Young vs old – ACT seniors cautious on light rail, while students enthusiastic
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Young vs old – ACT seniors cautious on light rail, while students enthusiastic

It's still a few years off, but Lyneham High School Year 9 student Peter Gedeon is looking forward to catching the light rail to his first day of university in 2019.

Canberra students and seniors, up and down the route of the ACT light rail, will be able to catch the new tram to school or the local shops – but their various advocacy bodies aren't taking sides yet, saying it could be good if it's handled properly.

Lyneham High year 9 students, Peter Gedeon, Elise Palethorpe, Kiran Phillipps, and Georgie Lyall.

Lyneham High year 9 students, Peter Gedeon, Elise Palethorpe, Kiran Phillipps, and Georgie Lyall.Credit:Rohan Thomson

Peter and his fellows students were all equally enthusiastic about the new project. "I think it's good for Canberra, we're such a growing city," year 9 student Kiran Phillipps said.

Others praised the environmentally-friendly nature of the project and the arrival of 'good public transport' into Canberra. "I'm really interested in sustainability so I'd like to see a light rail," 14-year-old Elise Palethorpe said.

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But Youth Coalition of the ACT director Emma Robertson said her organisation was remaining cautious, saying she hoped the Capital Metro project would help tackle youth unemployment and improve public transport in Canberra.

"We've met with Capital Metro and they've talked to us about all of the infrastructure that will come alongside the light rail and I think young people are quite interested in that sort of stuff if it's going to happen," she said.

"[We've been told] it will provide for cafes, small business and job opportunities, but I don't know how given that is."

ACT Council for the Aging acting executive director Ewan Brown said his organisation had an open mind about light rail but it could be good for Canberra's senior citizens, if it was properly handled. "It looks attractive, but it must be accessible and the connections must be right," he said.

Mr Brown said there would need to be adequate access for Canberra's senior residents as well as proper links to bus services to allow them to get from the light rail station to their homes.

"There couldn't be any steps from the platform to the vehicle and there'd need to be adequate space inside the carriages to accommodate motorised scooters and wheelchairs," he said.

Mr Brown said the plans for Capital Metro had come at a time when the Council of the Aging was working on ways to encourage senior car owners off the road if they're driving unsafely.

"We're trying to wean more and more of them off car usage and as they get older and more infirm yes they certainly want to have alternative forms of transport other than their own vehicles," he said.

Ms Robertson said the government hadn't done enough as of yet to sell the case for light rail to Canberra's young people. "A whole lot more needs to be communicated about what's happening," she said.

"There's not enough information about what it's going to look like out there for the public to feel confident they're able to engage with it and young people have said that to us."

There's one thing both Mr Brown and Ms Robertson agreed on – concession fares were needed for students and seniors to ensure they could afford to ride the new tram.