The ACT Government is expecting 30,000 people to turn out to ride the light rail when it launches on Saturday, and has defended spending more than $100,000 on throwing a community party for the public transport milestone.
The company that promotes and stages the Spilt Milk music festival has been awarded a $107,000 contract to plan and deliver community events at two hubs in the City and Gungahlin, where there will be live music, entertainment and food outlets.
Kicks Entertainment Pty Ltd will manage, among other things, performers, artists, presenters and community suppliers including food vendors in consultation with Transport Canberra and City Services.
Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said that with thousands expected there would be safety issues and keeping them entertained while waiting to catch a light rail vehicle would assist this, as well as being a thank you to the Canberra community to mark the historic occasion.
“We know from other cities that large numbers of people will come out for the first day of light rail. This will happen with or without a celebratory event, so we will need traffic and queue management in place to keep people safe on day one regardless,” she said.
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“A celebration event on day one will entertain people while they wait to ride light rail and commemorate this historic occasion, and be a thank you to the Canberra community.”
Ms Fitzharris said the Kicks Entertainment contract would cover managing the launch event, including running the site, entertainment and suppliers, as well as some queue management services.
She said a large number of ACT Government volunteers were also being trained to help the crowds and to make the first day of light rail a success.
Finishing touches were still being made and the final stages of the approval process were under way.
“The expectation is that these accreditations will be worked through in the next couple of days,” she said.
“More light rail features will be phased in over the coming weeks. This means the finishing touches to landscaping and road surfaces will continue, final permanent balustrades will be installed at intersections and any other minor issues that need work will be fixed by Canberra Metro at no cost to the Territory.
“The passenger experience will keep getting better as drivers get used to taking passengers and journey time and frequency continue to improve.”
After nearly three years, the 12km light rail stage 1 between the city and Gungahlin will open on Saturday with free travel until Easter Monday when paid services begin, but travel will be free again for a month on rail and bus when the new integrated transport network starts on 29 April.
The $700 million 13-stop project was due to be completed by Christmas 2018 but construction and accreditation delays blew out the starting date by four months.
The Community Launch event will take place on Saturday from 9 am till 4 pm with launch activities at both the Gungahlin Place and Alinga Street city stops welcoming passengers on board for a free ride.
Transport Canberra team members wearing red shirts and hats will assist passengers with getting on and off light rail at any of the 13 stops along the corridor.
Transport Canberra and City Services has issued a list of road closures and traffic arrangements for Saturday to allow safe queuing and entertainment in the City and Gungahlin Town Centre.
Sections of Northbourne Avenue and Gungahlin Town Centre will be closed to traffic to create a safe area for people to queue for light rail rides and enjoy entertainment.
There will also be traffic and queue management for safe access at other light rail stops. Canberrans travelling to these events are advised to use free public transport. Other motorists should avoid the areas or allow extra time for their journeys. There will also be park and ride options at GIO Stadium, CIT Bruce and the Treasury Building in Parkes.
The launch events will run from 9 am to 4 pm at Civic and Gungahlin. Passengers riding the light rail will have to get off the light rail at each terminus to give people waiting there a chance to board, but they will be able to enjoy entertainment while they wait at either end. To make more room for passengers, bikes won’t be allowed on board on launch day.
Light Rail Project Director Meghan Oldfield said the launch of light rail was an exciting milestone in Canberra’s history.
“We want to make sure people can safely queue to ride light rail when it opens on Saturday 20 April,” Light Rail Project Director Meghan Oldfield said.
“People need to be aware that a number of road closures will be in place that will cause delays, particularly in the City, which will make it important for people to be patient and consider alternative routes.
“We’re urging the community to plan ahead and make plenty of time to reach their destinations if travelling through the City.
“Better yet, why not leave the car at home and take advantage of free buses across the network to get you to and from the event.
“Traffic controllers will be on site to guide motorists, cyclists and pedestrians through the area and barriers as well as warning and detour signs will be erected to alert people to the road closures and changed traffic conditions.”
Road closure locations and timing
City: 4 am Saturday 20 April – 6 am Sunday 21 April
- Road closures will take place in the City between London Circuit and Barry Drive from 4 am on Saturday 20 April with roads re-opening by 6 am on Sunday 21 April.
- Road signage will indicate northbound detours onto London Circuit and southbound detours onto Barry Drive or Cooyong Streets.
Gungahlin: 9 pm on Friday 19th April to 6 am on Sunday 21 April.
- Road closures will take place in the Gungahlin Town Centre at Gungahlin Place, Hibberson and Ernest Cavanagh Streets.on streets surrounding the light rail stop and the interchange from 9 pm on Friday 19 April to 6 am on Sunday 21 April.
- Road users should take note of road signage which will have detours in place.
Along the light rail corridor
- Motorists intent on travelling near the light rail alignment during the light rail launch are encouraged to note changed traffic conditions and reduced speed limits, particularly on Northbourne Avenue.
For more information on the light rail launch visit www.transport.act.gov.au