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Would you prefer a nice new Ferrari to light rail? [With poll]

By johnboy - 18 July 2013 48

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The Liberals’ Alistair Coe is having a fine time nitpicking the Capital Metro light rail proposal:

The ACT Government is spending $433,333 per additional commuter to ride the service, ACT Shadow Minister for Transport Alistair Coe said today.

“The Government has stated that light rail patronage will be 4,500 people in the morning peak. However, currently 3,000 commuters ride ACTION on Northbourne in the morning,” said Mr Coe.

“To spend so much money on an additional 1,500 people seems extraordinary and will hardly make a dent on the number of cars.

Would you like 1,500 shiny new Ferraris in Canberra (we could raffle them) or some trams?

I like trains but it’s a bit of a tooth sucker

For the same money would you prefer?

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UPDATE: Shane Rattenbury has made clear his displeasure with this line of thinking:

“The Liberals’ latest criticisms about costs are so simplistic they are embarrassing. They pick one projected cost and divide it by an estimated passenger increase for one random point in time, with no consideration of other factors – it’s almost like dividing two random numbers together. It doesn’t take into account any factors like population growth, the longevity of the rail system, environmental benefits, development opportunities or modal shift benefits on the whole transport network.

“An economic consultant conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the light rail project and showed that for every dollar invested in light rail, the Canberra community will receive over two dollars in benefits.

“It is clear that the light rail project will return the investment in benefits to the community. Not only will it will help the travelling public get around more easily, it will help with congestion and allow our city to develop in a smart and sustainable way. This is Canberra growing into a progressive and convenient 21st century city,” Mr Rattenbury concluded.

Of course a system of shared driverless cars using reputation indexes to get like minded people together would be within this sort of budget.


UPDATE: Chief Minister Gallagher has expressed her displeasure with young Alistair:

Chief Chief Minister and Acting Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Katy Gallagher, has called on opposition spokesperson, Alistair Coe, to stop misleading the community on the Capital Metro Light Rail project.

“Mr Coe has issued a barrage of irrational and increasingly hysterical statements on this project which are very loose with the facts,” the Chief Minister said.

“The ACT Government went to the election with a commitment to deliver Capital Metro including releasing the latest draft cost estimates developed by economic experts.

“To date the government has issued four project updates which detail the latest news on the Capital Metro project. Comprehensive planning of the project is ongoing and the formation of the Capital Metro Project Office including the appointment of a specialised project director is underway.

“It is time for the Canberra Liberals to stop talking down the project and misrepresenting the facts to the Canberra community for purely political purposes, especially considering Mr Coe has not even

What’s Your opinion?


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48 Responses to
Would you prefer a nice new Ferrari to light rail? [With poll]
Holden Caulfield 1:26 pm 18 Jul 13

p1 said :

They could make all of Actions services free AND increase the currently running services AND give Action buses some sort of remote control that changes the traffic lights to green as they approach.

Yep, I’ve had this opinion for some time. FREE BUSES FOR ALL!

At least trial it for 6 months or so to see if it has any effect before committing such a vast amount of resources to white has a 50/50 chance of being success of white elephant (and that’s probably being generous to its chances of success).

johnboy 12:45 pm 18 Jul 13

To be fair to Alistair I took his dollar amount and went looking for a transport alternative in that price range

damien haas 12:32 pm 18 Jul 13

I think we can settle in for a sustained barrage of press releases from MLA Alistair Coe, focusing on aspects of Capital Metro he finds disdainful, such as: spending money on infrastructure, resolving road congestion, growing public transport patronage, urban renewal, transit oriented development etc.

Oh wait – no, this latest press release is about buying people exotic cars, instead of mass transit. Applying the same logic, we could ferry people by ambulance to Sydney instead of having hospitals in Canberra.

Damien Haas
Chair, ACT Light Rail

HiddenDragon 12:12 pm 18 Jul 13

Yes, but only if the Ferrari is solar powered, and has a customised bike rack because, you know, things like that are really important to me, and its great that future generations are prepared to pay for me to have things that will make me feel better about myself.

PoQ 11:49 am 18 Jul 13

Why would I want a Ferrari? The roads in Australia are too terribad, infested with speed cameras and policepeople, let alone the fact you’d tear off the front spoiler everytime you went over a speed bump. And besides, I’ve already got a car. Let’s make Gungahlin like Brunswick!

Rollersk8r 11:48 am 18 Jul 13

I first heard this sort of argument over a year ago, I reckon, in a letter to the Canberra Times. That example was: You could buy everyone in Gungers a new Corolla and build them a dedicated free carpark in Civic for far less (than light rail is going to cost).

Grail 11:47 am 18 Jul 13

At first, $600M sounds a bit rich for a tram system.

In Melbourne they can manage a capital works value of about $10M per kilometre of tram line, with ongoing operating costs of about $1.7M/km (including leasing the rolling stock). All in 2006 dollars.

Assuming that in 6 years prices will have doubled to about $20M/km, that $600M buys about 30km of tram infrastructure.

Now it’s worth asking which part of Northbourne avenue is carrying 3,000 commuters during morning peak. Where are they coming from? Where are the 4,500 commuters using the tram expected to come from? Will there actually be more people using Northbourne during the morning peak than 4,500? What if it turns out that the increase in Northbourne patronage from Gunghalin is actually going to be closer to 3,000, with total traffic on Northbourne during morning peak increasing to 6,000 since you can squeeze more people down the road in a shorter time using a tram?

Where does that leave Alistair Coe’s argument? That’s $200k for every additional commuter to squeeze down Northbourne avenue during morning peak, assuming that all other passengers on the tram during the rest of the day are riding for free (including, for example, those 4,500 passengers returning home from work).

Now assume that there are actually two times as many passengers using the trams during the rest of the day, as are using the trams during morning peak. That’s the same passengers going home in the evening, and about the same amount of people going back and forth during the day (for part time jobs, social visits, catching up with the wife at lunch, shopping, travelling to meetings using the corporate MyWay card, etc). This reduces the cost per passenger to about $60k per passenger to install the service. Assuming you wish to run the service for 20 yearsbefore reaching break-even, you will need to get about $15/day per peak passenger. That’s about $5 per trip for the passengers I estimated earlier. If there are more passengers using the service outside morning peak than just 4,500, the prices come down significantly.

So as usual, Alistair has cherry picked part of an argument while ignoring the important bit: the tram will do much more for us than carry an extra 1,500 people to work in the morning.

p1 11:13 am 18 Jul 13

…or we could continually up the cost of rego and parking to pay for light rail. Wait. No. Um.

tim_c 10:43 am 18 Jul 13

You mean we’re not going to buy Sydney’s discarded monorail and run that down the median strip on Northbourne Avenue?!

mezza76 10:34 am 18 Jul 13

bundah said :

p1 said :

They could make all of Actions services free AND increase the currently running services AND give Action buses some sort of remote control that changes the traffic lights to green as they approach.

Or they could also widen Northbourne Ave to four lanes and have a designated bus lane during peak periods with extra services…

Or we could just change school hours… for free.

bundah 10:23 am 18 Jul 13

p1 said :

They could make all of Actions services free AND increase the currently running services AND give Action buses some sort of remote control that changes the traffic lights to green as they approach.

Or they could also widen Northbourne Ave to four lanes and have a designated bus lane during peak periods with extra services…

BimboGeek 10:18 am 18 Jul 13

I like P1’s idea.

I also like those community cars where you become a member and can pick up any nearby car to take you where you need to go. You could certainly scatter a lot of Mazdas and set up a nice computer booking system…

Leon 10:13 am 18 Jul 13

Alistair Coe’s estimate of $433,000 per additional commuter is likely to be eclipsed by the $12 million off-road cycle path alongside the Majura Parkway. According to Shane Rattenbury, this path will “complement the proposed on-road cycle lane.”

No commuters currently cycle along Majura Road. If the Majura Parkway attracts as many cycle commuters as the Rudd St section of the Civic Cycle Loop, and half of them will use the off-road path, then the path will cost $630,000 per additional commuter.

In 2011 the Government estimated that on-road cycle lanes along Majura Road would cost $620,000, and ranked the main section 133rd out of 202 projects. The Government report considered a more expensive off-road path along the main section of Majura Road. On that basis, Katy Gallagher bypassed more than 100 better-value projects and promised to spend up to a whopping $12 million on an off-road path.

Mr Rattenbury now says that “progressing the path at the same time [as the Majura Parkway] will result in efficiencies and a lower cost.”

Methinks the Government would benefit from the services of a transport economist.

p1 10:04 am 18 Jul 13

They could make all of Actions services free AND increase the currently running services AND give Action buses some sort of remote control that changes the traffic lights to green as they approach.

davo101 9:55 am 18 Jul 13

How many bicycles could we buy Mr Coe?

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