A new opinion poll commissioned by the trade union movement shows more Canberrans oppose light rail than support construction, despite the government's earlier claims of public popularity.
The May 28 automated poll of 1446 territory residents commissioned by peak body Unions ACT asked respondents if they supported or opposed a light rail system.
The poll – with a margin of error of 2.5 per cent – found 38.8 per cent supported light rail, 46.3 per cent were opposed and 14.9 per cent were undecided.
The figures compare with 55 per cent support recorded in ACT government-commissioned research in August 2014.
The new Reachtel polling did not ask respondents about the government's planned 12 kilometre line from the city to Gungahlin specifically.
Support for light rail among ACT Labor voters was recorded at 51.3 per cent, growing to 63.5 per cent among ACT Greens voters. Just 15.8 per cent of Canberra Liberals voters backed a light rail system and undecided voters supported the project at 42 per cent.
Light rail was favoured highest among people aged between 35 and 50, at 45.1 per cent, while opposition was strongest among those 65 years or older, at 57.7 per cent.
Asked if they would be "more or less likely to support light rail if it created 3500 jobs in Canberra during construction", 38.6 per cent said they were more likely to support light rail and 25.3 per cent said they were less likely.
Support was unchanged among 36.1 per cent of poll respondents.
Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell and Chief Minister Andrew Barr have sought to emphasise the number of jobs that would be created in the construction phase of the project in recent days.
Asked if an ACT election were held today which party would receive their first preference vote, 37.4 per cent of respondents said Labor and 32.2 per cent said the Liberals.
The Greens attracted 14.9 per cent support in the poll, with other parties or independents attracting 5.7 per cent and 9.8 per cent remaining undecided.
The poll results have not been broken down by territory electorates so it is difficult to calculate an election outcome from the findings. The October 2016 election will see five members returned from each of five electorates.
At the 2012 ACT election, Labor won eight seats with 38.88 per cent of the first-preference vote. The Liberals won eight seats with 38.90 per cent and the Greens won one seat with 10.7 per cent.
Asked "generally speaking, do you believe the ACT is heading in the right or the wrong direction", 46.5 per cent said the right direction, 36.2 per cent said the wrong direction and 17.3 per cent were undecided.
Labor voters backed the territory's direction at 68.1 per cent, while 64.8 per cent of Liberal voters said the ACT was headed in the wrong direction. Likely Greens voters supported the direction at 65.9 per cent.
Unions ACT secretary Alex White has met with the government and the opposition to discuss light rail. He said the polling showed Canberrans wanted to support job-creating projects after the Abbott government's cuts to the public service.
"The first, most basic duty of a government is to ensure there are enough jobs for people who want to work.
"Creating secure jobs for Canberrans should not be a political football. What working people want from politicians is for them to help create jobs, not block job creation," Mr White said.
"Our polling shows that Labor is on track to win the next election, with a majority of Canberrans saying they think we are heading in the right direction."
Mr White said the Liberal opposition had successfully locked in their supporters against the light rail project, but undecided voters were evenly split.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect headline.