The ACT government needs to explain whether Canberra is missing out on community housing or health services in favour of expanding light rail, the ACT Council of Social Services says.
In a submission to Major Projects Canberra about stage two of the project, CEO Emma Campbell said light rail would come at a significant cost to the ACT budget.
She said the government needed to build more public housing and improve hospital wait times to show the Woden line was not being built at the expense of investments important to people on low incomes.
"As the government has said, resources are limited," Dr Campbell said.
"What are the decisions they are making in order to facilitate the building of light rail?"
The council's submission said there needed to be more transparency about the cost and opportunity cost of the project.
"If, for example, investment in light rail expansion is done at the expense of further investment in public housing, health or community services, broader consultation with the Canberra community must be undertaken," it read.
Dr Campbell said the council did not have a specific view on the route light rail stage two should take.
But she said there were concerns those on low incomes would not benefit equally with the broader population from the major transport investment.
Dr Campbell called on the government to complete an ACT-wide transport needs and gap analysis.
She said light rail also shouldn't come at the expense of bus routes and community transport services that allow vulnerable people transport options close to their door to access to essential services like medical appointments.
"Canberra's overall transport strategy must go beyond buses and the tram to incorporate all modes of transport. It must include community-managed on-demand transport and be linked to building and planning decisions," she said.
"Connectivity and the choice of stops must maximise the ability of people to connect with health services.
"Furthermore, an appropriate assessment of the physical and sensory access features of the light rail should be undertaken to ensure it exceeds minimum access requirements under the disability standards for accessible transport.
"Local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities must also be consulted on areas of cultural significant that might be impacted by route construction work."
Transport Minister Chris Steel said the government had been upfront about the cost of light rail stage 2.
"Light rail has now been brought to three ACT elections and we are committed to build on the success of the first stage by extending the line to Woden and extending the benefits to other parts of Canberra," he said.
"We have outlined our plans to continue to invest in health, education and public housing and community, city, emergency and other services at the same time as investing in better public transport.
"Like other cities, Canberra should have access to high quality mass transit that improves amenity and connectivity for the whole of our community including vulnerable Canberrans who rely on public transport."