30 June 2017

Self-driving cars bolster the case for light rail

| Chris Steel MLA
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The ACT Government is planning for the future by building a mass-transit system in light rail that, over coming decades, will be complemented by cheap and ubiquitous electric and self- driving car technology.

Like many Canberrans, I’ve enthusiastically followed the development of self-driving vehicle technology. Coupled with reliable and cheaper electric vehicle (EV) technology, autonomous electric cars (AVs) have the potential to replace conventional vehicles in the future and we will all benefit.

I’m keen to see the ACT Government play an active role in promoting self-driving and electric vehicle policy and infrastructure in our city. I was pleased that ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced an investment of $1.35 million in funding in the 2017 ACT Budget for a trial of self-driving technology in the ACT.

The ACT Government has already lowered duties for fuel-efficient cars and provided electric-car charging stations across the territory. We’re also continuing to lobby Waymo and Tesla to test more driverless car technologies in Canberra.

Seeing Machines, Waymo, Uber and Tesla are all in the race to develop driverless technology, and with Apple rumoured to be developing its own vehicle, it is clear self-driving cars are on their way. While some advanced driver assistance technologies are already here and they will become much more sophisticated over the next few years, fully driverless technology will take longer to develop. Nonetheless driverless cars are definitely a part of our future.

Electric cars are already here and are gradually becoming less expensive. The first deliveries of the lower priced (and aesthetically pleasing) Tesla Model 3 will take place in November this year, and will include inbuilt semi-autonomous driverless technology with the capacity for fully-autonomous upgrades. Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis has predicted electric cars will become cheaper than conventional cars by 2022.

The combination of electric and autonomous technologies has the potential to provide significant environmental benefits, increased safety through reduced human error, and increase in leisure or work time for commuters while on route to their destinations.

Importantly though, we must recognise autonomous vehicles will not displace the role of mass transit systems like light rail. Cars are still cars, and they will still cause congestion, autonomous or not. A mix of transport solutions, with autonomous electric vehicles, active travel and a mass transit system like light rail, will all have a role to play in moving people around Canberra in the future.

Light rail is a proven mode of mass transit. It will move people around our city quickly and efficiently across our future city wide network outlined in the Light Rail Master Plan.

The role of mass transit transport will only increase in importance as our city grows. This week the Census has confirmed the ACT is the fastest growing jurisdiction in the country.Our city of 400,000 people is projected to increase over the next two decades from 400,000 to more than 500,000. On current growth estimates, Canberra will overtake Tasmania’s population by the early 2030s. This growth trajectory will mean thousands of extra cars on the road and – regardless of whether these cars have driverless technologies or not – this will lead to associated congestion. Unless we invest in mass transit, to move large numbers of people around quickly and efficiently, our city will suffer the same gridlocked fate as Sydney.

That’s why the future is very bright for mass transit systems like light rail. Sustainability and Resource Productivity company, McKinsey, has put forward ‘an integrated perspective on the future of mobility’ including autonomous vehicles that finds that:

Mass-transit rail systems – in combination with walking and cycling – would remain a vital and essential part of the mobility system, as the speed and capacity of such systems remains unrivalled.

Self-driving cars cannot solve the congestion problem alone. If not implemented properly, autonomous vehicles and taxis may in fact add to congestion pressures because of ‘dead trips’ when commuters ‘call’ empty cars to them from across the city. Ride-sharing isn’t an easy solution for this problem either.

There is no doubt autonomous vehicles have the potential to be more efficient than conventional cars in negotiating traffic conditions. Efficient braking and acceleration, and a fully integrated autonomous network where vehicles are ‘talking’ to each other can improve fuel efficiency and traffic flow.

However, mass transit systems will continue to play an important role in moving large numbers of people down major transport corridors, reducing congestion for other road users.

Self-driving taxis have potential to feed mass transit options like light rail, rapid bus routes and train lines rather than adding to traffic on a congested thoroughfares. Far from supplanting Capital Metro, a fleet of self-driving taxis will augment our public transport network by more conveniently directing patronage through light rail stops.

This supports the aim of Transport Canberra to create an integrated transport network for our growing city. The Government’s approach is proactive and will ease congestion, tackle transport-based pollution and direct economic activity into our city centres.

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) has put together a neat diagram of the consequences of autonomous vehicles:

As the diagram suggests, an integrated light rail network will not only provide better quality of transport for people, but lead urban regeneration, while reducing congestion.

The narrow obsession of anti-light rail protagonists in promoting a single mode of transport – more privately owned cars on the road – will only lead to more traffic.

So while I welcome the emergence of self-driving vehicle technology, the ACT Government must also stand up to safeguard the liveability of our city by investing in a multi-modal transport future.

We will continue to invest in a city-wide light rail network and better active travel connections at the same time as supporting nascent autonomous vehicle technology – because all are part of the future of mobility in Canberra.

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JC said :

KentFitch said :

Urbos make lots of vehicles, with different lengths and capacities, but the ACT Gov has contracted a 33m model, configured at full capacity to carry 207 people (with just 66 seated).

Changing to a longer model will be awkward/expensive as it will incur platform lengthening (and associated track works), changes to the depot, and, depending on the model and running frequency, it may require upgrades to the power infrastructure. So, I’m assuming the contracted model will be running in 2019, replacing all bus services between Gungahlin and Civic.

Urbos make no vehicles, Urbos is a model of light rail vehicle made by CAF.

And think you will find adding additional modules is a trivial task from a technical perspective, CAF (and most light rail makers) design their vehicles to be module and changeable. Plus think you will find the platforms and depot etc have been designed for a longer vehicle. If one were to delved into the light rail plans, rather than cherry pick and nit pick you and others would fine a lot more thought has been given for future proofing then given credit for.

Is that light rail future proofing for the benefit of public transport or urban regeneration?

wildturkeycanoe7:28 am 10 Jul 17

Making the people of Canberra shift their mode of travel to public transport is not as easy as just building a network. If the new service takes longer, requires spending more time in our unpleasant climate extremes or costs more than now, it may even backfire and lose support. Until put into practice, of course folks will say they support something new. When they find they have to stand for 30 minutes instead of sitting comfortably as they do now, or they have to leave half an hour earlier to do the same commute, there is an element of uncertainty in the boasts made by the government on patronage. A distinct lack of an express service will make people leave PT in preference for getting to their destination on time, especially those with family commitments such as school aged children. We can’t assume anything based on other cities and their success or failures. The Gold Coast for example has a different climate and relies on tourism, not local workers for consistent revenue. What tourism does Northbourne offer? Who is going to brave the -7°C mornings or 39°C afternoons instead of taking a climate controlled journey in their own vehicle? Case studies mean little as this is not like any other city in the world. We could promote mopeds based on usage figures from Bangkok, just as easily with data gathered there. Doesn’t necessarily mean it will work though.

KentFitch said :

Urbos make lots of vehicles, with different lengths and capacities, but the ACT Gov has contracted a 33m model, configured at full capacity to carry 207 people (with just 66 seated).

Changing to a longer model will be awkward/expensive as it will incur platform lengthening (and associated track works), changes to the depot, and, depending on the model and running frequency, it may require upgrades to the power infrastructure. So, I’m assuming the contracted model will be running in 2019, replacing all bus services between Gungahlin and Civic.

Urbos make no vehicles, Urbos is a model of light rail vehicle made by CAF.

And think you will find adding additional modules is a trivial task from a technical perspective, CAF (and most light rail makers) design their vehicles to be module and changeable. Plus think you will find the platforms and depot etc have been designed for a longer vehicle. If one were to delved into the light rail plans, rather than cherry pick and nit pick you and others would fine a lot more thought has been given for future proofing then given credit for.

Chewy14’s instincts got me thinking. Labor hasn’t put this production on for nothing. Maybe something has frightened them?

It’s not all about privately owned autonomous cars as they’ve put it, and even on that level it presents some problems for light rail.

It’s really about publically owned autonomous cars used as public transport.

This game changing fact has been carefully avoided, and the people behind it misrepresented. Read the links (Chris answering Chewy14).

You can believe the implications of disruptive technology or not, but that shouldn’t distract you from examining Labor’s motives and methods.

dungfungus, didn’t I read here somewhere that you wrote you walk ten kms a day, which is VERY impressive? So, you should have not a problem with needing to walk to and from a bus. Just take the distance off your impressive ten kms 🙂

Damien Haas said :

The services running adjacent to Flemington are likely to be expanded to support light rail. That has been stated since the outset of Stage One. If this incorrect assumption is the basis for your extrapolations, then all your subsequent analysis is equally wrong.

Maybe you’re not aware that the planning and modelling for the project, and all the Gov statements to date say that there will be no buses travelling from Gungahlin to North Canberra. Currently, in weekday 8am-9am, there are 30 buses, carrying at capacity about 2130 people, about 1360 of whom can be seated. All these people will either have to transfer to the tram, starting travelling by car, or take up walking or bike riding to get between Gungahlin and North Canberra.

But, the tram as contracted will have just 10 services per hour in that same peak period, hence carrying at capacity 2070 people, about 660 of whom can be seated.

Damien Haas said :

There are many different buses in the ACTION fleet .I’m not sure what your point is. No doubt it is supremely important in your alchemic calculations.

Damien, it is just maths – I don’t know how I can represent it more simply.

Damien Haas said :

KentFitch said :

Do you contest that the tram capacity is 66 seated and 141 standing?

The Urbos LRV can carry 129 to 327 passengers according to wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbos

Urbos make lots of vehicles, with different lengths and capacities, but the ACT Gov has contracted a 33m model, configured at full capacity to carry 207 people (with just 66 seated). Changing to a longer model will be awkward/expensive as it will incur platform lengthening (and associated track works), changes to the depot, and, depending on the model and running frequency, it may require upgrades to the power infrastructure. So, I’m assuming the contracted model will be running in 2019, replacing all bus services between Gungahlin and Civic.

I fully appreciate this is bizarre: that there is less capacity on the Gungahlin – Civic route in the AM peak with the tram, given the initial positioning of the tram as a transport solution and given the increasing density along the route. But I’m just the messenger – the message is the from the ACT Gov, and it seems we are all in the dark as to what they are actually thinking, or perhaps hoping.

Maya123 said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Maya,your BMI figures while interesting do not factor in the following. A person in Gunners catching a tram will catch a bus from their home to the tram station. They sit all the way to work, getting FB time or having brekkie. In Civic they will probably have a short,convenient walk to work. If the distance is far the rest of the trip may also be done by bus [free city loop?].
With a car they probably won’t get any more or less exercise at the onset. But with public parking being taken over by new office space they will be seeking all day accomodation for their vehicle further from their workplace, meaning a longer stroll and, wait for it, exercise! Not only that but using the accelerator,clutch, brake pedals and the steering wheel will use more calories than holding your phone in front of your face.
The drawcard of the tram and the appeal is supposed to be its convenience. That does not to me sound like a factor in promoting exercise or they would have designed it to run along Limestone Avenue instead. I argue that it is only going to increase health problems rather than decrease them. You show me how it will encourage walking without eliminating the suburban bus routes connecting places like Forde and Crace to the Gungahlin town square. People will not take up exercise if they aren’t motivated. While convenient alternatives are there, lazy people will continue to take them. I just can’t see those living more than a kilometer from the tram taking up walking, because they would already be doing so to use our Action bus network, which does a better job than the tram ever will.

Apparently studies round the world (I heard of others) have shown catching public transport involves getting more walking than it does driving to work. This is only one case and giving personal experience is always that, but my past (I’m retired now) experience of catching a bus to work only involved 120 metres to the bus from home (later when I moved house, 400 metres), but a 2km walk from the bus to my work at the other end. I could have caught another bus in Civic to take me to about 200metres from work, but waiting for that, plus the bus ride, took me longer than walking, and I came to enjoy the walk, so I walked. After I retired I took a part time job for awhile. 400metres to the bus and then a 1.3 km walk to work when I got off the bus. Coming home, 1.3kms back to the bus and then if I missed the bus it was quicker to walk the 2.6kms home rather than wait half an hour for the next bus. In summer I rode to work, which was quicker, but where I worked, the streets had little lighting and so I would walk in winter. Initially I thought that walking would be too far, but once I tried that rather than catch a second bus, I discovered it was at times quicker to walk than wait for the bus, giving me needed exercise. Without using the bus I would never have walked. And before starting to use the bus, I didn’t expect I would be walking. So, this can, and did in my case, lead to more exercise and a mental attitude change.

This supports the claim that Parisians can eat all that butter, duck fat and chocolate they love and still look slim and healthy because they have to walk a lot to catch the busses and the metro to get anywhere – and there is nothing wrong with that as they don’t have the alternative choice to drive a car as they have no where to park a car and the roads are to small.

Oh, how they envy us in Canberra.

wildturkeycanoe said :

Maya,your BMI figures while interesting do not factor in the following. A person in Gunners catching a tram will catch a bus from their home to the tram station. They sit all the way to work, getting FB time or having brekkie. In Civic they will probably have a short,convenient walk to work. If the distance is far the rest of the trip may also be done by bus [free city loop?].
With a car they probably won’t get any more or less exercise at the onset. But with public parking being taken over by new office space they will be seeking all day accomodation for their vehicle further from their workplace, meaning a longer stroll and, wait for it, exercise! Not only that but using the accelerator,clutch, brake pedals and the steering wheel will use more calories than holding your phone in front of your face.
The drawcard of the tram and the appeal is supposed to be its convenience. That does not to me sound like a factor in promoting exercise or they would have designed it to run along Limestone Avenue instead. I argue that it is only going to increase health problems rather than decrease them. You show me how it will encourage walking without eliminating the suburban bus routes connecting places like Forde and Crace to the Gungahlin town square. People will not take up exercise if they aren’t motivated. While convenient alternatives are there, lazy people will continue to take them. I just can’t see those living more than a kilometer from the tram taking up walking, because they would already be doing so to use our Action bus network, which does a better job than the tram ever will.

Apparently studies round the world (I heard of others) have shown catching public transport involves getting more walking than it does driving to work. This is only one case and giving personal experience is always that, but my past (I’m retired now) experience of catching a bus to work only involved 120 metres to the bus from home (later when I moved house, 400 metres), but a 2km walk from the bus to my work at the other end. I could have caught another bus in Civic to take me to about 200metres from work, but waiting for that, plus the bus ride, took me longer than walking, and I came to enjoy the walk, so I walked. After I retired I took a part time job for awhile. 400metres to the bus and then a 1.3 km walk to work when I got off the bus. Coming home, 1.3kms back to the bus and then if I missed the bus it was quicker to walk the 2.6kms home rather than wait half an hour for the next bus. In summer I rode to work, which was quicker, but where I worked, the streets had little lighting and so I would walk in winter. Initially I thought that walking would be too far, but once I tried that rather than catch a second bus, I discovered it was at times quicker to walk than wait for the bus, giving me needed exercise. Without using the bus I would never have walked. And before starting to use the bus, I didn’t expect I would be walking. So, this can, and did in my case, lead to more exercise and a mental attitude change.

dungfungus said :

AnAverageGoat said :

Lol. It’s ridiculous to say that people will use shareride hired self-driving cars. No one uses Lyft Carpool or Uber Pool anywhere. They’re failing in the US.

That’s the feedback I am getting too.

There are risks too. http://malaysiandigest.com/frontpage/29-4-tile/684687-female-passengers-urged-to-be-extra-cautious-when-using-ride-hailing-services.html

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

You are totally right and indeed, and while our government reliant on motorist-centric revenue it is not about abandon that cash cow. They are even placing the radar speed vans on the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale (near the new “Welcome to Canberra” signs) to catch interstate travellers who will “feel the love of Canberra” too..

Not the only traffic authority. Others do this too on the border. Not far south of the Northern Territory border, on the Stuart Hwy, the South Australian authorities have set up radar to catch motorists heading south from the Northern Territory. The speed limit in SA is 110; while in the NT over the border, 130. It’s to take advantage and catch drivers still doing NT speeds and who haven’t woken up quickly enough that speeds have changed. This is the middle of the Australia with low traffic and straight roads, where oncoming traffic is easily spotted.

That cross border example you have cited is nasty but I would have thought most motorists in that area would be aware of the situation. I have never been on that road but I am aware (through regular news stories) that the limit in the NT is 130.

The situation on the Monaro Highway is different as the cross-border limit is constant and drivers are mainly from NSW and transiting the ACT. The “joke’ is that the van is just near the new sign saying “Welcome to Canberra”. I reckon this action is detrimental to Canberra’s tourism efforts but what would I know. Just shut up and pay your rates and taxes is the message that is conveyed.

wildturkeycanoe7:28 am 06 Jul 17

Maya,your BMI figures while interesting do not factor in the following. A person in Gunners catching a tram will catch a bus from their home to the tram station. They sit all the way to work, getting FB time or having brekkie. In Civic they will probably have a short,convenient walk to work. If the distance is far the rest of the trip may also be done by bus [free city loop?].
With a car they probably won’t get any more or less exercise at the onset. But with public parking being taken over by new office space they will be seeking all day accomodation for their vehicle further from their workplace, meaning a longer stroll and, wait for it, exercise! Not only that but using the accelerator,clutch, brake pedals and the steering wheel will use more calories than holding your phone in front of your face.
The drawcard of the tram and the appeal is supposed to be its convenience. That does not to me sound like a factor in promoting exercise or they would have designed it to run along Limestone Avenue instead. I argue that it is only going to increase health problems rather than decrease them. You show me how it will encourage walking without eliminating the suburban bus routes connecting places like Forde and Crace to the Gungahlin town square. People will not take up exercise if they aren’t motivated. While convenient alternatives are there, lazy people will continue to take them. I just can’t see those living more than a kilometer from the tram taking up walking, because they would already be doing so to use our Action bus network, which does a better job than the tram ever will.

dungfungus said :

You are totally right and indeed, and while our government reliant on motorist-centric revenue it is not about abandon that cash cow. They are even placing the radar speed vans on the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale (near the new “Welcome to Canberra” signs) to catch interstate travellers who will “feel the love of Canberra” too..

Not the only traffic authority. Others do this too on the border. Not far south of the Northern Territory border, on the Stuart Hwy, the South Australian authorities have set up radar to catch motorists heading south from the Northern Territory. The speed limit in SA is 110; while in the NT over the border, 130. It’s to take advantage and catch drivers still doing NT speeds and who haven’t woken up quickly enough that speeds have changed. This is the middle of the Australia with low traffic and straight roads, where oncoming traffic is easily spotted.

AnAverageGoat said :

Lol. It’s ridiculous to say that people will use shareride hired self-driving cars. No one uses Lyft Carpool or Uber Pool anywhere. They’re failing in the US.

That’s the feedback I am getting too.

Holden Caulfield said :

Damien Haas said :

…It isn’t just the private car that may be displaced by autonomous vehicles…

Let’s be real, privately owned cars aren’t going to be displaced in our lifetime. Or that of our children.

Moreover, the fairy land of autonomous vehicles being discussed here is at least 10 years away. That’s if it ever arrives.

It’s us humans who are to blame. An autonomous network could operate effectively if the fleet on our roads consisted only of autonomous vehicles. However, because there will be human-controlled vehicles for the foreseeable future (be they push bikes, motorbikes, cars, trucks or buses) the advancement of autonomous vehicles will suffer.

It’s true the pace of technology change continues to amaze, and I may have this totally wrong, but those anticipating an army of magic cars driving around our streets in the next few years are underestimating the magnitude of what is required for that to happen.

You are totally right and indeed, and while our government reliant on motorist-centric revenue it is not about abandon that cash cow. They are even placing the radar speed vans on the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale (near the new “Welcome to Canberra” signs) to catch interstate travellers who will “feel the love of Canberra” too.

In the meantime they will dole out millions of dollars to the electric/autonomous car cause to appease the supporters of those concepts and their reveries.

Maya123 said :

Lucy Baker said :

Maya123 said :

Lucy Baker said :

Maya123 said :

Whenever I read things like this, I just imagine the worsening health of the public; the further increase of obesity. Many people don’t get enough exercise now and a high proportion are overweight. Most people drive to work and the most daily exercise they get is likely to be the walk in from the car park, before they spend the day sitting at their desk. Now comments such as this are encouraging even less exercise. .

Well I would say I am pretty typical of Canberra public servants. I drive to a dedicated park at work, and I am not overweight let alone obese. I exercise for a solid 30 minutes to an hour on weekdays, more on weekends. Walking to the bus stop and back is not going to counter obesity, sorry.

One person does not make the average person. It’s great you exercise, but most people don’t get enough exercise now. From the following link: http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/
“Australian adults (63%) are overweight or obese.” You are not typical. You need to broaden your reference.

How about addressing my point that walking to and from the bus won’t make an iota of difference?

You didn’t make a point, just a vague statement. You didn’t explain why, to quote you, “walking to and from the bus won’t make an iota of difference”. You need to explain why not. Likewise, you should attempt to answer my comments, which you didn’t. Please explain where these self-drive cars will park, and why they will get to park for free, when other cars don’t? Please explain if they will park near your work, or drive further away to park. You did say, “have your car go off and self-park for free”, indicating it was a private car, but even if a shared public car, after peak hour, most would still need to park, either nearby, or further away, extending peak hour traffic as they drive kms to park.

Re walking to and from public transport, read this: http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4887

“Results from multivariate linear regression analyses suggest that, compared with using private transport, commuting by public or active transport modes was significantly and independently predictive of lower BMI for both men and women. In fully adjusted models, men who commuted via public or active modes had BMI scores 1.10 (95% CI 0.53 to 1.67) and 0.97 (0.40 to 1.55) points lower, respectively, than those who used private transport. Women who commuted via public or active modes had BMI scores 0.72 (0.06 to 1.37) and 0.87 (0.36 to 0.87) points lower, respectively, than those using private transport. Results for percentage body fat were similar in terms of magnitude, significance, and direction of effects.

Conclusions Men and women who commuted to work by active and public modes of transport had significantly lower BMI and percentage body fat than their counterparts who used private transport. These associations were not attenuated by adjustment for a range of hypothesised confounding factors.”

Another link; perhaps better: http://bic.asn.au/information-for-moving-people/health-and-public-transport

Lucy Baker said :

Maya123 said :

Lucy Baker said :

Maya123 said :

Whenever I read things like this, I just imagine the worsening health of the public; the further increase of obesity. Many people don’t get enough exercise now and a high proportion are overweight. Most people drive to work and the most daily exercise they get is likely to be the walk in from the car park, before they spend the day sitting at their desk. Now comments such as this are encouraging even less exercise. .

Well I would say I am pretty typical of Canberra public servants. I drive to a dedicated park at work, and I am not overweight let alone obese. I exercise for a solid 30 minutes to an hour on weekdays, more on weekends. Walking to the bus stop and back is not going to counter obesity, sorry.

One person does not make the average person. It’s great you exercise, but most people don’t get enough exercise now. From the following link: http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/
“Australian adults (63%) are overweight or obese.” You are not typical. You need to broaden your reference.

How about addressing my point that walking to and from the bus won’t make an iota of difference?

You didn’t make a point, just a vague statement. You didn’t explain why, to quote you, “walking to and from the bus won’t make an iota of difference”. You need to explain why not. Likewise, you should attempt to answer my comments, which you didn’t. Please explain where these self-drive cars will park, and why they will get to park for free, when other cars don’t? Please explain if they will park near your work, or drive further away to park. You did say, “have your car go off and self-park for free”, indicating it was a private car, but even if a shared public car, after peak hour, most would still need to park, either nearby, or further away, extending peak hour traffic as they drive kms to park.

Re walking to and from public transport, read this: http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4887

“Results from multivariate linear regression analyses suggest that, compared with using private transport, commuting by public or active transport modes was significantly and independently predictive of lower BMI for both men and women. In fully adjusted models, men who commuted via public or active modes had BMI scores 1.10 (95% CI 0.53 to 1.67) and 0.97 (0.40 to 1.55) points lower, respectively, than those who used private transport. Women who commuted via public or active modes had BMI scores 0.72 (0.06 to 1.37) and 0.87 (0.36 to 0.87) points lower, respectively, than those using private transport. Results for percentage body fat were similar in terms of magnitude, significance, and direction of effects.

Conclusions Men and women who commuted to work by active and public modes of transport had significantly lower BMI and percentage body fat than their counterparts who used private transport. These associations were not attenuated by adjustment for a range of hypothesised confounding factors.”

Holden Caulfield4:03 pm 05 Jul 17

Damien Haas said :

…It isn’t just the private car that may be displaced by autonomous vehicles…

Let’s be real, privately owned cars aren’t going to be displaced in our lifetime. Or that of our children.

Moreover, the fairy land of autonomous vehicles being discussed here is at least 10 years away. That’s if it ever arrives.

It’s us humans who are to blame. An autonomous network could operate effectively if the fleet on our roads consisted only of autonomous vehicles. However, because there will be human-controlled vehicles for the foreseeable future (be they push bikes, motorbikes, cars, trucks or buses) the advancement of autonomous vehicles will suffer.

It’s true the pace of technology change continues to amaze, and I may have this totally wrong, but those anticipating an army of magic cars driving around our streets in the next few years are underestimating the magnitude of what is required for that to happen.

AnAverageGoat3:54 pm 05 Jul 17

Lol. It’s ridiculous to say that people will use shareride hired self-driving cars. No one uses Lyft Carpool or Uber Pool anywhere. They’re failing in the US.

Maya123 said :

Lucy Baker said :

Maya123 said :

Whenever I read things like this, I just imagine the worsening health of the public; the further increase of obesity. Many people don’t get enough exercise now and a high proportion are overweight. Most people drive to work and the most daily exercise they get is likely to be the walk in from the car park, before they spend the day sitting at their desk. Now comments such as this are encouraging even less exercise. .

Well I would say I am pretty typical of Canberra public servants. I drive to a dedicated park at work, and I am not overweight let alone obese. I exercise for a solid 30 minutes to an hour on weekdays, more on weekends. Walking to the bus stop and back is not going to counter obesity, sorry.

One person does not make the average person. It’s great you exercise, but most people don’t get enough exercise now. From the following link: http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/
“Australian adults (63%) are overweight or obese.” You are not typical. You need to broaden your reference.

How about addressing my point that walking to and from the bus won’t make an iota of difference?

Thank you for providing me with a laugh when I read this article. While I am still physically able, I will still drive my car around Canberra, whether it’s to travel to work or for other reasons. For the foreseeable future, no form of public transport can beat the convenience of a car in Canberra. It takes me no more than 15 minutes to drive to work each day and there is no form of public transport that do it quicker at the moment.

Call me old school (I proudly drive a V8 Commodore), but there is no way in hell I would consider riding in or buying a self-driving car. I enjoy driving myself thanks.

Lucy Baker said :

Maya123 said :

Whenever I read things like this, I just imagine the worsening health of the public; the further increase of obesity. Many people don’t get enough exercise now and a high proportion are overweight. Most people drive to work and the most daily exercise they get is likely to be the walk in from the car park, before they spend the day sitting at their desk. Now comments such as this are encouraging even less exercise. .

Well I would say I am pretty typical of Canberra public servants. I drive to a dedicated park at work, and I am not overweight let alone obese. I exercise for a solid 30 minutes to an hour on weekdays, more on weekends. Walking to the bus stop and back is not going to counter obesity, sorry.

One person does not make the average person. It’s great you exercise, but most people don’t get enough exercise now. From the following link: http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/
“Australian adults (63%) are overweight or obese.” You are not typical. You need to broaden your reference.

Maya123 said :

Whenever I read things like this, I just imagine the worsening health of the public; the further increase of obesity. Many people don’t get enough exercise now and a high proportion are overweight. Most people drive to work and the most daily exercise they get is likely to be the walk in from the car park, before they spend the day sitting at their desk. Now comments such as this are encouraging even less exercise. .

Well I would say I am pretty typical of Canberra public servants. I drive to a dedicated park at work, and I am not overweight let alone obese. I exercise for a solid 30 minutes to an hour on weekdays, more on weekends. Walking to the bus stop and back is not going to counter obesity, sorry.

Maya123 said :

Lucy Baker said :

This is unrealistic. Why would you use light rail if you could drive door-to-door to work and have your car go off and self-park for free?

Whenever I read things like this, I just imagine the worsening health of the public; the further increase of obesity. Many people don’t get enough exercise now and a high proportion are overweight. Most people drive to work and the most daily exercise they get is likely to be the walk in from the car park, before they spend the day sitting at their desk. Now comments such as this are encouraging even less exercise. A benefit of catching public transport is that usually it involves some walking to and from it; a health benefit to the individual and the community. The exercise can be pleasant too. I enjoyed my two km walk from the bus to my work, and back again at the end of the day, on the rainy days that I caught the bus instead of cycling to work.

Then there is the question of where the car would go to self-park and why parking should become free when the same parking isn’t now. A self-driven or a person-driven car takes up the same parking space, and if the self-driven car goes further to park that is increased road congestion with the cars doubling back on their journey, plus extra fuel/electricity use.

I agree with you on all those points. So far, artists concepts of these autonomous/self-drive cars show dinky toys that won’t accommodate a lot of larger people in our community, not to mentioned the disabled who need driver assistance to board and alight. Where they will park is a good question which I have seen posed before but never answered satisfactorily.

The promotion of this concept is attracting a lot of carpetbaggers and rent-seekers and I am disappointed to see the government is making provision for tens of millions of dollars to promote the idea. One would have thought that after the taxpayers losing tens of millions on the “Better Place” electric car venture the government would get smarter, but no, they can’t help themselves.

Damien Haas said :

Lucy Baker said :

This is unrealistic. Why would you use light rail if you could drive door-to-door to work and have your car go off and self-park for free?

Because it isn’t ‘free’.

If you can buy a car, register, insure and fuel it for a year, plus add in parking costs, for less than 20k then I’d be surprised.

her is a link to TCCS fares page: https://www.transport.act.gov.au/myway-and-fares/fares

Myway fares are capped at 40 trips per month. If you can run a car and pay for parking every day for less than $276 a month I would be stunned.

Some of the public estimates for the all-up cost (including operator profit) of using a shared, public autonomous vehicle for door-to-door, 24×7, on-demand travel (converted from miles to km and USD to AUD at 0.75) are: Rocky Mountains Institute (2016): 41 cents, Boston Consluting Group (2017): 40 cents, KPMG (2016): 35 cents, Deloitte (2016) 25 – 37 cents, Barclay’s (2016): 24 cents (by 2040), Columbia University (2013): 12 – 36 cents, Loeb/Kockleman (UTexas2017): 21 – 42 cents, ZHang/Guhathakurta (MIT) 7 -25 cents.

According to ABS Report 9208, the average passenger vehicle in ACT travelled 13,100 km in 2016, or about 1090 km/month. Based on the above estimates, the all-up cost of doing this in a shared, on-demand, door-to-door AV ranges from $75 to $460 per month.

A simulation of a shared fleet in Canberra using (what are now) slightly pessimistic cost and technology assumptions yielded per km costs to the traveller between 22 cents (off-peak) and 28 cents (peak) per km (about $280/month assuming 50:50 split between peak and off-peak journeys), whilst producing a cash surplus sufficient to completely subsidise 10% of all journeys: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/#outcomes

People will compare this to the current cost of a private car (including rego, insurance, maintenance, fuel, parking, garaging, depreciation/value-of-capital), and the cost and convenience of current modes of public transport (not on-demand, not door-to-door, not 24×7). The conclusion they’ll come to is described in some detail here: http://bit.ly/RethinkX

The job of government is to plan for the inevitable disruption and maximize the benefits for the community. This is all about making people’s lives easier, making transport equitable and reducing the impact of the private car on cities.

dungfungus said :

CAF state the maximum capacity of the Canberra Urbos trams will be 276 passengers but the breakdown of sitting and standing, bikes and wheelchairs is not given: http://www.caf.net/en/productos-servicios/proyectos/proyecto-detalle.php?p=282

Yes DF, that’s the “all standing” capacity with no seating, wheelchairs or bikes (6 people per square meter, a typical Tokyo rush-hour train packing density). Transport Canberra are configuring the trams with 66 seats and space for 4 bikes, which brings capacity down to 207: https://www.transport.act.gov.au/light-rail-network/faq#overview

dungfungus said :

It will have however 13 stops in 12 km and this makes it just another tram service (like painfully slow Melbourne) and even if it realises it’s top speed of 70kmh it will be struggling to beat the busses.

It takes a lot of distance to stop a tram at that speed. There will be no motor vehicle right turns wherever the tacks cross an intersection for this reason. This will just create congestion for all those thousands on the tram route that will still have to use their cars to get to all the places the tram can’t take them.

Some intersections will have RH turn removed, but many need to be kept for practical reasons, including very busy ones at Flem/Federal, Barton/Federal, Mouat, Macarthur, which causes a dilemma for traffic flow and safety. As the Capital Metro EIS showed, intersection throughput along the route declines. Their analysis of intersection performance over AM and PM peaks showed that the combined number of intersections at which traffic will exceed capacity more than triples from 2 without light-rail to 7 with light-rail. Further, the combined number of intersections which will be operating at the limits of their capacity doubles from 3 without light-rail to 6 with light-rail (Table 4.5 to 4.10, pages 41 to 45: https://web.archive.org/web/20160422000016/http://www.planning.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/41352/Capital_Metro_Light_Rail_Stage_1_Draft_EIS_Volume_03_Part_5-Traffic_and_Transport.pdf )

The tram on the Stage 1 route achieves the remarkable feat of both increasing road congestion whilst reducing public transport capacity in the peaks.

ChrisinTurner9:22 am 04 Jul 17

It is a pity Chris Steel does not promote Rapid transport for Canberra. Although Autonomous cars will probably be rapid (>40km/hr average operating speed) any Light Rail will not be Rapid. The most favoured LR route from Civic to Woden will take three times as long as the current buses operating in a bus lane.

Lucy Baker said :

This is unrealistic. Why would you use light rail if you could drive door-to-door to work and have your car go off and self-park for free?

Whenever I read things like this, I just imagine the worsening health of the public; the further increase of obesity. Many people don’t get enough exercise now and a high proportion are overweight. Most people drive to work and the most daily exercise they get is likely to be the walk in from the car park, before they spend the day sitting at their desk. Now comments such as this are encouraging even less exercise. A benefit of catching public transport is that usually it involves some walking to and from it; a health benefit to the individual and the community. The exercise can be pleasant too. I enjoyed my two km walk from the bus to my work, and back again at the end of the day, on the rainy days that I caught the bus instead of cycling to work.

Then there is the question of where the car would go to self-park and why parking should become free when the same parking isn’t now. A self-driven or a person-driven car takes up the same parking space, and if the self-driven car goes further to park that is increased road congestion with the cars doubling back on their journey, plus extra fuel/electricity use.

KentFitch said :

Damien, do you contest the number of separate buses leaving Gungahlin between 8 am and 9am weekdays that terminate or travel via Civic is not 30? (251: 811 826 842, 252: 817 834 854, 56: 808 831 853, 57: 818 839, 58: 808 838 857, 200: 801 814 830 845, 254: 803 815 833 850; 254: 803 815 833 850, 259: 805 820 859, 255: 807 821 841 859, 202:808 – source :current ACTION timetable)

The services running adjacent to Flemington are likely to be expanded to support light rail. That has been stated since the outset of Stage One. If this incorrect assumption is the basis for your extrapolations, then all your subsequent analysis is equally wrong.

KentFitch said :

Do you contest that the average capacity over the ACTION bus fleet is about 46.3 seated and 25.5 standing? (source: https://www.transport.act.gov.au/getting-around/bus-services/action-info/action_fleet )

There are many different buses in the ACTION fleet .I’m not sure what your point is. No doubt it is supremely important in your alchemic calculations.

KentFitch said :

Do you contest that the government is planning (as stated in the released contract details) to run 10 trams services per hour in peak periods?

The government has mandated frequency levels in its contract with Canberra Metro.

KentFitch said :

Do you contest that the tram capacity is 66 seated and 141 standing?

The Urbos LRV can carry 129 to 327 passengers according to wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbos

KentFitch said :

Do you contest that stated intention of the ACT Gov to remove all buses on the Gungahlin-Civic route, and that this means all existing bus passengers must cram onto a tram service with less total capacity and less than half the number of seats?

No, YOU “contest” that! Seriously mate. What do you hope to achieve with this ridiculous anti-logic. fact -defying inquisitorial tactic?

KentFitch said :

I think disinterested observers of the numbers in this argument can squarely see where the fantasising and misinformation is coming from, and with a little background, can see why: “Transport for Canberra” (ACTGov 2012) promised us so much that now those sold on the ideology of the tram can’t bring themselves to face reality, hence their hollow bluster and embarrassing humbug. But reality, as always, awaits.

Gold. Absolute gold.

Lucy Baker said :

This is unrealistic. Why would you use light rail if you could drive door-to-door to work and have your car go off and self-park for free?

Because it isn’t ‘free’.

If you can buy a car, register, insure and fuel it for a year, plus add in parking costs, for less than 20k then I’d be surprised.

her is a link to TCCS fares page: https://www.transport.act.gov.au/myway-and-fares/fares

Myway fares are capped at 40 trips per month. If you can run a car and pay for parking every day for less than $276 a month I would be stunned.

KentFitch said :

Damien Haas said :

KentFitch said :

Light rail serves the opposite purpose – it reduces public transport capacity, even compared to current ACTION route capacity, in the periods that matter most (peak).

A ludicrous fact free opinion unsupported by any evidence, unless you rely on self-created fantasy analysis.

Buses on the proposed Stage One route are at capacity now, and have been for some time. Light rail adds capacity and frequency.

Damien, do you contest the number of separate buses leaving Gungahlin between 8 am and 9am weekdays that terminate or travel via Civic is not 30? (251: 811 826 842, 252: 817 834 854, 56: 808 831 853, 57: 818 839, 58: 808 838 857, 200: 801 814 830 845, 254: 803 815 833 850; 254: 803 815 833 850, 259: 805 820 859, 255: 807 821 841 859, 202:808 – source :current ACTION timetable)

Do you contest that the average capacity over the ACTION bus fleet is about 46.3 seated and 25.5 standing? (source: https://www.transport.act.gov.au/getting-around/bus-services/action-info/action_fleet )

Do you contest that the government is planning (as stated in the released contract details) to run 10 trams services per hour in peak periods?

Do you contest that the tram capacity is 66 seated and 141 standing?

Do you contest that stated intention of the ACT Gov to remove all buses on the Gungahlin-Civic route, and that this means all existing bus passengers must cram onto a tram service with less total capacity and less than half the number of seats?

I think disinterested observers of the numbers in this argument can squarely see where the fantasising and misinformation is coming from, and with a little background, can see why: “Transport for Canberra” (ACTGov 2012) promised us so much that now those sold on the ideology of the tram can’t bring themselves to face reality, hence their hollow bluster and embarrassing humbug. But reality, as always, awaits.

CAF state the maximum capacity of the Canberra Urbos trams will be 276 passengers but the breakdown of sitting and standing, bikes and wheelchairs is not given: http://www.caf.net/en/productos-servicios/proyectos/proyecto-detalle.php?p=282

Also, it is opportune to mention that the Canberra project is not a “light rail” one. If it was it would be a straight through service from Gungahlin to Canberra City.

It will have however 13 stops in 12 km and this makes it just another tram service (like painfully slow Melbourne) and even if it realises it’s top speed of 70kmh it will be struggling to beat the busses.

It takes a lot of distance to stop a tram at that speed. There will be no motor vehicle right turns wherever the tacks cross an intersection for this reason. This will just create congestion for all those thousands on the tram route that will still have to use their cars to get to all the places the tram can’t take them.

Damien Haas said :

KentFitch said :

Light rail serves the opposite purpose – it reduces public transport capacity, even compared to current ACTION route capacity, in the periods that matter most (peak).

A ludicrous fact free opinion unsupported by any evidence, unless you rely on self-created fantasy analysis.

Buses on the proposed Stage One route are at capacity now, and have been for some time. Light rail adds capacity and frequency.

Damien, do you contest the number of separate buses leaving Gungahlin between 8 am and 9am weekdays that terminate or travel via Civic is not 30? (251: 811 826 842, 252: 817 834 854, 56: 808 831 853, 57: 818 839, 58: 808 838 857, 200: 801 814 830 845, 254: 803 815 833 850; 254: 803 815 833 850, 259: 805 820 859, 255: 807 821 841 859, 202:808 – source :current ACTION timetable)

Do you contest that the average capacity over the ACTION bus fleet is about 46.3 seated and 25.5 standing? (source: https://www.transport.act.gov.au/getting-around/bus-services/action-info/action_fleet )

Do you contest that the government is planning (as stated in the released contract details) to run 10 trams services per hour in peak periods?

Do you contest that the tram capacity is 66 seated and 141 standing?

Do you contest that stated intention of the ACT Gov to remove all buses on the Gungahlin-Civic route, and that this means all existing bus passengers must cram onto a tram service with less total capacity and less than half the number of seats?

I think disinterested observers of the numbers in this argument can squarely see where the fantasising and misinformation is coming from, and with a little background, can see why: “Transport for Canberra” (ACTGov 2012) promised us so much that now those sold on the ideology of the tram can’t bring themselves to face reality, hence their hollow bluster and embarrassing humbug. But reality, as always, awaits.

This is unrealistic. Why would you use light rail if you could drive door-to-door to work and have your car go off and self-park for free?

Chris, I suspect congestion charging is a leap too far for the vocal over 45’s in this town. However, the fixed registration charge is an anathema to those of us who have taken a principled approach to reducing our private vehicle usage. I will probably cover 11,000 kms this registration year. I pay the same registration as the person who covers 30,000 or 40,000 kms. Same with third party insurance, even though my risk exposure must be lower.

This could be the next great economic reform of the Barr Labor Government.

Damien Haas said :

Bang on the money Robert.

The repetitive fallacies promoted on this site every time public transport is debated, by the opponents of better public transport………..”

There it is – again ! So, anyone anti the Tram, or who has an alternative view, solution or “vision”, is an “opponent of public transport” ? You can not be serious. That’s usually not whats being said by so many on here (and elsewhere) and constant harping on and classifying those people like that further serves to isolate the pro Tram arguments, whether you are a Minister in the ACT Gov’t, the Chair of a self proclaimed peak transport body for the ACT, or not.

bigred said :

Maybe, maybe not? The issue with buses in Canberra in almost no one wants to catch them. The argument for BRT is an argument for no change. Then again, the BRT arguments are coming primarily from an older demographic stuck firmly in a time warp.

Its never been convincingly articulated why people will want to use the Tram, unless of course (a) they are forced into it as buses will drop passengers there, so they have no choice (b) live along the infill 400 metres each side of the tram track. The ACT Labor/Greens own EIS says that despite this infill, congestion will increase along Northborne Ave. Some of the reasons for that are, no doubt, that passengers on buses will become passengers on Trams and also that many of those living along the Tram track will also still need a car (for reasons well articulated above) .

I would think that the Tram itself is also “stuck firmly stuck in a time warp”.

Chris Steel MLA said :

chewy14 said :

“The narrow obsession of anti-light rail protagonists in promoting a single mode of transport – more privately owned cars on the road – will only lead to more traffic.”

I’ve not once seen people who are against light rail promote one single mode of transport and most definitely not seen this mode of traffic be privately owned cars.

It’s this kind of deliberate strawman argument that only make the proponents of light rail seem even less objective and able to consider the issue logically. If anything, their narrow obsession FOR light rail seems to fit the description made by the author more appropriately. Apparently light rail is the only option for mass transport in Canberra no matter what.

Several options of mass transit have been presented to the people of Canberra over the past decade, and light rail has consistently garnered the support of a majority of Canberrans in 2008, 2012, and 2016. It is also important to note that, alongside light rail stage 1 and 2, the ACT Government is also investing in 7 new rapid bus routes across Canberra, so rapid buses are part of the solution as well.

I would disagree with your assertions of a strawman. There has been article after article like this:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/could-selfdriving-cars-be-a-death-knell-for-canberras-stage-two-light-rail-20170427-gvubr3.html

This: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/selfdriving-cars-cheaper-and-better-than-light-rail-expert-20150828-gja3hr.html

http://canberraautonomouscars.info/

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/light-rail-cost-the-same-as-18000-audi-a3s-alistair-coe-20141212-125r88.html

And Tony Trobe in the Canberra Times are clearly pitting mass transit against autonomous vehicles: https://www.allhomes.com.au/news/design-matters-is-light-rail-the-best-option-for-canberra-tony-trobe-ponders-20170602-gwj9f0/

Even Alistair Coe’s idea that we should provide free cars to people rather than invest in public transport exist. Not to mention some of the comments below. They haven’t been made up, and all are of the view that mass transit (light rail or rapid bus routes) won’t be needed if we are just patient enough to endure 20 years of road congestion and wait for the rollout of autonomous vehicles.

I disagree but at least you’re willing to admit that this is a political position supported by the public rather than an objective infrastructure and transport decision.
But that does seem to happen when pork barrelling in certain electorates and keeping Green MLAs happy is valued over hard facts.

Robert Knight said :

An excellent piece on the problems associated with relying on the idea of autonomous vehicles as a panacea to all of our future transport issues. As I’ve said elsewhere, cities are at their best when they provide spaces for people at the ‘human scale’. Fleets of space inefficient private transport, i.e. cars, will do nothing to encourage the development of these types of spaces.

As for the comments here about BRT being a better choice than light rail based simply on cost, I’ll refer you to my post from October last year:

https://the-riotact.com/why-rails-instead-of-rubber/186505

I appreciate people rights to have and express opinions, but when those ideas are consistently proven to be erroneous, isn’t it time to step back, take stock and change your mind? Nobody’s going to hold it against you. In fact, they may even respect you more.

Yes,
You’re right, when those opinions have been consistently proven wrong or ignore obvious other options and opportunity costs, it would be better to step back, take stock and change your mind….

Or at least admit the reasons behind your position don’t stack up to hard options comparison but rather rely on politics and heroic assumptions of intangible benefits that have not and cannot match the cost until population density has grown considerably.

KentFitch said :

Light rail serves the opposite purpose – it reduces public transport capacity, even compared to current ACTION route capacity, in the periods that matter most (peak).

A ludicrous fact free opinion unsupported by any evidence, unless you rely on self-created fantasy analysis.

Buses on the proposed Stage One route are at capacity now, and have been for some time. Light rail adds capacity and frequency.

Chris Steel MLA5:09 pm 03 Jul 17

bigred said :

Chris, a thoughtful piece along the lines of how I have been thinking. I might even vote for you again.

Wondering if you have thought about price signals for those who drive less, say below 10 or 15,000 km pa? This could discourage the unnecessary trips, such as driving the Kluger less than a km to drop off and pick up the kids at the local school, or to the nearby shop to get milk?

Thanks BigRed, I know congestion taxes have been implemented in larger cities and they have worked in many cases. I’m not sure that we are at that point yet. I’d be interested to hear what other price signals you think we should consider.

The focus from our Government and transport planners has really been on how to make public transport as easy as possible for people to use and a quality alternative to driving.

In this frame, we are also encouraging people to drop the car for small trips with The Ride or Walk to School program – https://goodhabitsforlife.act.gov.au/ride-or-walk-to-school/

Of course we also acknowledge that for many families have double drop offs and a longer and more winding journey than others which means that public transport is sometimes difficult.

Robert Knight said :

An excellent piece on the problems associated with relying on the idea of autonomous vehicles as a panacea to all of our future transport issues. As I’ve said elsewhere, cities are at their best when they provide spaces for people at the ‘human scale’. Fleets of space inefficient private transport, i.e. cars, will do nothing to encourage the development of these types of spaces.

As for the comments here about BRT being a better choice than light rail based simply on cost, I’ll refer you to my post from October last year:

https://the-riotact.com/why-rails-instead-of-rubber/186505

I appreciate people rights to have and express opinions, but when those ideas are consistently proven to be erroneous, isn’t it time to step back, take stock and change your mind? Nobody’s going to hold it against you. In fact, they may even respect you more.

Bang on the money Robert.

The repetitive fallacies promoted on this site every time public transport is debated, by the opponents of better public transport convinced by a line or two in a report from a decade ago that “PROVES” their desired technology is better than integrated light rail and buses, just amazes and amuses me.

Fleets of robot cars wont replace light rail. They wont replace fleets of private cars either. They may displace some existing road based transport options but they can never compete with the sheer efficiency, people moving capacity and proven planning benefits that mass transit and light rail provide.

Chris Steel MLA said :

I would strongly encourage you to take a look at Northbourne Avenue during peak hour. Adding more vehicles to the road is not the solution to congestion.

Hear, hear!

Chris Steel MLA said :

As present, essentially one lane of traffic is taken up by buses, and people still struggle to fit on to these services. For Northbourne Avenue, light rail serves the purpose of providing greater patronage for public transport, with light rail having far more capacity for passengers, and also serves in taking buses off the main road.

Light rail serves the opposite purpose – it reduces public transport capacity, even compared to current ACTION route capacity, in the periods that matter most (peak).

For example, each weekday now, between 8am and 9am, 30 ACTION bus services leave Gungahlin Town Centre and terminate or pass through Civic (2xx red rapid, and routes 56, 57, 58), with capacity for about 2127 passengers (1362 seated, 765 standing). In that same peak hour, 10 tram services will have capacity for about 2070 passengers (660 seated, 1410 standing). Between now and the the tram opening, Gungahlin’s population will increase by many thousands.

By removing buses from one lane (hence adding to the supply of private car capacity, ie “adding more vehicles to the road”, something you said you dont want to encourage) and providing less capacity and convenience (further walk to stops, more transfers, less seating) (hence adding to the demand for private car transport) the inevitable effect of the tram will be to increase private car use on the route.

I sometimes wonder if this was the deliberate cunning plan all along to dud the Greens: the only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting it.

A valuable contribution to the debate Chris. Mass transit and planning to support dense transport corridors is the most logical way to plan and manage growth in Canberra, and that is the current policy focus. Light rail and integrated buses will provide broad coverage, and as the rapid bus network and the local bus network (and service frequency) expands, it becomes even more viable a a primary transport choice.

Autonomous cars may make a contribution to the overall transport picture, but they wont replace the requirement for mass transit. Enabling the technology to be tested and exist on Canberra roads doesn’t negate the investment in public transport, it adds to options.

Autonomous vehicles on public roads can easily replace regular route using vehicles such as garbage trucks, delivery trucks and even buses. It is already being trialled for heavy truck deliveries overseas.

It isn’t just the private car that may be displaced by autonomous vehicles. Uber and taxis could easily be replaced by this technology and this particularly benefits the problematic ‘last mile’ factor in public transport (for those who are unable/unwilling to walk more than short distances). Chris is correct, self driving technology and mass transit are not incompatible. The more transport options the better.

wildturkeycanoe4:48 pm 03 Jul 17

bigred said :

This could discourage the unnecessary trips, such as driving the Kluger less than a km to drop off and pick up the kids at the local school, or to the nearby shop to get milk?

What is “unnecessary” about taking the family car to the local school to pick up your child when it is blowing a 70km/h gale, thunderstorm clouds fill the skies and lightning is cracking overhead? How is it unsuitable to drive when the mercury is approaching 39 degrees celsuis, your child is carrying a trombone or you just aren’t able to walk a kilometre due to a health condition? What about the well below freezing, foggy winter mornings when visibility is down to about fifteen metres? Isn’t driving a safer, more comfortable option?
What about when you are driving that short distance to school because you can go directly to work, rather than booking your child into before care to give yourself time to walk home, get changed and then drive to work?
Mass transit an or even autonomous cars are not going to solve most of the parental responsibilities involved in dropping kids off to school. Imagine a fleet of AVs dashing around the suburbs at 8:45AM, whilst parents wonder if they will get one show up in time? Not going to happen. With that much peak demand, there simply won’t be enough of them available. It would also then replicate the same traffic we already have with private vehicles, at most probably an exuberant fee due to peak tariffs.
Mass transit is only going to work if most people are travelling in the same direction at the same time. Telecommuting will reduce the need for a lot of office based activities so the remainder of commuters may not be office workers but retail and services. Trades people, emergency services, contractors and the like will not use public transport because of inflexibility and delays. There may be some demand now, but in decades they might be found running empty.

Chris Steel MLA said :

They haven’t been made up, and all are of the view that mass transit (light rail or rapid bus routes) won’t be needed if we are just patient enough to endure 20 years of road congestion and wait for the rollout of autonomous vehicles.

It is untenable to support the view that the tram reduces congestion: Capital Metro’s own EIS unambiguously demonstrated that it will increase congestion on and around the Stage 1 route: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/faq.html#eisapend

Furthermore, whilst it may be de rigueur to argue with unsupported exaggerations in the ACT Assembly, outside of it arguments such as implying it will be 20 years before shared fleets of autonomous cars will be commercially available demands you show why you are a better judge of this than Ford (2021), Tesla (2019), BMW/Intel/MobileEye (2021), DaimlerBenz (2020), Audi (2020), GM (“sooner than you think”), Volvo (2021) and scores of analysts, think-tanks and transport and engineering consultancies (such as Parsons Brinckerhoff).

Chris Steel MLA4:33 pm 03 Jul 17

KentFitch said :

Chris, your assertion “Self-driving cars cannot solve the congestion problem alone” may well be true for many routes into the CBD of Sydney and Melbourne but it is not applicable for Canberra.

Canberra has such a good road network that if the average peak occupancy can be increased from 1.1 (current private car) to 2 (shared autonomous car), almost half the vehicles in the direction of peak flow are taken off the road, eliminating congestion. Strongly encouraging shared use of cars by commuters in peak periods with financial incentives is the key. Empty vehicles returning in the opposite direction to peak tidal flows do not cause congestion: they are only empty in proportion to the lack of demand for travel on that route.

This is a well made point and will no doubt offset some added congestion (but not all). The point is there will be more congestion and this will not only be from dead trips but it will come from population growth which is already a problem here and now in Gungahlin’s case.

Chris Steel MLA4:26 pm 03 Jul 17

Garfield said :

“The narrow obsession of anti-light rail protagonists in promoting a single mode of transport – more privately owned cars on the road – will only lead to more traffic.”

I’m an anti-light rail protagonist as you put it, and I’m that way inclined because all the published information comparing LR & BRT has shown that BRT would have provided much better value for money than LR. I would have been quite happy for the ACT government to invest in BRT and improve public transport in the ACT so as to try and reverse Labor’s achievement of reducing the public transport share of trips over their 16 years in power. Your assertion that people who are opposed to light rail only want more privately owned cars on the road is false, and can only be driven through ignorance or a deliberate attempt to smear residents critical of the government’s choice.

I reject the idea that governments can only focus 100% of their effort on one issue at a time.

I would strongly encourage you to take a look at Northbourne Avenue during peak hour. Adding more vehicles to the road is not the solution to congestion. As present, essentially one lane of traffic is taken up by buses, and people still struggle to fit on to these services. For Northbourne Avenue, light rail serves the purpose of providing greater patronage for public transport, with light rail having far more capacity for passengers, and also serves in taking buses off the main road.

However, the point you make is precisely what this article sets out to debunk. Opponents of the light rail investment in our city always outline that money would be better spent on rapid bus routes, or that rapid transit will have no place in future because of autonomous vehicles. However, the government is more than able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

We are building light rail because we need to invest in the infrastructure to support our growing city. On top of this, we are also introducing seven new rapid bus routes before 2020. And finally, we are supporting autonomous technology on our roads.

Chris Steel MLA4:23 pm 03 Jul 17

chewy14 said :

“The narrow obsession of anti-light rail protagonists in promoting a single mode of transport – more privately owned cars on the road – will only lead to more traffic.”

I’ve not once seen people who are against light rail promote one single mode of transport and most definitely not seen this mode of traffic be privately owned cars.

It’s this kind of deliberate strawman argument that only make the proponents of light rail seem even less objective and able to consider the issue logically. If anything, their narrow obsession FOR light rail seems to fit the description made by the author more appropriately. Apparently light rail is the only option for mass transport in Canberra no matter what.

Several options of mass transit have been presented to the people of Canberra over the past decade, and light rail has consistently garnered the support of a majority of Canberrans in 2008, 2012, and 2016. It is also important to note that, alongside light rail stage 1 and 2, the ACT Government is also investing in 7 new rapid bus routes across Canberra, so rapid buses are part of the solution as well.

I would disagree with your assertions of a strawman. There has been article after article like this:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/could-selfdriving-cars-be-a-death-knell-for-canberras-stage-two-light-rail-20170427-gvubr3.html

This: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/selfdriving-cars-cheaper-and-better-than-light-rail-expert-20150828-gja3hr.html

http://canberraautonomouscars.info/

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/light-rail-cost-the-same-as-18000-audi-a3s-alistair-coe-20141212-125r88.html

And Tony Trobe in the Canberra Times are clearly pitting mass transit against autonomous vehicles: https://www.allhomes.com.au/news/design-matters-is-light-rail-the-best-option-for-canberra-tony-trobe-ponders-20170602-gwj9f0/

Even Alistair Coe’s idea that we should provide free cars to people rather than invest in public transport exist. Not to mention some of the comments below. They haven’t been made up, and all are of the view that mass transit (light rail or rapid bus routes) won’t be needed if we are just patient enough to endure 20 years of road congestion and wait for the rollout of autonomous vehicles.

Leon Arundell said :

If self-driving cars bolster the case for light rail, then they must to a greater degree bolster the case for bus rapid transit. According to the ACT Government, $249 million worth of bus rapid transit on a single route provides more than 90% of the benefits of $524 million worth of light rail. That implies that $500 million worth of bus investment, on more than one route, would produce almost twice the benefits of a single $524 million light rail route.

Maybe, maybe not? The issue with buses in Canberra in almost no one wants to catch them. The argument for BRT is an argument for no change. Then again, the BRT arguments are coming primarily from an older demographic stuck firmly in a time warp.

Chris, your assertion “Self-driving cars cannot solve the congestion problem alone” may well be true for many routes into the CBD of Sydney and Melbourne but it is not applicable for Canberra.

Canberra has such a good road network that if the average peak occupancy can be increased from 1.1 (current private car) to 2 (shared autonomous car), almost half the vehicles in the direction of peak flow are taken off the road, eliminating congestion. Strongly encouraging shared use of cars by commuters in peak periods with financial incentives is the key. Empty vehicles returning in the opposite direction to peak tidal flows do not cause congestion: they are only empty in proportion to the lack of demand for travel on that route.

For Canberra at least, saying autonomous cars bolsters the case for light rail is like saying renewables bolster the case for clean coal.

Just as “clean coal” is a distraction, an irrelevant fig-leaf for an ideological fiction, trams are irrelevant to transport given Canberra’s urban form. More details linking to a simulation of autonomous cars in Canberra and results from other studies here: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/

And as I understood it, the $1.35m for “a trial of self-driving technology” is in fact for a face-tracking study for semi-autonomous (Level 3) cars, which most of the auto industry now considers totally irrelevant to the goal of deploying Level 4 driverless cars by 2020-21, which unlike Level 3 cars, can be used as the basis of a public, shared fleet. Whilst Level 3 will have niche applications for private vehicles it doesn’t make sense to share (eg, a trady’s ute), but otherwise, will have the mass transport impact of “clean coal”: the last thing we need is mass private adoption of autonomous cars for commuting.

Robert Knight1:56 pm 03 Jul 17

An excellent piece on the problems associated with relying on the idea of autonomous vehicles as a panacea to all of our future transport issues. As I’ve said elsewhere, cities are at their best when they provide spaces for people at the ‘human scale’. Fleets of space inefficient private transport, i.e. cars, will do nothing to encourage the development of these types of spaces.

As for the comments here about BRT being a better choice than light rail based simply on cost, I’ll refer you to my post from October last year:

https://the-riotact.com/why-rails-instead-of-rubber/186505

I appreciate people rights to have and express opinions, but when those ideas are consistently proven to be erroneous, isn’t it time to step back, take stock and change your mind? Nobody’s going to hold it against you. In fact, they may even respect you more.

Leon Arundell12:34 pm 03 Jul 17

If self-driving cars bolster the case for light rail, then they must to a greater degree bolster the case for bus rapid transit. According to the ACT Government, $249 million worth of bus rapid transit on a single route provides more than 90% of the benefits of $524 million worth of light rail. That implies that $500 million worth of bus investment, on more than one route, would produce almost twice the benefits of a single $524 million light rail route.

“The narrow obsession of anti-light rail protagonists in promoting a single mode of transport – more privately owned cars on the road – will only lead to more traffic.”

I’m an anti-light rail protagonist as you put it, and I’m that way inclined because all the published information comparing LR & BRT has shown that BRT would have provided much better value for money than LR. I would have been quite happy for the ACT government to invest in BRT and improve public transport in the ACT so as to try and reverse Labor’s achievement of reducing the public transport share of trips over their 16 years in power. Your assertion that people who are opposed to light rail only want more privately owned cars on the road is false, and can only be driven through ignorance or a deliberate attempt to smear residents critical of the government’s choice.

Chris, a thoughtful piece along the lines of how I have been thinking. I might even vote for you again.

Wondering if you have thought about price signals for those who drive less, say below 10 or 15,000 km pa? This could discourage the unnecessary trips, such as driving the Kluger less than a km to drop off and pick up the kids at the local school, or to the nearby shop to get milk?

Elias Hallaj11:10 am 03 Jul 17

That’s a brilliant concept. I can imagine a day when people hop off a light rail stop in Canberra’s outer suburbs and if they’re too old or frail to walk home, or they’re carrying a bit of shopping, an intelligent autonomous car can take them on the last leg of their journey. It still might be a few years away before the light rail stretches to all the town centres and we have reliable autonomous vehicles, but building Stage 1 and Stage 2 of Light Rail takes us a few steps towards that reality.

“The narrow obsession of anti-light rail protagonists in promoting a single mode of transport – more privately owned cars on the road – will only lead to more traffic.”

I’ve not once seen people who are against light rail promote one single mode of transport and most definitely not seen this mode of traffic be privately owned cars.

It’s this kind of deliberate strawman argument that only make the proponents of light rail seem even less objective and able to consider the issue logically. If anything, their narrow obsession FOR light rail seems to fit the description made by the author more appropriately. Apparently light rail is the only option for mass transport in Canberra no matter what.

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