Argument against

The Plan is Wrong

The ACT government's document "Transport for Canberra 2012-2031" states in section 2.2 (Public transport and land use): "The key message of the Frequent Network is that future developments - whether by the government, private or community sector - will need to be on or near the Frequent Network service to benefit from the frequent and reliable public transport service it will provide." Thus land use will be manipulated to serve public transport instead of developing public transport to serve that type of land use that the majority of Canberrans want: to retain a low-rise, medium denity, ‘bush capital’ character outside of the town centres. It has been shown that frequent and reliable public transport can be provided to all citizens without a change in land use. "Transport for Canberra 2012-2031" condemns most Canberrans to second rate public transport and this does not have to be the case.

No Account Taken of Advances in Information Technology

There is one major challenge to providing good public transport service accross the entire urban region: coordinating services to guarantee connection. Then, if the frquency of service is sufficent, there will be good and guaranteed service from anywhere to anywhere. Coordination in a network the size of Canberra, taking into account the contingencies and local delays that normally arise, is beyond human operators. It is not beyond the technology. Computers excel in dynamic sccheduling especially with the communications and location technology that is available. A coordinated service based on local services connecting with intertown express services is well within reach. More personalised services can also be developed. For example, instead of equipping buses with MyWay card readers for satistical purposes, it would be far more effective to equip each bus stop with a MyWay card reader to signal the passenger's need to a control system.

The Poor and the Aged will be the Big Losers

In his lead article in the Canberra Times Forum section on March 29, 2014 Ross Peake stated that the main argument offered by the ACT government for the development of light rail in Canberra was “high land values along the rail corridor and the likelihood of attracting more high-tech companies that see the value of easy access for their employees and clients”. Minister Simon Corbell ("Room for 45,000 more on city strip", April 9, p1)  implies that the residents of existing public housing complexes will be relocated to serve this development strategy. Thus the people who have the most need for public transport including the ageing living in their own suburban homes will be served with second rate public transport.

Light Rail is Wrong Anyway

Trams don't overtake, so you can't have express services and local services on the same track. Instead you have to run both a bus service and a tram service.
Any incident that stops a tram-car blocks every car on the track. When there is no grade separation (as on Northbourne Avenue) trams cause traffic congestion and their frequency of service has to be limited for this reason. The alternative is to build grade separated (elevated rail) networks as is currently being built in Honolulu.
Tram cars have a maximum speed around 80kph but do not operate near that speed unless there is grade separation. Buses have a significantly higher maximum speed suited to express services on busways.
A tram line is set in concrete, every development has to serve the tram line. Bus services are flexible. Bus services can be adapted to complement the new demand responsive services that will arise with advances in information technology and new developments in the automobile for the urban environment.