MEDIA RELEASE – ACT Election results another vindication for the ACT Government’s light rail vision

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has welcomed the re-election of the ACT Government led by Chief Minister Andrew Barr as a further vindication of the pro-light rail policies of ACT Labor and the ACT Greens.

“Saturday’s election results have re-confirmed the trends we saw four years ago, with strong swings towards the government in Murrumbidgee and Brindabella cementing light rail as a vote-winner,” said PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley.

“In contrast to the pro-light rail policies offered by Labor and the Greens, the Canberra Liberals offered half-hearted and at times inconsistent support for the extension of light rail to Woden.

“Despite the outstanding success of Stage One and high levels of public support for expanding the network to southern Canberra, the Canberra Liberals could not conceal their long-standing opposition to light rail.”

Mr Hemsley said that Alistair Coe’s call for a post-election review of light rail only served to reinforce the view that his party had yet to learn the lessons from its election losses, with light rail now featuring in the 2012, 2016 and the 2020 elections.

Mr Hemsley instead urged the Canberra Liberals to conduct a post-election review of their own public transport policies and make a definitive, public commitment to the extension of Canberra’s light rail network before the next election.

“We sincerely hope that the ACT Opposition provides Canberrans with a significantly better light rail policy offering in 2024.”

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.

PTCBR’s ACT Election 2020 Survey

Early in the campaign, PTCBR provided political parties and independent candidates standing at the 2020 ACT Election with the following questions relating to their public transport policies:

  1. How would you improve Canberra’s public transport network?
  2. What is your position on extending Canberra’s light rail network?
  3. Do you intend to end or reduce any existing public transport services?

All responses have been published here in the order they were received.

As of COB Friday 16 October, PTCBR had received responses from the following political parties and independent candidates:

✅ Bruce Paine (Independent, Electorate of Kurrajong)
✅ Community Action Party
✅ Brendan Whyte (Independent, Electorate of Murrumbidgee)
✅ Mignonne Cullen (Independent, Electorate of Ginninderra)
✅ Australian Federation Party
✅ Sustainable Australia Party
✅ Canberra Liberals
✅ David Pollard (Independent, Electorate of Yerrabi)
✅ Fiona Carrick (Independent, Electorate of Murrumbidgee)
✅ Canberra Progressives
✅ Belco Party
✅ ACT Greens

In instances where no response was provided by the deadline, PTCBR has added commitments outlined in policy documents and commentary released by the parties over the course of the campaign.

If you have not yet voted, this is your opportunity to learn more about the public transport policies of these political parties and independent candidates before you cast your ballot.

PTCBR expects all parties to deliver on the public transport commitments they have made throughout the campaign.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra calls for explicit targets in forthcoming ACT Transport Recovery Plan

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has called for explicit mode share targets to be included in the ACT Transport Recovery Plan, which has been foreshadowed in the newly released ACT Transport Strategy 2020.

“There is a lot to like in the new Transport Strategy, in particular the commitment to the development of a light rail spine along the high-demand routes between Canberra’s town centres,” said PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley.

“However, we are concerned that the Strategy is silent on the issue of measurable targets and accurate data to evaluate the success of the proposed approach.”

“Now might be a good time for the ACT Government to consider the establishment of an advisory group, comprising community representatives and experts in the transport industry, to assist in the ongoing delivery of key transport projects consistent with the Strategy.”

The Transport Strategy forms part of a suite of city-shaping documents released by the ACT Government in recent years. Other key documents include the ACT Planning Strategy 2018, the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-45, the ACT Housing Strategy and the draft Urban Forest Strategy 2020-45.

“The ACT Government’s Climate Change Strategy gives us a pretty good indication of where we need to be in terms of public transport usage by 2045.” added Mr Hemsley.

“With the added risk of a post-COVID congestion nightmare, we sincerely hope that the Transport Recovery Plan provides us with a clear path towards a more sustainable transport future.”

The ACT Transport Strategy 2020 can be viewed here.

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra slams Canberra Liberals light rail policy cop-out

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has slammed comments made on Thursday morning by ACT Opposition Leader Alistair Coe, who confirmed in an ABC Radio interview that the Canberra Liberals will not be making any commitments on light rail between now and the ACT election.

“The Canberra Liberals have had four years to develop a clear and consistent policy position on light rail,” said PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley.

“Now, eight weeks out from election day, they have conceded that they aren’t even willing to take a stance on the second stage to Woden.

“This is an undeniable cop-out from a party which decisively lost the last election on a platform against light rail.”

While Mr Coe maintained that his concern was about getting value for money, at no stage did he outline a scenario in which the Canberra Liberals would extend the network beyond the Gungahlin to Civic line.

“Rather than being upfront about their plans for light rail, the Canberra Liberals are seeking a blank-cheque mandate,” added Mr Hemsley.

“Canberrans deserve a debate grounded on clearly expressed policy positions concerning the future of the network, rather than this evasive spin driven singularly by the Canberra Liberals’ well-known aversion to light rail.”

Mr Hemsley said that Mr Coe’s call for a post-election review of light rail was the clearest indication yet that the Canberra Liberals intended to kill off any future expansion of light rail.

“The last time the Canberra Liberals paid a consultant to review light rail, they overstated the construction cost by $240 million and declared that no private equity partner would invest in the project.”

“These demonstrably false claims give a clear indication of the sort of review Canberrans can expect under a Coe Liberal Government.”

A transcript of Mr Coe’s comments can be viewed here.

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra welcomes release of EPBC Preliminary Documentation for Light Rail Stage 2A

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) today welcomed the release of the preliminary EPBC documentation for the City to Commonwealth Park light rail extension, heralding it as an important milestone in the journey towards bringing the network south to Woden, then onwards to Tuggeranong.

“We commend the ACT Government for their careful consideration of the broader environmental and heritage impacts of bringing light rail through Canberra’s city centre,” said PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley.

“This is evident in the adoption of wire-free technology and grassed tracks along Commonwealth Avenue, which significantly reduces the route’s visual impact and preserves the important Parliament House heritage vista.”

Mr Hemsley said he looked forward to the awarding of contracts and commencement of works between the City and Commonwealth Park.

“By extending Canberra’s light rail network, we can deliver a much-needed shot in the arm for Canberra’s construction industry, with the double benefit of providing improved public transport options in the longer term.”

The preliminary assessment documentation can be accessed here.

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra calls on National Capital Authority to fund infrastructure for new diplomatic estate

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As part of its submission on the National Capital Authority’s draft amendment to rezone the Curtin Horse Paddocks, the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has called on the Federal Government agency to work with the ACT Government to deliver the infrastructure needed to service the new diplomatic estate.

“While the process leading up to this rezoning has been far from ideal, the NCA now needs to accept responsibility for limiting the impact of this new 45-hectare estate on the amenity of Canberra residents, said PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley

“This is not something that can be fixed with a bucket of white paint and a new set of traffic lights. The development of the Curtin Horse Paddocks will require a complete rethink of public transport and private vehicle movements around and throughout the estate.”

Mr Hemsley said that residents of Curtin and Deakin are at risk of bearing the brunt of new southbound traffic flows from the estate.

“Residents of Weston Creek and Molonglo also face substantial new delays along the Cotter Road if the infrastructure status quo remains.” Mr Hemsley said.

Mr Hemsley noted that the ACT Government was already set to invest heavily along the adjacent corridor as part of the extension of Canberra’s light rail network to Woden.

“While light rail stage two is a critical piece of the puzzle, we don’t believe it’s acceptable for the ACT ratepayer to foot the entire infrastructure bill for this rezoning, especially when 60 per cent of the site will deliver minimal financial returns to the Territory.” Mr Hemsley said.

Mr Hemsley identified the King’s Avenue overpass as a good example of new, city-shaping infrastructure that was delivered by the NCA with funding from the Federal Government.

“We urge the NCA to work with the ACT Government to deliver equally good infrastructure to support the development of this sizable diplomatic estate.”

A copy of PTCBR’s submission can be viewed here.

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra celebrates one year of light rail

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) today celebrated the first anniversary of Canberra’s light rail network and called on the ACT Government and National Capital Authority to accelerate the planned construction of the network’s expansion to Woden, in order to provide the economy with a much-needed boost during this difficult economic period.

Mr Ryan Hemsley, PTCBR Chair said “Patronage estimates from early March showed Canberrans flocking to the first stage of Canberra’s light rail network, with an average of ~16,000 daily boardings. This is ahead of the ~15,000 daily boardings that the business case projected would not be reached until 2021.”

“This project has proven that there is an untapped demand for high-quality public transport services in the ACT. We believe that similar patronage increases can be expected as future stages of the network are rolled out in the years ahead, providing benefits to both current and future generations of Canberrans.”

Looking ahead to Stage 2 and beyond, Mr Hemsley said “With the projected economic slowdown, the task of starting on light rail to Woden has become all the more urgent. This project will have the double benefit of stimulating the economy in the short term, while providing improved public transport options in the medium to long term. It will also help the ACT meet its planned reductions in carbon emissions, by being powered solely by electricity from renewable sources.”

“Social distancing measures also present an opportunity for both the ACT Government and National Capital Authority to conduct important works during a rare period of reduced traffic, such as upgrades to London Circuit as part of Stage 2A and the modifications to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge that will future-proof it for Stage 2B.”

“We call on both the ACT Government and National Capital Authority to work collaboratively, so that that these projects can be fast-tracked in a manner that provides the greatest long-term benefit, while minimising disruption to road users in the short term.”

On the issue of social distancing, Mr Hemsley said “We support Transport Canberra’s approach of retaining current public transport service levels during the crisis. This approach minimises the risk of overcrowding and enables people to successfully practice social distancing while in transit.”

“As restrictions are lifted in the months ahead, we urge the ACT Government to consider increases to select services to ensure that social distancing can continue for as long as is required.”

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra welcomes Federal Government support for Light Rail

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) welcomes progress on the approvals processes for the second stage of Canberra’s light rail network, as well as Federal Government support for the development of advanced battery technologies for light rail vehicles.

PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley said, “The Federal Department of the Environment and Energy has mapped a clear path forward for Light Rail Stage 2 by identifying the assessment processes for this city-shaping project.”

“We welcome the Federal and Territory Governments working together to ensure that Canberra’s fast, frequent, reliable and attractive light rail network is able to starts its journey to Woden. This will bring the benefits of light rail across the lake and improve public transport connectivity between north and south Canberra.”

“Following the success of Stage 1, we call on the ACT Opposition to outline their plans for bringing light rail to Woden ahead of the Territory Election later this year.”

Mr Hemsley added that “We are also pleased about a recent Commonwealth grant to a consortium developing fast charging batteries for light rail vehicles.” The Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science recently announced a grant of $1.6 million to a consortium proposing to develop an ‘Advanced Nano-engineered Battery for Fast Charging Catenary-free Trams’. Total project expenditure is expected to be $5 million and consortium members include the CSIRO.

Mr Hemsley further observed “This project has the potential to benefit light rail systems across Australia as well as in the ACT by reducing charging times at stops and lowering the lifetime costs of wire-free running.”

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra welcomes changes to the bus network

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) welcomes the planned changes to Canberra’s bus network announced today by Transport Minister Chris Steel.

Mr Ryan Hemsley, PTCBR Chair said “The changes announced today address a number of concerns that have been raised by both our members and the wider public. The proposed improvements to bus routes in Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and North Belconnen are especially welcome, and will hopefully lead to more people using public transport in these areas”.

On the issue of weekend buses, Mr Hemsley added “While the improvement in Saturday local bus services is appreciated, we call on the government to ensure full weekend service frequencies are restored as soon as possible, preferably on a rolling basis.”

Looking ahead, Mr Hemsley said “As part of its climate change strategy, the ACT Government has long-term ambitions to bring about a 40-45 per cent mode shift away from private car use by 2045. To meet this target, the government needs to seriously ramp up public transport services.”

“We look forward learning more about how the government intends to meet this ambitious target.”

You can read a copy of PTCBR’s feedback on Network 19 here.

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra calls on ACT Government to provide public transport assistance in wake of hailstorm

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) is calling on the ACT Government to provide practical public transport assistance for people who have had their cars rendered unusable by the major hailstorm on Monday.

Mr Ryan Hemsley, PTCBR Chair said “From media reports, we understand that around 10,000 people may be impacted through unexpectedly losing access to their car due to hail damage. Some will be adequately insured, including having access to a replacement rental car. Many others may need to make greater use of public transport, including buses and light rail”.

To better support Canberrans through this difficult time, Mr Ryan Hemsley, PTCBR Chair, is calling on the ACT Government to:

  • Significantly Increase weekend services on routes to underserved areas, such as the Molonglo Valley, to enable affected Canberrans to reliably access employment, shopping, medical and social activities. For example, on weekends, the people of Molonglo only have access to limited services operating every two hours and with a circuitous route to their closest major supermarkets;
  • Require additional Transport Canberra employees to work on weekends and public holidays if necessary, even if this requires changes to the long-standing composite pay and weekend staffing arrangements; and
  • Provide targeted information to new and infrequent public transport users about how to best get to the major commercial and community centres and events.

Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.