocock: “There is a live question about priorities.” Photo: Michelle Kroll.

He also raised the budget issues both the federal and ACT Governments faced.

“Given how tight budgets are, both federally and in the ACT, it is not only reasonable but necessary for decision makers to revisit whether the current plans are the right ones,” Senator Pocock said.

“Ultimately, this is a decision for the ACT Government. However, given the Federal Government’s involvement in helping fund the project and the feedback I’ve received from Canberrans who want to see investment in other territory-building infrastructure projects like a new convention centre, stadium and community sporting and multicultural infrastructure, it seems appropriate to contribute to the discussion.”

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Senator Pocock’s comments disappointed Public Transport Association of Canberra chair Ryan Hemsley who warned against thinking unproven, alternative technologies would get southside residents a dedicated transport route any cheaper or sooner.

“Unfortunately, it appears Senator Pocock is poorly informed in this regard. A planned extension to the Brisbane Metro is expected to cost $1.3 billion for just over five kilometres of surface busway and four new stops,” Mr Hemsley said.

“It is not a cheaper alternative to light rail, and any attempt to change Canberra’s approach now will only delay a well-advanced project.”

He said it was sad to see this framed as a contest between light rail, which will serve over 20,000 people every day, and a stadium, which might do so on a handful of days each year.

“Canberrans should and can have both,” Mr Hemsley said.

Also disappointed was Transport Minister Chris Steel, who offered Senator Pocock a briefing on light rail to Woden.

“Light rail is a key part of our plan to tackle transport emissions and achieving the ACT’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045,” Mr Steel said.

“Buses alone haven’t and won’t achieve the shift to sustainable transport and won’t deliver the city shaping benefits that Canberra needs into the future.”

He said the Government did not believe the southside should be excluded from Canberra’s light rail network, saying the extension of the line to Woden was important to support the city’s growth, with a central mass-transit spine linking the north and south.

“The first stage of light rail has been very successful in driving higher public transport use with people wanting to live and work near the line, creating more vibrant and sustainable communities,” Mr Steel said.

“This is an infrastructure project that will create and support thousands of local jobs throughout its construction, which I’m sure the Senator would realise is important for our local economy over the next few years.”

But the Canberra Liberals also appear to be hardening their position on light rail, with an announcement imminent from Transport spokesperson Mark Parton.

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Mr Parton has argued for greater transparency around Stage 2A and questioned whether it stacks up, as well as trying to pin down Transport Minister Chris Steel on completion dates for both Stages.

“The Canberra Liberals have significant concerns about Stage 2 of light rail based on the very limited information the Labor-Greens government have provided to the community,” Mr Parton said.

“There are a number of questions the Canberra Liberals have asked of the Labor-Greens government regarding light rail, and as shown during the recent estimates hearings, the Transport Minister refuses to provide information on the cost of Stage 2 and when light rail is anticipated to reach Woden.

“The Canberra Liberals will have more to say on light rail in the coming weeks.”

The Federal Government has committed $132.5 million for Light Rail Stage 2A, and the supportive Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King, is expecting the Territory to ask for more when it’s ready to talk about Stage 2B.

Works to raise London Circuit in preparation for building Stage 2A are getting underway with the main construction ramping up from next April. The laying of track will be at least two years away.

Canberra commuters will face years of disruptions while light rail is being extended to Woden.

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People (including David Peacock) need to get a reality check. Canberra as community voted for the light rail in a single (almost) policy election way back in 2016. To bring the light rail to that election the then government had to present a proven technology which is what they did.

Shoot forward 8 years and it is easy to say they should have ran with a new tech but when the project was originally brainstormed (lets say 2010-2015 – I don’t know) the systems people are talking about didn’t exist then or if they did would not have been proven. I guarantee you if unproven systems had been used then they hounds would be on the streets.

I suggest that as a community we get behind the chosen system and get it spread across all of Canberra as fast as possible.

Just because Americans voted for Trump to build a wall along the Mexican border, doesn’t mean the commitment has to be done if the numbers don’t stack up or if the post Covid landscape has changed the ROI.

Where’s posters pushing for that other Infrastructure promise the ACT government took to the last two elections. The Tuggeranong Ice Sports facility.

Lightrail is in breach of all of the environmental laws. I’ve advised to ask the EDO to take this Government to the Federal Court to stop Lightrail Stage 2a,b,c.

michael quirk5:12 pm 21 Sep 22

Well done David Pocock for questioning the priority of light rail. Public funds are limited and should be used for projects that deliver the greatest benefit to the community.

The light rail extension has not been justified. Alternatives including Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) need to be explored as they are likely to be more cost effective.

The Public Transport Association (PTA)is not a source of unbiased views on public transport as it grew out of a pro light rail lobby group.

It is interesting the PTA has interpreted the Brisbane Metro project to give the impression it delivers 5km busway for $1.3billion. The project delivers 21km of busway at a lower cost than than the 11km of light rail extension to Woden.

Despite the claim of the PTA, BRT is far from an untested technology.

There is a need to separate fact from fiction. Senator Pocock is the right person to ensure infrastructure projects are properly scrutinised, as the ACT government has proved incapable of doing so

The Liberal opposition in Canberra has been fighting tooth and nail against the light rail project since 2012. They have never had a policy position on the ACT’s public transport system. There have been repeated calls on the Liberals and Mr Parton as opposition transport spokesman over the past 4 years to release those details but have failed to do so. Mr Bushell indicates that Mr Parton will be doing this sometime soon. I won’t hold my breath!! Maybe if Mr Parton spent less time mooning around Civic and the Canberra Centre doing nothing but tapping away on his phone he would find time to concentrate on those little things that matter!!

Capital Retro1:53 pm 21 Sep 22

How many times do you have to told that the “light Rail” has nothing to do with public transport.

Take a Disprin and lie down Capital Retro!!!!

Capital Retro7:51 am 22 Sep 22

Most people would prefer that I took something stronger than Disprin.

Linda Seaniger12:21 pm 21 Sep 22

Fully endorse Pocock Stand down on the tram to Woden. Trams are ancient technology and dedicated bus lanes and EV vehicles more effective and less costly. As to investing the money in sports grounds and stadiums I think we should look after infrastructure and hospitals first. I’m looking forward to the next election I don’t believe that labour Won government on their policies more likekly voters went for the greens but don’t realise they are really a murky brown.

It’s Labor Linda not Labour. It has been for the last 104 years! So where did you stand when Zed Seselja was using his vote in the Senate to undermine Territory rights? Mr Pocock won his senate seat on a platform of restoring Territory rights. He is now threatening to vote to undermine those rights. Where do you stand on that?

* & Murrumbidgee

The ACT government has taken light rail to the last 3 elections. It was the government’s main policy platform at the 2016 election. The platform included the rail’s expansion into Woden (Kurrajong). Not only was Labor re-elected, the results in Kurrajong prove how popular the project is. It gave the government a mandate and red light to progress the project. That’s how elections work in this country. The project is going ahead, it is in progress and is popular despite what the naysayers and squeaky wheels in our society are saying. Mr Pocock has a key and deciding vote in the Senate and I would hate to see him use it to disadvantage ACT voters. It is hypocritical for him to argue for territory rights in some respects but use his key vote for his pet projects and to stymie the government’s lawful work. Where would it end? He defeated one puffed up senator who interfered in the territory’s laws and processes and I would hate to see him resorting to doing the same!

Estelle,
This is some mighty spin, perhaps we could use you to generate electricity for the Territory..

You can just as easily use those election results as proof that the government engaged in significant pork barrelling with the project. The specific people in the electorates that benefit from light rail voting out of their own pockets.

ie. The 2016 election, Brindabella voted in 3 Liberal members because they have to pay but dont benefit.

But as multiple people have said, we don’t vote on single issues.

It seems strange that you keep ignoring the points made to reassert that the election victory somehow means the government has a blank cheque mandate for everything.

At the last election, the government specifically refused to release more details about the business case for light rail stage 2 and beyond. How can people vote on something without any idea of the cost or viability of the project?

Since then, that business case has been ripped to shreds by the Auditor General because it doesn’t stack up.

And as below, Pocock has no say in what the local government does or spends their (our) money on. They can move forward on the project without him or federal funding.

But he is better placed than Barr to lobby on Federal issues and funding because that’s what he was elected to do.

Why do you think the rest of Australia should be conscripted to pay for a project that is not identified as a national priority project and doesn’t stack up to any reasonable economic analysis?

Isn’t stopping that the exact type of platform Pocock ran for office on? Don’t we want integrity in politics over rorts and pork barrelling?

Another convoluted response from Chewy14!! Always the first to respond. On the Liberal Party payroll are you Chewy!! I can just visualise you, a Liberal Party lacky tapping away on a keyboard in the dark dungeons of Liberal Party Headquarters in Barton. Pouncing on anything to undermine Labor. Yes Chewy I know how the Canberra Liberals work!!!

Estelle,

Yet another comment where you’ve ignored all the points raised to go straight into ad hominem mode. Perhaps you’d like to address the topic?

We know you have a serious preoccupation with the local Liberal party, but unfortunately for you, I have nothing to do with them.

Would seem strange for you to think that seeing as I regularly berate them because of their woeful performance.

It’s also funny to see you rabbit on about how bad the local Liberal party is, then claim that Labor have a mandate to do whatever they want because they won elections against a rabble. Strange that you’ve missed the connection.

It appears that Pocock is reading the room but only partially. I would like to see our money invested in local hospitals, schools, roads and needed essential infrastructure like governments used to.

Definitely support the Gungahlin to Woden light rail project to go ahead.

HiddenDragon9:09 pm 20 Sep 22

For all the huffing and puffing, and outrage, and regurgitation of the usual blather about the magical benefits of light rail, Senator Pocock will actually be doing the ACT government a huge favour if he effectively brings light rail to an indefinite halt on the north side of the Lake.

This is because the ACT government even now (i.e. before the big economic hits that are coming our way) clearly doesn’t have a clue how it can fund the creation of a light rail network for the city and has even less of a clue how it can get it across the Lake and through the Parliamentary Triangle without creating an absolute shambles which would be even worse than what they are about to inflict on Civic.

With Senator Pocock’s intervention they would, forever after, have someone else to blame for not doing what they were unlikely to do anyway – or do nearly as quickly, smoothly and cheaply as they had conned credulous Canberrans into thinking they could do. For his part, Senator Pocock would likely gain more support than he might lose – including from people whose disappointments with Zed Seselja included that he had caved in on light rail, but voted for him anyway because they thought the alternative was even worse.

Instead of light rail, a new convention centre or new stadium, how about housing the homeless whilst also improving our bus services. We used to have more frequent buses closer to our homes 20 years ago. We’ve gone backwards since.

As if it’s a good thing ‘creating thousands of local jobs through construction’. We’re still trying to get construction workers to repair buildings from the 2020 hailstorm but we don’t have the workers, so why create more jobs for them???? And how many Canberrans actually work in construction? Most workers I see are from other countries, with some Australians who come in from outside of Canberra. Not a lot of construction workers are from Canberra.

Mr Hemsley as the head of the ACT Public Transport association also needs to be more honest to readers with his claims, not just throw out numbers like confetti. The cost of the $1.3 Billion dollar busway in Brisbane is primarily made up of an inner city tunnel that also links into King George Square station, the costs quoted also include additional bridgework, electric bus charging station and major pedestrian improvements.

The surface busway component of the Brisbane busway that Mr Hemsley references isn’t anything resembling the figure he quoted.

Extending the existing Woden rapid bus lane from Parliament House to Civic would be cheaper than the already approved short Light Rail extension to Commonwealth park and would make the Bus journey from Woden to Civic just a third of the light rail stage 2 travel time.

There are a lot of people who don’t want light rail. There are *so* many better alternatives which offer greater flexibility in respect of surge requirements. – and which cost no more and quite possibly less. Alternatives which also do not disrupt so many people’s commute for such a long time. Alternatives which don’t solely serve those living along the intended line. Yes, lets have a transparent review rather than blindly build Labor’s grandiose light rail.

Trevor Willis2:04 pm 20 Sep 22

Hold the phone !!! Hold the press !!
At last, we have a politician who has a bit of common sense. The tram system to Woden is needed like a hole in the head. Solar-powered buses are the best and the only way the transport problem, if it really is a problem, can be solved. They can change routes on demand, they continue running even if the one in front has broken down or had an accident and people are located much closer to bus stops than they are for the proposed one-lined tram route

The light rail to woden is purely to offset the fact that the Liberals push the whole idea the southside gets shafted in funding and projects (some truth to it, but also a lot of the issues in the North don’t exist in the south, which was NOT developed in an era where everything had to return a profit). Reality is Belconnen to the Airport made more sense right now for light rail, especially when light rail is really about developing high density living corridors.

That said we could and should have both. My concerns with light rail though further south is the time it will take to get from say Tuggeranong to Woden. Tuggeranong to Woden to the City needs a more rapid service than light rail as its currently designed. Simple fix is to add a bypass 3rd track at stations so you can have a direct no stops service.

“The light rail to woden is purely to offset the fact that the Liberals push the whole idea the southside gets shafted in funding and projects”

If you are right and the light rail to Woden is purely for political reasons, then surely it raises some broader questions for you.

As an aside, I agree with you on the Tuggeranong point. A light rail journey that will take an hour to get from Tuggeranong town centre to work in Civic isn’t solving any public transport issues and is even more likely to push Tuggeranong residents into cars. A dedicated bus lane from Glenloch interchange to Civic would solve a lot of public transport issues for both west Belconnen and Tuggeranong.

Where do you get the idea that it will take an hour to get from Tuggeranong town centre to Civic? I haven’t seen that figure published anywhere.

A transport spokesman said almost 30 minutes travel to Woden and you would assume the same time to travel another 12kms to Tuggeranong.

Current stage 1 takes a bit under 30 mins to travel the flat grade 12km from Gungahlin to Civic, so the steep gradient in and out of Tuggeranong will probably take something similar.

A transport spokesman said stage 2 will take almost 30 minutes travel to Woden, you would assume roughly the same time to travel another 12kms to Tuggeranong.

Current stage 1 takes a bit under 30 mins to travel the flat grade 12km from Gungahlin to Civic, so the steep gradient in and out of Tuggeranong will probably take something similar.

Capital Retro6:56 pm 21 Sep 22

It takes an Action bus about an hour (including stops) and buses are 50% faster that trams.

A couple of corrections. Transport estimates between 25 to 30 minutes, not 30 minutes. You would not assume that it would take the same time to travel another 12ks to Tuggeranong as it’s a different route. so there is currently no projected time for Stage 4.

The ACT govt has taken light rail to the last 3 elections and have been elected with overwhelming public support. Don’t get too puffed up and big for yourself David! If you tinker around with public transport in the ACT and the expansion of the light rail network you do it at your own peril!!

The ACT government also took a new Civic stadium and a new major Ice Sports facility in Tuggeranong to the last few elections.

These elections weren’t referendums on just Light Rail, there were many other factors that defined peoples votes (including an inept Liberal Party controlled by right wingers like Coe) and Mr Barr shouldn’t be able to simply cherry pick which election promises are delivered or not delivered.

Estelle,
Those elections don’t confirm overwhelming support for LR. In a left-leaning town, the current Government has been and will continue to be elected every election, regardless of its policies. The only difference will be how many Greens join them in their alliance.

LR Stage 1 had some advantages. There was traffic congestion out of Gungahlin and along Northbourne. LR relieved that and it’s travel speed was assisted by road speed limits of 60kph and sequencing of traffic lights, giving LR priority. With the removal of bus services along the route, LR was always going to be utilised by commuters.
The same can’t be said of 2A or 2. Beyond Parliament House, there are no traffic lights until Woden and with LR travelling at 70kph, buses at 80kph are a significantly faster means of public transport.
The other issue of course is that from a public transport perspective, LR will again require a change to the bus network, so that it can feed passengers into the service along the way, further slowing the speed.
As a form of public transport going south, LR just doesn’t stack up. No one wants to increase their commute time and that’s what is on offer.

No matter what people think of light rail the government has successfully taken it to the last 3 elections. It is hypocritical for David Pocock to argue for territory rights in relation to some issues but use his key vote to win funding for his favoured projects at light rail’s expense. The last thing I think Canberrans want is another senator who interferes in the territory’s political processes. Mr Pocock has been doing the rounds of community meetings and good for him. But I will remind him that Canberrans have consistently voted for Light Rail and I suggest he butt out!!

Clever Interrobang6:07 pm 20 Sep 22

Well that’s completely untrue

ACT Labor has not won a majority of seats since 2004, that’s hardly overwhelming support

Support for the Liberals in Canberra only trails Labor by a bit.

Estelle,
Your comment makes no sense when Pocock also took his infrastructure priorities to the last election and won. By your own argument he is well within his rights to lobby for his commitments which didn’t include light rail.

So if you think Canberrans actually voted for light rail, how come they voted for Pocock and his predecessor Zed, who both seemingly weren’t fans of the project? It’s almost like people don’t vote on single issues, isn’t it.

The local government is free to spend our money as they want to, Pocock can’t stop them.

But if Barr is asking for Federal funding, how is Pocock not actually better placed to make his case, seeing as that is the level of government that he is elected to?

Although perhaps instead of this politically biased attempts to lobby for specific infrastructure projects, we let Infrastructure Australia provide the priorities based upon their robust assessment process?

Weird idea huh?

Hardly overwhelming public support at 37% . That’s 60% against.

Do I need to remind you how badly the Libs did at the last ACT election? Confidence within the party is so low and members (those that haven’t already left) believe the party will do even worse at the next election. Not only did the Libs lose two of their most high profile members, Elizabeth Lee couldn’t even muster a quota with preferences. Despite this she was rewarded with the leadership!

Squeaky wheels!!! If you’re going to quote figures lyndeelu tell us where you got them from. Figures from thin air I suspect!!!

Great that somebody was finally able to flush out Pocock’s views on light rail. He played a dead bat to such questions during the election. Shame his view is word for word the latest view of the Deakin Residents’ Group, which is seeking to remain an elitist enclave while the fringes of the city/state are bulldozed to house the riff-raff.

the facts are simple, Canberra is growing. Migrants keep coming and we keep reproducing. We continue to absurdly form new households with fewer people and greater footprints. Broadacre car parks are a luxury we can longer afford. Buses are simply not capable of dealing with the demand. Steel on steel light rail powered by renewables is the most efficient way of shifting lots of people, and is the solution. The alternatives are pure sophistry and obfuscation: no more, and no less!

By the way, the light rail corridor is an infrastructure build that goes further than transport vehicles. It provides employment, improved density and enhances electricity reticulation.

We are having this latest outbreak of lunacy because our local yokels we call the ACT Government has been indecisive on getting stage 2 tracks in the ground.

Except buses can and are meeting the demand faster than light rail on the same stage 2 route will. A demand that is massively reduced due to the changed working conditions created by Covid.

The government’s own (highly questionable) business case only identifies minimal transport benefits along the route.

So yes, the facts are simple, just in the opposite direction that you claim.

Agree with you bigred but using terms to put down those citizens you consider below you as riff raff and an elected government you disagree with as yokels!!

Bigred, it sounds like you work for the big red tram with your advocacy that is contrary to most people’s views, including those of southside residents and the auditor general.

so Chewy, please explain the parlous performance of the bus network away so your illogical claim can be understood. The facts are that the bus network is running at around 60% reliability and has many, many complaints about vehicles not turning up, or leaving early and the absolute terrible driving.

Yes, the business case was highly questionable and should be done for the entire stage 2. And why should it just cover transport benefits?

I used the term “riff raff” to describe the attitude of the Deakin residents, not mine. I stand by the use of “ÿokels”

Bigred,
We are only talking about 1 route here, not the entire bus network.

Provide some evidence that the express bus routes city to woden has low reliability and mountains of complaints. I’ll wait.

And I never said the business case should only include transport benefits, but as a nominally public transport project you would think that it should provide significant transport benefits to the community don’t you?

But if it’s mainly around land development benefits:
a) there are other options that can deliver similar benefits, far cheaper
b) light rail isn’t actually needed until the land development has progressed significantly
c) why on earth should all taxpayers be conscripted to pay for something that only benefits a tiny amount of already wealthy people.

If it’s a land development project, it should be funded through value capture taxes, because the social benefit of the project is so low.

Surely the parlous state of the bus service is in large part due to the 2019 redesign of the bus network to fit in with light rail stage 1.

Bus use dropped 5% in Tuggeranong, Woden and Belconnen even before Covid struck, and Canberra Transport couldn’t provide enough bus drivers to deliver the new network even before any sickness started to hit staff.

and so says someone who clearly never catches a bus along that corridor. I do quite often, and let me tell you something for free: it is a frightening experience! 100 people or so on an articulated bus doing 90 km/h plus or minus a little bit jostling for position with Australia’s worst drivers provides me with absolutely no confidence. If it is the driver’s last run before a break, it is even more frentic.

Bigred,
*buzz* wrong again.

I’ve caught the bus on that route regularly over the years and never seen anything like what you’re suggesting. It’s fast and efficient, mostly on straight sections of road, there’s only a few turns involved.

I asked for data, not your personal anecdotes which are as meaningless as my own.

Also ironic that there would be far more people “jostling for position” on the light rail if it were built as it has significantly more people standing than the buses do.

Although you’re right, it would be a slower and smoother ride but that’s not worth the 1billion+ price tag.

That’s a ridiculous claim. I have caught the R4 and R5 many times between family in the south, me in the centre and civic in the north.

Did you raise your concerns with Transport Canberra?

If I had been on a speed-limited bus, that was capable of travelling faster than it’s limiter and being driven by Australia’s worst drivers, I would have contacted them and told them about my frightening experience.

yes Chewy, I am relying on my anecdata because quite frankly I do not have the time or inclination to construct a proper survey that would withstand your pot shots from behind your keyboard.

Oh yes, you forget the major reason the journey will be longer is the additional stops for Curtin and Deakin residents (who will get much reduced journey times) and to service the Parliamentary triangle employment areas.

BTW, last night at around 6.54 pm, and in the wet, successive rapid services did exactly what I described. How do I know? I was in my car, cruise control with a GPS calibrated speedo set to 8o km/h, passed with more than a slight velocity increment.

Now back to your keyboard.

Bigred,
So we agree that your initial position is not based on facts. Thanks for admitting it.

And no, I didn’t forget anything about the time it will take, the buses are significantly faster without the stops, they will be significantly faster with the stops.

Although thanks for highlighting another advantage of buses, it’s much easier to put in place bus express routes that don’t have to stop when compared to light rail.

And hilariously in your last apparent point, you’re highlighting that the buses can travel even faster than the light rail if they wanted to and had their own speed limits on a dedicated bus way.

Thanks for providing more evidence for my argument.

Light rail stage 1 “A tremendous success that has far exceeded expectations”, Senator Pocock said. What? Who’s expectations? Certainly not the ACT government’s own published expectations.

Light Rail stage 1 is operating well below current passenger usage level expectations and was only above a very low set of passenger use expectations for part of the the first year of operation. Usage levels hit 2021 projections in the first few weeks of light rails operations but dropped off over the ensuing months.

The Productivity Commission, Infrastructure Australia and the ACT’s own Auditor General have all raised serious concerns about the cost benefit calculations for the project. And that was before Covid struck and likely changed commuting to work habits for the foreseeable future.

I’ve never been against good public transport that will work for Canberra as a whole, but it’s time to revisit and re-analyse what the most effective and cost beneficial way of delivering public transport in Canberra. I

If Light Rail wins out, I’ll be all on board. But I want to publicly see an honest and accurate analysis and proposal supported by the Productivity Commission, Infrastructure Australia and the ACT’s own Auditor General.

Mansell Industries10:33 am 20 Sep 22

Who would have thought he would want a better stadium for the Brumbies… whoops… I mean Canberra sporting teams to play in????

calyptorhynchus10:23 am 20 Sep 22

How are a convention centre and a sports stadium supposed to contribute to mass transport?

Capital Retro10:13 am 20 Sep 22

We have a convention centre totally suitable for community needs and boutique style conferences an exhibitions. It would be ridiculous to build anything larger which would force us to compete with other established facilities in Australia.

We also have a stadium that has rarely been filled to capacity.

Mr Pocock should do some research.

So the 4 weeks of disruption each year that the V8’s caused was too much for this pretend city. How are people going to cope with the years of disruption that the toy train construction is going to cause.

light rail has never been about public transport. its been about land re-development particularly along northbound avenue.

The reality is that its here now, and we should be continuing it – as the time for arguing should we or shouldn’t we was over and done with many years ago now.

It does, however, have to be a better alternative to bus transport and should not be slower to get commuters to the workplace and back. If it isn’t, then time to put on those well paid thinking caps and make it faster.

Ryan Hemsley ….. “Unfortunately, it appears Senator Pocock is poorly informed in this regard” – that is because Labor are useless communicators. The people of Canberra do not want light rail, but the Government’s agenda cannot be derailed (pun intended)… Vote these clown out.

This is truly hilarious, various lobby groups fighting over which of their unviable projects should be given funding first. Who needs robust infrastructure assessments when lobbyists can just tell is what the priority should be.

And the spin around light rail stage 1 being a massive success has to be countered. Even with the heroic assumptions put in to the government’s business case, on the actual public transport side, patronage is currently sitting around a third of where the government claimed it would be.

Covid has changed the way we work for good, whilst numbers will pick up over time, they aren’t going to get anywhere near where was predicted in the short to medium term.

So why would you extend it to areas already serviced by express buses that are far quicker?

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