Network 19, light rail, buses and the winners and losers

Network 19.jpg

An edited version of this article was published in the Canberra Times here.

In its first week light rail from Gungahlin carried over 100,000 passengers and proved to be the success that its supporters knew it would be. It was a long time coming, and although it received overwhelming support from the public at the 2016 election, much political blood was shed in the decades leading to this endorsement including the toppling of Canberra Liberal Trevor Kaine, ALP Chief Minister Rosemary Follet and her Transport Minister David Lamont.

Chief Minister Barr and Transport Minister Fitzharris deserve much credit for the resolve they had to see the benefits of this city changing project through, since it was first announced by former Chief Minister Katie Gallagher in 2012. Essential political support from the Greens ensured that light rail survived the Legislative Assembly. Former Transport Minister Simon Corbell may one day be able to catch light rail from Civic to Kingston for a coffee, as he once famously predicted. Light rail will be a legacy for generations to come.

On Monday, the ACT received its second major public transport shakeup with Network 19, a fundamental reset of the system. Integrating light rail, a record nine rapid bus routes, and more frequent local buses, the aim is to increase local connections to rapid routes, and increase the frequency. Passengers have long complained about the magical mystery local bus tours, and this has been addressed.

Weekend passengers also benefit with light rail until 1AM and rapid buses operating until at least 10 PM on Sunday. Over time, it would be good to see local buses offer this same service, but as long as the TWU believes working weekends is voluntary and not something that the public expects that may be some time off. Passengers fortunate enough to live adjacent to light rail will be able to travel until 1AM on Saturdays and 11.30 PM on Sundays. This is the sort of weekend public transport service that Canberra has needed for many years.

Although the radical Network 19 changes will prove beneficial, there will be many short term issues as passengers start using it, and locating the new bus stops they may have to walk further to use. Not everyone benefits, and indeed some people lose out. Many long used local bus stops are disappearing, requiring people to walk to unfamiliar streets in their neighbourhood. Some people will have to transfer between services.

With 140 suburbs and 530 buses, not every suburb in Canberra can have a direct service to Civic. Expresso services received cuts, as patronage figures saw most removed, others changed to become part of the new rapid routes, and a few, mainly in Tuggeranong, retained in a different form.

Fairbairn, Hume, ANU and other locations lose a bus service. Although ANU has its own coaster bus, it may not have enough capacity for the students that relied on the former service. Transport Canberra have indicated that on-demand and flexible buses will replace some services, but there is no extra funding to expand this fleet and the software for the small fleet of on-demand buses is not yet available. In some instances the services are more likely to be used by the fridge magnet generation, than the app generation.

n19 nicholls schools
Schools on regular local bus route in Nicholls

The loudest voices against Network 19 are the parents of children who use school buses to travel from north to south Canberra. These services have slightly decreased from 246 school bus services to 221 services, and there are now reportable metrics in place. Some services carry a handful of students a day. Clearly a bus carrying a hundred people is better used on a local bus or rapid service decreasing peak hour bus frequency. While there is no separate school bus fleet in Canberra, this balance of resources will continue to be played out.

Many schools now have regular bus stops next to them, or nearby. The majority of students travelling to school by bus do so on a regular bus, and it is better for their independence and to stop bullying that they do so into the future. Many former students and bus drivers have advised that a student is less likely to be bullied on a regular bus, when an adult passenger will speak up, than on a school bus with no adult present except the driver occupied navigating our roads.

 

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Excellent wayfinding signage in Civic

Passenger wayfinding between rapid and local bus services outside the interchanges also needs some work. Savvy passengers may know they can step off a rapid bus, walk 100 metres and step on a local bus, other passengers may not know this. People won’t mind transferring if the frequency of services leads to shorter waiting times for the next bus or light rail. Better signage at local bus stops, or software notifications could help here.

Overall the benefits of more frequent local services connecting to a mass transit spine will make public transport more efficient and better for passengers. Network 19 has been subjected to exhaustive community consultation, with changes made to school bus services, Expressos and some local loops modified. In large transport networks, people often transfer to complete their trip. It is a new paradigm this city needs to adopt as it goes from a country town to a city.

Our city has grown and now our transport network has changed to accommodate that growth. In 1992 Gungahlin had 389 residents, today it has 80 thousand – 50 thousand who have arrived in the last five years. Light rail was delivered by  the Barr government under budget, before the major duplicated roads in Gungahlin being constructed at the same time. A startling reminder that under the Stanhope administration, public transport and road infrastructure was very far down the funding priority list, while single dwelling housing blocks were allowed to sprawl across Canberra. We have to stop building in car dependency.

Gungahlin residents deserve much credit for getting Canberra to an integrated bus and light rail transport network today.  They called for better public transport in the early 1990’s when it was apparent that buses alone would not carry the amount of passengers the popup suburbs were attracting. The Gungahlin Community Council, the Light Rail Coalition, and then ACT Light Rail were community groups energised by the idea of better public transport and planning outcomes that light rail could deliver. Sustained community activism can lead to political outcomes.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra has supported the current Governments public transport policies, and worked with transport planners and operators to bring about better public transport outcomes. Community consultation is vital, as direct engagement with the decision makers has led to better passenger experiences. Sometimes transport planners don’t get it right, and users can provide advice on a better passenger experience and provide user insights.

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Light rail vehicles in Gungahlins new station – it carried 100,00 people in its first week

We must get public transport right. At 420 thousand residents now, and half a million soon, Canberra must keep building transport infrastructure that matches our growth, and corrects past mistakes. More buses are being ordered, more articulated buses with greater passenger capacity are in the fleet than ever before, zero emission vehicles may form the core of a bus fleet (light rail is powered by renewable energy). Public transport is a visible sign of the health and livability of a city and its people. This government understands this, will future governments? The 2020 Assembly elections will be telling, as the Canberra Liberals are yet to share any thoughts on future public transport infrastructure.

This week Network 19 has arrived, building on the success of light rail stage one opening last week. There will be passengers with problems in the next week or two, as people have to establish new routines and make changes to long used commuting patterns. Despite teething issues, in a few months the true value of this radical change will be realised.

As only about ten percent of Canberrans use public transport now, the aim of Network 19, light rail stage one (and stage two when it is built) is to attract new passengers, encourage greater residential and business growth around transport corridors, and to provide incentives to people to park their car at home. A month of free public transport accompanying the new network and the introduction of light rail will attract new passengers, Canberra needs to keep them using public transport. The results of Network 19 may take some time to be realised but they must work if we want to enjoy the bush capital and not live in our cars.

Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the regions peak public transport user lobby group.

Federal Election 2019 – ACT Candidate positions on Transport, Planning and Infrastructure policy

 

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Federal election candidates at a public forum in April 2019

The Federal election will be held on May 18 2019. Canberra is the Nations capital and seat of Federal Government, as well as a growing regional city with a diverse community. Our city has been overlooked at federal elections in recent years, by both major parties, and deserves an equal share of infrastructure investment to assist the city to expand in a sustainable and planned way.

The PTCBR will send an email to all candidates for the House of Representatives and the Senate, running in the ACT at the 2019 election, seeking their views on transport planning and infrastructure, and asking if they will work to obtain funding to put towards light rail and other public transport programs. Any candidate that responds will have their answers placed here, and promoted on our Facebook group, and shared among our members. The PTCBR is an apolitical organisation, but all PTCBR members are entitled to vote based on the issues that matter to them, and after making an informed decision.

The ACT elects one lower house member from the seats of Bean, Canberra and Fenner, and two Senators.

Questions to Candidates

  1. If elected, will you support light rail stage two and future light rail stages in Canberra?
  2. What are your views on the role of the National Capital Authority? Would you increase the NCA’s federal funding or would you abolish it and handover all planning controls to the ACT Government?
  3. How would you improve public transport connections between Canberra and regional NSW cities and towns?
  4. What is your parties’ view on ensuring ACT residents are not carrying the financial and environmental costs of the significant population increases in nearby NSW?
  5. Would you advocate for federal funding for the ACT light rail to be extended into Queanbeyan CBD?
  6. Would you advocate for dedicated bus lanes combined with park and ride facilities near the main Queanbeyan roads into the territory?
  7. What are your other policies on public transport and planning?

Responses received from candidates will be published on this page in the order they are received, below the list of candidates. Irrelevant responses unrelated to our members policy interests, will not be posted.

House of Representatives Candidates in the ACT

Bean – Weston Creek, Tuggeranong

  • David Smith – Australian Labor Party
  • Therese Faulkner – Australian Progressives
  • Ben Rushton – Great Australia Party
  • Jonathan Davis – Greens
  • Matt Donnelly – Liberal Democrats
  • Ed Cocks – Liberal Party
  • Tony Hanley – United Australia Party
  • Jamie Christie – Independent

Canberra –  Woden, East Belco, N. & S. Canberra

Fenner –  Western & Northern Belco and Gungahlin

ACT Senate Candidates 

Election Announcements on public transport, planning and public transport infrastructure for Canberra

ALP – Alicia Payne and Bill Shorten announce 200 million dollars for Canberras second stage of light rail.

Responses received from Candidates (presented in the order they were received)

First response (28 April)

Robert KnightAustralian Progressives

(Disclosure, Robert was formerly the Deputy Chair of the PTCBR)

G’day Damien and the PTCBR committee,
It’s a great pleasure to be able to respond to a topic I’m so passionate about. In response to your questions:
1. Unequivocally, yes. I believe the light rail is an incredibly important piece of infrastructure for Canberra’s future development. If elected, I would continue my fierce advocacy for a comprehensive light rail system creating the backbone of an integrated active and public transport network.
2. The National Capital Authority has a critical role in upholding the importance and management of nationally significant land, and institutions. I would seek to ensure the NCA is adequately resourced, and it’s mission refined to work more intimately with the ACT government on a coherent planning strategy.
3. Transport connections between regional NSW and the ACT is riven with legal and technical issues which create constant roadblocks to coherent public transport solutions. If elected I would seeks to identify each of these issues and find workable solutions to allow for the extension of existing bus services and, ultimately, rail services including light rail.
4. The way I see it, the major impacts on the ACT from nearby population increases in NSW consist of those on our transport infrastructure, health system, and education system from the users of those who are not ACT ratepayers. For that reason I would work to ensure federal funding is aimed at appreciating Canberra as a regional hub. From an environmental perspective, I think it is critical that Canberra and the surrounding local government areas work together to create a coherent and coordinated regional strategic plan dealing with urban planning, municipal services, environmental protection, and infrastructure provision.
5. Yes. Linked with my response to questions 3 and 4, I think it’s important that Canberra and surrounding local government areas work together to treat the area as a coherent functioning region. The border doesn’t act as a barrier to individuals living their lives in both NSW and the ACT, so our governance arrangements should behave the same way.
6. Yes. As part of a coherent regional strategy, a more comprehensive set of transport infrastructure is important in reducing the impacts of congestion, and non-sustainable transport choices.
7. The Australian Progressives believe our national transport focus should shift towards more sustainable choices. This translates into a focus on electrically powered, rail based public transport, both in an urban setting as well as inter-city. We also believe in a closer focus on active based transport development, closely integrated with well funded, rapid, and frequent public transport options in our towns and cities.
Thanks again for this opportunity, and I hope the members of PTCBR enjoy my response. Let them know I’m available for any questions via email at: canberra@progressives.org.au

Second response  (29 Apr)

Therese Faulkner – Australian Progressives

Hi Damien – lovely to hear from you, and thanks for your questions.  Please see my responses below, which accord with Australian Progressives policies:

  1. If elected, will you support light rail stage two and future light rail stages in Canberra?  Absolutely yes.  There may also be a case for investment in heavy rail for Tuggeranong and beyond down the track (pardon the pun).  This would be worth a feasibility study once we get past stage two of the light rail.
  2. What are your views on the role of the National Capital Authority? Would you increase the NCA’s federal funding or would you abolish it and handover all planning controls to the ACT Government?  I would like to see a review of the nexus between the NCA and ACT Government, with a view to having these two entities appropriately defined and resourced to be able to work collaboratively on planning and development within the parliamentary triangle and its fringes.
  3. How would you improve public transport connections between Canberra and regional NSW cities and towns?  The Australian Progressives support a national passenger rail network, including connections between Canberra, other major cities, and eventually regional NSW cities and towns. Noting that this is a long-term vision, in the shorter term I would look to establish a consultative forum comprising representatives from local, state and federal governments and bureaucracies, with a view to working together to establish better public transport linkages within this region – starting with improved bus services and then extending to rail.
  4. What is your parties’ view on ensuring ACT residents are not carrying the financial and environmental costs of the significant population increases in nearby NSW?   The Australian Progressives would work to ensure Canberra is considered as a regional hub from federal and state government perspectives, and lobby hard to ensure funding appropriate to such an important regional centre is provided by the federal and NSW state governments.  We believe that the ACT Government and the surrounding local NSW municipalities must work together to develop and implement a strategic plan to ensure that urban planning, municipal services, environmental protection, and infrastructure provision meets the needs of this wider community.
  5. Would you advocate for federal funding for the ACT light rail to be extended into Queanbeyan CBD?  Yes – this is consistent with the position that Canberra is an important regional hub within south-eastern NSW, and a centre for jobs and services which therefore requires good public transport links.  The extension of light rail into Queanbeyan would be a logical first step in providing such links.
  6. Would you advocate for dedicated bus lanes combined with park and ride facilities near the main Queanbeyan roads into the territory?  Yes – again, this is consistent with the positions set out in response to previous questions.  The provision of dedicated bus lanes combined with park and ride facilities can be a relatively quick and inexpensive way to improve public transport services within this region.
  7. What are your other policies on public transport and planning?  The Australian Progressives believe our national transport focus should shift towards more sustainable choices.  We would like to see well-funded, rapid, and frequent public transport options in our towns and cities, and an increase in electrically powered, rail-based public transport, both in urban settings as well as inter-city.

Kind regards

Therese

Therese Faulkner

Australian Progressives Candidate for Bean

www.facebook.com/therese4bean

Third response (3rd May)  Andrew Leigh – ALP

 

Dear Damien

Thanks for the email and thanks for all your hard work at PTCBR. This sounds like a fantastic initiative and I am more than happy to help. I have answered your questions below, but please don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can help with anything else. I look forward to seeing the results!

  1. If elected, will you support light rail stage two and future light rail stages in Canberra?
  2. Labor has committed $200 million to the second stage of Canberra’s light rail project. This will play a critical role in significantly reducing traffic congestion for residents of the City’s south. It will create hundreds of jobs and ensure that people are able to move swiftly through the city. We are committed to ensuring Canberrans have access to fast, reliable and affordable public transport and look forward to working with the ACT government as it continues to roll-out this fantastic initiative.
  3. What are your views on the role of the National Capital Authority? Would you increase the NCA’s federal funding or would you abolish it and handover all planning controls to the ACT Government?
  4. Labor greatly values the role of the NCA. The NCA will continue to play that important role in the development of the Nation’s Capital under a Shorten Labor Government.
  5. How would you improve public transport connections between Canberra and regional NSW cities and towns?
  6. Labor has committed to improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion by investing almost $250 million to progress the full duplication of the Barton Highway between Murrumbateman and the NSW/ACT border. The Barton Highway is used by 12,500 vehicles a day, including about 1,000 trucks. This commitment means Federal Labor stands ready to invest $100 million more in this important project than would be delivered by a re-elected Morrison Government. Increasing traffic volumes have led to increasing levels of traffic accidents on the highway, so a Shorten Labor Government would work with the New South Wales Government to expedite the duplication in the interests of road safety. The project would also boost productivity by facilitating quicker movement of road freight around the region. A longer list of Labor’s ACT/NSW infrastructure projects is below.
  7. What is your parties’ view on ensuring ACT residents are not carrying the financial and environmental costs of the significant population increases in nearby NSW?
  8. The ACT government is doing an excellent job investing in infrastructure in the ACT. A Shorten Labor Government will continue to support the ACT in this critical area, such as through our investments in light rail and roads. The fact that so many people want to live in or around the ACT shows that we are clearly on the right track!
  9. Would you advocate for federal funding for the ACT light rail to be extended into Queanbeyan CBD?
  10. The ACT Government has a fantastic plan for its roll-out of light rail in the ACT. A Federal Labor Government will invest $200 million in stage two and looks forward to working collaboratively with the ACT Government as it implements the future stages of its plan.
  11. Would you advocate for dedicated bus lanes combined with park and ride facilities near the main Queanbeyan roads into the territory?
  12. A Shorten Labor Government will establish a $300 million National Park and Ride Fund for new or expanded car parks at public transport hubs, such as train stations. Labor backs public transport – it’s good for commuters and it eases congestion on our roads. But too many residents in our cities and major regional areas are frustrated at the lack of available parking at train and bus stations as they travel into the city for work. I’ll be making sure the ACT gets its fair share of this funding to make commuting easier and ease congestion on our roads.
  13. What are your other policies on public transport and planning?
  14. We have many! We will build on the record of the previous Labor government which doubled road funding across Australia; rebuilt a third of the interstate rail freight network; and committed to more urban public transport infrastructure than every previous Federal Government combined. We will create thousands of jobs nationally with new work in every state and territory.
  15. Labor’s major infrastructure projects for the ACT and New South Wales include:
  16.          Canberra Light Rail Stage Two: Labor will reduce traffic congestion for residents of the City’s south with a $200 million investment towards the Stage II construction of Canberra’s Light Rail project.
  17.       Dunns Creek Road (NSW/ACT): Labor will invest $67.5 million to build the Dunns Creek Road, a key piece of regional infrastructure for residents of Queanbeyan, Googong and Jerrabomberra.

iii.      Nowra Bridge: Labor has committed $155 million towards building a second bridge in Nowra to improve road safety and boost local productivity.

  1.       Western Sydney Airport Rail: Labor will commit a total of $3 billion to Western Sydney Rail connecting the Sydney rail network with the new Western Sydney Airport, whilst reducing congestion and dependence on cars. Link
  2.       Sydney Metro West: Labor will commit $3 billion to Sydney Metro West, which will double the rail capacity between Parramatta and the CBD. Link
  3.       Central Coast Roads Rescue Package: Labor will fast-track $60 million worth of road works planned for the New South Wales Central Coast to ease traffic congestion and improve road safety.

vii.      Singleton Bypass: Labor will contribute $250 million towards construction of the Singleton Bypass on the New England Highway.

  1. Labor will implement a comprehensive plan for housing affordability and housing supply.
  2.          Across Australia, Labor will build 250,000 new affordable rental homes over the next decade in partnership with the community housing sector for Australians on low and moderate incomes. We will also ensure that 1 in 10 employees engaged in building new housing stock under our scheme are apprentices.
  3.       Labor will reform negative gearing so that deductions can only be claimed on newly built homes, which will increase new housing supply and support jobs. We will reform the capital gains tax concession and allow existing investors to maintain their current CGT and negative gearing entitlements. There will be no retrospective taxation or impost on existing investors.

iii.      Labor will create a viable Build to Rent sector in Australia – giving institutional investors better tax concessions; encouraging more construction; and stimulating the housing market. We will do this by cutting the managed investment trust withholding rate in half from 30 per cent to 15 per cent to encourage new housing supply.

  1.       Labor will establish a new and independent COAG Economic Reform Council that will be given the autonomy to examine, track and report to COAG on long-term reform priorities, including on housing affordability and supply.

Thanks again for getting in touch.

Andrew Leigh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Andrew Leigh

Federal Member for Fenner

Shadow Assistant Treasurer

Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity

Shadow Minister for Trade in Services

Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits

 

Response number 4 – (9 may 2019) Tony Hanley – UAP candidate for Bean

Hi Damien,

I would like to see the NATIONAL APPROACH ROUTES – CANBERRA AV. BARTON HIGHWAY – As Walter Burley Griffin, envisioned it to be a grand gateway. This is a Federal Issue.

The light rail went to the wrong Town Centre, as it has no major white collar; Employment base. But we need to move on now, long term I do not believe it will be utilised. Will see in Winter, “I guess! but I always applaud leaders that actually do things. More pertinent – Northbourne Av. Now looks like the dogs breakfast. Lime stone Ave. and others are gridlocked. Policy on the run, is always bad. I think it’s just matter of time before will have flashing Boom gates, and some major car Rail crashes (I drive daily for my work – and too many people don sunglasses and have tinted windows) just for one of many examples. Panel beaters have a roaring trade here. There are new innovations on low cost over passes. That allow Kangaroos, wild life to pass over as against them being culled. There is No more culling required as kangaroos dictate on multi plying, depending on climate conditions. I have an expert with ten thousand signatures to submit to Parliament.

The next stage of light rail has to be to Tuggeranong (not Woden) which is connectivity ideas I have from a main exchange shooting off to both Weston Creek -Coombes and Woden.  I grew up in Weston Creek and it’s easy to walk cycle plus new innovations adopted), under tunnels, using the latest in transport.  We need to stall all things at the moment, as just around the corner are better options being invented now. The local ACT Gov. has created a two class, society here and are treasonous to the “Spirit, essence and very Foundation of why Canberra was conceived. Barr (Libs V ALP) “biting the hand that feeds it” has eroded away Public Servants Department away to Regional areas.  If ALP’s Negative gearing policy comes in, the ACT Housing market “will crash like a lead balloon”. It is not sustainable.

The ACT road designers have endangered cyclists lives, (Adelaide Av. For one) and turned us into a UK – Cotswold village and is just hopeless in all respects.

Plus, I would like to see (after 9pm) most Traffic lights to go to flashing amber mode and normal road rules applied.

I would foster APS swap job plans (car-pooling etc.) in the APS – to minimise car use at peak times to stop the gridlock at peak hours.

Tony Hanley “the NUMBER ONE AUSTRALIAN “by a Country Mile.

Response number 5 – (13 May 2019) ACT Greens

Dear Damien

Thank you for your emails to our Greens candidates with questions about our policy positions. I attach a detailed response on behalf of:
Tim Hollo
Penny Kyburz
Emma Davidson
Andrew Braddock
Johnathan Davis
We would appreciate it if this response could be posted with attribution to our candidates. Their Facebook pages are:
Kind regards
Adele Doust
Party Director
ACT Greens 

ACT Greens position on transport and planning issues for the Public Transport Association Canberra
13 May 2019
If elected, will you support light rail stage two and future light rail stages in Canberra?
Yes.
Light rail not only provides an excellent public transport option, it also attracts development to transport corridors, helping Canberra grow in a smart and sustainable way.
The ACT Greens have advocated for light rail for decades. As balance of power holders following the 2012 election, we were at last able to secure a Government commitment to building stage one of light rail for Canberra.
The Greens advocated for stage 2 of light rail at the 2016 election, and secured its planning and development through a parliamentary agreement with the Labor Party.
A key part of the ACT Greens’ long-term vision is to have a high quality public transport spine right across Canberra. We support extending light rail in stages, in line with a light rail masterplan, to ensure all parts of Canberra can use the network.
Work developing Stage 2 of Canberra’s light rail network is currently underway. Stage 2 will extend light rail from the City to Woden, creating a North-South light rail spine connecting Gungahlin to Woden.
What are your views on the role of the National Capital Authority? Would you increase the NCA’s federal funding or would you abolish it and handover all planning controls to the ACT Government?
The National Capital Authority plays an important role in protecting the national interest in planning for the inner areas of Canberra and should be funded sufficiently to carry out this role. It has been disappointing to see the Federal Government using the NCA’s planning role to facilitate the privatisation of the East and West Blocks in the Parliamentary Precinct. Privatisation of important national land is unacceptable. The NCA should also be funded to pursue national heritage listing of the lake and surrounding nationally-significant areas.

The Greens have announced their plan to restore the public service to 2013 staffing levels and put a cap on the use of consultants and contractors. This would restore resources across the federal public service, including the National Capital Authority.

The Federal election is an important opportunity to improve local oversight of the work of the National Capital Authority. A Green member of the Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories would push for the NCA to be better engaged with and more accountable to the needs of people living in the ACT.

How would you improve public transport connections between Canberra and regional NSW cities and towns?
The ACT Greens policy platform calls for the following on interstate transport:
Improved integration and connections to interstate transport hubs, improved services to regional heavy rail passenger stations, and proactive engagement with other jurisdictions to improve the sustainability and affordability outcomes of regional transport
The ACT Government to actively support the creation of a national high-speed rail network that incorporates Canberra
The ACT Greens understand that these connections will require a mix of different public transport solutions.
The Australian Greens have called for the construction of publicly funded and publicly owned high- speed rail from Brisbane to Melbourne. Depending on the route chosen, this could connect Canberra to Goulburn and possibly Yass.
The connection to Queanbeyan should be served by light rail, bus rapid transit or an alternative ‘trunk’ technology such as trackless trams.
Bus services for regional towns like Cooma need to be improved substantially as commuting is growing but services are currently not designed for commuters.
The extremely high fares from Queanbeyan, Murrumbateman and Yass to Canberra also need to be reduced.
What is your parties’ view on ensuring ACT residents are not carrying the financial and environmental costs of the significant population increases in nearby NSW?

The ACT Greens understand that there is a need for greater cooperation between all levels of Government to sustainably support the region’s growing population. Thanks to the Greens, the ACT is a model of ambitious investment in sustainable energy and infrastructure.

The Federal Government needs to play a stronger role, including:

• Federal Government funding support to deliver cross-border public transport infrastructure
between Canberra and Queanbeyan
• Adequate Federal funding for Landcare and catchment management groups, which work across the ACT/NSW border on water quality and habitat.
• Fixing the water-management mess in the Murray Darling Basin, of which Canberra and Queanbeyan are part
In 2016, the Australian Greens secured an additional $100 million in funding for Landcare.
Electing Greens to the Federal Parliament in 2019,will help to extend the ‘water trigger’ in our national environmental protection laws to cover all forms of gas extraction and protect farmers and their water sources. It will also support the Greens in standing up to corruption in the Murray Darling basin to stop water theft and return more water to the river.
Would you advocate for federal funding for the ACT light rail to be extended into Queanbeyan CBD?
Yes.
The Greens believe that the Federal, ACT and NSW Governments should work together to deliver mass rapid transit such as light rail, bus rapid transit or another technology between Canberra and Queanbeyan. Queanbeyan was part of the 2016 ACT Light Rail Network Plan, which we support.
The Greens recognise that there is a need to address the extremely high cost of public transport connections from Canberra to Queanbeyan and other regional centres.
Would you advocate for dedicated bus lanes combined with park and ride facilities near the main Queanbeyan roads into the territory?
Yes.
The Greens believe that the Federal, ACT and NSW Governments should work together to deliver light rail, bus rapid transit or another technology between Canberra and Queanbeyan. Park and Ride facilities would be an important part of delivering mass rapid transit between Canberra and Queanbeyan.
What are your other policies on public transport and planning?
The Greens have a strong track record of supporting public transport over many years. This includes the Australian Greens commitment to the construction of high-speed rail and the ACT Greens commitment to light rail and more funding for bus services. The Greens also support strong investment in public infrastructure to make walking and cycling safe and accessible.
Complete information about the Greens public transport policy is available here: https://greens.org.au/platform/renewables#public-transport
Information about the Greens policies for the ACT, including transport policies, can be found here: https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2018-06/Community_First_-_Our_Platform.pdf
The Australian Greens 2019 platform can be found here: https://greens.org.au/policies

Canberra light rail starts carrying the public on a preview and launch day

Ryan ticket
Golden Ticket for the first public light rail passengers

On 18 April 2019 light rail began carrying members of the Canberra public along light rail stage one from Gungahlin to Civic. The ACT Government combined the official launch and letting the public ride and experience the light rail by holding a community ballot, where several hundred people won Golden Tickets, letting them on the first service. This ‘soft launch’ was also to be a test ahead of the official opening on Saturday 20 April.

The launch came the day after the national rail safety regulator accredited the network for operation, and on the day that the ACT Government announced that the light rail project came in at $707 million dollars, $76 million dollars under budget.

It was a fairly simple day with Golden Ticket winners advised to arrive at a specific stop (Gungahlin, Dickson or Civic), have their name checked off, and then wait for their vehicle to leave. It would then travel to Civic (or for the lucky passengers that left from Gungahlin, they did a complete return journey) where people could either travel back to Dickson or Gungahlin, or wait for the plaque to be unveiled. After the unveiling (and press conference) there was a light lunch for invited guests where a cake was cut and consumed (see photo further down…)!

Leaving simultaneously from Gungahlin, Dickson and Civic, these first light rail services left around midday carrying Golden Ticket winners from the public, invited guests, many members of the media, Canberra Metro staff, Transport Canberra and ACT public service executives and ACT Government MLA’s.

The excited passengers waited at each of the three major stops, boarded and set out for the first trip! Some stayed to observe the political events, but most went excitedly about the rest of their day, after being lucky enough to be on the very first trip on Canberra’s brand new light rail. Several PTCBR members attended and were fortunate to be invited to the launch and the lunch.

For people that have been campaigning for light rail in Canberra, and better public transport for many years it was a truly momentous experience. Riding in a brand new light rail vehicle, from Gungahlin to Civic, was very satisfying. It has already started to change Canberra for the better, and will for the next century.All the people associated with ACT Light Rail Coalition, ACT Light Rail and the PTCBR should be proud of the hard work they have put in over the last two decades.

The ACT Government deserve the credit for this, it has been a long hard slog with much political skin shed to get from an idea floated by former Transport Minister Simon Corbell, to a plaque being unveiled at the official opening by Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris. Administration of the project by Transport Canberra has been exemplary – with the project coming in $76 million under budget. Although the construction by Canberra Metro took a few months longer than anticipated, it is still a tremendous achievement. Light rail will be a lasting legacy, and something that the ALP and Greens can be rightly proud of.

This post has lots of photos of the days events, and a few links to local media coverage.

TV Coverage

WIN TV plaque 18 Apr
WIN TV Canberra coverage here

Nine News CM LR 18 aprNine Canberra TV News coverage here

abc tv newsABC Canberra TV News coverage here

Win tv newsWIN TV Canberra covered it again on 19 April here

Online Media

Video taken by PTCBR members on 19 April

Photos from the official opening day

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IMG_20190418_103255IMG_20190418_103248IMG_20190418_111854Golden Ticket winning passengers waiting for the first LRV IMG_20190418_114616IMG_20190418_113709Politicians on hand to witness the very first light rail trip for passengers!

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After arriving, the doors opened, and people raced onboard. That old guy with the walking stick is faster than you think!

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Moments later the LRV was full

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After years of campaigning for light rail – it was amazing to be on the first trip out of Gungahlin

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This LRV exiting the EPIC stop, is the first LRV from Civic carrying passengers to Gungahlin
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The view down Northbourne Avenue is very different than the view we have seen as car passengers/drivers – when the trees grow back it will be beautiful
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Lots of people made the trip to the light rail stations just to take photos of the first LRV’s
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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA unveiled a plaque and then answered questions from the media for some time

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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas, Former Transport Minister Simon Corbell, Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris at the official opening of Canberra’s light rail
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury
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Transport Canberra and City Services Director (and former Capital Metro CEO) Emma Thomas and PTCBR Chair Damien Haas
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Transport Canberra Director Duncan Edghill

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Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton

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Cutting of the light rail cake

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Caroline Le Couteur MLA talk to PTCBR Public Officer (and long time light rail campaigner) Ian Ruecroft and GCC Chair Peter Elford
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas, PTCBR Deputy Chair Ryan Hemsley and PTCBR Public Officer Ian Ruecroft at the light rail launch lunch

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra,join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

What a ride! 25,000 people travel on light rail’s first official day

 

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Media release from Andrew Barr ACT Chief Minister Barr and Meegan Fitzharris MLA Transport Minister

 

20 April 2019

Canberra was abuzz with excitement as light rail officially launched today with approximately 25,000 people hopping on board for a free ride.

The formal event wrapped up at 4pm, but services will continue to operate to timetable, so the total number of passengers on launch day will continue to grow.

Ten vehicles were deployed on the day, running 130 trips and covering 1,560 kilometres.

The City and Gungahlin terminals came to life with live music, kids’ entertainment and barbecues for people waiting to ride. Typical waiting times were between 15 – 25 minutes and passengers were excited and well behaved, with no major incidents to report.

More than 8,500 sausages were cooked during the launch event and a team of 190 friendly volunteers were at hand to provide information on using the light rail and updates on the future of light rail construction.

The day was a great success, with people of all ages trying out the light rail for the first time. We saw the community at its best: embracing a new opportunity with enthusiasm, safety and courtesy for their fellow passengers.

Following the launch, additional light rail features will be phased in over the coming weeks. This means the finishing touches to landscaping and road surfaces will continue and final permanent balustrades will be installed at intersections. Any other minor issues that need work will be fixed by Canberra Metro at no cost to the Territory.

Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said the passenger experience will keep getting better as drivers get used to taking passengers and journey times and frequency continue to improve.

“Thank you to everyone who came out today for a great celebration of our city.

“The Gungahlin to City route is the first stage of a broader program to connect Canberra’s town centres.

“The launch turnout shows how invested the community is in the future of Canberra. While light rail is a new concept for many people, the positive feedback we’ve received tells us that we are on the right track in improving the connectivity and liveability of our city. Canberra is now better connected with the light rail route from Gungahlin to City, and this work now continues with the second stage of light rail – City to Woden.”

Free travel continues on all public transport today and tomorrow Sunday 21 April – with paying services starting on Easter Monday 22 April. From 29 April all services will be free again for a month across the new network of light rail and more buses, more often.

For information on using light rail or to stay up to date with the City to Woden project visit transport.gov.au

Statement ends