Gungahlin line costings flawed: report

The Canberra Times, July 26, 2014, p2


The independent analysis of the Gungahlin tram line by the Centre for International Economics, commissioned by the ACT Assembly's esimates committee, questions the claimed benefits, casting doubt over whether the higher land values in the corridor, higher income from parking and even construction jobs should be counted as legitimate "benefits" of the project.
The centre warned the government against "double counting" the benefits and said there was little evidence to support the economic merit of the project, which "appears to be more focussed on environmental and social objectives".
"Even with continuing population growth in Gungahlin significantly above the territory average, there is unlikely to be sufficient demand for light rail to make the project economically efficient without the project inducing greater density in the transit corridor", the centre says. Capital Metro rejected the claim the project had no economic merit and said the centre was using outdated figures, but it agreed with some of the warnings about project benefits.

Julie Novak: "Novelty goes off the rails"

The Canberra Times, July 26, 2014, Opinion p9


With the contentious notion that expenditure, and not value-adding production, ought to be taken as the appropriate lens for economic analysis, the Gallagher government has elected to press ahead with this infrastructure proposal [Gungahlin light rail] despite doubts about the economic viability of light rail for Canberra.
For even a visitor to Canberra, observing the city's low population density and urban sprawl, excellent road quality and dominant car usage, plus complementary bus and cycling options already available, it would seem obvious at first glance, that the odds are stacked against light rail.
It may be conceivable that there are less perceptable, but nontheless real, benefits such as reduced traffic congestion or reduced greenhouse gas emissions, which should be considered in a more rigorous analysis.
Rather tellingly, using bus as the preferred method of work commuting has slightly declined in relative popularity over the last few decades, from 9 per cent of trips in 1976 to 8 per cent in 2011.
For many years Canberrans have revealed their preference to drive their cars, enabling them the freedom to arrive at destinations selecting their own routes, and at a time of their own choosing. It is these circumstances of car usage that would likely mean the proposed light rail system risks representing little more than a scarcely used, economically inefficient novelty.