Canberra as a planned and large spread out city has always needed a mass transit system that can best serve its present and future needs. The bus system had started to show its deficiencies as a mass transit system over a decade ago with falling patronage and service the best examples to demonstrate that. The rise in private car usage and road congestion further showed that a better option was needed.
After a decade of lobbying by ACT Light Rail, the ALP Government in 2012 announced that if returned at the 2012 Assembly Election, they would build Capital Metro light rail running 13 kilometres from Gungahlin to Civic. This policy was supported by the ACT Greens.
Following their return to Government, rapid progress was made in preparing a business case, reconfiguring government transport bureaucracies, and signing contracts for construction and operation of light rail Stage One. These moves were supported by the ACT community at the 2016 Assembly election, during which a second stage of light rail to Woden was announced.
Light rail will eventually form the backbone of a Canberra wide integrated public transport network, with more frequent local bus services, greater use of Park and Ride, and a strong emphasis on active travel (walking and cycling).
As well as starting to build light rail Stage One, the ACT Government also prepared a Light Rail Network Plan, indicating future light rail routes. This drew largely from work conducted for the 2012 Sustainable Transport Plan (with similar goals and routes in both reports) with the addition of light rail into the new suburbs of Molonglo.
As one of the most effective mass transit technologies available, light rail will make massive inroads into weaning Canberra off car dependency and contributing to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. It will be powered exclusively by renewable energy. It will be fully integrated with a more frequent local bus service.
Light rail in Canberra:
- will commence service by August 2018
- be administered by Transport Canberra
- run from Gungahlin to Civic for Stage One
- run from Civic to Woden for Stage Two
- Stage One will be constructed by Canberra Metro
- Stage One will be operated by Canberra Metro
The depot and operations centre is being constructed in Mitchell. It is expected to be completed in 2017. Vehicles will be arriving around that time.
Current news on light rail construction can be found at Transport Canberra’s light rail page.