Over the course of successive planning regimes, corridors have been preserved in Canberra’s urban fabric for use by high-capacity, fixed-line public transport. Together, these corridors form the inter-town public transport network, connecting each of Canberra’s town centres. Despite promises of busways as early as the mid-1970s, for over a century the corridors existed as little more than lines on a map.
After a decade of lobbying by ACT Light Rail, the ACT Labor Government in 2012 announced that if returned at the 2012 Assembly Election, they would build the Capital Metro light rail along the inter-town route between Gungahlin and the City. This policy was supported by the ACT Greens.
Following the election of an ACT Greens/Labor Government in 2012, rapid progress was made in preparing a business case, reconfiguring government transport agencies and signing contracts to construct and operate the first stage of light rail between Civic and Gungahlin. These moves were supported by the ACT community at the 2016 ACT general election, during which a second stage of light rail running from Woden to the City was announced.
In addition to the work on the first stage of light rail, in 2015 the ACT Government released a Light Rail Network Plan. This report drew largely from work conducted for the 2012 Transport for Canberra plan, which itself was derived from the 2009 Strategic Public Transport Network Plan by MRCagney. Both reports derived their routes from the inter-town corridors.
As a proven and popular mass transit technology, light rail will be a key tool in reducing Canberra’s car dependency. It will also contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions by being powered exclusively by renewable energy and will limit urban sprawl by facilitating transport-oriented urban renewal.
Light rail will eventually form the backbone of a Canberra-wide, integrated public transport network along the inter-town routes, supported by more frequent local bus services and improved active travel infrastructure.
Light rail in Canberra:
- commenced service in April 2019
- is administered by Transport Canberra
- was constructed by Canberra Metro Construction
- is operated by Canberra Metro Operations
- runs from Gungahlin to the City for Stage One, and
- will run from Woden to the City for Stage Two.
The depot and operations centre is located in Mitchell.
Current news on light rail construction can be found at Transport Canberra’s light rail page.