MEDIA RELEASE – Auditor-General’s report reinforces need to deliver light rail to Woden

Five years after Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that the second stage of Canberra’s light rail network was heading to Woden, the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) is calling on the ACT Government to knuckle down and get on with the job.

PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley said that the ACT Auditor-General’s report into the economic analysis of Light Rail Stage 2A highlighted the importance of delivering the full extension of the network, rather than stopping short at Commonwealth Park.

“The question we most commonly get is ‘when is light rail getting to Woden?'” said Mr Hemsley. “Of course, we appreciate that it is a complex project with overlapping approvals, and in the middle of a global pandemic, the ACT Government’s attention is rightly focused elsewhere.”

“But the daily work of government cannot be abandoned, and other jurisdictions across Australia are approving big public transport projects, signing contracts and starting construction.”

“By contrast, the initial 1.7 kilometre extension to Commonwealth Park has yet to be submitted to the National Capital Authority for works approval, and the 9 kilometre extension to Woden is still without a planned opening date.”

“While this week’s announcements are welcome, a handful of utility relocations and an expression of interest for enabling works does not a project make.”

Mr Hemsley noted there was a widening gulf between the ACT Government’s election promises and the actual delivery of infrastructure.

“It has been great to see the Commonwealth Government step up and provide funding for this and other key projects across the city, but the ACT Government needs a stronger focus on delivering its transport commitments,” he said.

“While the approvals processes are undoubtedly complex, the ACT Government should be working to resolve any outstanding planning issues as a matter of urgency, to ensure the full benefits of extending light rail to Woden can be realised.”

“It may be time to consider whether a dedicated light rail planning and delivery entity, like the former Capital Metro Agency, can cut through some of the delays and streamline the process for future stages to Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Molonglo, Fyshwick and the Airport.”

Mr Hemsley was concerned the delays also risked adding unnecessary costs to the project.

“The longer this stretches out, the harder it will be to secure the necessary construction expertise, which is presently in very high demand across the country,” he said.

“Canberrans cannot afford to wait until the late 2020s for this much needed public transport infrastructure to be completed.”

History of Light Rail Stage 2

September 2016: Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the second stage of light rail to Woden.
July 2019: Transport Minister Chris Steel announced the project would be split into two stages, to facilitate faster planning approvals.
February 2021: Federal environmental approvals for Stage 2A granted.
September 2021: The ACT Government is yet to submit a Stage 2A works approval package to the National Capital Authority.
2026: Planned opening for Stage 2A to Commonwealth Park. No dates yet for Stage 2B to Woden.

Comparable Public Transport Projects

Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2: 7.3km light rail line with 3 stops: announced February 2016, opened December 2017.
Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A: 6.4km light rail line with 8 stops: announced 2017, contracts signed October 2020, early works began June 2021, planned to open 2024.
Morley-Ellenbrook line (Perth): 21km railway line: announced March 2017, contracts signed October 2020, enabling works began September 2021, planned to open 2023-24.
Sydney Metro City and Southwest: 15.5km tunnel through Sydney CBD: announced June 2014, planning approval January 2017, major contracts signed June 2017, tunnelling began October 2018, planned to open 2024.
Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel: 9km tunnel through Melbourne CBD: re-announced April 2015, major contracts signed December 2017, planning approvals 2017-2018, tunnel work began April 2019, planned to open 2025.

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

Why Commonwealth Avenue should be bus only during light rail construction

The recent announcement about how light rail construction will affect the surrounding road network has everyone excited. At the peak of construction, Commonwealth Avenue will lose 80% of its capacity, with the traffic expected to divert to Parkes Way and other arterial roads. The ACT Government has set up a Disruption Taskforce to deal with this, and wants commuters to rethink their routes and routines, taking different roads, leaving at different times or taking up public transport.

Drivers changing their behaviour will definitely be part of this. But the ACT Government should also consider how better public transport can be a big part of the solution. And specifically, that means changing Commonwealth Avenue to bus only. But first, it’s worth looking at what exactly is this big shakeup, and how we might respond.

It’s not all light rail’s fault

While both the ACT Government and light rail detractors are attributing this to light rail to Woden, it’s only part of the picture. The projects to raise London Circuit and strengthen Commonwealth Bridge would likely have gone ahead in some form without light rail, and both would have a big impact on Commonwealth Avenue in any event. The bigger question is whether the National Capital Authority will coordinate the bridge works with light rail construction, which would hopefully mitigate some of the disruption.

It won’t be as bad as you think

Yes, Commonwealth Avenue is an incredibly important thoroughfare for Canberra, accommodating roughly 55,000 vehicles daily. That’s more than major roads in Sydney such as the M2 or Eastern Distributor. Reducing that capacity by 80% will definitely have an impact. But here’s the thing: there have been a number of examples around the world where cities remove major roads and not much changes. When car-mad Los Angeles temporarily closed a 16 lane freeway in 2011, there were mass predictions of “carmageddon”. Yet when the time came, things were remarkably smooth. Similarly, Seoul converted a major freeway carrying 168,000 vehicles to a creek (!), and traffic continued to flow.

Just as building roads doesn’t alleviate traffic congestion, removing road capacity won’t lead to gridlock. People will change their plans, much as the ACT Government hopes they will, to a certain extent. But of course, there are things we can do to make it easier.

Dedicated public transport will speed things up for everyone

A Commonwealth Avenue jammed full of very slow moving cars and buses will not help anyone. The R2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 all use it: I counted 71 buses leaving City Interchange between 8-9am. At a very conservative average of 30 passengers on each bus (some are very busy, the outbound R7 and R10 are not), that’s over 2,000 passengers being moved in a very space efficient way.

The Downs-Thomson paradox tells us the average speed of road traffic will balance out near the average speed of public transport. This is particularly so where the roads are at capacity. So if it is otherwise construction hell, a free-flowing public transport route will be a big incentive for people to change their behaviour and get out of their cars and onto the buses. Drivers might complain “why can’t we use this half-empty road when we’re stuck on Kings Ave?” But in reality, it would immediately slow to a crawl, without providing any real relief to the other roads. So we may as well prioritise the several thousand passengers using public transport, over the 500-1000 cars per hour we might be able to squeeze onto the bridge.

What other options are there?

If Commonwealth Avenue remains mixed traffic, they could divert some of the Barton services (eg R2, R6) via Russell and Kings Avenue. In fact, most Barton buses used to go this way, as this old 2005 timetable shows. But the recent preference has been for the more direct service via the Parliamentary Triangle, and it’s likely that traffic on Kings Avenue will be rather slow in any event.

We could also look at reducing the demand side of the equation, and consider some form of congestion charging for cars entering the city. This would be a very politically brave measure in a city where the car has historically been king, but it could be a game changer.

Finally, it would be remiss of me to not mention the long-held dream of some PTCBR advocates for a direct Woden-Belconnen service via Molonglo or the Tuggeranong Parkway, providing an additional north-south corridor. Transport Canberra has been skeptical that there’s much demand for such a route, but if the disruption is as bad as predicted, it might be the time to give it a try!

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberrajoin PTCBR here and visit our Facebook group.

Are masks discouraging PT use?

It’s been a week since the ACT Government’s mask mandate came into effect. Anecdotally, the buses are a little quieter, but it’s also school holidays, which sees a usual drop off in patronage as students stay at home, and parents take time off work.

Fortunately, dataACT updates Transport Canberra passenger data every day! It’s the only transport data set which is routinely updated, the rest, which are mainly about punctuality and reliability, are several months out of date.

So let’s compare this week and last week’s passenger figures. The mask rule began on 28 June.

DateLocal RouteSchool ServiceLight RailPeak ServiceRapid RouteOtherTotal
4/07/20214027017149
3/07/20213,67204,58607,21141915888
2/07/202113,80809,50222417,57652041630
1/07/202114,68409,09430217,74447342297
30/06/202115,253129,27131418,81846744135
29/06/202115,20809,03631018,68245643692
28/06/202114,41108,20727017,72844741063
27/06/20213,05603,91007,03330014299
26/06/20214,63505,34809,08350519571
25/06/202119,9883,41911,19525021,43162756910
24/06/202117,8173,4469,97532619,76138351708
23/06/202122,0164,34611,88135923,55257462728
22/06/202122,3874,39911,81736624,05658263607
21/06/202121,8344,45711,24534623,23052861640
Source: Daily Public Transport Passenger Journeys by Service Type, ACT Government Open Data Portal

You can see that the data helpfully breaks it down by type of service. Not quite sure why there were 12 kids on a school bus last Wednesday though!

This suggests there’s been a pretty big drop off between the last two weeks, but it’s important to account for school holidays too. To do that, I’ve excluded school services, and compared it to the holiday period in July 2019 (as 2020 was a bit of a write-off).

DateTotal (excl school services)1 week earlierReduction
Monday28/06/2021410635718328.2%
Tuesday29/06/2021436925920826.2%
Wednesday30/06/2021441235838224.4%
Thursday1/07/2021422974826212.4%
Friday2/07/2021416305349122.2%
3/07/20211588819571
4/07/20214914299
Monday8/07/2019576626632113.1%
Tuesday9/07/2019616136949311.3%
Wednesday10/07/2019607666940312.4%
Thursday11/07/2019577616903516.3%
Friday12/07/2019552146580316.1%
13/07/20192168324182
14/07/20191602718444

Or for those of you who like charts:

So the answer is yes! The July drop-off is markedly greater this year than in 2019. This isn’t particularly surprising, a number of Canberra businesses have reported slower trade as well. And of course, from a public health perspective, it’s probably better the buses are a little less crowded, at least during this high risk period.

What’s important is this doesn’t translate into yet another permanent dip in PT usage and increase in car traffic. Unfortunately, we can’t tell whether the mask rules have had a similar impact on car traffic, because the road traffic data only goes up to April this year!

PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission

Each year, the ACT Government invites community groups and the wider public to make submissions on how funding should be allocated as part of the following year’s budget. Over the past few weeks, the PTCBR Committee have prepared our submission, which can be viewed in full below:

View PTCBR’s 2021-22 Budget Submission here.

PTCBR recognises that the provision of high-quality public transport services is essential to ensuring equitable, affordable, and attractive transport options for all Canberrans. Good public transport increases ridership and reduces the use and ownership of private vehicles, with benefits flowing to individuals and households through reduced costs, the community through reduced pollution and congestion, and the government through reduced expenditure on public roads, including externalities such as emergency services and healthcare costs.

PTCBR’s submission has been considered in the context of these well recognised benefits, as well as the ACT Government’s recently adopted ACT Transport Recovery Plan, the Zero-Emission Transition Plan and the ACT Transport Strategy 2020. Our recommendations are consistent with the priorities outlined in these key documents and are outlined below.

PTCBR’s recommendations for ACT Government transport spending in the 2021-22 budget:

  • Construct additional bus lanes to improve the reliability and speed of bus services
  • Provide funding for the proposed northern bus depot to allow for the expansion of the bus fleet
  • Fast track the new ticketing system to provide passengers with a greater variety of means to purchase tickets
  • Provide existing bus stops with shelters, footpaths and lighting to improve passenger amenity
  • Undertake feasibility and consultation work for future light rail stages while construction of stage two is underway

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberrajoin PTCBR here and visit our Facebook group.

PTCBR’s submission on the Woden interchange

PTCBR recently made a submission to the development application for the remodelled Woden interchange. You can read it here, as well as our earlier submission to the pre-consultation.

Overall, we’re very pleased to see some much-needed investment to upgrade the current, outdated interchange, and it should result in a better overall experience for passengers. That said, we’re taking the opportunity while we can to remind the ACT Government that with a little more thought, it could be even better. Our key suggestions are:

  • Make it easy for passengers to move between platforms. Obviously the City Interchange is the worst offender, as passengers have to cross up to six lanes of Northbourne traffic, and then have to dodge buses in the interchange itself. This design is much better, with a number of signalised crossings. But we were concerned about a recent drawing which suggested passengers might still have to cross two lanes of bus traffic either side of the light rail tracks, and that increases the risk of accidents. Also, our ideal interchange would be one with the light rail tracks on the outside, so passengers can simply cross the platform to transfer to their bus, and not have to cross the road.
  • Design the shelters with passengers in mind. The proposed shelters are of the kind that has been popping up around Canberra for the last 20 years: angled roofs and relatively open to the wind. While they usually perform better than they look, we’ve made a few suggestions about what might make things more comfortable for passengers, the main one being walls to keep out the wind. It’d also be nice to see a proper waiting room within the CIT building itself.
  • Make sure the interchange can accommodate future growth. A few of the planning docs suggested that some bus routes would need to be rejigged so they could all fit in the interchange. We’d rather the interchange be designed so it can accommodate the bus routes which best suit Canberrans. The planning documents do envisage a significant expansion of services up to 2030 (including light rail), but if there are already capacity constraints now, we’re concerned about what things might look like 20-30 years from now.

As an advocacy group, we’re realistic about what we can achieve out of community consultation. The ACT Government largely has put together a pretty comprehensive design, and this is really only just about tweaking. Besides, we don’t want the whole thing thrown out: we like that they’re building a big new interchange!

But it’s important to get involved in consultation for a few reasons. First, the world is run by those who show up, so speaking up is always better than saying nothing. Second, government bodies like to be seen as being responsive to community feedback, and often take on a handful of suggestions from the community, even if only to give the appearance of being consultative. Third, public opinion can be influential when there might be conflicting views within government about how to deal with a particular issue.

So fingers crossed, let’s hope something comes of this!

Next stop: Belconnen – why the alignment of the Belconnen to City light rail line deserves scrutiny

The recent announcement of $132.5 million in Commonwealth Government funding for Stage 2A of Canberra’s light rail network by ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will stand as the definitive moment when the decade-long partisan bickering over the existence of Canberra’s light rail network finally came to a close.

The “light rail wars”, as they have been termed, are over. In their place, hopefully, will be a greater focus on how we roll out Canberra’s network of inter-town light rail corridors, rather than the now-redundant argument of whether they should be built at all.

This brings us to the purpose of this blog post, which is the flagged extension of light rail to Canberra’s north-west district of Belconnen. While it forms part of a more substantial east-west line connecting Kippax to the Airport (Light Rail Stage 3), this post will concentrate on the section between the Belconnen Town Centre and Canberra City.

Belco Bound

Compared to the handful of viable alignments for the City to Woden extension, there are many more ways to connect Belconnen to the City via the activity generators strung along the route, which include:

  • University of Canberra
  • Radford College
  • Australian Institute of Sport (including Canberra Stadium)
  • CIT Bruce
  • Calvary Hospital
  • CSIRO, and
  • Australian National University.

Indeed, the study of initial options considered for the aborted 2005 proposal for a Belconnen to City busway reveals the sheer number of different alignments that could be considered for a future light rail line.

Initial route options considered for the 2005 Belconnen to City busway

Of these options, the 2005 study whittled the list down to 13 shortlisted routes.

Shortlisted options for the 2005 Belconnen to City busway

Which were then narrowed down further to four viable options.

Final four options considered for the 2005 Belconnen to City busway

Finally, two routes were selected for further detailed analysis – one that largely followed the existing inter-town bus route along College Street, Haydon Drive, Belconnen Way and Barry Drive (Option 2C) and the other which took a detour via the saddle between Bruce and O’Connor Ridges to provide a stop at CIT Bruce and the Australian Institute of Sport (Option 1C). Both routes were designed with gradients and curve radii that would permit future conversation to light rail.

“Option 2C” route via Haydon Drive considered for the 2005 Belconnen to City busway
“Option 1C” route via Bruce and O’Connor Ridges considered for the 2005 Belconnen to City busway

While interim bus priority measures were eventually installed along sections of the Option 2C alignment as part of the 2012 “Belconnen Transitway” project, the 2005 busway proposal with its elaborate tunnels, flyovers and station-style stops was scrapped by Jon Stanhope’s Labor Government prior to the final route being selected.

The busway legacy

While the proposal for a city-wide network of busways may have been abandoned in part due to a perceived lack of support, its planning work continues to influence proposed light rail alignments across Canberra.

The below graphics are taken from official ACT Government reports on Canberra’s future light rail network. Each shows the Option 2C route via Haydon Drive as the indicative alignment for the Belconnen to City light rail route.

Indicative light rail route between Belconnen and the City (clockwise from top-left: ACT Planning Strategy 2018, ACT Light Rail Network Plan 2015, ACT Government submission to JSCNET Inquiry into Light Rail Stage 2, ACT Transport Strategy 2020)

Alternative alignments have been floated, most notably by former ACT Opposition Leader and vocal light rail stage one critic Alistair Coe, who in 2013 suggested a route from Belconnen to the City that closely resembles Option 3E from the 2005 busway options analysis.

Alistair Coe’s alternative light rail route (red) compared to the ACT Government’s indicative light rail route (blue) as illustrated by PTCBR

On paper, the attractiveness of this proposal is obvious. Unlike the ACT Government’s indicative alignment, this route runs to the east of Calvary Hospital and CIT Bruce to provide stops that are within easy walking distance of all the key activity generators between Belconnen and the City. By avoiding the saddle between the O’Connor and Bruce Ridges, it also avoids a potential repeat of the “Save the Ridge” campaign.

Despite being ranked above Option 2C in the 2005 busway options analysis, Option 3E was discounted due to its longer length, higher cost and greater environmental impact. However, many of the assumptions used during the assessment are outdated or suspect.

For example, the “perceived directness” of the route options was given undue emphasis, despite the fact that most options were estimated to take around seven minutes.

Source: Belconnen to City Busway: Final Report on Route Selection (Brown Consulting, 2005)

The low patronage of the existing bus stops at Calvary Hospital also meant that some routes were rated equally, regardless of whether they provided a stop at the hospital.

Source: Belconnen to City Busway: Final Report on Route Selection (Brown Consulting, 2005)

It is worth noting that these studies were conducted prior to the current proposal being considered by the Australian Sports Commission to consolidate the footprint of the Australian Institute of Sport by selling off major assets, including Canberra Stadium, the AIS Arena and the surrounding land, to the ACT Government for future residential and commercial development.

This proposal dovetails neatly with the ACT Government’s plan to construct a new Canberra Stadium on the site of the Civic Pool on Constitution Avenue, which just so happens to be further up the line of the proposed east-west light rail corridor.

It is hard to avoid coming to the conclusion that not including a stop at the current Australian Institute of Sport precinct would be a significant missed opportunity.

Next steps

These are just some of the reasons to question the ACT Government’s current indicative alignment for the Belconnen to City light rail route. There are, or course, many more options that are worthy of further analysis, including:

  • the use of Macarthur Avenue instead of Barry Drive
  • proposals from both UC and ANU to run sections of the route through their respective campuses
  • the location of the bus and light rail interchange in the Belconnen Town Centre, and
  • opportunities for interoperability between the north-south and east-west light rail lines.

Rather than leaving it to the last minute, PTCBR will be lobbying the ACT Government to conduct an honest and transparent consultation process for the Belconnen to City light rail line, with the comparative costs, patronage estimates, journey times, development opportunities and environmental impacts of the various alignments being made publicly available.

After a decade of rancorous debate, Canberrans deserve an informed and civilised discussion about the future form of our light rail network.

New Woden Interchange – the good, the bad and the interesting

The Development Application for the new Woden Interchange is now up. It’s a big project, with 18 bus stops, two bus layovers and a big reconfiguration of Callam Street.

Overall, it’s a big improvement on the current interchange, but as always, the devil is in the detail in the planning documents. 

Is there anything you think we’ve missed? What’s important to you? Let us know on the PTCBR Facebook group or email chair@ptcbr.org

Layout

The design is pretty much what was proposed in Transport Canberra’s earlier consultation. That is, four big bus platforms either side of Callam Street, with two additional platforms for light rail (and initially the R4 and R5 bus routes) running down the middle. This is the same style as all the other interchanges in recent years (Belconnen, Gungahlin, Dickson), with big platforms facing directly onto the street, rather than off-street platforms. Reportedly, this more open design makes passengers feel safer, which was one of the bigger complaints about the old Belconnen and Woden interchanges.

Good interchanges should make it easy for passengers to move between services, and avoid crossing traffic. The Woden Interchange doesn’t adopt PTCBR’s suggestion of cross-platform transfers, but in most cases, passengers will only need to cross a single lane of bus traffic, at raised, signalised crossings. This is an improvement on Northbourne (6 lanes!), Dickson (3) and Gungahlin (bus stops are around the corner from light rail).

It’s also unclear if the interchange is big enough to accommodate better timed transfers, which would provide local buses with have the time and room to wait until a connecting rapid or light rail services arrives. 

Shelters

The shelters are similar to the light rail and Gungahlin shelters: long, deep roofs should give shade and keep the rain away, but they’re still relatively exposed to wintery winds at the front and sides.

While it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a return to the enclosed COVID-pits at the current Woden Interchange, it would be good if Transport Canberra thought more about how Canberrans might need shelter from the cold and wind, as it’s one of the most common complaints we see. Hopefully there will be a decent waiting area in the adjacent CIT Woden building. 

Interestingly, there are also plans to put solar panels on the shelter roofs, and we’ll see a big net increase in the number of trees in the area. Trees planted in the Callam Street median will be planted in bags to enable their relocation once light rail construction commences.

Proposed network changes

Supporting documents also show Transport Canberra’s plans for the transport network once the interchange and light rail is ready. They’re not set in stone, but are a good indication of what they’re thinking.

A new route for Weston Creek services

Currently Weston Creek services go straight down Hindmarsh Drive, and then turn into Callam Street from the south. But the documentation reveals that planners are concerned about the number of services utilising the eastern platforms of the new Woden Interchange.

Instead, they propose to run Weston Creek services along Melrose Drive, Launceston Street and down Callam Street from the north. This is a mixed bag. On the one hand, some passengers could get off at Launceston Street, much closer to the offices at that end of Woden. On the other, it’s now a lot longer walk for those who want to access the Phillip Trades Area to the south. And this could lead to longer journey times for some Weston Creek passengers, or they would at least *feel* like they’re taking a roundabout way. 

But more concerning is Transport Canberra’s reasoning. Rather than designing the interchange to best accommodate the best services for passengers, they are redesigning services to accommodate the interchange! PTCBR will be pressing Transport Canberra for more details about this, including what it means for travel times for Weston Creek passengers.

Tuggeranong services will go straight to Woden

Under Network 19, the 72 (Oxley and Wanniassa), 76 (Richardson, Chisholm, Macarthur and Gowrie) and 77 (Isabella Plains and Gowrie) all go to Woden via Yamba Drive. Once the new Woden Interchange is built, these services will instead go up the upgraded Athlon Drive, past Mawson shops. This should be a quicker trip, but again, it would be good to know Transport Canberra’s estimates on this. 

Once light rail reaches Woden, the 74, 75 and 78 will be given the same treatment (and the 79 rolled into 76 and 78), so most Tuggeranong passengers wanting to get to the city will only need to change once at Woden. It’s unclear what this means for South Tuggeranong passengers in Gordon, Conder and Banks, who might either need to take a peak express to the city, or change buses twice.

A shorter R4 and R5

Following the completion of Light Rail Stage 2B, the plan is for the R4 and R5 to terminate at Woden. This will free up a lot of buses for local services, but it does mean Tuggeranong passengers will need to change at Woden to get to the City (and possibly twice to get to Belconnen prior to the extension of light rail to the Belconnen Town Centre). Transferring buses isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you don’t have to wait too long between services. On that front, there appears to be good news!

More services everywhere else!

The planning documents assume there will be 3 buses per hour on local routes by the time the interchange is open, and 4 buses per hour once light rail opens. There are also plans for new local services from Woden to Molonglo, Fyshwick and South Canberra.

This is not a firm commitment from the ACT Government, and requires Transport Canberra to acquire more buses and drivers. But with the Woden depot being built and lots of buses being freed up by light rail and the truncation of the R4 and R5, it bodes well for more frequent local services. 15 minute frequencies would be a game changer for public transport in Canberra.

Conclusion 

This is a big investment in southside public transport services, and should result in an improved experience compared to the current tired interchange. But, as always, there are some little things which could make it even better, and a lot will depend on what happens with the bus network once light rail is extended from Commonwealth Park to the new Woden Interchange.

PTCBR will be making a submission to this development application. If you’ve got any views, we’d love to hear from you!

MEDIA RELEASE – PTCBR welcomes Federal Government funding for Light Rail Stage 2A

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to invest $132.5 million in Stage 2A of Canberra’s light rail network from Alinga Street to Commonwealth Park.

“This is significant support from the Federal Government for a project which will transform our nation’s capital. It is more than double the Commonwealth’s contribution towards Light Rail Stage 1, and a very welcome sign the Commonwealth has realised that public transport investment keeps our cities vibrant and moving,” said PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley.

“We hope this signals an ongoing partnership between the ACT and Federal Governments as light rail rolls out through the parliamentary zone and towards Woden.”

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

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.