JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Canberra light rail plan: 'Not enough traffic' says Infrastructure Australia report

An artist's impression of light rail in Gungahlin.

An artist's impression of light rail in Gungahlin.

An Infrastructure Australia assessment of the ACT government’s transport plans has cast doubt on whether the territory has enough traffic congestion to warrant federal funding for light rail or rapid buses.

The report, which resulted in Capital Metro missing out on a place on the national infrastructure priority list last month, also said the ACT government had not made a strong case for favouring light rail over buses.

But Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell said on Thursday light rail was “the best choice for Canberra’s future” because it would bring more development to the Civic to Gungahlin corridor than buses.

The ACT government’s submission to Infrastructure Australia was made last year before it had decided to build a light rail network along the 12 km stretch.

The government announced last month it would make a new submission later this year for $15 million in federal funding for the project.

Mr Corbell said the submission would make a stronger case for the project’s national significance by arguing Northbourne Avenue was “the front door” to Australia’s capital.

Infrastructure Australia’s assessment suggests a transport project for the city to Gungahlin corridor be included at the “early stage” of its priority list.

The report says the government had provided limited evidence that there was a “nationally significant problem” along the corridor in terms of “access, congestion or amenity”.

“The proponent has not demonstrated the scale and impact of the problem, taking into consideration the decision to proceed with construction of the Majura Parkway, a largely parallel corridor on Canberra’s east which is likely to redirect at least some traffic from the Northbourne Avenue corridor,” the report says.

The assessment found that congestion on Northbourne Avenue was “not as significant as congestion on urban roads in other cities”.

“The extent of the problem identified seems unlikely to justify significant capital investment in the short term,” it said.

The report said the case for light rail over buses had also not been strongly made, particularly when the government’s economic analysis showed buses would deliver a greater cost benefit than light rail.

But Mr Corbell said the government’s new submission would address Infrastructure Australia’s concerns about the capital metro project and would show that light rail would bring a level of development to the corridor that buses could not.

“It’s the only transport mode that will achieve the density, that will achieve the housing choice, that will achieve the value uplift along the corridor in terms of rates and charges… and at the same time provide the capacity to carry growing numbers of people well into the future,” he said.

“We’re going to highlight that this is a project for the national capital.

“It’s not desirable to have the front door to the national capital congested with cars in five years’ time, 20 years’ time, 30 years’ time.”

Opposition urban services spokesman Alistair Coe said it was difficult for the government to make the case for light rail “given their own document suggests that bus rapid transit returns $4.70 and light rail returns $2.30.”

“By their own document, buses are double as efficient, double as effective as light rail,” Mr Coe said.

 

44 comments

  • Infrastructure Australia is probably right in its conventional assessment of light rail (trams) from Civic to Gungahlin given more serious problems in major cities. What is peculiar is the argument that Canberra should be congested before trams are introduced. IA's opinion reflects poorly on innovative thought within the agency when concluding that it is preferable to develop congestion and its associated problems before addressing a sensible alternative. It is equally odd to limit the tram system to the northern route only. It would make more sense in the long term to plan for trams from Tuggeranong to Gunghalin with a branch to Belconnen.

    Commenter
    Dr. Ian Welch
    Location
    Mawson
    Date and time
    August 08, 2013, 4:03PM
    • What a shame our city is beholden to the cowardice displayed by those at Infrastructure Australia. These are people who think it's prudent to fix your airplane after the wing has fallen off mid-flight.

      Build light rail to avoid congestion. In my opinion it's far better to avoid a problem in the first place than to try and fix one after the fact.

      Waiting too long is like putting on sunscreen after you're burnt...pointless and painful.

      Commenter
      Stir the pot
      Date and time
      August 08, 2013, 4:09PM
      • To Stir the Pot and Dr Ian Welch,
        Light rail in Canberra is a white elephant that will burden Canberra forever. It will need massive subsidy to maintain. It will have relatively few passengers.

        You are both missing the congestion point. It is better for IA to invest in reducing congestion where its urgently needed in Australia, like our major cities where it is a real and substantial burden. By 2020 estimated congestion costs to the economy of Canberra are $0.2 billion compared to Sydney at $7.8b, Melbourne $6.1b and Brisbane $3b (BTRE working paper 71).

        Canberra needs to get the basics right first. Why can't you turn right if you are facing a green light and there is no oncoming traffic? How about more widespread use of left turn on a red light after stopping? Why doesn't the local government have busses pull off the road into bays (e.g. Northborne Av.) to allow traffic to flow (they continue to build new bus stops on the road)? Couldn't we teach our new drivers how to merge properly? Most of this town has flexible work arrangements, couldn't we promote a 10-6 work day for those that are able (e.g. offer cheaper parking)? Finally, we’ve been waiting some decades for the tele-commuting revolution, the technology is up to it, so why aren't we?

        Commenter
        dingokidneys
        Location
        West Queanbeyan
        Date and time
        August 08, 2013, 10:43PM
      • I think there might be some public safety reasons why there are not more turning through a red light exemptions. Canberra drivers are already poor enough decision makers at intersections, speeding up and running through when the lights are turning red.

        I agree with making Northbourne more efficient for buses and would love to see the left lane a bus/taxi/motorbike only lane in both directions. Would it not be the most economical option to improve public transport, and thus encourage people on to it, by far? I'm surprised Coe and co. aren't pushing it.

        Commenter
        Santiago
        Date and time
        August 09, 2013, 10:28AM
    • The concept of light rail is a pipe dream. The capital cost estimate was howled down - the extension to Mandurah only cost so much and the extension from Victoria Square to North Terrace only cost so much. The local proposal involves the total infrastructure - tracks, power supply, rolling stock, depots, maintenance facilities and so on. It might ???? break even during peak hour or maybe make a profit (like ACTION) but it will not make a profit or ever break even during off peak hours - it will be a loss making exercise subject (like ACTION) to running services on the basis of how much of a subsidy the ACT Government is willing to provide.

      Commenter
      smh1949
      Location
      Palmerston
      Date and time
      August 08, 2013, 4:13PM
      • Looks like Infrastructure Australia have the same reactive approach to planning as our own ACT Govt. I mean why be proactive and ensure there is no problem down the track when we can just wait till the congestion is unbearable before anything is done!!! Not that I am a fan of the light rail project, it is just funny to see the ACT Govt on the receiving end as opposed to them usually dolling out their crappy planning ideologies on us.

        Commenter
        Stu
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        August 08, 2013, 4:16PM
        • But the dance of delusion must continue to keep the Greens on side!

          Commenter
          Outraged of Palmerston
          Date and time
          August 08, 2013, 4:50PM
          • ROFL....But wait it still goes ahead. but there's more, we don't have the money,ROFL, but we had a deal ROFL, how about accountability to the thousands of tax payers in Canberra.ROFL. what a joke this has become.

            Commenter
            Martin Says
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            August 08, 2013, 4:52PM
            • Soooo, no light rail. Perhaps the pollies should have done a little pre planning before promising and not delivering. Athough as far as this subject is concerned, that's been the pattern for as long as can be remembered anyway.

              Commenter
              The Mike
              Location
              ACT
              Date and time
              August 08, 2013, 4:58PM
              • I can assure you if this was in a marginal seat this light rail would be under construction .

                Commenter
                Tristan
                Date and time
                August 08, 2013, 5:26PM

                More comments

                Comments are now closed
                Featured advertisers

                Special offers

                Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo