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With 30,000 expected, $100,000 light rail launch party is worth it, says Minister

Ian Bushnell 15 April 2019 128

Getting ready: Two of the 14 light rail vehicles parked at Alinga Street in the City. Photos: George Tsotsos.

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.

“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.”

Finishing touches were still being made.

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

For site maps visit:

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128 Responses to
With 30,000 expected, $100,000 light rail launch party is worth it, says Minister
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6:49 pm 15 Apr 19

Missed it Jai Gurnani

6:46 pm 15 Apr 19

Wow, $100k for a light rail party, and they could only afford one piece of playground equipment in the Hudson st Higgins playground, and they did not replace the drink bubbler for local kids. Safe Labor seats..... #neglect Also, Fullagar st Higgins needs a bus shelter..... A blind man told me he needs a bus shelter in Holt. When it rains, he gets wet....

longlunch 6:40 pm 15 Apr 19

When you have already thrown around a Billion dollars of public money with no oversight, $100,000 seems like nothing!

6:31 pm 15 Apr 19

Every time one comes towards me u give the thumbs down.

6:29 pm 15 Apr 19

I expect a few million could have been saved by having those overzealous traffic cone cops keeping half the cones in the back of the Ute. Going up Northbourne it was a common sight to see them block one lane for a few hundred metres for absolutely no reason. They were definitely paid by the cone.

    9:48 pm 15 Apr 19

    Mathew Ryan about 1/3 of the track laying cost could have been saved by using open ballast track except at road crossings of course.

    6:33 pm 16 Apr 19

    Simon Argall ok, so tell me why there's a need to block the left lane for 200 metres for no reason? No workers, no construction, just a company being paid by the cone they put out.

    7:16 pm 17 Apr 19

    Totally agree with Mathew. Drivers have put up with so many lanes blocked off with those stupid witches hats for no reason. All it has done is cause conjestion. A good example is Flemington Road near Mitchell. Areas blocked off and no workers anywhere. And it has gone on like this for months, Who are they kidding? This Labor Party should be held accountable for all the ridiculous construction going on everywhere in this city. We wouldnt need the light rail if they stopped blocking off every lane (causing conjestion).

6:28 pm 15 Apr 19

So thats a nurse in the ER

6:28 pm 15 Apr 19

Damian Freney glad we will be out of town

6:28 pm 15 Apr 19

Elizabeth Wren look what we're missing out on. I'm so bummed we didn't win a ride!

6:25 pm 15 Apr 19

Waste of money that could have been used in many much better ways. Health and education come to mind

Jeff Smith 6:24 pm 15 Apr 19

How can they justify taking peoples Busses away under the new system and then blowing so much money on a launch party????

Can the Minister please articulate her public transport priorities. It certainly doesn’t seem to be a priority to provide public transport across the whole of Canberra.

In short, A great taxpayer funded party for those in the north, a month of Free Busses for those lucky enough to be living near a new Rapid route, duck egg for those who have lost their Bus route to pay for it all.

    JC 6:10 am 17 Apr 19

    Buses were not taken away. Buses have been expanded (read more of them). Main issue is the change of routes.

HiddenDragon 6:22 pm 15 Apr 19

“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”

History reminds us that safety can be an issue on such occasions –

But will there be a special carriage, like this for the opening of the Liverpool-Manchester line……?

“The floor – 32 feet long by 8 feet wide, supported by eight wheels, partly concealed by a basement, ornamented with bold gold mouldings and laurel wreaths on a ground of crimson cloth. A lofty canopy of crimson cloth, 24 feet in length, rested upon eight carved and gilt pillars, the cornice enriched with gold ornaments and pendant tassels, the cloth fluted to two centres, surmounted with two ducal coronets. An ornamental gilt balustrade extended round each end of the carriage, and united with one of the pillars which supported the roof. Handsome scrolls filled up the next compartments, on each side of the doorway, which was in the centre.”

6:21 pm 15 Apr 19

The government could employ one more nurse or police officer instead of wasting it on another whim go figure it out you muppets of a government

6:20 pm 15 Apr 19

If 30k people turn up, that's $3.30 a head - some sumptuous party. More likely A couple a thousand Labor/Greens supporters to ride the new Rattenbury train set. That's about $30-40 a head, and so many more party pies.

6:19 pm 15 Apr 19

Benjamin Irwin 100,000 dollars!!

6:19 pm 15 Apr 19

It’s about 24 cents per person living in the ACT. And it’s approximately $3.34 per person of those 30,000 people.

Canberrans can be such whingers.

Intersection repair is covered by the existing contract: no more to pay.

Calm down people.

    6:55 pm 15 Apr 19

    Bill Orr the road repair just isn’t happening!!! Intersections are truly crappy

    7:23 pm 15 Apr 19

    Bill Orr not when we pay exorbitant rates for every Barr Rattenbury thought bubble and having all useful buses cancelled. Meant to be a democracy not a Barr dictatorship

    7:50 pm 15 Apr 19

    Dictatorship? I think he would prefer the title "Peoples Commisar".

    7:53 pm 15 Apr 19

    Indeed Bill, and it's not like the money is needed anywhere else. As a Canberran, it fills me with pride to know my already exorbitant taxes and rates are paying for some political shindig.

    8:09 pm 15 Apr 19

    Maria Greene convince enough other people in Canberra that we shouldn’t have Barr as a CM.

    But we all voted for them so they would make executive decisions like this for us. We all knew Barr liked a party waaaay before the last election.

    It isn’t a dictatorship; it’s democratically-elected governance.

    8:18 pm 15 Apr 19

    Bill Orr If 1/2 of Canberra drove on the roads of regional NSW they’d come home with their tail pipes between their legs.

    Our roads are bliss compared to some towns

    8:23 pm 15 Apr 19

    Kirrily Bowler Most of the whingers have lost all perspective on how great Canberra is.

    8:49 pm 15 Apr 19

    Dan Rayner not all of us voted for Baah!

    9:22 pm 15 Apr 19

    Bill Orr exactly how much did the $600,000,000 tram end up costing rate payers??? No-one seems to be able to say the actual figure.

    10:15 pm 15 Apr 19

    I agree Bill, Canberrans can be such whingers...

    8:51 am 16 Apr 19

    Chris Cummins Its been in the budget papers. its around 55 million a year for the next 20 years.

    7:30 pm 16 Apr 19

    Dan Rayner for President. Dan for President. DAN FOR PRESIDENT!

    7:30 pm 16 Apr 19

    Dave Segal Fake News!

    7:31 pm 16 Apr 19

    Terry Butters actually, we did all* vote for Barr; that’s how he got in.


    7:39 pm 16 Apr 19

    Dan Rayner oh. Shoot.

    6:04 am 17 Apr 19

    Chris Cummins the way you have phrased that seems to indicate you think it has been paid for. You do realise it is a 20 year build, operate transfer contract? In which case the final actual cost won’t be known for 20 years.

    There is of course the contract that has the payment details in it, it is freely available in the internet.

    10:46 am 17 Apr 19

    Chris Cummins so far it has cost me 2,500 a year in increased rates, now just under $5000 pa.. As a self funded retiree, with health insurance trying to keep out of the public pocket, this tram way may well have cost me my home. I can't afford to live here anymore. I might have to sell up and move into the new concrete jungle of 'affordable' housing.

    I hope the irony of this crazy situation is lost on anyone here.

    10:50 am 17 Apr 19

    Ashley Wright

    From what I have read, The light rail will system will never be ABLE to paid off, at the moment it services 6% of Canberrians, it will not be able to cover it's day to day running costs, and EVERY home owner and renter are paying for it. Rent is the highest in the Australia as the home owners are paying so much extra as their rented houses attract an exorbitant land tax on top of their rates.

    This party cost is insulting the intelligence of Canberrians.

    2:51 pm 17 Apr 19

    Lyndall Gerlach I think what you mean is light rail will never be able to pay for itself. That’s a bit different to saying it won’t ever be paid off.

    That said it is public transport, very few public transport systems in the world pay for themselves why would you think Canberra would be any different?

    The road system doesn’t pay for itself either and every home owner and renter is paying for that too, but I am guessing you are ok with that.

    Oh and your rate rises think you will find the rise is paying for a bit more than the tram. You do know of the other policies that have been sending the cost of those up don’t you. Like reduction in stamp duty etc.

6:11 pm 15 Apr 19

Which will be bigger...... Trump’s inauguration OR the “Grand” opening of #monorail 🤔??

6:10 pm 15 Apr 19

30,000 expected. I’d like to know what modelling the government is using to come up with that figure. May need to order a few more trams if it’s going to be in that much demand.

I’d say the $100K would be better spent going towards fixing all the roads when crossing Northbourne.

6:06 pm 15 Apr 19

Cause it couldn’t be used better in health or homeless youth ??!!

    8:38 pm 15 Apr 19

    Adrian Sandrey totally agree! Shame on them all!!! If you want a Progressive town give homeless a roof!! I can’t wait to see all these tram supporters in -5 degrees this winter walking to work!

6:03 pm 15 Apr 19

Money well spent! For who?

6:02 pm 15 Apr 19

Fantastic ! Soooo exciting ! Looking forward to this ! Thnx ACTGOV !


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