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.

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra criticises Canberra Liberals for promoting novelty vapourware at the expense of real transport solutions

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) today expressed its profound disappointment in the Canberra Liberals, who have once again refused to support the roll out of Canberra’s light rail network.

Speaking at the Legislative Assembly today, Canberra Liberals transport spokesperson Candice Burch instead expressed enthusiasm for a type of electric bus, that has come to be known in some circles as a ‘trackless tram’.

PTCBR Interim Chair Ryan Hemsley said that “It is profoundly disappointing to see the Canberra Liberals once again fail to support light rail. With the overwhelming success of stage one, we had hoped that there would be bipartisan support for the continued roll out of the network. Instead, we are seeing the same old “bus verses light rail” argument trotted out for what will be the third Territory election in a row.”

On the issue of ‘trackless trams’, Mr Hemsley said “What is being promoted by the Canberra Liberals is in fact nothing more than a novelty electric bus, that manages to combine the impermanence and higher running costs of buses with the high setup costs of light rail.

“Once you factor in the costs of constructing an exclusive right of way, inclusive of utilities relocation, concrete track bed, accessible stops and recharging points, what you will be left with is an unproven piece of technology, locked into a single supplier with no discernible cost advantage over light rail. These ‘trackless scams’ offer the worst of all possible worlds and should not be given serious consideration by the ACT Government.”

Looking to the future, Mr Hemsley said that “Before the next election, I hope the Canberra Liberals will come to their senses and support the roll out of light rail, which has proven itself to be a reliable, popular form of public transport in the ACT and in other cities worldwide.”

Ryan Hemsley is the Interim 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 the release of the electric bus trial results

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) welcomes the release of the ACT Government’s electric bus trial results, as announced today by Transport Minister Chris Steel at the Australian Transport Research Forum.

PTCBR Interim Chair Ryan Hemsley said that “PTCBR supports the important work that the ACT Government is doing to better understand the performance and characteristics of electric buses. Buses will continue to play a critical role in public transport in the ACT as light rail is extended to Woden and beyond, and this trial shows that electric buses have significant potential to be an important part of the ACT’s public transportation system and emissions reduction goals”.

Mr Hemsley added “The trial has also shown areas where the manufacturers of electric buses need to concentrate their development efforts in order to address the operational requirements of public transport operators such as Transport Canberra.

“The ACT Government has a pressing need to replace around a quarter of the bus fleet in the next few years to ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act and other roadworthiness requirements. This alone should provide sufficient incentive for manufacturers to provide suitable emissions-free vehicles.

“PTCBR looks forward to further initiatives from the ACT Government as it prepares to refresh and reposition the Transport Canberra bus fleet in a rapidly changing public transport environment.”

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

MEDIA RELEASE – Public Transport Association of Canberra supports the ACT Government’s efforts to improve bus service reliability

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) welcomes the release of the ACT Government’s 10 point action plan to improve the reliability of weekend bus services, as announced today by Chris Steel, Minister for Transport.

PTCBR Interim Chair Ryan Hemsley said that “Canberrans, especially those without access to alternative transport, deserve a reliable bus service to ensure they are able to participate in work, family and community events. A reliable bus service is also essential to ensure visitors to Canberra can visit its many attractions. The unannounced weekend cancellations of recent months have not contributed to the reputation of Canberra as a place with reliable public transport. We will be closely monitoring the reliability of services in the coming months.”

Mr Hemsley added “PTCBR is concerned that the short term reliability improvements are reliant on reduced frequency on some local bus services, and encourages Mr. Steel to re-double efforts to restore full services as soon as possible.”

You can read the full action plan on the Transport Canberra website.

Ryan Hemsley is the Interim 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 the fast-tracking of light rail to Commonwealth Park

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) welcomes the ACT Government’s decision to progress with the first section of the City to Woden light rail route. The decision announced today by Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Chris Steel ensures that work on the second stage of Canberra’s light rail network will get underway as soon as possible.

PTCBR Interim Chair Ryan Hemsley said that “Commencing construction on the leg between Alinga Street and Commonwealth Park is the first important step towards bringing fast, frequent, reliable and attractive public transport to Canberra’s south, and will help retain the skilled workforce acquired during the construction of stage one.”

On the design elements of Stage 2A, Mr Hemsley said that “The details of the route design, operation and approval are the responsibility of the relevant Federal and Territory government entities. On the issue of light rail stage two, PTCBR’s main goal as an outcomes-focused organisation is to see the successful completion of light rail between the City and Woden.”

“We trust that the Federal and Territory Governments will work together to ensure this is achieved in a manner that realises the greatest benefit to the citizens of Canberra.”

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

ACT Government release light rail project delivery report

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City to Gungahlin Light Rail Project Delivery Report

The ACT Government released the Project Delivery report for light rail today.

You can download a copy from here.

The Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA released a media statement accompanying the report.

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The ACT Government today released the City to Gungahlin Light Rail Project Delivery Report, which reflects on the outcomes from the procurement and delivery of this world-class project.

Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said the release of the report confirms the delivery of the project was under budget and largely on time.

“Light rail has been the biggest single infrastructure project for our city, which I think we can all agree is having a transformative effect on our city,” Minister Fitzharris said.

“Light rail has been one of the first Public-Private-Partnerships that the ACT Government has entered into, and there is a lot we can take from the success of this project.

“The key outcomes of this report confirm the final cost of construction at $675 million, and the Benefit Cost Ratio increase from 1:2 to 1:3, noting that this could improve even further as future benefits are realised.  The project has also been delivered within the timeframes of our original investment decision.

“Another key outcome has been the number of Canberrans embracing the new services, with patronage already exceeding projected estimates, which is great to see.”

The ACT Government has previously released the business case and contract for the project. The release of this report today provides the community with even more detail about the project’s performance – a degree of detail not typically provided by other major projects around Australia.

“As with any large complex infrastructure project, there have been many successes celebrated and there have also been challenges to overcome.

“It is important to be open about these challenges as they present valuable lessons that will not only inform future stages of light rail, but infrastructure development more broadly.”

The City to Gungahlin light rail project is the first stage of a Canberra-wide light rail network, which is fundamentally improving the way we work, live and connect.

A number of improvements were made to the project’s original scope to enhance the project and deliver additional benefits for light rail users and the people of Canberra.

The first stage saw around 5,000 people work on the project, and the Government will build on that industry knowledge through the planning for Stage Two from City to Woden.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all involved in the project, in particular our partners Canberra Metro who have delivered a word class light rail service.

“Canberra is now better connected with the light rail route from Gungahlin to the City, and this work now continues with the second stage of light rail.

“The funding delivered in this year’s Budget will allow us to continue the important planning and design work that is needed, including work on a new Woden Bus Interchange that will integrate with light rail, to ensure the project keeps moving ahead while we progress route design and approvals.

“We are also in the process of referring Stage Two for assessment under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act – a key step to clarifying heritage and environment considerations for the project.

“We look forward to working with the Commonwealth Government, the National Capital Authority and the community more broadly as this work progresses,” said Minister Fitzharris.

Further work will take place over the next 12 months to continue to assess the benefits of light rail for Canberra.

Please find the Report attached.

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