The former head of the ACT's Housing Industry Association has urged the community to support the government's $800 million light rail project and blamed "nimbies" for holding back Canberra's development over decades.
David Fogg said the tram line was the latest public development proposal at risk because of a "vocal minority and apathetic majority".
He said building the first stage of a wider network would promote private development and pave the way for a series of infrastructure projects around central Canberra.
Mr Fogg said the longer Canberra waited to begin transport infrastructure upgrades, the more expensive the cost to taxpayers would be.
Community debate and local media coverage, including in The Canberra Times, needed to be more informed of a project which "is vital to the city's future".
"I wanted to put my hand up and be counted for a change about something that I do quite firmly believe is the way forward in Canberra in the next 20 years," he said.
"If we are going to be a city of 500,000 people . . . we need to get cars off the road and do something about a rail system of some description. The trouble is the misinformation we are getting from the media and criticism from those who say light rail is only going to be looking after a few, but it has to start somewhere and the greatest density is Gungahlin to the city."
On Saturday, Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell announced companies bidding to build and operate the tram line would be asked to include costs for a possible extension from the city to Russell.
The government won't yet commit to building the extended route but has asked the four consortiums bidding for the project to include the additional cost in their proposals for the possible 3.2-kilometre extension.
It would run from the planned terminus at Northbourne Avenue and Alinga Street, around London Circuit and down Constitution Avenue and Russell Drive.
With three passenger stops, government estimates forecast the extension would increase daily passengers trips by 5600 or as much as 30 per cent.
Mr Fogg said the views were his own, and came after a farewell speech last year in which he argued Canberra had missed out on major public infrastructure projects because of vested interest and nimbies: those suffering from "not in my backyard" syndrome.
He said a 1970s proposal from prime minister Malcolm Fraser for an international raceway venue off Majura Road and a gondola line up Black Mountain would have become loved and valued features of the capital.
Four major consortiums, including the companies behind Sydney and Gold Coast light rail projects and the operator of Melbourne's city-wide tram network, are in the process of bidding to build and operate Canberra's line.
Mr Fogg said the Liberal opposition needed to better explain its position on light rail and outline a substantive public transport policy to inform the ongoing debate.
"The only alternative I have heard from the Libs is the suggestion that they put a heavy rail from Tuggeranong to the airport and the airport to Kippax."
By the end of March, the ACT government's Capital Metro Agency is expected to begin the formal request for tender process with two business consortium groups.
Contract negotiations on the line will begin in early 2016 ahead of the tram services beginning by 2019.
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