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Tramway, Shamway, Light Rail is the Right Rail

By John Hargreaves - 3 November 2014 60

I’m back form my overseas hols and am an even more ardent supporter of light rail than I was before I left.

Being a very parochially Tuggeranonite, I always wanted the Tuggers to Woden route to be the second leg of the rollout. I reckon that Athllon Drive is a made for purpose thoroughfare and that picking it as the second route would go down well with the Mexicans.

Even so, my mindset was from an experience as a kid in Melbourne where the tram is ubiquitous. To consider Melbourne without trams would be heretical. It is part of the ambience of that most cultural of cities.

I really didn’t give much thought to the relationship between buses and trams until I went to Barcelona. Here the light rail connects with buses and rail to take people anywhere they like in a most picturesque city. Getting around Barcelona is not a challenge, it is an enjoyable experience. And it is quick.

For the one ticket, I could go by tram from my hotel to the junction, get on a metro and do the specified stations, just like London, New York, Paris, or get a bus and go meandering around the suburbs on my way to my destination.

Now, there are some who don’t like the idea of a tram up the median of Northbourne. Well I was one of them once. Then I saw how you can do it.

In Barcelona, the rail lines go up the centre of the road, with a walkway/cycle path up its centre. The walkway is flanked by trees and it is a place to go and just chill out.

I’ve posted a picture of the tramway for you to gaze on. I saw mums with kids in prams, guys on skateboards, kids on roller skates, couples walking hand in hand (ah!) and I saw commuters rushing for their trams.

barcelona-jh

barcelona-jh-a

I saw bikes in their bike lanes, out of reach of traffic (and indulged myself in a bit of cycling) and never felt safer. On road cycle lanes are none thing but this stuff is amazing.

How about we cut the whingeing, think about how we can exploit this idea and get behind Capital Metro. If Barcelona can do it, we can!

What’s Your opinion?


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60 Responses to
Tramway, Shamway, Light Rail is the Right Rail
MERC600 3:50 pm 03 Nov 14

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

All reasonable comments but remember that we are not a concrete jungle of a city. We have a green and beautiful one which can only be enhanced by something like I saw in Barcelona.

The other cities I visited were essentially smog ridden rat holes, even if some wonderful people lived there.

I don’t mind being accused of being fanciful, being a bit parochial and a bit out there occasionally. But remember that we can leave our kids with something beautiful if we take a chance. The critics of the arboretum are silent now. A $20 million risk and now look at it!

I’m not a NIMBY but a YIMBY – yes, in my backyard….

Just 20mill on the plantation John. I thought I read a higher figure somewhere. As for it being a success. Well I wandered in one day to have a look at what my taxes were doing. It was around 1pm so into the lookout I went for a feed. Very nice egg ‘n bacon sanger, and it was packed. But I think John most people were there to check out the view; the trees don’t come into it as there aren’t any yet.
The view is spectacular, and worth the drive. But the people would come just for that. As mentioned there ain’t no trees. We could have saved a lot of money by just building the lookout ( and flogged the rest to developers. It would bring in zillions )

dungfungus 3:43 pm 03 Nov 14

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

All reasonable comments but remember that we are not a concrete jungle of a city. We have a green and beautiful one which can only be enhanced by something like I saw in Barcelona.

The other cities I visited were essentially smog ridden rat holes, even if some wonderful people lived there.

I don’t mind being accused of being fanciful, being a bit parochial and a bit out there occasionally. But remember that we can leave our kids with something beautiful if we take a chance. The critics of the arboretum are silent now. A $20 million risk and now look at it!

I’m not a NIMBY but a YIMBY – yes, in my backyard….

“smog ridden rat holes”?
But that can’t be correct John as we all know socialist Europe is leading the world in emission controls.
Appears that they are useless – just like a carbon tax.

Ben_Dover 3:17 pm 03 Nov 14

Rollersk8r said :

Except Barcelona has more than 4 times Canberra’s population for a start…

Not forgetting 7.4 million tourist visits (in 2012,) as opposed to Canberra’s…errmmmm 2 million…

But you never know! The thrill of taking a light rail trip, (woweee, we’ve never seen one of those!!) from scenic Gunghalin to the seething hotspots of Civic, may draw in punters from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, by the score

dungfungus 1:44 pm 03 Nov 14

watto23 said :

As I’ve stated in many threads, I look at it from the perspective of what is the problem and what is light rail fixing. I’m a supporter of public transport, however I can’t really see the benefits that light rail provides on the current route that a busway wouldn’t also provide. Transit times of 22-25 minutes doesn’t sound great to me either. The only reason this route might work is population density. So as a Tuggeranong resident myself, I have no issues with this route being the trial route. I’d have thought an extension to Russell/Manuka/Kingston would have made sense also, but I’m guessing the lake is the issue and expense not worth forking out for initially.

However I’m trying to understand what the problem is. People don’t use public transport because its too expensive. They don’t use it because its inconvenient and slow, compared to the car. This form of light rail isn’t more convenient or quicker than buses. I’m all for light rail and public transport, but the current proposal is a waste of time. I can drive from Tuggeranong to Civic in the time it takes the light rail to do its route at half the distance. I imagine light rail to Tuggeranong would be at least a 45-50 minute journey. I know cyclists who ride from Tuggers in that same time frame.

I personally think a rapid intercity system is what we really needed. I quite liked the idea of using buses initially and replacing with light rail over time. It needs to bypass traffic lights and intersections completely by underpasses which i believe are cheaper and easier to build than bridges

Plus all the surveys ask heavily weighted questions which most fail to point out the proposed time saved on light rail vs bus is only 3 minutes. Clearly Canberrans don’t like to waste time commuting as evidenced by the driving on display, its actually a big plus many people like about living here giving up the hour plus commutes of other cities.

I’m happy to embrace light rail if there is some logic and sound reasoning behind it. I love the trams and transport in Europe. We could have similar systems in Canberra if done properly.

I am in 100% agreement with you on this.

dungfungus 1:43 pm 03 Nov 14

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

All reasonable comments but remember that we are not a concrete jungle of a city. We have a green and beautiful one which can only be enhanced by something like I saw in Barcelona.

The other cities I visited were essentially smog ridden rat holes, even if some wonderful people lived there.

I don’t mind being accused of being fanciful, being a bit parochial and a bit out there occasionally. But remember that we can leave our kids with something beautiful if we take a chance. The critics of the arboretum are silent now. A $20 million risk and now look at it!

I’m not a NIMBY but a YIMBY – yes, in my backyard….

How an Canberra be “enhanced” by tearing up nature strips and laying steel rails not to mention the stanchions and wires that will pollute the landscape. Canberra is on eof few cities that had the foresight to underground as much power and communication cabling as possible. That is all out the window with the “must have” visionary tram proposal.
And you have got to joking when you say “the critics of the arboretum are silent now”. And I don’t know where you got the “20 million dollar risk” figure from – it has exceeded five times that already and continues to drain on resources that should be allocated elsewhere in the community. I look at it every day and all I see is grass and strange buildings – not my idea of an arboretum.

Nail 12:54 pm 03 Nov 14

Barcelona is one of the scummiest places in europe, why do you want us to be modelled on that hot bed of gypsy crime?

John Hargreaves Ex M 12:47 pm 03 Nov 14

All reasonable comments but remember that we are not a concrete jungle of a city. We have a green and beautiful one which can only be enhanced by something like I saw in Barcelona.

The other cities I visited were essentially smog ridden rat holes, even if some wonderful people lived there.

I don’t mind being accused of being fanciful, being a bit parochial and a bit out there occasionally. But remember that we can leave our kids with something beautiful if we take a chance. The critics of the arboretum are silent now. A $20 million risk and now look at it!

I’m not a NIMBY but a YIMBY – yes, in my backyard….

watto23 12:25 pm 03 Nov 14

As I’ve stated in many threads, I look at it from the perspective of what is the problem and what is light rail fixing. I’m a supporter of public transport, however I can’t really see the benefits that light rail provides on the current route that a busway wouldn’t also provide. Transit times of 22-25 minutes doesn’t sound great to me either. The only reason this route might work is population density. So as a Tuggeranong resident myself, I have no issues with this route being the trial route. I’d have thought an extension to Russell/Manuka/Kingston would have made sense also, but I’m guessing the lake is the issue and expense not worth forking out for initially.

However I’m trying to understand what the problem is. People don’t use public transport because its too expensive. They don’t use it because its inconvenient and slow, compared to the car. This form of light rail isn’t more convenient or quicker than buses. I’m all for light rail and public transport, but the current proposal is a waste of time. I can drive from Tuggeranong to Civic in the time it takes the light rail to do its route at half the distance. I imagine light rail to Tuggeranong would be at least a 45-50 minute journey. I know cyclists who ride from Tuggers in that same time frame.

I personally think a rapid intercity system is what we really needed. I quite liked the idea of using buses initially and replacing with light rail over time. It needs to bypass traffic lights and intersections completely by underpasses which i believe are cheaper and easier to build than bridges

Plus all the surveys ask heavily weighted questions which most fail to point out the proposed time saved on light rail vs bus is only 3 minutes. Clearly Canberrans don’t like to waste time commuting as evidenced by the driving on display, its actually a big plus many people like about living here giving up the hour plus commutes of other cities.

I’m happy to embrace light rail if there is some logic and sound reasoning behind it. I love the trams and transport in Europe. We could have similar systems in Canberra if done properly.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 11:57 am 03 Nov 14

We need to take the emotion and opinion out, and put the analysis back in. Is our public policy goal to encourage the use of public transport? Why or why not? What public transport options are there? What the prices, benefits and downsides.

I’m sick of hearing about this silly idea that we know will lose a pile of money for no benefits over an above (far cheaper) buses.

dks00k 11:50 am 03 Nov 14

Rollersk8r said :

Except Barcelona has more than 4 times Canberra’s population for a start…

Not only that, look at the population density of both. As of 2011 Canberra has 450 people / km2, Barcelona has 16000 / km2.

It amazes me that people are still willing to compare European cities with Canberra with regards to infrastructure like this.

Antagonist 11:39 am 03 Nov 14

As has been said already many times over, the numbers do not stack up for a city the size of Canberra. Why are we wasting $1 billion+ duplicating services that are already provided by busses? It isn’t just madness. It is an act of fiscal stupidity.

braddonmonsta 11:01 am 03 Nov 14

The light rail proposal is scarily ignorant of the compelling alternative mass transit options out there.

For example, Eugene/Springfield Oregon (pop 351,000) recently installed a bus rapid transit line – it runs in a combination of dedicated right-of-way and on normal streets, with proper ‘stations’ and with special long vehicles with doors on both sides. Looks nice too, with gardens and grass in the track: http://ti.org/EugeneBRTReal400.jpg

Rollersk8r 10:31 am 03 Nov 14

Except Barcelona has more than 4 times Canberra’s population for a start…

The whole thing about public transport, in whatever form, is it won’t be effective unless people are forced to use it – and it’s simutaneously so amazingly convenient that it can’t be avoided. I just can’t see those stars aligning in Canberra, even if it the project is being billed as a culture change of up to 50 years.

Many thousands of Canberrans still enjoy free parking at work – and even with changes like paid parking in the parliamentary triangle – most can afford (or are forced to afford) the hit to manage caring/family commitments.

On another level, I think it’s madness to simply duplicate the existing town centre bus network with light rail. We’re talking $1 billion for something like 12km of track initially – and it’s at least 20km from Tuggers to Civic…

dungfungus 9:39 am 03 Nov 14

John, Canberra is not Barcelona.
You, like most Canberrans who have travelled to Europe, have been seduced by the vibrancy of the way of life that the tourists experience. It is a lot different under that veneer.
Did you check on Spain’s financial position in the few moments you weren’t euphoric?
No city in Europe offers virtually unfettered use of private motor vehicles like Canberra does and an unaffordable tram network will never change that.

house_husband 9:29 am 03 Nov 14

I too think light rail is a much preferred form of public transport over bus. Northbourne Ave is perfect and so are many other major thoroughfares that connect town centres. The problem is the numbers just don’t stack up for a city of Canberra’s size and layout.

I know the just released business case says it is but direct operational revenue is less than half of the cost of running the network. Even if you ignore having to pay to run it, operational revenue over 20 years is just over 10% of the estimated cost of building, not taking into account interest. So how do we pay for it?

The rest of the “benefits” are mostly intangible fluff that an economist has put a dollar value on, savings that will result in lost revenue elsewhere or things that could be achieved via other methods of development. Not many real dollars from elsewhere to divert into light rail so where will the shortfall come from? Increased rates, cut backs in other services or projects?

Also it just so happens of all the potential projects mooted at the last election, the one that was part of the deal with the Greens to form government is pushing fast ahead while others languish in the wake of Mr Fluffy. But I’m sure that’s just a co-incidence.

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