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.

Statement ends

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

Canberra light rail starts carrying the public on a preview and launch day

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Golden Ticket for the first public light rail passengers

On 18 April 2019 light rail began carrying members of the Canberra public along light rail stage one from Gungahlin to Civic. The ACT Government combined the official launch and letting the public ride and experience the light rail by holding a community ballot, where several hundred people won Golden Tickets, letting them on the first service. This ‘soft launch’ was also to be a test ahead of the official opening on Saturday 20 April.

The launch came the day after the national rail safety regulator accredited the network for operation, and on the day that the ACT Government announced that the light rail project came in at $707 million dollars, $76 million dollars under budget.

It was a fairly simple day with Golden Ticket winners advised to arrive at a specific stop (Gungahlin, Dickson or Civic), have their name checked off, and then wait for their vehicle to leave. It would then travel to Civic (or for the lucky passengers that left from Gungahlin, they did a complete return journey) where people could either travel back to Dickson or Gungahlin, or wait for the plaque to be unveiled. After the unveiling (and press conference) there was a light lunch for invited guests where a cake was cut and consumed (see photo further down…)!

Leaving simultaneously from Gungahlin, Dickson and Civic, these first light rail services left around midday carrying Golden Ticket winners from the public, invited guests, many members of the media, Canberra Metro staff, Transport Canberra and ACT public service executives and ACT Government MLA’s.

The excited passengers waited at each of the three major stops, boarded and set out for the first trip! Some stayed to observe the political events, but most went excitedly about the rest of their day, after being lucky enough to be on the very first trip on Canberra’s brand new light rail. Several PTCBR members attended and were fortunate to be invited to the launch and the lunch.

For people that have been campaigning for light rail in Canberra, and better public transport for many years it was a truly momentous experience. Riding in a brand new light rail vehicle, from Gungahlin to Civic, was very satisfying. It has already started to change Canberra for the better, and will for the next century.All the people associated with ACT Light Rail Coalition, ACT Light Rail and the PTCBR should be proud of the hard work they have put in over the last two decades.

The ACT Government deserve the credit for this, it has been a long hard slog with much political skin shed to get from an idea floated by former Transport Minister Simon Corbell, to a plaque being unveiled at the official opening by Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris. Administration of the project by Transport Canberra has been exemplary – with the project coming in $76 million under budget. Although the construction by Canberra Metro took a few months longer than anticipated, it is still a tremendous achievement. Light rail will be a lasting legacy, and something that the ALP and Greens can be rightly proud of.

This post has lots of photos of the days events, and a few links to local media coverage.

TV Coverage

WIN TV plaque 18 Apr
WIN TV Canberra coverage here

Nine News CM LR 18 aprNine Canberra TV News coverage here

abc tv newsABC Canberra TV News coverage here

Win tv newsWIN TV Canberra covered it again on 19 April here

Online Media

Video taken by PTCBR members on 19 April

Photos from the official opening day

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IMG_20190418_103255IMG_20190418_103248IMG_20190418_111854Golden Ticket winning passengers waiting for the first LRV IMG_20190418_114616IMG_20190418_113709Politicians on hand to witness the very first light rail trip for passengers!

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After arriving, the doors opened, and people raced onboard. That old guy with the walking stick is faster than you think!

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Moments later the LRV was full

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After years of campaigning for light rail – it was amazing to be on the first trip out of Gungahlin

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This LRV exiting the EPIC stop, is the first LRV from Civic carrying passengers to Gungahlin
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The view down Northbourne Avenue is very different than the view we have seen as car passengers/drivers – when the trees grow back it will be beautiful
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Lots of people made the trip to the light rail stations just to take photos of the first LRV’s
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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA unveiled a plaque and then answered questions from the media for some time

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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas, Former Transport Minister Simon Corbell, Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris at the official opening of Canberra’s light rail
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury
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Transport Canberra and City Services Director (and former Capital Metro CEO) Emma Thomas and PTCBR Chair Damien Haas
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Transport Canberra Director Duncan Edghill

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Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton

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Cutting of the light rail cake

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Caroline Le Couteur MLA talk to PTCBR Public Officer (and long time light rail campaigner) Ian Ruecroft and GCC Chair Peter Elford
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas, PTCBR Deputy Chair Ryan Hemsley and PTCBR Public Officer Ian Ruecroft at the light rail launch lunch

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

What a ride! 25,000 people travel on light rail’s first official day

 

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Media release from Andrew Barr ACT Chief Minister Barr and Meegan Fitzharris MLA Transport Minister

 

20 April 2019

Canberra was abuzz with excitement as light rail officially launched today with approximately 25,000 people hopping on board for a free ride.

The formal event wrapped up at 4pm, but services will continue to operate to timetable, so the total number of passengers on launch day will continue to grow.

Ten vehicles were deployed on the day, running 130 trips and covering 1,560 kilometres.

The City and Gungahlin terminals came to life with live music, kids’ entertainment and barbecues for people waiting to ride. Typical waiting times were between 15 – 25 minutes and passengers were excited and well behaved, with no major incidents to report.

More than 8,500 sausages were cooked during the launch event and a team of 190 friendly volunteers were at hand to provide information on using the light rail and updates on the future of light rail construction.

The day was a great success, with people of all ages trying out the light rail for the first time. We saw the community at its best: embracing a new opportunity with enthusiasm, safety and courtesy for their fellow passengers.

Following the launch, additional light rail features will be phased in over the coming weeks. This means the finishing touches to landscaping and road surfaces will continue and final permanent balustrades will be installed at intersections. Any other minor issues that need work will be fixed by Canberra Metro at no cost to the Territory.

Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said the passenger experience will keep getting better as drivers get used to taking passengers and journey times and frequency continue to improve.

“Thank you to everyone who came out today for a great celebration of our city.

“The Gungahlin to City route is the first stage of a broader program to connect Canberra’s town centres.

“The launch turnout shows how invested the community is in the future of Canberra. While light rail is a new concept for many people, the positive feedback we’ve received tells us that we are on the right track in improving the connectivity and liveability of our city. Canberra is now better connected with the light rail route from Gungahlin to City, and this work now continues with the second stage of light rail – City to Woden.”

Free travel continues on all public transport today and tomorrow Sunday 21 April – with paying services starting on Easter Monday 22 April. From 29 April all services will be free again for a month across the new network of light rail and more buses, more often.

For information on using light rail or to stay up to date with the City to Woden project visit transport.gov.au

Statement ends

Provision for a future light rail route in Molonglo welcomed by the PTCBR

 

ACT Planning map showing John Gorton Drive light rail in the suburb of Whitlam
ACT Planning map showing John Gorton Drive light rail in the suburb of Whitlam

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) are pleased that provision for a future light rail route has been included in the plans for two of the Molonglo Valley’s key arterial roads.

The recently released design documents for John Gorton Drive Stage 3B show a planned light rail route running in the median of John Gorton Drive north of the Molonglo River. The route then heads east along a planned extension of Bindubi Street, with a stop near the intersection servicing the planned residential estate of Whitlam.

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Molonglo Light Rail

This is the first instance of light rail being a key influence in the design of infrastructure in the Molonglo Valley.

“The Molonglo Valley has been designed around an ‘urban boulevard’ concept and is therefore ideally suited to a future light rail route,” PTCBR Committee Member Ryan Hemsley said.

“As a long-time resident of Weston Creek and a current resident of Molonglo, I look forward to seeing how the future stages of John Gorton Drive and Bindubi Street incorporate provisions for a light rail route to service our growing district”.

The draft concept plan shows three stops servicing the future suburbs of Molonglo Valley Stage 3
The draft concept plan shows three stops servicing the future suburbs of Molonglo Valley Stage 3

A draft concept plan included in the documentation shows three stops servicing the future suburbs of Molonglo Valley Stage 3. The route shown is largely consistent with the planned Woden to City via Weston Creek and Molonglo route outlined in the 2016 Light Rail Network Plan.

Civic - Molonglo - Weston Creek - Woden route shown in the ACT Governments Light Rail Master Plan from 2016
Civic – Molonglo – Weston Creek – Woden route shown in the ACT Governments Light Rail Master Plan from 2016

Both the PTCBR and its predecessor, ACT Light Rail, have long argued for light rail in the Molonglo Valley.

ACT Government population estimates have the Molonglo Valley growing by over 500% between 2016 and 2020. In this year alone, nine development applications for multi-unit sites in Denman Prospect have been lodged with the planning directorate.

The PTCBR believes that light rail will be a critical part of Molonglo’s infrastructure mix if it is to avoid many of the road congestion problems that have plagued Gungahlin.

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

PTCBR Public meeting 8 Aug 2018 to discuss Network 19 and Light Rail Stages One and Two

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As Network 19 Consultation on the integrated bus/light rail public transport network comes to a close, TCCS are providing a Network Planner for our members to engage with. I’m sure we are very familiar with the proposals, and this is a good opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions.
Light Rail Stage One is being built right now, and vehicle testing has commenced. If you would like to know more about the testing and commissioning of the Gungahlin to Civic stage, Scott Lyall of TCCS will answer those questions.

Light Rail Stage Two has been in the news recently, with a federal Inquiry into the heritage aspects and approvals process (that three PTCBR Committee members appeared at). Pam Nelson of TCCS will update us on Stage Two and answer questions that we may have.

The meeting will be chaired by Deputy Chair Robert Knight. There will be an opportunity for members to ask questions and provide feedback to TCCS on these topical public transport issues..
The PTCBR meeting will be at:
5PM on 8 Aug 2018
Griffin Centre,
20 Genge St, Civic. 
The Agenda for the public meeting will be:

  • 5.00 – Chair report and lobbying update
  • 5.15 – Light Rail Stage 1 update
  • 5.25 – Light Rail Stage 2 update
    5.35 – Network 19 presentation and Consultation
  • 5.45 – 6PM Questions/discussion – moderated by PTCBR Deputy Chair Robert Knight
All members of the public are welcome to attend.
Membership renewal
For members seeking to renew their membership, forms will be available on the night (if your details have changed) and fees accepted if you have the exact money ($20 or $10 for any concession card holder). If you know someone that is seeking to become a member, please invite them to attend.

Network 19 Submission by PTCBR

The integrated bus/light rail network that commences in 2019 is a mass rapid transit spine supported by higher frequency local bus networks. This is a policy that the PTCBR supports. The Network 19 proposal currently out for consultation is a bold modal change from the bus networks that Canberra has been used to. It is a massive disruptive change that aims to increase public transport patronage from its current level.

The introduction of light rail will achieve patronage growth for Gungahlin and those adjacent to the light rail stage one corridor, but that increase also needs to occur in areas served only by bus (until further stages of the light rail network are built). Does the Network 19 proposal get this right? Can it be improved?

The PTCBR Committee are working on a submission on Network 19. Although PTCBR support the strategic approach, there are areas that PTCBR feel could be improved, and we will be providing that view in our submission, based on Committee and PTCBR member feedback.

Network 19 Consultation closes on August 10. Supporting documentation for Network 19 Rapid and local bus services can be found here:

A New Bus Network for Canberra (PDF)

Rapid Bus Fact Sheet (PDF)

Canberra Full Network 19 Map (PDF)

You can make your own submission directly at canberrabuses.com.au.

Next PTCBR Meeting
Our next public meeting will be ‘Public Transport in the Pub‘ – date to be announced shortly. It is aimed at being a more social type meeting, and less formal.

Thank you for your support in our public transport lobbying efforts. It is appreciated and has a real effect on public transport policy and improvements to the network both minor and major.

I look forward to speaking to you at a future meeting.
regards

Damien Haas
Chair, PTCBR

Light rail stage two cost announcement welcomed by PTCBR

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Media Release: Light rail stage two cost announcement welcomed by PTCBR

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) are pleased that the ACT Government has provided an estimated cost for stage two of Canberra’s light rail network. The cost incorporates design changes likely to be necessary for federal government approval, including a new light rail crossing structure between Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, and wire free light rail operation through the Parliamentary Zone.

 

“The indicative cost of between $1.3 and 1.6 billion dollars is not a figure that the Canberra public should be shocked by. It’s a major infrastructure project that a city of our size requires, and can afford.”

“Few people blink an eye when 800 million is spent on Majura Parkway. In fact we spend huge amounts on roads, with no expectations around costs or befits at all. Light rail stage one, and the sensible financial model underpinning that shows we can afford to pay for and build stage two in a similar phased way as stage one” Mr Damien Haas, Chair of the PTCBR said.

 

PTCBR strongly support light rail stage one, and light rail stage two. The second stage is a significant step in linking north and south Canberra and ensuring that public transport becomes a viable option for existing and future residents. The PTCBR encourage the federal inquiry into light rail stage two to conclude with a recommendation for the project to proceed.

 

Mr Haas observed that the commentary around the time taken for the trip from Woden to Civic by bus compared to the proposed trip time by light rail is an issue that overlooks long term public transport benefits.

 

“The current rapid bus leaves Woden and doesn’t stop until it arrives at the Albert Hall. It simply motors past tens of thousands of residents and employees that cant get on board. Light rail will have stops along Adelaide Avenue that many Woden and Inner South residents can use. It opens up the rapid transit network to a whole new group of people that don’t have that option now.”

 

“More importantly, light rail stage two provides much better public transport into the Parliamentary zone, a significant employment hub. Many people in Woden cant get the bus to work in Parkes or Barton, light rail will offer that option. That trade off is definitely worth a short ten minute increase to the rapid bus travel time. The long term aim is to increase public transport patronage. Providing a better service helps achieve that. ”

On the benefits to all Australians, and not just those in Woden, Mr Haas said that “Visitors to Canberra will appreciate that they can step off light rail from a hotel in Civic or along Northbourne, and walk a few blocks to our many National Attractions. Light rail stage two benefits all Australians, those visiting the National Capital as well as those of us lucky enough to already live here.”
Mr Haas encouraged the Canberra public to support light rail stage two saying “Light rail stage one will open soon and be tremendously successful. The people opposing light rail now, and clinging to a packed rapid bus for Woden, will change their minds when they see the benefits light rail delivers to Gungahlin residents”.
The PTCBR look forward to consulting its members and engaging with Transport Canberra on light rail stage two.
PTCBR will be holding a meeting for its members in July to discuss Network 19 and light rail stage two in more detail.


Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra regions peak public transport lobby group.

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

PTCBR submission to the Federal government on Woden light rail stage two

act lr hand drawnThe federal government Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories is holding an inquiry into the ACT Governments light rail stage two project, from Civic to Woden via the Parliamentary Triangle.

The PTCBR have made a submission encouraging the Committee to recommend that the project proceed, and supporting the strong working relationship between the National Capital Authority and the ACT Government.

Read the PTCBR submission here

In launching the new inquiry, Chair of the Committee Mr Ben Morton MP said, “the land around the Federal Parliament is an important space for all Australians, and it is therefore appropriate that the Parliament has a role in ensuring that any proposals for change preserve this significance. The inquiry will also provide the ACT Government with an early indication of the Parliament’s view of its proposal.”

The Joint Standing Committee page on the Inquiry is here

The full terms of reference are:

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories will inquire into and report on the development of stage two of the Australian Capital Territory light rail project, with regard to:

  1. the relevant parliamentary approval processes for works within the Parliamentary zone;
  2. the roles of the National Capital Authority and the Australian Government, and the associated approval processes;
  3. possible impacts on the Parliamentary zone and Parliamentary precincts, including any impacts on the heritage values and national importance of the Parliamentary zone and our national capital; and
  4. the identification of matters that may be of concern prior to formal parliamentary or Australian Government consideration of the project; and
  5. any other relevant matter the Committee wishes to examine.

Read the PTCBR media release on this Inquiry here

Media reports are here and here and here. The common theme is that Canberra Liberal Senator Zed Seselja believes that light rail along Commonwealth Avenue would create some form of commuting disaster. Senator Seselja has opposed light rail from the outset. It should be noted that Senator Seselja is not a member of the Committee assessing the light rail project.

This public transport project was supported at the 2016 ACT Assembly election, and community consultation since then has resulted in a route design that travels through Parkes and Barton, serving national attractions and many federal government departments and agencies. This second stage of light rail will link up the many accommodation providers located along Northbourne Avenue and around EPIC, enabling visitors to the  nations capital to visit national attractions, and Parliament itself, by public transport.

The PTCBR strongly believe that it is the best public transport option for ACT residents, employees in the Parliamentary zone, and business and tourism visitors to Canberra.

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.

PTCBR AGM to be held on 14 Dec 2017

ptcbr agm 1.jpgThe PTCBR Committee have confirmed a date and a space to hold our Annual General Meeting. Any member of the public may attend, but only financial members are able to vote if elections are required for any positions.
The PTCBR AGM will be held:

PTCBR AGM 
 
When:       5PM, Thursday 14 December
Location: Griffin Centre, Genge St, Civic
Following the AGM, a public meeting will be held.
PTCBR Public meeting
 
Presentation and consultation by TCCS on Network 18.
The two meetings are expected to conclude before 7PM.
Any financial member can nominate for any position on the PTCBR Committee, in accordance with our constitution. If you are seeking to nominate, please contact the Secretary at secretary@ptcbr.org
I’d encourage members to join the committee and assist with our ongoing projects and lobbying activities.
More details will be provided closer to the date.
If you have any questions, please email chair@ptcbr.org

All the Rapid Bus routes promised at the 2016 election to be delivered in 2018, along with light rail

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Map of the Canberra Rapid Bus network from mid-2018

 

The proposed Rapid Bus routes to be introduced in mid 2018 have received a thumbs up from the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR). 

TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris today announced that in 2018 Canberra would have nine rapid transit routes. Eight would be rapid bus, and one would be light rail. The announcement was made at the opening of the new $4 million dollar Dickson bus interchange, directly across the road from the Dickson light rail stop on Northbourne Avenue.

Announcing all eight rapid bus routes to be delivered at once is a bold move, and it really cements how serious the government is about public transport, and especially on integrating light rail and buses.”

The focus on expanding the rapid bus network in 2018 instead of introducing them individually over a multi-year period, isn’t something that the PTCBR anticipated. It’s a pleasant surprise. Announcing it at this brand new bus facility just reinforces how serious the government is about public transport policy.
This almost certainly a combination of a positive budget position, and the political direction on positive public transport policy (supported by results from the public that use it).  The budget surplus forecast by the ACT Government, has allowed the early delivery of expanded public transport, including light rail, demonstrating that sensible long term infrastructure investment is affordable.
With the buses currently operating on the Gungahlin rapid to be reallocated across the bus network when light rail starts, and eighty new buses on order, this rapid rollout can really kick start the new Transport Canberra philosophy of expanded local services feeding into rapid bus and light rail routes, that was introduced with Network 17.
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TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris announcing the new rapid bus routes at the opening of the $4 million dollar Dickson bus interchange
PTCBR believe that Canberrans will appreciate that light rail, expanded local bus services and more frequent rapids can shorten their overall travel times, and allow them to spend less time commuting, and more time with their families.
There was a great deal of focus on the governments light rail plans leading up to the last election, and not so great a focus on how similar the long term bus plans were from the Canberra Liberals and the ACT Government. The major difference is that several of the rapid bus routes proposed by the government are to become light rail lines over the coming decades.
This reflects increasing patronage, especially on routes such as Canberras most heavily used rapid bus, the Belconnen to Civic rapid, which is now also running to the Airport. Certainly a Belconnen – Civic – Airport light rail line is a sensible addition, creating a North South and East West light rail spine across the territory. This route becoming light rail may becomes a 2020 election proposal.
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Local bus entering the Dickson Interchange from Northbourne Avenue
The only slightly disappointing aspect that PTCBR could identify with this rapid bus network plan was that Queanbeyan doesn’t appear on the new rapid network. PTCBR recommend that a Civic – Fyshwick – Queanbeyan route be trialled. We firmly believe that cross-border discussions into establishing this route, operated by either Transport Canberra or a NSW operator be explored.
The new ticketing technology that Transport Canberra will adopt could assist this process. Queanbeyan buses do not use the NSW Opal technology, and if all three jurisdictions (ACT, Metro NSW, regional NSW) adopt a compatible ticketing technology, this could become logistically feasible.
Minister Fitzharris is demonstrating great confidence in Transport Canberra and their ability to service such a bold rapid bus plan in mid 2018. It’s the same bold approach from the Government that saw light rail delivered, and PTCBR expect that the Canberra public will also accept these changes. The rapid buses are becoming more popular as frequency and service hours are extended, especially the critical local bus services, and this bodes well for light rail.


Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra regions peak public transport lobby group. Their website is at ptcbr.org

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