16 June 2020

Tuggeranong ready to accept light rail but bus discontent simmers

| Ian Bushnell
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Light rail

Light rail is now more of an attraction in Tuggeranong but it’s the door-to-door commute times that count. Photo: File.

A new community survey in Tuggeranong has shown a turnaround in support for light rail in the Valley, with almost three-quarters of people wanting light rail to proceed to Woden and then on to Tuggeranong.

The previous Tuggeranong Community Council survey showed a majority against light rail and might reflect growing acceptance of it as a mass transit technology.

But before the Government celebrates, it should take a deeper look at the survey results which also show that three-quarters of respondents drive their own car to work and that 40 per cent said they no longer use public transport since the bus network changes.

It also revealed that 43 per cent who do take the bus say their journeys are now longer.

More people work in Civic (25 per cent) than in Tuggeranong, reflecting the Valley’s large commuter population.

Tuggeranong Town Centre

Tuggeranong Town Centre is on the edge of the Valley’s core population. Photo: File.

When asked about What improvements would make the current bus network and timetable for the Tuggeranong region better?, the overwhelming response was for more and more frequent buses and better routes.

A few commented that there should be more express services and services on the weekend, better connection times, and more direct routes to the city, the council says.

Community council president Jeffrey Bollard says people are agnostic about how they travel, it’s the door-to-door commute time that counts.

”If light rail was a fast, efficient link between the Tuggeranong Valley, Woden, Civic and other parts of town, people would be keen for it,” he said.

Mr Boll said feelings were mixed but people thought if there was going to be light rail to Woden, Tuggeranong should not be isolated.


The bus changes, with its emphasis on Rapid routes at the expense of local ones, meant many people now had long walks to a Rapid stop or were having to backtrack to pick up a Rapid bus.

He said buses servicing west Kambah area were also now not going straight to Woden but via Weston Creek.

”We’re getting different sorts of commute times, you’ll see that the travel times have basically gone up for people using public transport,” Mr Bollard said.

He said light rail would also face the same problems as buses due to Tuggeranong’s layout, road network and lack of a central hub.

”Quite frankly if you bring light rail onto Tuggeranong, where does it go though to capture people,” Mr Bollard said.

”Our town centre is on the edge of the population centre as opposed to other town centres.”

Proposed light rail network

The light rail network envisaged so far. Image: ACT Government.

If there was a line from growing Greenway to Woden, people were going to end up backtracking to get on to the light rail, Mr Bollard said.

The government is developing light rail Stage 2 to Woden in two stages – the first to Commonwealth Park, and then across the lake through the Parliamentary Zone.

Stage 2A is expected to be running by 2024. The more complex and expensive Stage 2B is going through the approvals process with the Commonwealth.

Any extension to Tuggeranong will have to wait for Stage 3 linking the city to Belconnen.

The ACT Government’s $14 billion Infrastructure Plan says Stage 3 would then extend to Canberra Airport via the Russell Defence precinct.

It says a line to Belconnen will link key facilities like Calvary Hospital, the University of Canberra, the Australian Institute of Sport and the Australian National University, and with 30,000 new residents at Ginninderry in the coming decades, it was the ‘natural choice’ for Stage 3.

Stage 4 to the Tuggeranong Town Centre will travel via Mawson, and will set off a new round of development along the line that the plan says will support local businesses and provide an economic boost for group centres in Mawson, Wanniassa and Kambah.

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Autonomous Electric buses will be a international standard by the time a shovel hits ground in Tuggers for light rail.

Capital Retro11:52 am 18 Jun 20

The unions won’t allow that to happen.

HiddenDragon6:23 pm 16 Jun 20

“Stage 2A is expected to be running by 2024. The more complex and expensive Stage 2B is going through the approvals process with the Commonwealth.”

And then Stage 3, and Stage 4 and other Stages yet to be dreamt up.

By the time it’s all done we’ll have Millenials with pensioner travel concession cards (they’ll be able to tell the young ‘uns about their very first tram ride) and AI will have replaced a substantial chunk of the jobs that people are currently commuting to in this city – but a day trip on the tram will be a nice diversion for UBI recipients who haven’t relocated to warmer climes.

Capital Retro from where I’m standing I have seen quite a bit of govt investment in Tuggeranong over the last number of years despite all the complaining to the contrary. Just to name a few:
$17m fire and rescue station in South Tuggeranong
New modern and up to date CIT at Tuggeranong shopping Centre
New walk in health and community centres taking pressure off Canberra Hospital
Upgrades to the Tuggeranong Town Centre including laneways and Anketell St
Tuggeranong Community Centre upgrades
Ashley Drive duplication (Ellerston Avenue to Johnson Drive)
$50m announced in the last budget for full duplication of Athlon Drive and a southbound flyover at the intersection of the Monaro Highway and Lanyon Drive with construction beginning this year.
Ongoing funding for the Tuggeranong Arts Centre from the Government
Ongoing work on improving water quality in Lake Tuggeranong
The completion of major works at the Kambah Shopping Village with a new playground, public facilities, parking, trees and garden and disability access.
Expansion of the Wanniassa Park and Ride
Improvements to the Tuggeranong Rowing Club
New outdoor and indoor learning spaces at Wanniassa School and improvements at other schools including Theodore and Lanyon.

Capital Retro5:41 pm 16 Jun 20

All those things come under the heading of wear and tear, replacement and incremental expansion commensurate with population increase or simply “catch up” stuff that should have been done 20 years ago. And the work planned for Monaro Highway and Lanyon Drive will be more to the benefit of travelers and commuters who live outside Tuggeranong.

Nothing visionary or major there at all.

That’s hilarious Capital Retro – bit of a “what ‘ave the Romans ever done for us then?” Well apart from …..(all the things Kim cited in the post above) nuffin.” think you just unknowingly did a superb Monty Python impression.

underwhelmed8:10 am 18 Jun 20

Kim, I don’t know how many election cycles the Ashley Drive duplication had been promised, and then after the election the money was quietly diverted to duplicating a road in Gungahlin. You talk about this great CIT in Tuggeranong, Well the reality is the CIT is not much more than a coffee machine and a couple of class room. You talk about the park and ride in Wanniassa, Until last year there weren’t any park and rides along the R4 even though there were two in Woden The park and ride still lacks the secure bike cage that are located at equivalent sites across Canberra. The normal budget spending on either Woden or Tuggeranong is normally 1/2 of what is spent on Belconnen. The upgrade of Gathside St which is an area which really needs a lot of work done was allocated less than 1/2 the party budget for Dickson group center.

Kim. Have you seen the reality of what those grab bag of sloganistic improvements for Tuggeranong have been in the real world?

The Tuggeranong CIT, is not a real CIT. It’s a few classrooms in an abandoned office building teaching a few basic admin subjects. It’s not a CIT training apprentices in the usual way.

The Kambah shops updates are really just long overdue maintenance to a 40 year old run down area. Plus what about the closed suburban Kambah shops Springbett St and also Livingstone ave.

New park and ride at Wanniassa doesn’t go close to matching the 80 or more removed suburban bus stops in Kambah and Wanniassa that have led to less Bus use and much slower bus journeys for commuters.

The Tuggeranong Town Centre upgrades were really cheap and shoddy. They were just window dressing not improvements to the area.

The new playgrounds don’t go close to replacing the removed playgrounds and sporting fields of Tuggers over the last 20 years.

Some minor School improvements don’t go close to helping all the closed schools of Tuggeranong. Kambah saw the government close 3 primary schools and 2 pre schools in that suburb alone.

Long election year promised road duplication has finally started. But other long promised road duplications were quietly taken off the table over the years.

Don’t just spout ACT Government claims about what they’ve done for an area, take a deeper look at the reality.

Capital Retro11:54 am 18 Jun 20

Still waiting for a response from the other Monty.

Capital Retro9:27 am 16 Jun 20

“We benefit from the vision of previous major works.” says Monty Ki.

Please name me two examples, Monty.

Capital Retro9:26 am 16 Jun 20

There are some steep grades involved in the proposed route and with the maximum speed of the tram only 70kph it will take longer that the existing buses do so, why do we need the useless thing?

Well of course people in Tuggeranong want the light rail to go to Tuggeranong, they’re paying for it to service other areas of Canberra so naturally want the same service.

Everyone likes shiny new “free” stuff.

But if you actually outlined the costs and benefits of the project, it would be clear that future stages are not economically viable. Even the first stage had better options available and should never have been built.

michael quirk8:22 am 16 Jun 20

As noted by Jeff Bollard the light rail route in Tuggeranong does not service most of the district’s population. This suggests it could be an even poorer investment than the Gungahlin to Civic light rail, found by the the Productivity Commission and the ACT Auditor General to be a poor use of public funds (49 cent return for every $ invested).

The light rail to Woden could even be a poorer investment with the costs of crossing the lake and the lack of value capture opportunities along its route. The government has not been prepared to undertake an assessment of alternatives to light rail including bus ways, which could deliver the same benefits at a far lower cost.

Light rail is not an end in itself. If the prime objective is to reduce car use is light trail the most cost effective solution? As well as busways these could include increased electrification of the bus fleet, more frequent bus services, bus priority measures, improved cycleway and pedestrian networks and incentives to disperse employment. Light rail’s justification could be further diminished if there is a long term trend to working from home which would reduce peak travel demand.

Given the ACT government’s financial debt is likely to reach $4 billion in 2021-22, the government needs to focus on projects that deliver the greatest benefit to the community. Given unmet health and social housing needs the government needs to justify why light rail is a high priority..

Tuggeranong’s public transport needs could be better met by several busways . The responsible and accountable government would do the analysis.

You are using figures from an Audit report in 2016. According to data in 2019, after being built, the patronage of light rail is exceeding expectations.

Oh dear, Can-the-Trammers still yapping away long after the caravan has moved on. Can we hope to expect their dwindling but noisy erudition over Stages 2A, 2B, 3 and 4?.

So your response to a logical and factual comment on the planning failures that allowed a huge waste of public funds is just to ignore the comment and expect people to just accept it has happened and should continue to happen?

Seems you think that public funds appear magically out of thin air and that the opportunity cost of wasting hundreds of millions of dollars is inconsequential to other public services.

Imagine thinking people highlighting government incompetence and pork barreling is a bad thing.


Really, the “logical and factual” commentary from anti-light-railers appears to be an argument they create to suit themselves. It is obvious by now that they are ideologically opposed to light rail and will not accept it, not matter how popular it is and how well-built, largely on time and under budget. They just don’t get the need for it and are stuck in a past that has long since moved on. However that is ok, no one is forcing them to use light rail. It won’t stop a modern multi-modal transport system being built.

michael quirk12:59 pm 16 Jun 20

Still does not make it stack up

michael quirk1:01 pm 16 Jun 20

I am arguing for evidence based planning. Do you have a problem with responsible governance?

Capital Retro2:33 pm 16 Jun 20

They call it force-feeding as all other suitable travel options have been scuttled.

Literally none of your comment is true and using buzz words that you clearly dont understand doesn’t make your argument better.

The only person putting an ideological argument despite all the facts to the contrary is you.

Let’s break a few points down slowly for you and see if you can even attempt a logical response this time.

1. Government funds are finite and should thus be used in the most efficient manner

2. Where a transport need is identified, various options should be rigorously tested, with the most economically viable chosen irrespective of mode.

3. Unless a significant social need for a public transport option is identified (ie. Suburban bus routes), chosen options should be economically feasible on their own merits.

4. Cross subsidation of funding sources and project beneficiaries should be minimised wherever possible, particularly when there are significant equity issues at play.

The light rail project fails miserably in achieving outcomes for the community at large.

If it was solely a public transport project, the government’s own figures showed that it wasn’t viable and there were far cheaper options available that met the demand.

The project instead was justified mainly from benefits accruing from urban renewal. That makes it predominantly a land development project, yet the main beneficiaries from that benefit (Well off landholders) did not have to pay proportionally for that benefit.

As Michael Quirk says above:

“Light rail is not an end in itself. If the prime objective is to reduce car use is light trail the most cost effective solution?”

The answer from the government’s own figures show that it was not.

Now let’s see if you can respond with some actual facts and a logical argument to address the actual points.

Anything less will simply highlight who is putting an ideological position.

Evidence-based planning is why the light rail is being built. And the evidence of use on Stage 1 supports this. It is also being built in regional centres of a similar size to Canberra so we’re not going out on a limb on this one. Nothing wrong with buses but they do have limitations as the population grows.

michael quirk4:29 pm 16 Jun 20

Astro 2

Where is the evidence that light rail is the best option for the ITPTR from Civic to Woden? Electric bus technology is improving rapidly . See for example the Brisbane Metro to begin operations in 2023., based on 150 capacity electric buses. Alternatives need to be considered not dismissed out of hand as we need as a community to base decisions on detailed evaluation, given the unmet needs across Canberra. We cannot potentially waste money on a project founded in politics rather than providing the most community benefit.

If it was evidence based planning, then why are you repeatedly unable to present the evidence?

C’mon, furnish some links.

You do realise that the government has committed to Stage2A and potentially the whole Civic to Woden route without an options analysis nor a proper cost benefit analysis right?

Apparently you think evidence based planning involves copying what other completely dissimilar jurisdictions are doing. Oh and the “vibe”.

The evidence is in the higher than expected usage. it’s been a runaway success so far and there is nothing to suggest that Stage 2 would be otherwise. Nothing wrong with buses, I think you’ll find that Brisbane has both buses and rail. it isn’t feasible to rely on buses alone for all future transport needs. Virtually all Australian capital cities rely on more than one form of public transport. Canberra is no different.

1) correct 2)also correct – in the case of light rail this has been done and the results are in that light rail is the best option (also in other regional centres such as Newcastle and the Gold Coast where, like Canberra, it has been a very successful expansion of the transport network. 3) The need was very clearly identified in planning for future population increase and the expansion of Canberra. Reliance on private motor vehicle is clearly unsustainable. Ditto reliance on buses. 5) Light rail has so far actually come in under budget and there has been significant benefit along the transport route.
In summary, you’ve made the case for light rail and the success so far bears this out.

2)also correct – in the case of light rail this has been done and the results are in that light rail is the best option

Except every shred of evidence presented show this is not the case. You haven’t addressed any of the points made.

The government’s own business care showed that the public transport benefit could be delivered at a fraction of the cost with other options.

3) The need was very clearly identified in planning for future population increase and the expansion of Canberra. Reliance on private motor vehicle is clearly unsustainable. Ditto reliance on buses.

Incorrect. Once again, the government’s own figures showed that other options could have met the transport need for significantly less cost.

It’s almost like you haven’t even read (or you didn’t understand) the options assessment and business case which ive linked to you multiple times.

As I’ve told you above, the project was justified mainly on land development benefits. It isn’t a transport project, it’s a land development one.

From the government’s own figures, a mass transit option like light rail for stage 1, “might”, note “might have been viable in 20 years or so after the population density had increased, so an interim option with scalability should always have been preferred. That’s what good strategic planning would have looked like.

“and there has been significant benefit along the transport route.”

Provide a link quantifying this claim that you’ve just made.

Thanks for agreeing with me that based on good planning principles, the light rail should never have been constructed and ideology is the only reason you would support it.

Well done.

Also interesting to note that based on your own statements, you couldn’t support future stages of light rail.

Because the transport need hasn’t been identified and the benefits from land development will be far less than stage 1 due to lack of infill opportunities and government owned land along the route.

And seeing as you’ve agreed that the government should spend public funds in the most efficient manner, you couldn’t support future stages without the development of robust options assessments and businesses cases.

None of which has occurred.

Oh dear….

Not at all, you seem to like making up what people have posted here and overlaying it with your own, rather fanciful, interpretations. Future stages will have business cases just as Stage 1 did. No one has ever said otherwise.

No I’ve logically addressed your arguments using the government’s own figures. I don’t need to invent fanciful arguments like success somehow solely being based on initial patronage numbers.. I’ll also note that once again you haven’t addressed those points, seems to be a pattern although hardly surprising.

Let’s move on to the future stages.

Stage 2A has already been approved by the government without a detailed options assessment or robust business case.

Yet you claim to support it.

No options assessment is being planned for future stages, yet you’ve said you support the light rail network expansion regardless.

Perhaps you should make up your mind.

If you think what I’ve said above is incorrect, I’m happy to be corrected. You can just reply outlining that you don’t support future stages of light rail without the justification of detailed options assessments and robust business cases.

Otherwise one might conclude that your support was ideological rather than evidence based.

Why did you go missing when asked to clearly state a position on future stages of light rail………


In addition to Tuggeranong light rail, an obvious light rail route proposal would be a cross-border route to Queanbeyan along the existing rail alignment provision through Fyshwick with the disused freight line alongside the operating interstate line. The existing available corridor and alignment would keep costs of a Queanbayan light rail infrastructure project down and could also service inner-south Canberra suburbs, such as Barton, Kingston, the new industrial and commercial suburb of Beard, as well as the high density residential suburb of Crestwood and Queanbeyan CBD.

Capital Retro5:53 pm 16 Jun 20

Too late!

The lycra warriors have already decided that the disused Queanbeyan to Bombala railway line is to be a cycle path. I’ll bet none of them have even seen how dangerous this would be, especially through the cuttings and across the high embankments where the line crosses the McLaughlan River near Nimmitabel.

It would be the section between Canberra station (Kingston) and Queanbeyan, not to be confused with and before the Queanbeyan to Bombala disused or defunct railway line. There is already an existing bike path adjacent to Canberra Avenue near the railway alignment anyway in the section I have referred to.

Capital Retro9:38 pm 15 Jun 20

I have lived in Tuggeranong for 25 years and surprise, surprise I have never heard of the Tuggeranong Community Council. They certainly have never conducted any surveys in the area I live in so let’s just say “some people in Tuggeranong are ready to accept light rail”.

Here’s a link to their website , Capital Retro: https://www.tuggeranong.org.au/
Hope this helps. As the article said 75% of the survey respondents want light rail to Tuggeranong. Perhaps you can air your views at the next survey.

Interestingly in linking that, you’ve actually made Capital Retro’s point.

The survey was an online self selecting survey (with all the statistical problems that come along with that), so if you weren’t already aware of them and regularly interacting with them, you would never be surveyed.

No, I haven’t “made his point”, just helping him gain access to his local community council. That way he can “make his point” directly with the relevant people.

Capital’s point was that the survey was not representative of the community.

By providing the link, you’ve shown that his point is correct, the survey design has clear flaws.

And these councils aren’t the “relevant people”, they are just an organisation that purports to represent a certain section of the community, they have no official representative or legal standing.

Like all organisations of this type, they represent the views of their members.

I never said anything about the design nor representation of the survey. And you’re not correct about the community councils, they actually do have official representation. Not all residents’ groups however have this standing but I think you will find that the Tuggeranong one does. Either way, it’s pertinent to point out to a long-time resident of Tuggeranong how he may access his local community group and has no bearing on whatever you dislike about the survey results. It may also be an opportunity to take up what you think are “clear flaws” (i.e. doesn’t agree with your dislike of light rail) in the survey.

Capital Retro5:48 pm 16 Jun 20

I just checked that link and discover that TCCS have advised the Council that garbage and recycling collection in Tuggeranong will now commence from 5.00am each morning instead of 7.00am as it has been.

Neither TCCS or the Council saw any need to pass that information on directly to the residents of Tuggeranong.

If they did they would have a lot of people opposing it as 5.00am is just too bloody early for the noise that is generated by those trucks. How about chainsaws and chippers at 5.00am too?

Did any other Tuggeranong residents know about this?

No, I’m not incorrect, these groups have no official standing.

They are not local government bodies.

Here, you can read it all on their website.


hi Capital, that has been implemented in other areas too and my understanding is that it is part of the changed arrangements around the Covid response. The information was also sent out on email newsletters from ACT government. Sorry to hear you are so upset about it.

I didn’t say they were “local government bodies”. Try reading the post. However they do have official representation. not sure what point you are trying to make here other than being upset that the survey resulted in 75% of respondents wanting access to light rail. If you don’t like that result you may wish to take it up with them.

Perhaps take your own advice and read what I said?

I said they have no official representative or legal standing. In the community.

Try reading their constitution, they only represent their members.

And I have no issue with the survey results, I’m simply highlighting that:

a) the survey methodology clearly has design flaws

b) this group is not an official community representative body, they are a non government organisation representing their members.

So presentation of information like this is often misleading and often reflects the existing position of the group or members rather than a holistic community position.

The only official representation of the community is who they vote for in elections.

It’s not that difficult to understand.

I think you’ll find that community councils in the ACT have a legal standing. (Although I am not sure what you mean by legal standing, you may have a different interpretation). They represent residents of Tuggeranong and from their website it appears that ay residents are invited to join. I am not sure what your problem is with the TCC other than they have put out a survey in which 75% of respondents have supported access to light rail. You appear to also have misinterpreted this string, which started with CapitalRetro saying that she or he didn’t know of the TCC despite having lived in the area for many years. Posting the link to the council helped him/her to access information about the Tuggeranong area, including a change to bin pick up times in Tuggeranong. The string wasn’t about the validity, or otherwise, of the survey or the organisation.

Stephen Saunders5:46 pm 15 Jun 20

If you just think of it as “inland rail”, it fits perfectly, with Scotty’s priorities.

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