The ACT government is using a national report on public transport to bolster its case for light rail.
Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell said the report, commissioned by the Tourism and Transport Forum, supported the government's argument that light rail from Gungahlin to Civic would increase economic activity and create jobs.
"We have always said that one of the many benefits of light rail is that it can have a transformative effect and this report shows the power that rail has in boosting the local economy at a time when it needs it most," he said.
The report from the industry lobby says the federal government needs to start funding public transport, pointing out the area around a new Sydney rail line has grown faster than the rest of the city.
The analysis of the opening of the Epping to Chatswood line, which in 2009 was the first major rail line to open in Sydney for two decades, shows the area around Macquarie Park station had an extra 1.56 to 2.44 per cent economic growth a year after opening, even amid the global financial crisis.
The business case for the $800 million light rail, released by the ACT government this month, includes plans for road formation changes in the city-to-Gungahlin corridor and $118 million in estimated costs for infrastructure and utilities.
About 13,400 people live and work along the tram line corridor, and more than 70 per cent travel to work between Macarthur Avenue and the city everyday.
Canberra retains the highest per capita use of cars of any Australian city, and just 11 per cent of the city's residents use public transport.
The business case estimates 16 kilometres of roads in the light rail catchment area experience significant congestion by cars, leading to a travel time from Gungahlin of between 35 minutes and 45 minutes in the morning peak.
Mr Corbell said both heavy and light rail projects had produced economic benefits.
"Capital Metro stage one will deliver nearly a billion dollars in benefits to the Canberra community and sets the foundation for a world-class public transport system that will drive economic benefits for the ACT," he said.
Opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe has said light rail could be appropriate for Canberra in the future but the current proposal did not represent value for money.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the federal government would not fund urban public transport but would fund urban motorways and other big road projects.
Federal Opposition transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said the Tourism and Transport Forum report showed the "folly" of Mr Abbott's refusal to invest in public transport.
"He needs to get over this weird hang-up and joint the TTF, Labor, the business sector and the rest of the country in recognising that public transport is central to any serious attack on traffic congestion," he said.