Our wishlist for better public transport in Canberra – the 2019 Budget submission from the PTCBR to the ACT Government

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Dickson bus interchange  with light rail construction on Northbourne Ave

Every year the ACT Government invites the public and community groups to tell them what they would like to see the Government allocate funds to over the next year. It’s an excellent opportunity for our association, representing the users of public transport in Canberra, to let the Government know what we expect. Over the last month or so, the Committee of the PTCBR have prepared our submission, and it has also helped shape our organisations priorities for the next year.

Our 2019 Budget Submission can be found here.

In our budget submission this year we have asked for a split between making the passenger experience better, and strategic transport planning for the future. We have also asked that the iconic Canberra bunker bus shelter receive heritage listing!

Our recommendations are summarised below, and you can read them in full at the link to the full submission.  We will be following up our submission with lobbying of our elected representatives, and speaking to Transport Canberra and ACT Government planners. Much has been achieved in several years, but there is much more to do as we convince Canberrans to use public transport, and make the passenger experience better for those that do now.

Recommendations for ACT Government transport spending by the PTCBR

  • PTCBR ask for a rebalancing of the transport component of the ACT Budget with a 50 percent split between new road construction and new public transport infrastructure, until all light rail routes identified in the 2016 Light Rail Network Plan have been completed.
  • Extending the peak hour for weekday bus services until at least 6.30 PM.
  • Park and Ride expansion with Smart Parking technology and real time bus passenger information screens.
  • Passenger Counter Barometer used to generate a near real-time light rail and bus passenger barometer at the Civic Interchange.
  • Improved use of data and analytics to plan future services. PTCBR recommend that this be expanded and include data related to commercial and residential land use.
  • All data used for transport planning be anonymised and made available for the public to analyse and offer solutions.
  • New ticketing technology implemented as soon as possible. The ‘ticket’ used need not be a plastic card at all and could perhaps be linked to an account for micro transactions taken directly from an account holders credit or debit card using RFID technology.
  • A MyWay chip that could be used in a bracelet, implanted into the body or placed into a reaching wand (used by people with a disability) .
  • A coordinated ACT and NSW Government approach to cross-border public transport
  • A nationally unified electronic public transport ticketing with a single balance be explored.
  • A unified ticketing and fare model applied to bus companies in regional NSW towns with the potential to access Canberra.
  • Updating the Light Rail Network Plan to account for significant changes to Canberra’s urban form.
  • Consultation and reference groups for the Territory and Canberra Transport Plan
  • Workplace cultural reform within the ACTION workforce that can provide best practice workplace training on customer relations and passenger interactions.
  • A multi-year benchmarking exercise involving the use of private sector operators to determine the cost and effectiveness of Transport Canberra bus operation relative to the performance of operators in other Australian jurisdictions. The future rapid corridor between Weston Creek, Molonglo and Belconnen would appear ideal for such an exercise, while also addressing known gaps in coverage.
  • Toll roads for new parkways, including roads into and out of the ACT.
  • Congestion based charging for private vehicle use in areas with significant transport and parking challenges.
  • Replacing registration fees with distance based charges
  • Commence construction as soon as practicable on light rail to Woden and Belconnen
  • Preparatory work for future light rail network extensions
  • Planning for National Capital Plan variations with amendments reflecting the adoption of light rail technology for intertown mass transit.
  • Establishing a skills base for future light rail construction so a construction program can be forecast a decade out.
  • On-demand and flexible bus service expansion to satisfy and grow demand.
  • A common software booking platform for all providers of community buses in use around Canberra
  • Planning for a new railway station in Central or North Canberra
  • Restoring the City Loop bus services
  • A city free fare zone on light rail and bus services for MyWay Card Holders.
  • Restoring the National Institution Tourist oriented bus services
  • Merging of Rapid Routes 6 and 7 to create a South Canberra/Weston Creek Loop
  • Coordinated on-demand and last mile transport services for out of hours or rarely used suburban routes.
  • Active Travel only streets around town and significant group centres
  • All future retail/commercial centres have shared zones planned as a priority, to avoid retrofitting a decade or more later.
  • Installing more real time information displays at bus interchanges and Park and Ride sites.
  • Conduct a study of school holiday bus services to Stromlo Forest Park
  • Improve public transport in the Molonglo Valley by extending the northbound bus “jump” lanes along the length of the Cotter Road between John Gorton Drive and Kirkpatrick Street, and fast-track the construction of the proposed high-level bridge across the Molonglo River.
  • All bus stops covered and have bicycle storage or loops for securing bicycles.
  • Heritage listing for Canberra’s iconic Clem Cummings designed ‘bunker’ shelters
  • Locating local and rapid bus stops closer together where they intersect, or to provide clear signage for passengers willing to walk between closely located local and rapid bus stops.

The PTCBR are committed to lobbying the ACT, NSW and Federal Government for better public transport services for passengers that use the service now, and encourage all Canberrans to sample the improved services being delivered.

Light rail will commence service in early 2019 and will provide a huge impetus in encouraging the shift away from car dependence in Canberra. The radical Network 19 changes to the bus network, creating a system of shorter local loops and more rapid bus and light rail services, is a major step in encouraging more people to use public transport.

The ACT Government are revisiting the ‘Transport for Canberra’ plan in 2019 and the PTCBR will be ensuring that the users of public transport have a strong say in how our future public transport needs will be addressed.  The submission we have made to this years ACT Budget provides a strong indication of our lobbying priorities.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra,join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

 

 

 

ACT Budget funds for Mitchell light rail stop, improving ‘Park and Ride’ and Woden light rail

IMG_20180117_102104505The 2018-19 ACT Budget will be announced on Tuesday 5 June. Along with a significant drip feed of pre-budget announcements across a broad range of portfolios, this announcement from the TCCS Minister focuses on light rail and buses. It also provides funding to address any questions that the NCA and the federal inquiry into light rail, may have.

The highlights of the announcement are:

  • Construction of a light rail stop in Mitchell in 2019/20
  • $10 million to further advance the technical and design aspects of light rail to Woden (includes work to inform the recently announced federal inquiry)
  • $2.5 million in works to support Woden light rail including businesses cases for the redesign and build of a new Woden Town Centre bus interchange, an updated ‘Park and Ride’ strategy incorporating bus and light rail, and redevelopment of the Yarra Glenn intersection with Melrose and Yamba Drives to accommodate light rail.

This is the media release in full:

Media release by Meegan Fitzharris MLA Minister for Transport and City services

More investment in light rail to continue the network rollout

The ACT Government is investing in the next stage of planning, design and enabling works for light rail from the City to Woden through the 2018 Budget.

Extending light rail to Woden will see Canberra further realise the benefits of a city-wide light rail network by providing a critical north-south public transport spine. We are committed to bringing light rail to Woden, and this further investment will ensure we deliver,” said Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services Meegan Fitzharris.

“The preferred route will connect the City and Woden via Parkes and Barton. This route provides the best access through the Parliamentary Zone to employment hubs, cultural institutions and other places of interest such as Manuka Oval.

“With this preferred route now on the table and progress being made regarding the Commonwealth’s approval processes, we are getting on with making Canberra’s transformative public transport project a reality.

“Light rail from Gungahlin to the City is going well, with testing of the light rail vehicles to begin soon, and Canberra Metro on track to complete construction in December this year.

“This Budget will also fund the start of works on a light rail stop for Mitchell. This will enable Transport Canberra to enter into negotiations for a stop at Sandford Street and will include the technical design for the stop to be constructed in 2019-20.”

Minister Fitzharris said the Budget will invest $10 million to further advance the technical and design aspects of light rail to Woden so that the National Capital Authority will have all the information it needs to understand the benefits of the project.

“This will include work to inform the recently announced Inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee into the Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for the project.

“The ACT Government has welcomed the Inquiry, and we are committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure planning for this project responds to their needs so that we can deliver this important transport link for our city.”

The Budget will also invest a further $2.5 million in works to support light rail to Woden. This involves the preparation of detailed businesses cases for potential early works, including:

  • The redesign and build of a new Transport Canberra bus interchange in the Woden Town Centre;
  • An upgrade of Parkes Way to improve traffic flow;
  • The development of an updated ‘Park and Ride’ strategy incorporating bus and light rail; and
  • The redevelopment of the Yarra Glenn intersection with Melrose and Yamba Drives to accommodate light rail.

“We are tackling this project from both ends because we want to be ready to get work underway as soon as the project gets the green light.

“This project is significant for Woden and urban renewal of the town centre. We are already seeing investment in Woden as a result of the ACT Government’s plan to build light rail, and this will continue as we have seen along the City to Gungahlin corridor,” Minister Fitzharris said.

This investment in delivering an integrated public transport system for Canberra is another way the ACT Government is growing services for our growing city through the 2018 Budget.”

More to come after the budget is officially released.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

Canberra Liberals support light rail and want a light rail stop in Mitchell

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Members of the Mitchell Traders Association on a WIN TV News Canberra report discussing their case for a light rail station

The Public Transport Association of Canberra are pleased that the Canberra Liberals are now supporting light rail in Canberra. This very welcome about face has occurred following representations by the Mitchell Traders Association to their local members after recently realising a light rail station was not going to be built in Mitchell as part of light rail stage one. The benefits of light rail for residents and businesses along the light rail stage one corridor have been supported at two elections, and it is pleasing that business owners in Mitchell, and the Canberra Liberals, now support better public transport options.

In the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday 19 September, Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Wall MLA will table a motion (below) calling for a light rail station to be constructed in Mitchell, and compensation for businesses affected by light rail construction.

PTCBR are not sure why the motion by the Canberra Liberals motion is being made now, as TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA has already indicated that a light rail stop in Mitchell will be built (the supporting infrastructure is in place) and that it is a matter of when it will be built.  The Mitchell Traders met with the Minister recently and were also told that a stop would be built.

Light rail will provide tremendous access directly to Mitchell by thousands of potential customers and employees. A light rail stop in Mitchell that can be built between stages one and stage two construction, would benefit everyone.

PTCBR also strongly support a light rail stop in Mitchell, and called for it during consultation several years ago, when the Mitchell Traders, and Canberra Liberals could also have asked for a light rail stop in Mitchell.

Although a stop was discussed in the consultation processes, no Mitchell stop was planned or appeared in the business case. The many new businesses that now front Flemington Road will benefit from a light rail stop, and better integrated bus services to link with the bus routes that already travel through the Mitchell precinct.

Although it is very positive that Mitchell Traders and the Canberra Liberals now support a light rail stop in Mitchell, it is a valuable warning to other parts of Canberra that will see light rail extended to their town centres over the coming decades. The best time to engage in consultation for an infrastructure project is when it is being planned, not when the bulldozers are visible from the window of your business.

Business and commercial and residential property owners along the corridor for the second stage of light rail from Civic, through Parkes and Barton to Woden, are urged to take part in consultation processes and express a view on stop locations and possible routes.

Oddly, the Canberra Liberal motion also calls for more all day parking in Mitchell. More parking seems to be at odds with a call for more public transport. More short term parking would be better for customers than more all day parking.

The motion also asks for compensation for business losses due to light rail construction activity. Although it is unfortunate for any business to suffer a downturn due to infrastructure provision, the benefits that these businesses will accrue from light rail running past their door, will be many.

PTCBR (and its predecessor ACT Light Rail) have always supported a light rail stop in Mitchell, and hope that the Canberra Liberals motion and the ACT Governments existing stated support for a light rail stop will see budget funds provided for a stop to be built in the very near future. Bipartisan support for public transport is always positive.

 


Motion moved by Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Wall on 19 Sep 2017:

MR WALL: To move—That this Assembly:
(1) notes the important contribution that businesses in Mitchell make to the ACT economy and the considerable amount of revenue collected by Government from Mitchell traders through rates, payroll tax and other fees and charges; and
(2) calls on the ACT Government to:
(a) construct a light rail stop at Mitchell;
(b) explore what compensation can be offered to businesses severely
impacted by the construction of light rail;
(c) construct additional all day car parking in Mitchell (especially for
workers on the eastern side of Mitchell);
(d) detail how Mitchell will be serviced by buses following the operation of
light rail;
(e) include Mitchell on a regular schedule for street sweeping;No 31—19 September 2017 541
(f) improve the urban services delivered in Mitchell, such as footpath and
streetlight maintenance; and
(g) undertake consultation with businesses in Mitchell about
implementing urgent minor capital works in the public realm.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

Canberra companies building our light rail

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Construction at the light rail station site in Hibberson Street on 15 Sep 2017

Light rail stage one construction by Canberra Metro is well underway, with tracks being laid and the depot in Mitchell approaching completion. In the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday 14th Sep, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA read out a list of Canberra companies that are helping to build light rail stage one. She advised the Assembly that:

  • 58% of the contracts for stage one have been let to Canberra owned companies.
  • Of the 137 local contracts, they are shared between 114 local companies.

That is a great result for a project where one of the objectives was to grow local expertise in building light rail.

You can watch the Minister read out a list of local companies to the Assembly at this link.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

ACT Assembly extends third party insurance to light rail

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On Wednesday August 1st 2017 some important legislation covering a few practical elements for light rail operations, was passed in the ACT legislative Assembly. This regulatory update permits licensed car drivers to legally operate light rail vehicles. The Road Transport Reform (Light Rail) Legislation Amendment also extends third party insurance to light rail vehicles and passengers. In a sensible move, Segway riders are also now subject to drink driving legislation.

TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris’ office issued a press release with more detail:

Light rail on track for a safe and successful future

The first stage of reforms to the ACT’s road transport legislation to support the safe operation of light rail was today passed in the Legislative Assembly.

The Road Transport Reform (Light Rail) Legislation Amendment delivers legislation to support the safe operation of light rail vehicles in the Territory’s road environment through integration with the ACT’s road transport legislation and road rules.

Drivers of light rail vehicles will be required to hold a full car licence and be provided with extensive training on operating a light rail vehicle.

If a driver is detected breaking a road rule, such as running a red light or speeding, they can be issued with an infringement notice and face a fine and potentially lose their licence.

Light rail vehicles are also covered by the ACT’s compulsory third party insurance scheme, ensuring that a person involved in an accident with a light rail vehicle is treated the same as if the accident involved any other type of vehicle.

A driver of a light rail vehicle is subject to the same requirements applying to drivers of vehicles involved in an accident. A police officer can require the driver to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs.

The bill also subjects a user of a segway-type (‘personal mobility’) device to two drink driving laws: consuming alcohol while riding, and riding while intoxicated.

“This is a significant step forward in the delivery of a modern and sustainable public transport network in Canberra,” said Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury.

Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris also welcomed this significant step in the light rail project.

“An integrated public transport network with both light rail and buses is the way of the future and an essential part of how cities operate,” Minister Fitzharris said.

“While the physical side of the project continues to develop in clear view of the community, having the legislation in place to ensure the network is convenient and safe is also crucial to the success of the project.”

 

The Public Transport Association of Canberra is the regions peak public transport lobby group. Their website is at ptcbr.org and a robust discussion on public transport and planning takes place at their Facebook page.

Membership in PTCBR is $20 a year for adults and $10 a year for any concession card holder.