Property Council joins fray against Barton light rail route

Ian Bushnell 16 July 2018 78

An artist’s impression of Windsor Walk, Barton, as part of the Stage 2 light rail route. Photo: Transport Canberra.

One of the biggest supporters of the light rail project in Canberra has joined a chorus of concerns about the Government’s preferred route for Stage 2 to Woden though Parkes and Barton in order to service their tourism and employment centres.

While acknowledging that the Parliamentary Triangle is at the centre of Canberra’s public transport system, the ACT Property Council argues in a submission to the Federal Parliamentary inquiry into Stage 2 that the Government should stick with the 2015 Light Rail Master Plan and maintain the integrity of the north-south corridor.

“Providing a frequent and accessible service to Barton is important but it should be done in a way that doesn’t negatively impact on the overall performance of the network,” it says.

The Property Council says that diverting away from the corridor and the Light Rail Master Plan to service employment at Barton, removes the route’s effectiveness as a rapid intertown public transport system but does offer alternatives with a branch line.

Journey times between Woden and the city are expected to be 25-30 minutes compared with the current Blue Rapid bus services trip of 13-16 minutes.

“For residents of Woden this will be a slower service than the current express bus service currently operating or driving a car. As a result, it is likely that express buses will continue to operate along Adelaide Avenue which will undermine the viability of light rail,” the submission says.

The Property Council says a diversion from the most direct and legible route at Barton would penalise many kilometres of route to and beyond Woden Town Centre, which is in urgent need of investment and renewal.

“This should be a prioritised with public transport that is competitive with the private car both in travel time and frequency,” it says.

“It is essential that passengers from Woden can expect to board, interchange and alight with ease and speed. A diversion from the primary spine would likely reduce both the incentive and the real-world ability to interchange as future stages of light rail come on-line, for example Woden to Russell/Airport or to Kingston/Fyshwick/Queanbeyan or to Belconnen.”

The Property Council says these interchanges will most readily occur at Capital Circle and at London Circuit in the City Centre, and the preferred route removes a potentially significant interchange that will penalise the system overall.

“It highlights a lack of alignment between strategic planning and infrastructure planning,” it says.

It provides options in its submission including a direct route via Capital Circle.

Located on the eastern side of Capital Circle, this route would have a stop serving both Parliament House and the Barton office precinct, and be 1.12km shorter than the preferred Barton diversion route.

Another option is a direct route via Capital Circle plus a branch from the Canberra Avenue line to Manuka, which is 0.20km shorter than the preferred route.

The Property Council’s final option is a direct route via Capital Circle plus a branch line to Kingston Railway Station via Brisbane Avenue Barton, 1.88km longer than the preferred route.

Should the Government review its preferred route? Does the Barton deviation undermine the efficiency of the public transport network?

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78 Responses to Property Council joins fray against Barton light rail route
hennesalil hennesalil 12:34 am 23 Jul 18

I for one, and likely many in the building I work in (that is not serviced by any rapid bus route), will use the Barton route instead of car. And use the LR more for travel between town centres.

LR Stage 2 is likely to have other stops that Blue Rapid does not service on the Adelaide/Yamba run, like LR has numerous stops on Stage 1. It’s not just an inter-town route, it’s designed to strengthen the whole core catchment. Shorter dwell times will help make this work as or more efficiently than buses.

Best if LR is combined with city bikes to improve catchment range. I’d advocate for docked variety, but we may be able to define a standard that all bikes can dock to for flexibility rather than require bike providers to stump up the docking capital. Docking stations can be funded as a partnership by bike hire companies (from customer hire fees), ACT Government subsidies, and property owners and developers (to be required in development plans). I have personal experience with city bikes in another city, and appreciated the additional freedom and range they gave.

This will appeal to more in the community than the group of people who currently have the patience (or no choice but) to walk to slow suburban routes to get to places. More people could avoid the stress of the daily driving dash, without handing over a quarter of their personal time, every day, to slow public transport.

LR is being paid for significantly by rates, by property owners who will benefit from property value improvements, where residents (renters and owner-occupiers), and some on-the-job, will benefit from lifestyle improvements.

Whereas health, education I think of as being paid for by commonwealth-state grants.

They are complimentary, not competing.

    chewy14 chewy14 11:24 am 23 Jul 18

    “LR is being paid for significantly by rates, by property owners who will benefit from property value improvements, where residents (renters and owner-occupiers), and some on-the-job, will benefit from lifestyle improvements.”

    Except for the fact that not all property owners will benefit from increased value but all property owners are paying for it. A homeowner in Tuggeranong is receiving absolutely no benefit from LR, yet is conscripted to fund it.

    And the fact that property owners close to the LR routes can take their windfall gain in increased property value by selling and pay nothing for the LR itself. A sweet publically funded windfall gain for well off private landholders, well done to the ALP, the party for battlers.

    If the government was truly interested in testing the actual support for light rail in the community, they would have placed a levy on landholders close to the route(s) to capture some of the uplift.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 5:20 pm 23 Jul 18

    Spot on Chew14. We have disagreed on Rates calculations in the past (I am 100% sure the current model is flawed), but it is a great idea you have to add an extra fee (in the Rates calculation) to any property within say 500m of a Light Rail stop.

    This would help equitably fund the project and help offset the costs for taxpayers. I am sure an additional $100 a year would be a reasonable fee.

    Especially considering the Governments own estimates have the cost for Stages 1 and 2 at $356,000 per day (and every single day for the next 20 years) and also the estimate subsidy of each journey being $13 per ticketed rider, based on their estimates of 23,000 Light Rail trips per day.

    JC JC 5:52 pm 23 Jul 18

    If a home value increases because of light rail then they will pay more rates. Pretty easy concept actually. So in essence those who benefit are in fact paying for that benifit.

    Unless you just hate the whole idea and common sense is thrown out the window in a glut of historical yelling and feet stomping.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:06 pm 23 Jul 18

    I’ve literally written why you’re wrong in my comment, you must have missed it:

    “And the fact that property owners close to the LR routes can take their windfall gain in increased property value by selling and pay nothing for the LR itself. A sweet publically funded windfall gain for well off private landholders, well done to the ALP, the party for battlers.”

    The landholders close to the light rail line aren’t paying anywhere near the benefit they are receiving and in fact don’t have to pay anything at all as the uplift in land prices comes before the rate rises.

    If you thought they should pay for it, you would support my idea of a levy (which was actually proposed as a funding mechanism).

    “common sense” would see landholders paying for their private benefit.

    It’s once again very strange that the ALP, the Greens and their supporters would support such a large transference of public funds to wealthy private land holders for a project shown by the government’s own figures to only be viable as a land development project (it most definitely doesn’t stack up as a public transport one).

    astro2 astro2 10:09 am 24 Jul 18

    If it “doesn’t stack up” as a public transport mechanism then the surrounding real estate prices would reflect that. It does’t appear that this is happening. That”s what the oft repeated real estate statement : “…close to schools, shops and public transport” is about. People will generally pay more to be near these services.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:30 pm 24 Jul 18

    If you build lovely, shiny new expensive infrastructure like this near residences, of course property prices will go up, due to the increased amenity for those residences.

    This says absolutely zero about whether the project stacks up financially or provides more benefit than the cost.

    Please do try to read the cost benefit report before asserting how good the project is or perhaps you can just address the points made in this article that perfectly points out why light rail isn’t a transport project when 60% of the benefit are from non transport related areas and the transport benefits could have been delivered through far cheaper options. And the fact that even with all these additional benefits that are very uncertain, the overall project barely breaks even.

    astro2 astro2 8:25 am 25 Jul 18

    “Lovely shiny new infrastructure”, you could say the same about highways, depending on what type of transport options you support. The Parliamentary Inquiry supports the positive benefits of light rail infrastructure and is considering what is the optimal route for Stage 2 to take, as well as other issues such as environmental and heritage matters. The benefits of the infrastructure are therefore not in doubt as the surrounding development has attested to. Cost-benefit is all on the positive side. That is why the project is being built. No different to major road infrastructure. Yes, we all know major infrastructure projects cost money, the Sydney harbour Bridge took a long time to pay off, I guess you would have opposed that one too.

    chewy14 chewy14 1:30 pm 25 Jul 18

    “Lovely shiny new infrastructure”, you could say the same about highways, depending on what type of transport options you support.”

    I’m struggling to see the part of my comments where I’ve suggested anything different? Of course highways should be given the same investment scrutiny and in general they are.

    And by your complete refusal to address the points I’ve made, the cost benefits or the fact that it’s predominantly a land development project, you don’t really want to have an informed discussion. You might as well just say that you don’t care about costs or benefits, you simply like light rail regardless of the facts.

    “Yes, we all know major infrastructure projects cost money, the Sydney harbour Bridge took a long time to pay off”

    A more ironic comment, I think you’d struggle to find.

    Would this be the same Sydney Harbour Bridge that was one third funded through value capture by a betterment tax on landholders in the harbour area? The exact same proposal I’ve suggested to fund light rail here. Oh dear…

    astro2 astro2 7:37 pm 25 Jul 18

    I think you’ll find the betterment tax for the Sydney Harbour Bridge was repealed at an early date so not much of a success. Considering that light rail will be rolled out in stages across the ACT it is more efficient to have the costs spread across the ACT. Even Tuggers will eventually get it.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:06 pm 25 Jul 18

    Is there ever a logical argument that you can’t ignore?

    The betterment levy laid for one third of construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and was looked at to fund other types of infrastructure until the great depression hit. It was applied at 0.2% of unimproved property value for 15 years.

    If you’ve got evidence of it being a “failure” present it, so far you’ve literally offered no argument against such a move.

    “Considering that light rail will be rolled out in stages across the ACT it is more efficient to have the costs spread across the ACT”

    Firstly, why is it more “efficient”?

    Secondly, it’s unlikely that future stages will even go ahead due to the horrifically high costs and tiny benefits for any future stages. The viability of the first stage of the land development project barely stood up and only did so because of the fact that the government owned significant amounts of land in the area and there was enormous redevelopment potential along the route. That situation exists nowhere else in the ACT, the first stage is as “good” as the economics are going to get for at least a few decades.

    But regardless, let’s say the government fronts up the billions of dollars to pay for a full system. It will likely take 20+ years to complete and will still not service the full population.

    Considering people move on average every 7years, the inequity of across city funding of the project through rates increases is enormous.

    My proposed funding would not only be more equitable but more efficient in preventing significant portions of public funds leaking to large scale windfall benefits to well off landholders.

    astro2 astro2 8:11 am 26 Jul 18

    in a previous post I explained why it would become difficult to apportion costs to various areas and that this is not, in fact, done for other infrastructure that nearby residents benefit from. The current decision by Government stands and for very good reason. Most of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was not paid for by betterment tax and it was repealed early. As to your second wish that future stages won’t go ahead, well, good luck with that one. It appears from the recent Parliamentary Committee on planing for Stage Two, that they already are, (your “horrifically high” costs and “tiny” benefits argument doesn’t seem to be stopping progress.)

    chewy14 chewy14 12:16 pm 26 Jul 18

    1. Explain logically how it would be difficult to apportion costs?

    I’ve literally shown you one way how it was done for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A sliding scale percentage charge on UAV added to the rates of properties within a certain distance of the light rail route for ten years starting when the project was announced would have done the job. Take a look at the property prices in the inner north and they’ve gone up 50% in value in the last five years, it is simple to apportion costs.

    The only difficulty would have been politically, seeing as the government needed these people’s votes at the last election and it could have cost them seats in the area.

    And are you seriously suggesting that the reason it shouldn’t be done is because it isn’t done? The circular logic is strong with you isn’t it?

    “The current decision by Government stands and for very good reason”

    Yet you can’t provide any of these reasons.

    And I don’t wish for anything other than prudent expenditure of taxpayer dollars by government. If light rail was shown to be the best option, I’d have no issue with it. You’re the one who seems to be perfectly fine with massively wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars for little benefit. Perhaps you should become a politician?

    astro2 astro2 7:19 pm 26 Jul 18

    I’d already explained this in a previous post, however, briefly, there would be unecessary complexity in deciding what is and isn’t an essential service and the amount accruing to either. Additionally, as the light rail is being rolled at in stages as a network there is an ongoing benefit to most Canberrans. You would also be setting a precedent and a resident who may be charged an additional impost for buying property near a light rail may also insist that another resident living near another major capital infrastructure project ,an extension to the National Gallery or EPIC, should also pay,. As a previous poster suggested, the current market mechanism of rates is a logical and efficient means of apportioning costs. Also less than 1 % percent of the ACT Territory Budget is prudent expenditure. Perhaps turn your attention to the route that Stage Two should take as this is the topic du jour.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:31 am 27 Jul 18

    None of those are reasons, you’re prevaricating because your support for light rail is more about emotional attachment than logic.

    Firstly, it’s almost beyond simple to define what is or isn’t an essential service.

    Professional government bodies and agencies like Infrastructure Australia (and even our own local government) do it every day. Setting up rules for what qualifies for public funding is simple and is the very reason why Infrastructure Australia and the Federal government hasn’t provided one dollar dedicated for the construction of this project. It isn’t viable as an essential infrastructure project.

    Two such easy and logical rules used almost everywhere is that cost benefit ratios must be significantly positive and lowest cost lifecycle options should be chosen. Triple bottom line costing is also used for assessing projects. All of those factors clearly fail on our light rail, with better options available on the government’s own figures.

    Secondly, this type of funding (value capture) does not have to be used “everywhere”, you define parameters where it would be appropriate and apply them. By your logic, we can’t put in toll roads, congestion charges or any other funding method anywhere because they haven’t been used everywhere. You must clearly be against PPP’s because they aren’t used exclusively.

    Thirdly, our existing rating system already does differentiate between “different” classes of owners depending on multiple factors, such as using Unimproved land value instead of improved land value or other “value” factors. The calculation of Unimproved land value also uses a methodology that considers multiple variables to determine that value (which people like BJ-ACT above) argue against. And it has progressive rating factors charging higher percentage rates to people on more expensive land (which you’re clearly going to say you’re against because of the differentiation between owners right).

    astro2 astro2 7:33 am 28 Jul 18

    Hi chewy, You seem to believe that anyone that points out the benefits of light rail is being “emotional” whereas opponents are “logical”. Appears to many people that the opposite is true and anti-light-railers are opposed to logical extensions of public transport and have a backwards vision of the city. However just to reiterate: Firstly you’ve said it would be easy to define essential from non-essential services and then contradicted yourself by stating that public transport (light rail) is non-essential. I doubt whether you’d win that argument in practical terms. So if your payment model was adopted then the light rail network would be defined as an essential service so therefore your betterment tax proposal would fail at the first hurdle. Secondly toll roads are a user pays system, not a landowners’ betterment tax. Commuters on the light rail will pay to use it, just as motorists pay to use a toll road. Thirdly, the existing rates system “charging higher percentage rates to people on more expensive land” is the system that will still be used with light rail. There is no need to add an extra layer of complexity to it just because you don’t want to have to pay for the light rail. We all have to pay for things we don’t use or support in our taxes and rates.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 8:56 am 24 Jul 18

    JC You’re totally missing the point on Rates and Light Rail. It’s not that simple as just the rates revenue going up with higher house sales. Rates calculations take into account other factors than just the sales price. The Government’s own website says the valuations include things such as block size, location, aspect and view (not just sales value).

    Adding extra factors to rates calculations such as distance to light rail stop, may also be a good initiative.

    astro2 astro2 9:57 am 24 Jul 18

    By that reasoning there would also be levees on properties in Watson (proximity to EPIC), Garran, (proximity to hospital), Forrest (Proximity to Parliament House,) etc etc. You would need to have levees all over the place any time new infrastructure or extensions to existing infrastructure are being built. Do you have any other examples around Australia where this happens? The current model seems to be workable and understood generally by most property owners.

    chewy14 chewy14 1:17 pm 24 Jul 18

    No, I think it would only be appropriate where non essential infrastructure was built that accrues such a large private benefit from public funds.

    A hospital wouldn’t count as it’s essential but it could be used for other types of infrastructure. The fact that the government’s own figures show that the benefits accrue predominantly as a land development project and that the public transport benefits could have been achieved at far less cost makes it an ideal target for this type of funding.

    The idea of value capture isn’t new and has been used in numerous other places. Even part of the Gold Coast light rail (the one supporters of our LR are always raving about) has been funded in this way.

    astro2 astro2 9:55 pm 24 Jul 18

    There’s a couple of problems with that; one is that you are apportioning different types of benefit depending on whether something is designated “essential” or “non-essential”, which would set up at least two sets of land owners. The second problem is there would be a long argument as to what defines ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ so that what would be essential to one person may not be essential to another. Some activities may fall in a grey area as well. In short it wouldn’t be a workable system.

    chewy14 chewy14 1:34 pm 25 Jul 18

    You’re right, you would have to define essential vs non essential.

    In this regard, I would say public transport is essential, land development opportunities are not.

    So seeing as the public transport benefits don’t even come close to breaking even on the cost of the project and those same benefits could have been delivered far cheaper by other options, it’s not viable as a project that should be publically funded.

    This is the exact reason why Infrastructure Australia refused to fund any of the light rail, because the project simply didn’t stack up as a transport project.

    astro2 astro2 7:18 pm 25 Jul 18

    So, you now appear to be asserting that light rail isn’t public transport? Oh dear me. You obviously have very strong feelings against light rail but I can assure you that it is a public transport project. The flow-on benefits in land improvement are what makes the project economically viable.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:20 pm 25 Jul 18

    “So, you now appear to be asserting that light rail isn’t public transport? Oh dear me”

    I never said light rail wasn’t public transport, I said that to be justified as a public transport project (and qualify for public funding), you would have to show that it provided those public transport benefits for the lowest cost with a significantly positive cost-benefit ratio.

    The government’s own figures and cost benefit analyses (that you still haven’t read) showed that:
    a)the cost benefit for light rail as a transport project was less than 1 (0.5). Which means there will be $0.5 of benefit for every dollar spent. And
    b)those same benefits could be delivered far cheaper through a bus system.

    Otherwise, you’re saying you’d support a space shuttle delivering people from Gungahlin to Tuggeranong as a public transport system if the government proposed it.

    Actually scratch that last bit, I don’t want to give you any ideas.

    How about a publically funded taxi service from my house to wherever I want to go at any time? You’ll be on board right? It’s public transport, my neighbours can use it too.

    The illogical support for this project almost seems religious at times, it’s like a faith that people have despite all evidence to the contrary.

    astro2 astro2 7:59 am 26 Jul 18

    hi chewy14, Despite your claims that light rail isn’t viable it is being built with the support of most Canberrans in elections and numerous surveys. I’ve read the figures on light rail and the cost benefit stacks up when combined with the land improvement which I think you are already aware of. Cost benefit analyses can be cut and diced in a number of ways so no need to fixate on one model only. The original basis of this article was about the Property Council’s views on the appropriate route for Stage 2. So the argument has moved on a long way from ‘Should we or shouldn’t we have a light rail?’ As an efficient and forward-looking pubic transport system light rail has been proved to be successful in many other areas. As Paul Keating once said: ‘The dogs bark and the caravan moves on.’

    JC JC 5:43 pm 26 Jul 18

    Chewy since when was lower cost the deciding factor in public transport projects.

    I am certain in Sydney for example it would be far cheaper to not build heavy rail and instead just have more buses uses more congested roads.

    And I am certain unless we do something here like light rail then we would be doing the same because it is just cheaper.

    And of course with cheaper alternatives like buses the true cost, like the cost of the road is never factored in.

    So cost is a consideration but not the only one.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:41 am 27 Jul 18

    I didn’t say lowest cost, I said lowest cost to provide the required benefits. Why would you build something more expensive if it didn’t increase the benefits commensurately?

    You know exactly like I do that the government’s own analysis showed that a BRT system could deliver the transport benefits here for a fraction of the cost of light rail.

    If in twenty years or so, light rail stood up, it could have been implemented then and the current planning could clearly have allowed for staged upgrades.

    So you’re right, cost is only one consideration as I’ve repeatedly argued and shown here, but there seems to be many others here who want to ignore it completely.

    I think I’m done here, although I think this thread does nicely encapsulate the point you made above about people not understanding infrastructure projects, their funding and delivery. The government have used that fact extremely well to get what they want despite the logic around it.

    JC JC 6:08 pm 24 Jul 18

    Bj_ACT land value is also influenced by sales price. Increasing prices will see increaing land value.

    But you are right nothing is as simple as that. Just like this whole project. So many people cannot see the benifit to everyone and light rail is being blamed for all government charge increases. If all of them were going to light rail every planned rapid route would be built and funded within 5 years. Most just don’t understand or want to understand how finance and infrastructure construction really works. Except roads, so long as they are “free” and not tolls.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:08 pm 24 Jul 18

    You’re right, most people don’t know how financing, cost benefit analyses or infrastructure construction works. They often keep utilising emotive arguments whilst ignoring the government’s own published reports and data.

    And as I’ve repeatedly told you, toll roads and road congestion charges are a great idea that should be implemented much wider but at least the major road constructions around Canberra recently have clear business cases with high cost-benefit ratios.

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 11:47 am 20 Jul 18

Wait until the first one is running and see how well that performs ( or doesn’t). The proposed changes to TRANSPORT ACT are trying to force people onto light rail, but I suspect it may backfire.

ricci ricci 4:51 pm 19 Jul 18

Best outcome to my mind is to junk 2nd stage and save taxpayer and rate payer money.

JC JC 9:02 pm 18 Jul 18

Chris Emery what nonsense.

Stage 1 lightrail is planned to take 25 minutes in the peak. The current 200 bus is timetabled to take around 40 minutes in the peak with the fastest journey being 23 minutes.

So no it’s not taking double and at the time of most use it is faster.

Also buses do not so 100km/h. I know the Renault’s were speed limited to 87km/h, beside that speed is irrelevant when the max speed limit on stage 1 is 70km/h the same as the tram and on stage 20 80km/h on Adelaide Ave.

As for acceleration weight of the vehicle is not really an issue. Power to weight ratio is so too is how fast the power can be converted into wheels turning. An electric tram will out accelertae a bus any day of the week. The other factor with public transport is dwell time. Again light rail wins hands down as you can unload and load more people faster by having more doors in operation. Indeed even the current buses could cut this time with all door boarding. Something they used to do on the 333’s back in the day. Anyone remember the supervisors with their portable fare box who would stand at the back door in the interchanges?

Canberra light rail vehicles have two double and two single doors on each side compared to an action bus who mostly only use one door.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:05 am 19 Jul 18

    “An electric tram will out accelerate a bus any day of the week.”

    …..until it reaches 70kph.

    JC JC 5:18 pm 20 Jul 18

    Capital Retro, yeah until 70km/h, which is the maximum speed limit on stage 1 anyway.

    And on stage 2 there is 5km of 80km/h running on Adelaide Ave, which at 80km would take 3m45, or 4m17 at 70km/h a difference of a whole 32 seconds. And that is not taking into account the fact that at the yamba drive end both would need to accelerate. So maybe make a 25 second distance.

    Tell me you are not one of those people who tries to go those extra few KM/h in peak hour only to be stopped at the same set of lights as those who have just gone with the flow?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:36 am 22 Jul 18

    The reality is that busses currently travel at 80kmh while using the T2 lane on the Yarra Glen/Adelaide Avenue stretch.

    I’m one of those people who don’t drive at all in the peak times in Canberra and these peak times will diminish in the future as more people become unemployed through technology disruption and those that still have jobs will be stay at home telecommuters.

    Your beloved trams will end up on a scrap heap with nothing on them worth recycling.

    JC JC 6:21 pm 22 Jul 18

    Capital I am actually a fan of all thing that moves. Buses, trams, trains and planes.

    So not a matter of having a love for trams. Each has their place and I am firmly on record as saying I don’t agree with stage 2.

    That said after seeing the rapid network I can see what they are trying to do and I can now at least see some sense in Woden being stage 2 and the route that it is taking. And that makes sense on the assumption that the direct (bus) rapid stays as per that plan.

    KentFitch KentFitch 11:07 am 19 Jul 18

    “An electric tram will out accelerate a bus any day of the week” – unsubstantiated and untrue.

    The tram Canberra is getting has a peak acceleration of 1.34m/s2. Even “normal” modern buses are measured exceeding this in service (well over 2m/s2, see for example “The retention of balance: An exploratory study into the limits of acceleration the human body can withstand without losing equilibrium” and “A Methodology for Developing Transit Bus Speed-Acceleration Matrices to be Used in Load-Based Mobile Source Emissions Models”), but practically, accelerations higher than 1.2m/s2 are rarely advised (or permitted) because passengers don’t like them and they increase the risk of injury, particularly to standing passengers.

    So, limiting acceleration rates is particularly important when many passengers are standing. Whereas over 2/3rds of current ACTION bus passengers at peak capacity are seated, the tram will reverse this figure: 2/3rds will be standing.

    JC JC 5:58 pm 19 Jul 18

    Diesel through a mechanical gearbox out accelerate an electric motor! unsubstantiated and not true.

KentFitch KentFitch 4:58 pm 18 Jul 18

Former vocal and influential (to the ACT Gov at least) promoter of light rail in Sydney, Canberra, Perth and Hobart, Professor Peter Newman (eg ) was interviewed on the Science Show last weekend (ABCRN :,-poles-or-wires/9990212 ), promoting rubber-tyred autonomous buses (which simply follows a painted line on the road) as doing all light rail does but at a fraction of the cost.

Newman said: “The trackless tram we’ve come across recently is a major breakthrough in technology because it is an autonomous vehicle that follows sensors in the road, just painted on, and can do everything a fast tram can do .. carrying 300 people at 70km/hr… doing the work of a light rail system, that sometimes like in Sydney’s case, cost $120m/km, we think can be done for $5m/km..”

When questioned by the presenter, Robyn Williams: “Are you implying that the system in Sydney which has dug up the roads as far as the eye can see… is out of date, unnecessary?” he equivocates: “Well, all light rail systems are moving in a direction of getting more autonomous.. steel wheels on steel tracks will continue particularly on fast rail, heavy rail systems… but these rubber wheels on roads can be put in overnight; that does have an appeal. You don’t dig up a street and destroy the economy in that street for 4 years…”

Regret for his part in urging the ACT to load up with an unnecessary $1.4b commitment would have been appreciated.

I guess when ardent boosters like Newman equivocate and realise the true direct and opportunity costs, it really is all over for light rail for all but the tram tragics. For ACT Gov, it was never about trams or even transport, but about an incoherent thought-bubble and excuses to please property developers.

    JC JC 9:07 pm 18 Jul 18

    $5/m? Yup assuming the road has already been built (cost transferred elsewhere really) and not solving the core issue of congestion as these bus tram things are sharing the (congested) roads with others.

    Yeah yeah I know stage 1 light rail will lead to more congestion on Northborne, we have been there before on that debate but rightly or wrongly something like this without building dedicated infrastructure won’t solve or help leases congestion.

    bringontheevidence bringontheevidence 12:57 pm 20 Jul 18

    Horses for courses. No transport mode is going to be the best option everywhere because all cities have different needs.

    The problem with many transport planners is that they become ‘mode obsessed’ and push that same mode in every context.

    The ‘strengths’ of light rail are increasing public transport usage (something like 25-50 per cent compared to busses of the same speed and cost), and driving urban density/regeneration (the permanence of the rails gives investment certainty to businesses and developers).

    Ultimately the light rail in Canberra isn’t only a transport solution, it’s a mechanism for the Government to drive its density/urbanisation policies.

    Peter Newman’s comments about the cost and disruption of light rail construction relate to Sydney, where it is NOT the best option. Those comments shouldn’t be applied to Canberra.

    JC JC 7:16 pm 21 Jul 18

    Agree in Sydney this new stage should have been more along the lines of the metro they are building. Would have cost a lot more but what is really needed in that case.

    That said there are plenty of places where light rail in Sydney would be better than the buses and not justify an underground metro.

Chris Emery Chris Emery 4:52 pm 18 Jul 18

Stage 1 of LR is planned to take twice the journey time of the rapid bus so it should be no surprise that stage 2 will be the same. For a start the buses have a top speed of 100km/hr while the LRV are 70km/hr. Then the LRV are much heavier, affecting acceleration and braking distances. Explains why journey times for Stage 2 were never disclosed during the route consultation stages, despite numerous requests.

Nicole Fitzgerald Nicole Fitzgerald 6:58 am 18 Jul 18

If the goal is for it be be a time efficient network send it direct and get on with it!

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 7:14 pm 17 Jul 18

This “light rail” is of course going to be a billion-dollar white elephant as soon as driverless cars (quite possibly solar) can drive us to work and then go off home for the day, then pick us up after work.

    astro2 astro2 10:32 pm 18 Jul 18

    Even if “driverless cars” were soon to be implemented (and there are no signs of this happening for quite some time yet) that would still not solve the problem of peak hour traffic and wouldn’t operate all that efficiently in capital cities and other large cities.

    JC JC 8:12 am 21 Jul 18

    It’s interesting to see our autonomous car man who said we had no need for buses as cars would solve it all is now on the autonomous bus/tram wagon. Even got mentioned in a news paper article.

    Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 7:28 pm 21 Jul 18

    Canberra barely has a peak hour. In any case, it’s easy to stagger work transport …

    astro2 astro2 9:08 pm 21 Jul 18

    Hmm yes ‘barely has a peak hour’ so no need to plan for the future as it will always be like this? Do you really think so? And as to the ease of staggering work transport, that doesn’t seem to have worked in other cities so perhaps not as easy as it may first appear.

    JC JC 8:11 am 22 Jul 18

    Lucy whilst Canberra peak is no where near as bad as Sydney, there can be no doubt what so ever that as the city grows “peak hour” traffic is increasingly getting worse.

    And a prime example the bus from the city to Belconnen. 30 years ago it used to take 15 minutes. It was re-routed that changed that to 20 and now it can take 25-30 minutes. What do you think is causing that? Increased congestion. And interestgly this example was for Belconnen where the amount of growth in number of dwellings as been minor compared to the growth in Gungahlin.

Wing Nut Wing Nut 6:32 pm 17 Jul 18

Well there you go. I always thought the Property Council and the ACT Government were one of the same thing.

Kay de Vogel Kay de Vogel 3:46 pm 17 Jul 18

Does the Property Council have the best interests of the Canberra residents at heart or those of property developers and landlords? Maybe I'm just cynical, but.....

Ben Gray Ben Gray 2:21 am 17 Jul 18

I think the best outcome for stage 2 would be a direct north-south link, with a branch from the parliamentary triangle through Barton and onto Wentworth Avenue, terminating on Wentworth Avenue opposite the train station. This would allow a quicker service from Woden to the CBD while also servicing the Barton and parliamentary triangle employment area, as well as giving the government the option to head out to Fyshwick at a later stage while linking another high-density residential area.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:40 pm 16 Jul 18

Is Caroline Le Couteur serious? How can someone “travel around Canberra” on something that goes virtually nowhere?

Caroline Le Couteur Caroline Le Couteur 9:23 pm 16 Jul 18

Its important the the light rail is a good outcome for the people of Canberra who want to travel around Canberra. I'm not sure why the light rail needs to be significantly slower than the bus.

Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 6:49 pm 16 Jul 18

The amount proposed for stage 2 would go a long way toward free renewable electricity for all Canberrans. Think about that!

John Brown John Brown 6:36 pm 16 Jul 18

Yes Peter what with people left in the hallways of hospitals and schools with no flashing lights but then children don't vote

Mat Barber Mat Barber 6:08 pm 16 Jul 18

Just send it straight down Adelaide Avenue, they can run rapid shuttle buses from Albert hall via the parliamentary triangle to the City instead

    Lara Zangl Lara Zangl 8:07 am 20 Jul 18

    My thoughts exactly

    Lara Zangl Lara Zangl 8:09 am 20 Jul 18

    Or a separate tramline doing that same rapid shuttle Albert hall to Kingston.

Peter Drady Dradrach Peter Drady Dradrach 5:50 pm 16 Jul 18

how about just putting that money into the hospital network - holy cow priorities - lets see what stage one brings.

David Brown David Brown 5:25 pm 16 Jul 18

I think they should build a tunnel under the lake.

gooterz gooterz 3:31 pm 16 Jul 18

Well light rail was never mass transit.
Light rail is slower than bus.
The idea is to slow down traffic along the route to meet with the tram. Current 80 will turn into 60 along the route.

No doubt the route was chosen as it avoids the grade issues around the hill.
How much is a tunnel boring machine these days. Could just tunnel from Belconnen to Tuggeranong and throw a high speed train in there. Belconnen to Tuggeranong in 10 minutes. Everyone would want that!

Stephen Hood Stephen Hood 2:20 pm 16 Jul 18

Stage 2 should always have been Civic-Campbell Park-Airport-Fyshwick-Queanbeyan to be like a big city should. But of course the taxi industry would have to be managed properly through such a transition.

Oh, and have a high speed rail link from Sydney terminating at Queanbeyan to be a stop on the light rail line.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 4:05 pm 16 Jul 18

    High speed rail stop on QBN? Lost me there. If you are gonna have high speed rail why would it not go to Canberra city which is about as close to the centre of the ACT as you can get.

    Stephen Hood Stephen Hood 4:46 pm 16 Jul 18

    Ashley Wright Not sure if the room is at Civic so maybe at the airport itself. I was only thinking Queanbeyan in 40 years time as Canberra and Queanbeyan expand and the station is actually quite close to Civic anyway if linked by a fast tram.

    I rule Canberra station out based on the Kingston foreshore redevelopment, which has shown the ACT will want to maximise apartment revenue from and not lock land up in transport infrastructure.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:55 pm 16 Jul 18

    Stephen Hood if there is money to build a high speed line to Canberra there would be money to put the station underground in the city!

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