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Canberra Liberals' alternatives options paper for Northbourne Avenue

Preparing to fight next year's election as a "referendum on light rail", the ACT opposition has proposed bus and cycle lanes on the Northbourne Avenue median or preferential bus treatment at intersections. 

In a new discussion paper to be released for community feedback on Tuesday, opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe proposes three options to speed up travel times into the city without building the government's proposed $783 million tram line. 

The proposals include moving the bicycle lane from the kerb and adding bus priority measures at key intersections, a bus and emergency vehicle lane in the Northbourne median or a bus and emergency vehicle lane in the median with cycle lanes on either side. 

Mr Coe said feedback to the plan see one of the options would become Liberal policy.  

The options could also be used on roads across the city, including on Adelaide Avenue, Belconnen Way, Ginninderra Drive, Hindmarsh Drive and the Tuggeranong Parkway. Mr Coe said each would speed up bus travel time, improve safety and require fewer trees to be cut down on Northbourne Avenue.

"We've got three options here which I think all have good strong attributes," Mr Coe said. 

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"The three are all plausible, they vary in price and vary in effectiveness but all will have a good impact. This is the sort of work the government never did. We're genuinely considering all the options." 

Option 1A new bus priority system and median strip cycle path. 

Option one is for bus priority lanes to be built near significant intersections and for the cycle path to be relocated to the median strip. 

The $9 million plan would see "queue jump" measures added for buses at intersections such as Northbourne and Macarthur Avenue, Condamine Street and Masson Street. Bus stops along the road would be upgraded and the 2.5 metre cycle lane would run from Antill Street to London Circuit. 

Traffic lights would be installed in the median to guide cyclists movements and cyclists would enter or exit at intersections. 

The paper says this option would improve bus travel times by as much as 30 seconds per intersection and improve safety for cyclists.  

Option 2

A new bus and emergency lane in the median.

Option two is for a bus and emergency vehicle lane in the median strip. 

The $140 million plan would see a 3.25 metre lane operating southbound to Civic in the morning and northbound to Gungahlin in the afternoon. It would run between Antill Street and end at Barry Drive and buses would use the existing traffic signals. 

The paper says this option would see about 10 minutes saved from all public transport trips, with lower rates of construction delay and fewer trees removed.  

Option 3A new bus and emergency lane and cycle paths in the median strip. 

Option three is for a bus and emergency vehicle lane and cycle path in the Northbourne Avenue median strip. 

The cost would be more than $140 million and require a 3.25 metre one way bus lane and two 1.25 metre one-way cycle lanes either side. A fence or barrier would divide the two and emergency services vehicles could use the lane, which would run from Antill Street to Barry Drive. 

Buses and cyclists would use existing traffic light signals. 

The paper says this option would see about 10 minutes saved from all public transport trips and improved cyclist safety. Some trees would need to be removed and some underground pipes and wires relocated. The option is not costed, but would be more expensive than option two. 

Among problems discussed for each of the options are cyclist access to bike lanes, bus access to designated transit lanes, the cost of relocating underground utilities, the relocation of bus stops and pedestrian access. 

Mr Coe said the opposition's full transport policy would be released "well ahead of the election", likely in the first quarter of 2016.

"At this stage, we believe the numbers for light rail do not stack up so a service such as this will be far more appropriate and deliver far better travel times for Gungahlin residents," Mr Coe said.