POST ELECTION OPINIONS
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 20 2018 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Your article "One tram a week ..." (January 18, p3) quotes Andy Barr as saying that the first tram should be named "Cam", but there are more appropriate names than that.
I think that the first tram should be called the "Katy Gallagher", after the mother of the project.
It was Katy who, in 2012, gave in to Green blackmail and agreed to build the tram for $614 million in order to retain government, even though she must have known that work done under Stanhope found that the project was not viable.
The second tram should be the "Andy Barr", after the project's father.
As Chief Minister, he should have been asking whether there were other places where $900 million could be better spent.
The third tram should be the "Shane Rattenbury" after its spiritual father.
The whole tram project needs a name. I think that the "Great Northern Green Elephant" would do just fine.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 19 2018 from B. M. Cooke, Latham
We used to proudly call Canberra "The City of Trees" now it is "The City of Weeds".
The managers in charge of the area that looks after the weed problem need to get out of their offices into their cars and drive around Canberra's suburbs.
In Belconnen there are sapling trees and weeds growing out of the drains.
They need also to drive the length of the Tuggeranong Parkway going south, and then coming north continue up William Hovell Drive and the length of Kingsford Smith Drive. Hopefully, they may realise that these areas are just as important as the tram and the city tourist spots.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 19 2018 from John Davenport, Farrer
Bryan Cossant (Ready To Strike, Letters, January 16) doesn't appear to know the difference between a tram and a train and industrial relations under a Labor government in the ACT and a Liberal/National government in NSW, a government that recently closed Newcastle's railway station and privatised Newcastle's government bus services.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 11 2018 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Who's going to clean the Mannifera bark out of the tram tracks on Northbourne?
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 8 2018 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
One can only ask how much longer it will be before the ACT Legislative Assembly wakes up to the rapidly increasing decay of the city caused by the ACT government's refusal to establish a properly constituted, independent planning authority.
Emeritus professor Patrick Troy of the ANU (Letters, December 26) must be congratulated for once again bringing the assembly's attention to the complete absence of any proper planning in the nation's capital.
In May 2017 Tony Powell, a former commissioner of the National Capital Development Commission, commented that "the ACT government is incapable of improving the dishevelled state of the city and doesn't know how to develop a plan for a town centre".
He felt then that the city we knew and loved may have gone forever.
Although this matter has been raised regularly since by numerous correspondents all bitterly disappointed at the steady decline of the city's liveability and mounting chaos, there is no sign that the assembly recognises the problem. Planning in the ACT government is a total and utter shambles, with no single minister in control.
An inquiry to a minister in May last year brought the response: "Our office has just been clarifying the ministerial responsibility of this issue".
No minister ever responded.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 6 2018 from Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal
Brian Stone and M Flint (Letters January 4) have misrepresented what I proposed in my letter (Letters, January 2).
I am not discussing the merits of Light Rail. What I am debating is the best way for Canberra residents to arrange the financing of community infrastructure whatever that infrastructure might be.
The ACT government has entered into a Private Public Partnership with a consortium including financiers to fund and build Light Rail. With a PPP the government guarantees a financial return to the private party.
My suggestion to the ACT government is that it goes into Public-Public Partnerships to finance all infrastructure. The first Public in Public-Public is the ACT community. The second Public is the ACT government. Many ACT residents are either on allocated pensions or are saving up for them.
I suggest they go to the Money Smart ASIC website and find out how long their superannuation money will last. They will be surprised at the low rate of return on allocated pensions.
Putting savings into a Public-Public Partnership annuity for ANY community infrastructure will return at least twice the amount of money compared to an allocated pension.
The high return from Public-Public Partnerships annuities comes because it removes the private financial intermediary. With today's technology we do not need financial intermediaries. Implementing a Public-Public Partnerships is low-cost and quickly deployed.
A Public-Public Partnership can finance it, and it could be operating within six months.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 5 2018 from Simon Cobcroft, Lyneham
I have recently learned that the new light rail network is being built to connect to the node rather than the premises. What sort of antediluvian cost-saving is going on here? I don't want my speed slowed by having to walk to the nearest interchange each time I want to use high-speed transit. The next thing they will be telling us is that the service speed will be shaped during peak periods. What ajoke.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 5 2018 from Christina Faulk, Swinger Hill
Over the holiday break, a Sydney bus driver rang into 2CC to inform listeners that the city's light rail would be "out for a month".
Realisation dawns, yes?
Light rail, heavy expense, not-so-regular service?
I hope our Chief Minister enjoyed his Spanish trip.
The trains from Spain may yet cause lots of pain.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 4 2018 from Trevor McPherson, Aranda
Mr Cox (Letters, January 2) outlines a sensible way for the public to invest in light rail – and a good idea should be extended if possible.
There is just enough time to do this before the Woden light rail stage is built.
If you've not heard about Woden, it is thought by some to be the basis for a sequel to the movie Dumb and Dumber but the location is still under discussion.
Every resident/ratepayer should have the opportunity to vote on ... lets say three propositions: 1. Allow resident/ratepayer investors the opportunity to invest in light rail, as Mr Cox suggested – with returns to them like those that would otherwise go to the private-public partner involved.
OR 2. Allow as for 1 above but with the capital costs saved by implementing an O-Bahn type rapid bus system rather than light rail to be added into investor returns.
OR 3. Allow as for 1 above but delaying five years, then moving to either autonomous vehicles or 1 or 2 above after that time – with investors getting the rate of return in 1 above for the first five years, then as calculated on a rational basis consistent with this approach the approach finally adopted – this would most likely be options 2 or 3.
There are other options, and one could be a zero capital cost autonomous system.
But for now for the options as above, why not?
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 4 2018 from M. Flint, co-ordinator Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale
Letters by Kevin Cox (Dec 24, 2017 and Jan 2, 2018) on how light rail should be financed by citizens 'investing' in the system, leaves me somewhat bewildered.
Mr Cox seems to be proposing that ACT taxpayers should fund light rail by investing in shares in some government sponsored 'firm' to buy and operate light rail. Given that light rail stage 1 will be a complete financial flop, let alone later stages, who in their right mind would voluntarily waste their money in that way.
No, we prefer to let the government waste our money for us. The reality is this. The government cannot build it itself so has to contract out the job to private industry. For stage 1, it has negotiated contracts with private firms, with the 'help' of UnionsACT and the CMFEU, to build the stage and to operate it for 20years.
We suckers do not know any significant detail of the contracts, eg whether they fixed or variable price, but it would be a sure bet that if costs blow out, ACT taxpayers will be paying, not the contractors.
In respect of the operations and maintenance contract, we do know that the government has accepted virtually all of the risk, including 100 per cent of the 'patronage risk', ie lack of paying passengers.
Consequently, the contractors and their unions buddies are on a gravy train at our expense and it will get progressively worse as other far less economic stages may be approved. For stage 1, the government is committed to pay a down payment of $375million of the ostensible $710 million build cost, "when the trams start running", all of which has to be paid for, including very substantial interest and operating subsidies, over the 20 years of operation.
The government can in fact borrow money much cheaper than a private enterprise, so why is the government not paying for all of the build cost, as it will pay for all of the operating subsidies? I have asked this question of government in the past, without response.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 4 2018 from Brian Stone, Weetangera
Kevin Cox (Letters, January 2) has written a mixture of good sense and sheer nonsense about public-private joint finance for such infrastructure as light rail. Probably all Canberrans outside the developer and politician groups will feel as I do.
He is quite wrong to say that "cost/benefit calculations ... have little to do with financing". In any properly governed city, projects for which the cost/benefit ratio is predicted to be poor should never be financed.
However in his next paragraphs Kevin is quite right that "[he] and any other Canberran should know what the investment terms are", and that "we should have robust discussions on what infrastructure to build".
It's even true that financiers of big projects like light rail "are guaranteed a handsome return" if interest on the total project debt greatly exceeds the initial contract cost as he assumes. That's where the sense ends, though.
Who guarantees that return? Answer: the government controlling the project, and so ultimately the taxpayers. The infamous South Sea Bubble of the early 1700s, after ruining many investors in its non-projects, led to the Bubble Act requiring all such public-private partnerships to obtain a Royal Charter or their own Act of Parliament.
In modern terms, that meant firstly that only predictably profitable schemes should be approved, and then that investors in them would buy government bonds rather than shares or bits of bitcoin.
Why would a citizen buy a light rail bond (by any name), for $1000 or whatever the issue price might be? Why, when that citizen is already propping up the scheme with increasing rates and taxes?
It must be the "high-value annuity payments" that Kevin offers (as did the South Sea Company). But when the project is a long-term loser, the higher the annuities, the higher the rates and taxes!
Kevin wrote "the history of money shows that communities who fund infrastructure from internal sources are always better off", but that is nonsense unless the project is truly profitable.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 3 2018 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
The recent horrifying accidents on our roads prove three things: an increasing population driving an increased amount of vehicles causes more deaths on the roads; humans are too human and need help to drive safely; and the transition to driverless cars cannot come soon enough. We are an ingenious lot and whatever form it takes it will be better than what we have now.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 3 2018 from Dale Fletcher, Kambah
Mike Reddy, a supporter of the ridiculous light rail project, (Letters, December 31) says it doesn't need to service the Canberra Hospital, already serviced by several bus routes. Fair enough.
Using the same logic, how is it then that the tram route currently under construction, from Gungahlin town centre to Civic is necessary?
This journey is already serviced by a frequent, virtually direct bus service, Red Rapid route 200, which runs seven days a week.
We do not need this over-hyped, ludicrously expensive and redundant Green's vanity project.
I'd rather go to the Canberra Zoo to see a white elephant.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 2 2018 from Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal
Stan Marks (Letters, December 29) says that I would not get a return on my money if I invest it in Light Rail.
He is wrong because he is looking at cost/benefit calculations and they have little to do with financing.
The investors in Light Rail get a guaranteed return on the money invested. I and any other Canberran should know what the investment terms are and be able to invest in Light Rail or any other infrastructure. Once the community has decided to invest in something, then community members should get the first option to invest because we are the ones left with the debt.
We should have robust discussions on what infrastructure to build, but once decided we need to fund it ourselves.
The way government contracts work is that the builders of Light Rail have a fixed price and the government will pay for the Light Rail plus the interest on the debt. The total interest on the debt is much higher than the initial cost, so the Light Rail financiers are guaranteed a handsome return.
We the members of the community could get that interest through high-value annuity payments rather than give it to financiers.
The history of money shows that communities who fund infrastructure from internal sources are always better off.
We should eliminate all external government debt, but not by austerity methods. Instead, we borrow from ourselves and give savers in our communities high returns on infrastructure loan investments.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 2 2018 from Leon Arundell, Downer
The best option for public transport between Woden and Civic is to extend the existing bus priority lanes.
Stan Marks (Letters, 29 December) says that the Auditor-General estimated that the people of Canberra will get back 47¢ of every dollar invested in light rail.
That estimate was based on Capital Metro's unrealistic assumption that the alternative to light rail is no road or bus improvements other than those that are "already approved and planned".
Bus rapid transit is the real alternative.
The ACT government's submission to Infrastructure Australia said that stage 1 of light rail would cost $276million more than bus rapid transit, but would generate less than $44 million in extra benefits. That's a return of less than 16¢ for each extra dollar spent on light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 1 2018 from Murray May, Cook
Leon Arundell is right about the advantages of bus rapid transit over light rail for Canberra (Letters, December 28). One critical factor affecting travel behaviour is convenience.
Leon refers to the lack of a stop at Mitchell for example. How convenient is that?
Add to this just getting to the tram in the first place, having to change to buses, overall trip time, two-thirds in the tram standing rather than sitting.
To increase the perceived benefits, public transport must meet people's needs well.
As inconvenience factors mount up, avoidance is the result.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 1 2018 from Peter Robinson, Ainslie
As an opponent of light rail, I'm saddened and alarmed that the first tram has been vandalised and the Canberra Times saw fit to publish Bryan Cossart's letter (Letters, December 22) joking about the incident.
Now that the Gungahlin-Civic segment is literally cemented, surely it's in all our interests that this section is built well at minimum cost and maximum speed.
Anyone with a further axe to grind, and I include myself, should direct their energies at preventing the ludicrous Woden section and the foolish decision to deny Mitchell a stop on the existing section.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 31 2017 from Chris Emery, Reid
Kevin Cox (letters, December 24) has suggested an innovative way to fund the light rail to Gungahlin. He wants those who use the tram regularly to invest in it, presumably in exchange for fare-free travel.
This option could be attractive to the 3000 passengers expected to commute daily. I calculate they would need to invest a share of $576,000 each to cover the $1.73billion total cost over 20 years, as calculated by the Auditor-General. The shareholders would then travel effectively for $115 return per day compared with a MyWay return fare of $6.12! Their investment would be a sunk cost after 20 years.
Light rail is not a viable investment for anyone without the bottomless pockets of the ACT ratepayers.
The cost of operating and maintaining stage1 alone would be enough money to make the entire ACTION network fare free.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 31 2017 from Mike Reddy, Curtin
I am a regular user of ACTION buses and a supporter of the light rail. I disagree, however, with J.Bodsworth (letters, December 24) that it would be a good thing to have the light rail go to Canberra Hospital.
The hospital is serviced by several bus routes, some of which stop outside its main entrance in Hospital Road. Passengers with mobility impairment have a short, level route from the bus stop to reception and a bank of elevators. I suspect that if light rail were to service the hospital, the only practical route would be along Yamba Drive, stopping near the existing ACTION stop. From there it is a fairly steep walk up to the secondary entrance through casualty – not desirable for patients or their visitors, many of whom are elderly.
Trying to overcome this problem would require secondary works that would add to the already considerable expense of extending the light rail track.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 31 2017 from John L.Smith, Farrer
Just as the motor car has reshaped cities since World War II, so "fleets of autonomous vehicles offering 24/7, door-to-door, on-demand travel for a fraction of the cost of current public and private transport" (Kent Fitch, Letters, December 21) are likely to bring a similar degree of change to our urban environment in the decades ahead.
Besides the crucial impact in reducing road trauma and other obvious benefits regarding the parking and garaging of cars, and less congestion on the roads, there will be major economic disruption.
The efficiency of fleets means the auto industry will contract and the contraction will range from oil exploration, refining and distribution to the maintenance of vehicles.
The sales, insurance and chauffeuring sectors will be drastically reduced. Many people will never need a driver's licence.
The recent proposal for apartments without dedicated parking spaces will apply across the board to conventional housing, leading to new architectural styles and more- efficient land use. There will be an accompanying rise in online shopping for staples and automated delivery.
Perhaps the most significant impact will be at the social level. While the fleet dispatching systems will cater for privacy and segregated travel, one is likely to soon share a ride with each and every one of the neighbours.
Active travel will flourish.
As for the new trams, perhaps the National Museum will take one!
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 30 2017 from Murray May, Cook
R. Boxall (Letters, December 22) asks about the nature of the electricity system needed to keep numerous driverless vehicles connected at the same time.
This is not the half of it, as a Pandora's box of a wireless- saturated society using 5G to facilitate vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is also envisaged.
While terms such as the "internet of things" and "smart" devices imply smart thinking, the concept of a "cell" in this lexicon applies only to "cellphones" and not to biological cells in human and animal bodies.
The moves towards 5G are being driven by an engineering and technology mindset that is apparently ignorant of the significant ramifications for public health from much increased exposure to human-made radio-frequency electromagnetic fields.
In September 2017, an appeal on 5G in the European Union was signed by more than 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries.
It recommended a moratorium on the rollout of 5G until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry.
There is already evidence of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields being harmful to humans and the environment.
Recent studies by Israeli scientists found that higher frequencies intended for use in 5G could have significant adverse consequences for human skin.
The use of chorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in complete ignorance of their very dangerous consequences (a huge hole in the ozone layer) provides a strong previous example of human folly.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 29 2017 from Merrilyn Fahey, Reid
If anyone needs to understand the current chaos in Canberra, the letters from Graham Downie, M.Flint, Patrick Troy and Jack Kershaw (Letters, December26) provide a comprehensive summary. How long before sanity returns?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 29 2017 from Ric Hingee, Duffy
Will the ACT government add the $1.4million or so, forgone as a result of a non-operational red light/speed camera on Northbourne Avenue because of light rail construction, to the overall cost of the tram? This is but one of many opportunity costs which I am sure have not been included in the cost/benefit analysis.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 29 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Kevin Cox (Letters, December 24) doesn't appear to like Max Flint and Max is probably not going to use the tram.
In fact, not many of us will, because the tram's catchment only includes 2-4 per cent of the city's population. The rest of us can't use it because it isn't where we are.
Cox claims 'we can have light rail and the money to use for other purposes if we, the users of light rail, invest in it ourselves'.
Then he says the users should be able to invest in the tram and, when they do, they will get their money back plus a good return. Wow!! I can't wait. He seems to have forgotten that it was the Auditor-General who said that the benefit cost ratio for the tram is 0.47 i.e. we, the people of Canberra, will only get back 47¢ of every dollar invested.
So, Kevin, I would love you to invest your own money in the tram, all of it in fact.
I would like its two fathers, Shane Rattenbury and Andy Barr, to do the same.
That would go some small way to filling the black hole of debt that the government's own figures predict we are about to get.
You wouldn't get a return on your money, Kevin, you wont even get it all back.
Half of it will go down the hole.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 28 2017 from Peter Curtis, Waramanga
While not a supporter of the tram arguments, I am nonplussed by M. Flint's enthusiasm for presumably privately owned and operated driverless cars. Does he think that this form of operation will solve freeway car parks and gridlocks?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 28 2017 from Leon Arundell, Downer
Light rail will not service neither Mitchell nor the Canberra Hospital. It will require longer walks to fewer stops, for less-frequent services that will require more transfers to and from buses. How long before we realise that bus rapid transit is a better option?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 28 2017 from Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Kent Fitch's assurance that driverless cars will have quadruple back-up systems running thousands of self-checks each second has me worried (Letters, December 20). Will I be marooned out the back of nowhere when my future vehicle parks itself because of a failure in the sensor that checks the sensor that checks the sensor that checks the sensor that monitors the perfectly functioning braking system?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 28 2017 from Patrick Troy, Canberra
I write in reference to Ryan Hemsley's letter on Griffin's vision for Canberra (Letters, December 21).
Griffin's 1912 plan (for Canberra) was for a population of 20,000 that might grow to 40,000. We now have a population many times that.
Whatever strengths Griffin's plan had are simply irrelevant to discussions of contemporary responses to challenges we face.
Griffin's proposed tram terminated at Haig Park not Gungahlin.
The former NCDC in developing the "Y" Plan for Canberra based its assumptions on the notion that each of the areas making up the "Y" would have as many jobs in their centre as there were people seeking work.
A central strength of that plan was that there would be balanced flows, in and out, and that they would be connected by an appropriate public transport option.
The failure to provide such transport is an important reason why Tuggeranong centre now reveals major problems with its local economy.
The sale of the lease for the airport site and the failure to enable its development to be controlled as an important element in Canberra's growth is probably the worst example of what happens when a large land holder is freed from public determination of what development should be allowed where.
The failure of the Commonwealth to honour its commitment to ensure a direct rail connection was developed to connect it to Sydney and to Melbourne is another.
Members of the Assembly seem not to understand that the community needs a professional planning and development authority, not unlike the one destroyed a few years ago.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 28 2017 from M. Flint, Co-ordinator Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale
The government has finally made some decision about light rail stage 2 (""No hospital stop on Woden line", canberratimes.com.au, December 19).
But it is deferring further decisions until the new year. As expected, the government has "... remained tight-lipped about the cost of ... options, although Minister Fitzharris said in August that it would be comparable to the $939 million for stage 1".
$939 million is the official government cost for stage 1 (build plus 20 years of subsidies) in 2016 prices.
The Auditor-General cites a nominal cost (sum of expenditures each year) of $1.78 billion.
The CanTheTram estimate for stage 1 is $1.4 billion.
For stage 2, one can expect the government to spend at least $50 million to $100million on planning and consultants' fees before any build/operate contract.
Our best estimate at present for stage 2, in 2018-19 prices, is between $1.5 billion and $1.6billion, translating into nominal values over 23 years of construction and operations of about $2.10 billion.
A real bargain for taxpayers for 10km of track.
The government will be very reluctant to ever reveal the true cost to taxpayers of stage 2, when eventually known to it, and there will certainly be no invitation to independent experts to vet and validate cost estimates.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 28 2017 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
Having stripped millions of dollars from worthy community organisations, the ACT government demonstrates its further contempt for its serfs by presiding over some of the longest hospital wait times in Australia.
("Canberra patients face some of the country's longest elective surgery wait times" — CT online December 21.)
Some people are waiting more than two years for important surgery and delays are set to increase with 5 per cent more people on the waiting list at the end of the 2016-17 year than 12 months previously.
Buoyed with the knowledge that its opposition is as impotent as a eunuch, the government seems content to bow to the dictates of unions and developers while ignoring the hardship it continues to inflict.
This is despite unprecedented increases of rates, land tax and every other government charge and levy.
The decline in services was predicted by myself and others more than four years ago when the government refused to accept all independent advice and decreed the Gungahlin tramway would go ahead.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 27 2017 from Matt Ford, Crookwell, NSW
If the tram line cannot come to the hospital, perhaps the hospital can come to the tram line.
Now, without so much as a business case, it insists on extending the line to Woden.
At about $1 billion for the first stage and probably at least 50 per cent more for the Woden link, creating a slower and less-accessible link to Canberra's already fragmented public transport, it belies claims by Labor and the Greens of their environmental credentials.
The result will almost certainly be reduced use of public transport, further reductions in city services and even longer hospital wait times.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 27 2017 from Gary J.Wilson, Macgregor
The tram debate centres on a traditional query, one potentially embarrassing to the town council. Cuibono? ("Who stands to gain?"). The classical question goes a bit beyond: "What's the benefit?"
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 27 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Ryan Hemsley's hedge-betting letter (December21) on light rail crossing the lake, and Barton's employment growth, etc., reinforces the case for staying with buses.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 27 2017 from Phil O'Mara, Pialligo
I concur with Brian Hale et al (Letters, December22). This reminds me of the joke about the first proposed pilotless passenger aircraft recorded message: "Welcome to your inaugural pilotless flight. Nothing can go wrong ... go wrong ... go wrong." No doubt driverless vehicles will have an inbuilt option to close windows and then reopen to avert collision. Not sure what to do in the rain, however. Off to feed my horse.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 27 2017 from Peter Campbell, Cook
R. Boxall asks some questions about charging of electric vehicles (Letters, December 22). Our household uses a car I converted to electric drive nine years ago and four years ago we added a commercial electric car.
Electric cars typically have two built-in charging options. The slower option is an ordinary power point at home.
How long that charging takes is rarely relevant. It is very quick to plug in and walk away. Next time you go out, the car will be full or a few hours will have given it a useful top up. The other option requires a visit to a rapid charger. Most would only use these on trips out of town.
These can get a near empty battery to 80 per cent in around 20-30 minutes — a good break after a few hours of driving.
There have been quite a few studies on electricity network requirements. So long as charging mostly avoids times of peak demand, there is plenty of generating capacity and the infrastructure is already capable of handling the extra load.
Electricity retailers offer incentives to avoid the peak through reduced tariffs on dedicated charging outlets and general 'Time of Use' metering.
Cars can be programmed to avoid charging on the peak.
Finally, as B. Elliston pointed out (Letters, November 11), the output of a modest one kilowatt of rooftop solar generation, about four panels, is sufficient for 10,000km of driving per year.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 27 2017 from M. Flint, co-ordinator Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale
Derek Wrigley (Letters, December16) is right to highlight the need for reliability in the driverless cars of the future.
However, he can expect that the computer technology and artificial intelligence built into these vehicles will assure adequate safety, in conjunction with compatible traffic infrastructure.
The technology will follow that used in aircraft, which for many years now have used safe, triple-redundant computer control.
Modern aircraft are in fact "driverless" for most of the time in the air. In respect of his complaint about lack of discussion in the media, he is being somewhat remiss. On the internet there is no end of information, for and against, about driverless vehicles and their technology; one only needs to read it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 27 2017 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill
The comment that Canberra "will get a gold-plated tram network at the expense of people in Melbourne's outer west" is accurate.
Infrastructure Australia – the apolitical national organisation funded by taxpayers – has never ranked the tram as a national priority.
Hence, it is the case that people in the rest of Australia have missed out because some of their money has been spent on the tram, rather than on a priority project.
Furthermore, the agreement with certain unions means the tram and nearly all other construction activities in the ACT cost more than they need to – "gold plating" – that the community pays for via higher taxes and/or directly (for example, via inflated house construction prices).
At least 2017 ended with some truth from a politician. May the trend continue in2018.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 24 2017 from Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal
M.Flint, in his ongoing campaign against light rail, does occasionally make a valid point, as in his letter of December19. He says that the residents of Canberra are going to pay yearly amounts for light rail, and there are other uses for the money. He is right, but has not followed the argument through.
We can have light rail and the money to use for other purposes if we, the users of light rail, invest in it ourselves. If we agree to use it, we should be allowed to invest in it. When we use it we will get our investment back, plus a good return, and reuse it for some other purpose within Canberra.
If the government permitted users to do this and get a defined return on their money, all the funds to build and operate light rail would stay in Canberra for further use. Many with superannuation are looking for high-return secure investments. Infrastructure projects like light rail are such, but the riders of light rail are not permitted to invest in it.
The opportunity goes to investors outside Canberra, and they line up for it. Instead of giving the opportunity to others, let the riders of light rail pay for it with their investment dollars.
If M.Flint does not want to ride in it, then he does not get the right to invest, and he can stop his tedious complaining, as it is not his money paying for it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 24 2017 from J.Bodsworth, Mawson
Transport Minister Megan Fitzharris said "the popular extension to the Canberra Hospital was dumped due to technical restraints", whatever they were. Perhaps she needs to get rid of the consultants the government would have engaged (with taxpayer funds) to assist them, and engage those with a "can do" attitude. Parking at the hospital is still a problem for visitors.
I agree it should go the the Woden Town Centre precinct, however it would be an extra kilometre of track to get it to the hospital. The government remains tight-lipped about the cost of the two options, although Ms Fitzharris said the cost would be comparable to the $939million expected to be spent on stage1 of the project (really?). Happy to be corrected, but has any ACT government delivered any infrastructure project on time, on budget and on program without cost blowouts?
I suspect that we taxpayers and our children, through higher levies and taxes, will be paying for this light rail for the next decade or so.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 22 2017 from R. Boxall, Hawker
Derek Wrigley (Letters December 16) makes a good point about driverless vehicles. They are generally supported on the basis that people are fallible. With regular use of driverless vehicles, people will become deskilled as drivers or not develop those skills in the first place. As passive occupants, their awareness of traffic around them will decline compared with the need to stay alert when in control of a vehicle.
Reaction times will, therefore, be longer even if it is possible to interfere with the control of a driverless vehicle.
A separate point about electric vehicles in general that never seems to be discussed is what will happen when they become the norm and have to be recharged.
How long does this take and how frequently will it be necessary?
How large an electricity supply system will be needed to cope when numerous vehicles are connected at the same time?
The present system of petrol stations is quite separate from the domestic power supply and vehicles can pop in, top up and be out within five minutes – not so with recharging electrically.
Some information on this issue would be useful.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 22 2017 from Maria Greene, Curtin
I get it. Too many car trips in Canberra. So we need to improve public transport. Let's make the trips longer than current bus trips and force commuters to change two or three times. That works. Naysayers, look at the Gold Coast.
Yes, I know there's a hospital and a university on the route, but we'll have Woden Plaza. The White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter assure me that's even better.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 22 2017 from John L Smith, Farre
I offer some comments in response to Derek Wrigley's "apprehensions about the safety of driverless vehicles" (Letters, December 15).
Chief Executive of the National Transport Commission, Paul Retter, announced on November 13 that "[Transport] Ministers have agreed to a goal of having an end-to-end regulatory system in place by 2020 to support the safe, commercial deployment of automated vehicles at all levels of automation." Wrigley's remark that "all users of computers will be aware of the many times that digital technology can go inexplicably wrong" is misleading in the context of driverless vehicles.
Most commercial software has a very short time to market, and is often released with an attitude of let the user find the errors.
Safety critical systems have long development times, redundant hardware, and rigorous change procedures. Autonomous vehicle research began at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg in the 1960s.
Waymo/Google started its driverless vehicle project in 2009. Waymo announced its first driverless vehicle service in November this year, following years of testing on city roads.
Soon the public will have to gauge the risks of electric, shared, autonomous vehicles against a demonstrably unsafe and increasingly uneconomical system of privately owned and driven vehicles.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 21 2017 from Ryan Hemsley, Wright
I write in response to a letter published on December 20: "Garth Setchell fears that light rail stage 2 will 'destroy' Commonwealth Avenue."
It is worth noting that Walter Burley Griffin himself intended for trams to cross the lake along this road. This can clearly be seen both in the original competition plan and in later, more detailed road plans.
That said, the relevance of the Griffin plans to the design of contemporary light rail in Canberra fades once the line ventures south of the lake.
While Griffin's geometry for this area has largely been implemented, the land use is entirely different.
Adelaide Avenue has been stripped of its four to five-storey mixed-use terraces and is instead a vast, empty freeway.
The Parliamentary Zone, intended to contain 10 government departments, now features a handful of cultural institutions scattered throughout a manicured green space, with the departments having shifted east to Barton.
Indeed, the presence of Barton poses the greatest challenge to light rail stage 2. The creation of an employment
hub off the NCDC's designated inter-town public transport route has serious implications for the future design of the entire light rail network. Do you bypass Barton completely, focusing solely on point-to-point efficiency (route 1)? Or do you sacrifice some of that directness to service an area with employment numbers comparable with Canberra's other town centres (route 2)? It's a question that highlights the challenges of retrofitting a fixed-line transport system to a city retrofitted for the car.
I await the incoming business case with bated breath.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 21 2017 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
Most of your readers will have read with a complete sense of bemusement the report on stage 2 of Light Rail ("No hospital stop on Woden line", December 19, p1).
Where else but Canberra would a extremely efficient bus service from Civic to Woden be replaced by a tram service that takes twice as long to connect to the same two points. The present bus service takes around 17 minutes from Civic to Woden. The proposed tram route will take around double that time.
To spend around a billion dollars to install an inferior service is a low point even for the Barr government. And to do it at a time when we have the second-highest rate of homelessness in an Australian city shows an indifference to the needy that is not what we are.
Then, adding insult to injury, they have provided no business case. They have no grant from Infrastructure Australia, and they are perilously close to going into the red with the Civic-Gungahlin light rail.
Our present ACT government will be remembered in future years for all the wrong reasons.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 21 2017 from John L.Smith, Farrer
Of course a spur light rail line to Canberra Hospital is not viable ("No hospital stop on Woden line", December19, p1). How could a trip from Civic that would take 40 minutes ever attract passengers, despite inadequate parking at the hospital? Also, it would have required an expensive sky rail to deliver passengers in proximity to the hospital.
So, we are back to an inter-town service that cannot compete with the express bus link. Meanwhile, the prospect of electric, shared, autonomous small vehicles completely changing how we live, work and design our cities is looking increasingly likely within a decade.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 21 2017 from Roger Quarterman, Campbell
Your report on the light rail route to Woden ("No hospital stop on Woden line", December19, p1) states: "MsFitzharris said community feedback revealed a need to place the light rail route near 'as many of the key employment hubs and national institutions as possible in the Parliamentary Triangle'."
Brilliant! If the ACT government "Ministry of Light Rail" needs community feedback to alert them to such an absolutely basic principle of transport planning, there must be an acute lack of expertise in the organisation.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 21 2017 from C. Williams, Forrest
Before the Barr government spends close to a billion dollars on extending the tram line to Woden, perhaps consideration could be given to providing $100 million for a fast train between Canberra and Sydney?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2017 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
Derek Wrigley (Letters, December 16) asks crucial questions about the safety of driverless vehicles.
Leaders in the imminent deployment of fleets of autonomous vehicles such as Google's Waymo, GM, Ford, Nissan, Mercedes and BMW are acutely aware of the necessity for fault tolerance, back-up systems and graceful failure: their commercial viability relies on it.
The hundreds of vehicles Waymo are preparing for their launch of a fully autonomous, travel-on-demand system in Phoenix within the next few months have full back-up systems for steering, braking, computing and power, and run thousands of self-checks each second.
GM are building their third-generation autonomous vehicles with triple and, for some functions, quadruple back-up systems.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development reports 1295 deaths from road accidents in 2016 and 35,500 hospitalisations in 2014, at an annual economic cost of $27 billion and devastating social consequences. Unlike humans, autonomous vehicles are not distracted, impatient, careless, drunk ortired.
Like Phoenix, Canberra has an excellent road network, and it will be at most four years before we'll see fleets of autonomous vehicles offering 24/7, door-to-door, on-demand travel for a fraction of the cost of current public and private transport.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2017 from Garth Setchell, Mawson
If Mr Barr really wants to win over "southside" residents re the next stage of Canberra's light rail he must first come clean about how he proposes to negotiate Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and Commonwealth Avenue in the vicinity of the Albert Hall and the Hotel Canberra.
Only Option 1 has a hope of coming close to matching the travel time of the existing bus service between Civic and Woden.
Option 2, while it may attract those working in Parkes and Barton, will add at least 15 minutes to the through journey.
That is not to say that Parkes and Barton, and indeed Russell, Kingston and Manuka, aren't deserving of a service if Canberra is to genuinely espouse light rail, but they (plus an Airport and Belconnen service) need to be adjuncts to the Tuggeranong/Woden/Civic/Gungahlin trunk route.
As for the Option 1 route, rather than destroying Commonwealth Avenue, why not leave Adelaide Avenue at State Circle, then down Flynn Drive to an elegant new tramway/foot bridge across to Acton Peninsula and thence via London Circuit or Marcus Clarke St to Civic?
It is interesting that P. M. Button (Letters, December 15) reminded us of Griffin's proposal for a third lake crossing (admittedly a footbridge) at this point.
Such a light rail route would add minimal extra time between Woden and Civic and could be connected to a loop back to Civic via Manuka, Kingston, Parkes, Barton and Russell. It would also better serve Acton and the ANU.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2017 from John Mason, Latham
I should like to thank Derek Wrigley for his useful letter regarding driverless vehicles (Letters, December 16). My suspicion is that a driverless car future for Canberra is being promoted largely by people who are too old to drive safely, and find public transport off-putting, as it might require physical effort and interaction with one's fellow citizens.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2017 from M. Flint, Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale
Mike Black (Letters, December 16) seems to be taking a cheap shot at those who oppose light rail in Canberra in suggesting mature individuals would stoop to the level of brainless graffiti vandals to spray the newly arrived tram. It is always sad to see emotion overrule rationality.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 18 2017 from Mike Quirk, Garran
The ACT government's Housing Choices discussion paper competently raises issues associated with increasing the quality and quantity of housing in existing suburbs.
An exploration of housing choice also needs to look at transport, employment location and the factors reducing housing affordability.
Accessibility to employment is a major consideration in housing choice.
Canberra's historical development strategy, based on new towns, each with a major employment centre was an attempt to reduce travel and to meet the population's then overwhelming preference for low-density living.
While the ability of the ACT government to influence employment location is primarily limited to ensuring sites are available (although it should be doing much more to engage the Commonwealth to locate in the town centres, including Gungahlin), it can increase accessibility to employment by improving transport infrastructure.
Unfortunately the government's urban management is leading to car-dependent new suburbs, a congested inner city and increased housing prices.
There is an urgent need to improve the accessibility of the developing suburbs by increasing the frequency and comfort of public transport services.
The obsession with light rail will limit the improvement in transport services possible.
I fear the increase in demand for higher-density dwellings is being driven as much by increasing congestion and housing unaffordability as changing lifestyle preference.
The issue needs to be looked at in detail in the delayed review of the ACT Planning Strategy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 15 2017 from John Milne, Chapman
Greens crossbencher Caroline Le Couteur ("Shelter closure spurs call for funding review", December 11, p2) says, "Our public housing and affordable housing is not keeping up with the population growth in the ACT."
Stop the unnecessary and costly light rail project, and use the money where it is needed. That is, for constructing public housing, so women and kids won't have to sleep in cars. Then the government will be getting its spending priorities right.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 11 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
The ACT government's light rail organisation lodged a clearly expensive and detailed works approval application to the National Capital Authority for the demolition of the significant Northbourne Avenue landscaped median-strip public spaces in between the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings, and for the installation of a new flat featureless area there called "Northbourne Plaza".
The application describes it as an attractive and permanent improvement.
Clearly it's about clearing the precinct for City-Woden tram infrastructure.
The current City-Gungahlin tram works terminate one block north, and the City-Woden tram scheme has not been decided upon or approved.
The application has now been withdrawn.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 1 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
While driving west along Parkes Way from the ANU underpass, many of your readers will have noticed that the bridges over Sullivan's Creek are now called the Sir Mark Oliphant bridges, presumably because of their proximity to the Research School of Physics.
There are actually four bridges, two in each direction, all widened to three lanes a few years ago. If you drive westward in the centre lane, you will observe that the first bridge you see one of those actually designated the Sir Mark Oliphant bridge hasn't been finished. The footings are in place but the beams that would carry the roadway aren't.
It would cost a minute fraction of the cost of the Great Northern Tram Green Elephant to complete the bridge, probably less than it cost to build the inner city bike path which carries perhaps sixty bikes an hour, compared with the sixty cars every few minutes that go over those bridges.
What an insult to the great man to name a bridge after him that hasn't even been completed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 30 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Apart from being dumb, expensive, and unwanted, the proposed Civic-Woden tram (John L Smith, Letters, November 25) could offend the Crown, with its Australian Representative likely to (discreetly) object to the loss of the wonderful views from Dunrossil Drive of the treasured town-separating greenbelt and horse paddocks, which the ACT Government needs to sell to developers as part of the tram scheme.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 28 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
I stopped reading Ian Warden 20 years ago, but was tipped off about his comment that "Calling a tram the Red Herring could humour the anti-tram troglodytes by hinting at the ways in which the ACT government has allegedly misled us about the light rail's breathtaking costs" ("A streetcar named Desiree", Panorama, November 25, p2).
Mr Warden, the costs are indeed 'breathtaking', for 12km of track, at $1.4 billion (2016 prices) even though the government insists it is only $939 million, through use of a dubious costing practice.
Mr Warden and others seduced by the romanticism of European trams, love to call themselves "progressives" but what is progressive about wasting so much money on a technology rapidly being overtaken by new modes of transport?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 25 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
Jack Kershaw laments that "Griffin's vision [is] being ruined by short-sightedness" (Letters, November 23), to which I would add: so is Canberra's transport future. Driverless urban transport is now being widely acknowledged with three national items noted in the last two weeks.
First, transport ministers have agreed to a goal of having an end-to-end regulatory system in place by 2020 to support the safe, commercial deployment of automated vehicles at all levels of automation. Second, the chief executive of Cabcharge said driverless taxis are likely to be operating in Australia by 2026. Third, NRMA chairman Kyle Loades wrote in the latest issue of Open Road of the rise of "automation, connectivity and sharing in mobility".
The latter comment should be emphasised. It is now possible to plan for an unequalled form of urban passenger transport that would render the private car obsolete in our urban confines.
Meanwhile, as the silly season approaches, Canberrans have to brace themselves for the silliest announcement of all – a Civic to Woden tram line!
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 25 2017 from James Bodsworth, Phillip
It's become extremely difficult to find anyone who would freely admit they voted Labor.
Could this be due to the ever increasing rates, stamp duty, electricity, gas, water and numerous other charges and levies imposed on us through this current ACT Labor government?
The general response I get is, "I didn't vote for them".
Makes you wonder how they got in.
Now that I live in Phillip/Woden, I am looking forward to the tram arriving and the financial contribution through higher taxes made by other residents of the ACT who may not get any direct benefits from it.
Not much different to the first stage of the tram I guess.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 24 2017 from Don Sephton, Greenway
We have been told the first of the "tram" cars is on its way from Spain to Canberra and will arrive before the end of the year.
We have also been told the government is pushing to have the "light rail" system up and running by late 2018.
Why has delivery of the tram cars been arranged for so early in the process? What's going to happen to them over the approximately nine months (or more) between delivery and going in to service?
Are they going to sit in a warehouse somewhere gathering dust (and rust?) and all the while incurring lease charges on their storage (ultimately payable by the taxpayer)?
Surely delivery in the middle of 2018 would have been a more sensible — and cost-effective — option?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 20 2017 from Bruce Taggart, Aranda
Given that every kilometre of light rail costs more than $100 million and that the former ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher adopted such a high cost/low benefit form of public transport for partisan political purposes (to secure Greens' support to hang on to government), the decision can properly be described (consistently with the findings of the Auditor-General) as more reckless than wise. With construction of stage one well underway, I suggest that giving the stations and trams frivolous names, instead of boringly (and belatedly) wise ones, would be more consistent with the true nature of the government's light rail decision-making processes. So in that vein my suggested tram names are "Developer's Delight", "CFMEU Choo Choo", "Tammany McTram" and "Juicy Jam" and "Sweet Snarl" (to reflect the likely impact of light rail on peak period traffic flows on Northbourne Avenue). I also strongly support the previously suggested, "Rattenbury's Rattler".
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 20 2017 from Peter Toscan, Amaroo
Only a few weeks ago Labor was decrying the demise of the car manufacturing industry when the last Holden rolled off the assembly line, blaming the Liberal party for lack of support. Yet here's our Labor party having "our" trams built in Spain. If Melbourne can boast about the construction of its new fleet in Melbourne — ie "made in Melbourne for Melbourne" adorns the side of each new tram — why did we have to go to Spain for "ours"?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 20 2017 from Adjunct Associate Professor Joseph Ting, Queensland University of Technology.
Self-driving cars and buses using complex algorithms and in-time sensing of other traffic within their proximity will substantially reduce collision risk with vulnerable and exposed pedestrians and cyclists who make do without the shield of an outer carapace. This safety gain is reassuring even if preliminary trials demonstrate more accidents with careless human drivers. Pedestrians and cyclists will be subjected to reduced risk of severe injury and death in impacts with automated vehicles that have been programmed to be overly cautious. Driver error, road rage, impatience and anger will be minimised as automated vehicles replace badly behaved and impatient drivers. Although it is impossible to completely eliminate accident risk, drivers who become passengers will no longer need to face the daily stresses of behind the steering wheel commuting. Surely this will translate into community level public health benefits.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 16 2017 from Juliet Ramsay, Burra, NSW
Comments in the letter by Murray Upton (Letters, November14) reflect the anguish and anger many feel about the West Basin and City to the Lake proposal. The forthcoming stage of the work — the infill of two hectares of lake bed is, according to the City Renewal Authority, still on the works plan to commence next year. This stage alone is detrimental in taking the nation's lake bed area, reducing the size of the basin and damaging the naturalistic lake edge. It will give the basin an edging of a ubiquitous concrete promenade, and the lake infill will cover the existing little beaches and wooden jetty while its retaining wall will cause increased wave action. The proposed expanded foreshore area is part of the planned wedging tactic. The first step, Point Park, now named the Henry Rolland Park, is an expensive development that will provide an attractive landscape setting for the forthcoming apartments. The next step is to proceed with the lake bed infill for an expanded central foreshore area and then, when it suits the government, sell off the remaining Acton Park, including some of the foreshore for private apartments. The bridging of Parkes Way remains a future black hole. It appears the light rail is causing a rethink and the City Renewal Authority may well be working on a review of the West Basin master plan, but when is it going to involve community groups? The West Basin project is not for housing the needy, it will leave a distasteful legacy from a Labor-Greens government – of privatising public parkland for elite vista-blocking apartments.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 15 2017 from Rohan Goyne, Evatt
I refer to the recent article about the first Canberra light-rail carriage being transported from Spain. It would seem opportune to consider naming each carriage after prominent Canberrans who have made a significant contribution to the city. Maybe your paper could co-ordinate a competition seeking suggestions that could be judged by a panel of community members.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 15 2017 from Danny Corvini, Deakin
The construction of the light rail along Northbourne Avenue is well under way, but are we missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform it into a boulevard of the highest international standards? Separated bike paths would ensure the route is truly safe for family cyclists while electric car charging stations would ensure the needs of the near-future are met. A new body set up by the government to ensure all new development is of the highest architectural standards would prevent it from becoming a boulevard of generic apartment blocks, a trajectory that it looks like we're on.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2017 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
The problems with the City to Lake project ("Cloud on City to Lake pool plans", November 7, p1) appear to stem from sheer, utter incompetence on behalf of the ACT government's Planning Directorate. This project, which has already had a string of changes and downgradings to the stadium, convention centre, the Olympic Pool, the lowering of Parkes Way, and now the axing of the "recreational pool" is finally to be reviewed. It was clearly yet another of the ACT government's ill-conceived "thought bubbles". Malcolm Snow, the City Renewal Authority's chief executive, states that "it would be inappropriate to pursue the current master plan", and the ACT government had asked the authority to "come forward with some clear revitalisation strategies". He has also advised that his board had "expressed the desire to re-examine some of the basic assumptions behind the West Basin" and whether the government could actually receive the expected financial returns. The ACT government must be congratulated on this move and take the opportunity to entirely scrap the West Basin extension into Lake Burley Griffin, rid the area of housing, and convert the entire area into an accessible city park that our citizens can enjoy; hopefully with a pool. This would indeed revitalise the area.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2017 from Mike Quirk, Garran
I agree with Scott Humphries' (Letters,November 13) observation about the inadequacy of implementation of the NCDC's town centre policy. The town centres were to have substantial employment, retail, and community facilities and services primarily serving their respective town populations. The policies have been implemented with reasonable success, with the exception of Gungahlin. The failure to attract major Commonwealth offices to Gungahlin is primarily a product of the responsibility for location being devolved to individual departments and the inability to control the level of office development at the airport, a product of the bureaucratic weakness of the National Capital Authority and ACT planning. The problem was exacerbated by the pace of development of Gungahlin being higher than desirable as a consequence of delays in Molonglo's development. The result is the high level of commuting to work from Gungahlin and associated congestion from inadequate provision of transport infrastructure. As Professor Troy has observed, light rail is a poor attempt to compensate for this transport issue. It is essential that effort be made to encourage employment at the Gungahlin Town Centre through incentives, having development-ready sites available, and the advocacy by the ACT government of the centre, which would greatly assisted by evidence from a robust review of the ACT planning strategy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
Your report on the first tram to leave Spain bound for Canberra (November 10) contrasts with another news item out of Portugal two days earlier. John Krafcik, chief executive of Google's sister company Waymo, speaking at a technical conference in Lisbon announced that from mid-October Waymo has been operating its autonomous minivans on public roads in Chandler, a part of Phoenix Arizona, without a safety driver. At this stage a Waymo employee is in the vehicle. The next step for Waymo is a commercial ride-hail service, in which riders can hail one of the company's autonomous minivans via an app. "People will get to use our fleet of on-demand vehicles, to do anything from commute to work, get home from a night out, or run errands," Krafcik said. I think this is a serious prospect for Canberra's roads by 2030. Unfortunately, under Barr and Rattenbury I only foresee a conventional city clogged with cars. Will any of the high-rise buildings planned for Northbourne not boast underground parking for tenants' cars? The government ought to heed the advice of recent letter writers and plan to run a couple of old Melbourne trams up and down Northbourne because, whatever the type of tram, they will be mainly for show.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2017 from John Davenport, Farrer
With reference to Russ Morison's featured letter "Canberra public transport fails us ... " (Letters, November 11), the people who actually use Action Buses are happy with the service and are aware that the bus is not an exclusive taxi service from our home to our sole destination, but actually has to stop and pick up and set down others passengers and travel via interchanges. I enjoy the interaction with passengers and would also like to extend a big thank you to the helpful and pleasant bus drivers, and the young people who offer their seat if the bus is crowded.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2017 from Lee Welling, Nicholls
The big drawback with electric cars is the long charging times for batteries and it's this that puts most people off buying one. Can't manufacturers design cars that will accept rapid slot-out/slot-in batteries in the same way as swap and go BBQ gas bottles are changed? Another advantage would be that storage of fully charged, or charging, batteries at servos would surely be more economical than it is for storing liquid fuels. And, of course, truck deliveries would be reduced to a minimum.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
Ben Elliston is correct to say electric vehicles are more efficient than internal combustion vehicles (Letters, November 11). He cites an efficiency of only 20 per cent for internal combustion vehicles (due to large thermal losses), which is about right for most. He says an electric vehicle is about 90per cent efficient. That may be the case for "battery to wheels" for some electric vehicles but it is more like 60 per cent for "grid to wheels", i.e. including recharging batteries. A comparison of the relative cost of energy per 100 kilometres for a Tesla-sized electric vehicle versus a similar sized/weight internal combustion vehicle shows an energy consumed cost advantage of about 2.8. He is also generally correct to say a solar array producing 1KWh could power a Tesla-sized electric vehicle over 10,000 kilometres per year. Although he does not mention the cost of the solar power, it is about $200 a year for a one KWh array, compared with equivalent grid power in Canberra of about $365. Nevertheless, even with an energy consumption advantage of 2.8:1 for electric vehicles, that is still a great deal of renewable power — home solar or grid — to be generated to replace internal combustion vehicles with electric vehicles. I wonder if Elliston owns an electric vehicle and if not, why not?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 12 2017 from Scott Humphries, Curtin
Ian Warden makes many assumptions in his denunciation of letter-writing fogeys ("Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin should have planned for a large capital", November 4). Quoting from my letter of November 1, Mr Warden suggests that I and my ilk are (1) unrealistically sentimental about the Griffins' plans, (2) opposed to growth, (3) dismissive of post-Griffin planning, and (4) cranky and aged. I admire the Griffins' ideas and do lament what might have been, but not fervently so. Times change and so must cities (they essentially planned a pre-automobile-era city). I merely pointed out their plans were not implemented as proposed. I noted too that the Griffins envisaged higher density suburbs — which could have accommodated growth better than the low density suburbs built instead. I'm not opposed to growth and support careful, centrally-planned densification with increased housing options, especially around town centres and transit corridors. I also appreciate the NCDC's planning policies, even the satellite towns which absorbed huge population growth in the 1960s and '70s. My concern is more with the poor execution than the idea, particularly our dreary town centres. Singapore also used this model but more successfully with its bustling satellite hubs connected by rapid mass transit (not that Canberra should be like Singapore, or anywhere else, but it's useful to learn from other cities). Finally, I may be a fogey, but at 42 I'm not quite a 'grey disgruntled mammoth' yet!
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2017 from Ben Elliston, Hawker
M. Flint asks "what hope is there of renewable energy replacing the truly massive energy content of liquid fuels used by vehicles?" (Letters, November 6). The energy demand of transport is not quite so massive given that most of the energy in liquid fuels is converted to waste heat. The tank-to-wheel efficiency of internal combustion engine cars is typically around 20 per cent, whereas electric motors convert electrical energy into motion at around 90 per cent efficiency. A small electric car requires about 13 kWh of electricity to travel 100 kilometres. Even a heavier, high-performance Tesla requires not much more. The electricity to run an electric car can be readily sourced from additional solar PV generation. Every kilowatt of solar PV installed in Canberra generates enough electricity to drive an electric car for about 10,000 kilometres per year. You can make your own "fuel" at a price that is fixed for the life of the PV system. The local petrol station becomes the place to buy milk at short notice.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2017 from Russ Morison, Theodore
It is no wonder Canberrans reject public transport. I asked Transport for Canberra to take me from Calwell Park and Ride to Belconnen to get there by 10am. Three journeys were offered, each an hour-and-a-half, give or take. I know it's not peak time but who has three hours to give to ACTION Transport Planners? Add the farce that is Canberra light rail – the theoretical $600 million initiative, the new Park and Ride Wanniassa, which should be on Drakeford Drive – and you can see someone doesn't know what they are doing and expecting the rest of us to pay for it. Give it up, Mr Barr. Wake up before it is too late. Until you actually speak with car users, you will continue to get minimal patronage.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2017 from Chris Emery, Reid
When will ACTION replace its often-quoted policy that buses only need to be on time at "timing points". I caught one of the new rapid services recently with a driver who travelled so dangerously fast that we were seven minutes ahead of the sign-posted time at the bus stop where I alighted, which was one stop before a timing point. Receiving the explanation that the bus would have waited at the timing point for seven minutes to get back on schedule does not help the many people who would have already missed this bus. I am told that the NXTBUS system warns the driver immediately if they are ahead of schedule, but not all drivers take notice. How much ahead of schedule will the tram be allowed to run, remembering they will be less frequent than the existing buses?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 8 2017 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
Gina Pinkas (Letters, November 7) , asks the very pertinent question of why extreme high rise development can take place in town centres. The main reason is because both Labor and the Liberals supported legislation that third party objections would not be considered in town centres. In short ACTPLA and the developer determine what is appropriate. With ACTPLA's track record of falling over backwards to accommodate developers this is not in the public interest. I hope that at the next election voters will increasingly vote for independents. The present political balance is most definitely not in the public interest. We have two parties that will wring every cent they can out of us and support development at any cost to the beauty of Canberra.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2017 from Ray Edmondson, former chair, the Federation Line Inc., Kambah
applaud John Davenport's proposal (Letters, November 7) to run vintage trams on Sundays along the new light rail line. It would complete Walter Burley Griffin's vision of having trams of his vintage running down Northbourne Avenue. And it would be easy. When the promoters of the Federation Line brought two trams to Canberra to give rides on a demonstration track, one of them was a Melbourne W class. It had been restored in the livery of Canberra's original bus service and emblazoned with the legend "Federal Capital Commission Tramways". Our research suggested that Canberra would have used the the new Melbourne W class design as most suitable for Canberra's climate, and that had the lines been laid at the time, this is what Canberra's tram service would have looked like. During the demonstrations it became the first tram to run under power in Canberra. It is now part of the collection at the Sydney Tramway Museum. Why not bring this tram to Canberra to be part of the opening ceremonies of the new line? What could be more historically appropriate? And what an iconic media image.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 9 2017 from Alan Robertson, Campbell
It is encouraging to read that the City Renewal Authority's board is revisiting plans for the entire City to the Lake project. I am sure the board will recognise the project lost all meaning when it was revealed the $400 million cost of lowering and covering Parkes Way was economically impossible. Without this connection West Basin would become an isolated, traffic noise-addled pocket of housing further isolating the lakefront from the city. The authority's board should resolve to return $37 million of the budgeted funds to government coffers and spend the remaining $1 million on bringing the boardwalk to land, creating separate pedestrian and bike paths around to the museum, and landscaping the West Basin parkland into something we can be proud of.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 9 2017 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
The ACT government has again demonstrated its penchant for doing less while slugging its subjects more by abdicating its responsibility to keep vegetation away from power lines. ("ACTpower bills to jump $10 after tree trim transfer to ActewAGL", canberratimes.com.au, November5). Consumer Affairs Minister Shane Rattenbury's claim costs would reduce as outages would not be needed after three to five years is a blatant admission the government has again failed ratepayers by an inadequate service. Still, we have to pay for the tram somehow and the government has found yet another way to effectively charge every household and business another $40 or so each year.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 8 2017 from Leon Arundell, Downer
How does the government plan to achieve its public transport commitments?
When Labor committed to light rail it made a more important commitment, to increase the journey-to-work mode share to 10.5 per cent by 2016 and to 16 per cent by 2026.
Recent census data shows that the 2016 mode share was just over 8 per cent and car use is increasing.
On present trends, even with stage two of light rail, public transport mode won't even reach a 10 per cent mode share by 2026.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 7 2017 from John Davenport, Farrer
Back in the 1998 to 2001 period, the Canberra Liberal Government under Kate Carnell and Gary Humphries, championed the seven-kilometre Federation tram line from the National Museum to the War Memorial via Civic, using vintage trams from Melbourne and Sydney.
We even had a refurbished Sydney R1 Class tram and a Melbourne W Class tram painted in Federation Line colours in Canberra for a few weeks, so we could envisage these trams operating in our city.
With many serviceable iconic Melbourne W Class trams in storage awaiting new owners and vintage Sydney trams available from the Sydney Tram Museum, would it be possible to run vintage trams on services on our new light rail tracks from Civic to a permanent Sunday market and the various exhibitions at EPIC?
On the way back, passengers could dine at Chinatown in Dickson or that night enjoy the restaurant tram on a journey over the new light rail tracks.
These vintage tram rides would be an attraction for Canberrans and tourists, as are the refurbished W Class trams that provide the popular City Circle tourist tram service and the equally popular restaurant tram in Melbourne.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 5 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
Graham Downie (Letters, November 2) is spot on as usual.
I have often wondered about the aspirations of those people believing in an omni-present electric vehicle (EV) future.
If we cannot keep the lights on now and with electricity also at its most expensive, what hope is there of renewable energy replacing the truly massive energy content of liquid fuels used by vehicles?
Penetration of EVs in the vehicle market is still less than 3 per cent but tipped to grow to about 16 per cent in two decades, worldwide.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 5 2017 from Dick Varley, Braidwood, NSW
Electric vehicles powered from renewable sources are the future
I believe electric public transport, now being trialled, should take precedence over private electric cars and that it should be free.
I have an electric car used by my daughter's family.
They have a grid feed photovoltaic system as do I, although mine is stand alone.
For now, recharging at the company's stations costs nothing and their goal is to have these stations powered by renewable energy although that would not appear to be 100 per cent at present.
More enlightened countries, Norway for example, not only subsidise the purchase of electric vehicles but offer further inducements such as priority lane usage, parking and insurance concessions etc.
I have bought mains electricity for only 18 months in this century when I was in a rented house and, from memory, paid an additional $30 a quarter for green energy.
For those who can afford this extra it would push the balance towards renewable energy whether they want to charge an electric car or not.
If all this fails, it has long since been demonstrated that electric vehicles, powered by fossil-fuel produced electricity, account for fewer emissions than an internal combustion engine.
Have no doubt, electric vehicles powered from renewable sources are the way of the future, if we are to have one.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 4 2017 from Paul Pentony, Hackett
Graham Downie (Letters, November 2) is right that, in the absence of changes to electricity pricing mechanisms, a mass deployment of electric vehicles could worsen peak demand in much the same way that the rapid take-up of airconditioners already has.
However, introducing intelligent networks and a sensible pricing scheme could make these vehicles an asset to the network. Most commuters will use much less than their vehicles' maximum range in a single day. Once home the battery should have enough charge to be able to comfortably return some electricity to the house or the grid during the peak evening period. The battery could then be recharged during the late night-early morning off-peak period.
In this way electric vehicles could actually reduce peak load.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 3 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
Graham Downie (Letters, November 2) is wrong to assert that rapid transition to electric vehicles for urban passenger transport is not a sound strategy.
It has been shown that all urban passenger transport in Canberra currently undertaken in motorised vehicles could be met by an electric vehicle fleet consuming an average 2.5 gigawatt-hours of energy per day. This compares with the current peak daily electrical energy consumption in winter of about 10 gigawatt-hours per day.
Given the duty cycle of cars, most recharging could be scheduled at night after the peak demand for electricity has passed, and so the move to electric cars would not cause a significant increase in the peak demand which is the determinant of the required generator inventory on the grid.
Moreover, by smoothing out the major trough in the 24-hour cycle of demand for electricity, the economics for base load generator inventory would be improved.
Even if there were an increase in the amount of gas or coal fired electricity generation, one large generator strategically located on the grid is surely more efficient and less polluting than 100,000 fossil-fuelled vehicles stop/starting in the daily urban traffic.
This is just another indicator of how uninformed it is to lay steel rails in concrete to meet Canberra's future transport needs.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 3 2017 from Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor
I was very interested in the letter from Scott Humphries (Letters, November 1) about the Griffins' plan for Canberra and the ridiculous Y plan and decentralised town centres we now have.
What a lovely vision was the Griffins' plan: "A compact and low-rise but mostly medium-density city with terraced houses along tree-lined avenues served by a streetcar network".
Such a city would be so much more environmentally sound and more socially connected than the crazy, widespread small city we have inherited from the unthinking bureaucratic planners.
Can we stop the spread?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 2 2017 from Catherine Danes, Bonnerr
I live in Gungahlin and watch the progress of "The Tram". While this project has been managed as efficiently as possible there certainly are some inconveniences.
My concern, I travel by car down Northbourne most days sometime after 9am.
I would be lucky to see one to two people people at any bus stop.
Who will be using this tram after completion? Is it a white elephant?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 2 2017 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
Moves to encourage, even subsidise the take-up of electric vehicles seem to overlook the increasing cost and possible shortage of electricity.
The assumption that electric vehicles will reduce emissions is also questionable, based on the belief the energy will be supplied by renewable sources.
Setting targets for electric vehicles as proposed by environment and sustainability commissioner Professor Kate Auty must surely include a realistic understanding of the impact on the already stressed electricity network and the likely source of this extra demand.
Charging millions of vehicles in the ACT and NSW alone would, as things stand, almost certainly require generation by gas or coal, doing little if anything to reduce emissions.
Subsidising in any form the purchase or operation of any private vehicle should be discouraged, particularly in Canberra where the government has failed to provide adequate public transport.
That is why passenger vehicles account for 75 per cent of emissions in the ACT, with 69per cent of Canberrans driving to work.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 2 2017 from Ryan Hemsley, Wright
Jack Kershaw (Letters, October 30) says "The just-released Draft Greater Sydney Region Plan proposes multiple town centres to deal with myriad urban problems."
Hopefully Sydney doesn't take Canberra's own polycentric urban form too literally. The area required to build parking structures for a car-reliant district population of 1.5 million would be astronomical.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 2 2017 from Patrick O'Hara, Isaacs
Stan Marks, (Letters, October 30), the trams are here. It is rather pointless saying that in your opinion they shouldn't be. They are here and they are not going away. Please, give us all a break and move on.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 30 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Ryan Hemsley (Letters, October 26) says "The hard reality is that many of Canberra's town centres are the product of now-outdated urban planning ideologies".
The just-released Draft Greater Sydney Region Plan proposes multiple town centres to deal with myriad urban problems, and conurbation growth.
Canberra is ready for that.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 30 2017 from Wayne Grant, Swinger Hill
Ryan Hemsley's letter ("Town Centres victims of outdated urban planning ideologies", Letters, October 26) could be rightly expanded to note that Canberra town centres and Civic have no hearts and are just concrete blocks selling goods.
They have no green central parks where people can congregate, meet other people and perhaps just chill out.
Walter Burley Griffin should have been sacked for not including that in his planning.
It's too late now, however, and as the saying goes no heart then no soul.
We must become concrete huggers and learn to bond with commercial buildings.
Evidently this position adequately represents the new age, highly commercialised world we now live in where town and city centres have become a highly prized asset of developers and their concrete blocks.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 30 2017 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
I would like to reassure Ryan Hemsley (Letters, October 25) that my concerns, and those of Jimmy Jack and Stan Marks (Letters, October 22), are not to thwart any particular plans but to try desperately to save Canberra from becoming just another over-crowded, over-developed, and congested city.
Hemsley appears to be mistaken in his concept of the NCDC's 1967 "Y Plan".
The NCDC made a deliberate choice to "preserve the open character of the city" by providing for a series of self-contained towns each with its own business offices, shopping centres and schools; forms which, in his latest writing (Letters, October 26), Hemsley agrees with.
The fact that these town centres are not now sustainable and are causing the congestion problems we currently face are solely due to the ACT government's lack of adequate planning expertise.
They have failed (deliberately?) to develop these centres as they were intended.
Despite the ACT government's production of grandiose "Spatial Plans" in 2004 and again in 2012 that were full of meaningless "motherhood" statements no proper master plans have ever eventuated.
We have witnessed one ad hoc, disastrous development or debacle, after another.
There is no doubt that our Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, deserves the no confidence motion moved against him on Wednesday.
The destruction of our fine city under his government's watch must not be allowed to continue.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 30 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Auriel Barlow's point (Letters, October 27) that Northbourne Avenue is a construction site and so is obviously ugly is true but that is just one small part of the reason why the tram should never have been built.
But her claim that, had this happened 30 years ago, we would have trams to all town centres and the airport is rubbish. In 1987, the city's transport needs were well met by a good network of intertown express buses, the old 333, and no one in their right mind would have suggested the construction of a $5 billion tram system when there was no need for it, then as now.
Gungahlin was launched in 1991 by Gary Humphries as chief minister.
Cate Carnell was chief minister from 1995-2001 and she is on the public record as saying that her government looked at building a tram line but it wasn't a goer.
Jon Stanhope was boss from 2001-11 and he is also on the public record as saying that the tram didn't stack up. It wasn't until Katy Gallagher needed Green support to form government in 2012 that we got the tram, driven by politics not by demand.
As for the airport, it was never going to get a tram.
Bus services have been tried from time to time but have never succeeded.
Business travellers arriving at the airport will always take a taxi because they cannot be bothered to wait for a bus and they want something that will take them exactly where they want to go.
They don't want to have to lug their luggage to the hotel or the office, if they can find it.
There is a train to Sydney airport but business travellers don't use it, they take taxis.
Most recreational travellers either have their own car or are picked up by friends or relatives. They won't use a tram either.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 27 2017 from Mike Quirk, Garran
I share John L. Smith's concerns about the extension of light rail.
The project is a monument to the arrogance and stupidity of the Barr-Rattenbury government and to a compliant and under-skilled bureaucracy.
Federally the Greens and Labor parties are rightfully concerned about the lack of analysis with the Coalition's energy policy, yet in Canberra these parties are committed to extend light rail without any assessment.
The transport task it is addressing could be performed by improvements to the bus network at a fraction of the cost.
The funds saved could be used on more socially worthwhile projects including social housing, health and disability services and public transport.
The light rail zealotry runs the risk of weakening Canberra's polycentric structure, a structure that other cities are trying to emulate.
Instead of focusing on a land use distribution to improve the viability of light rail, the government should be investigating what distribution of activity maximises benefits to the community.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 27 2017 from Auriel Barlow, Dickson
We see so much print, and hear so many voices, complaining about how the beauty of Northbourne Avenue has gone with the destruction of the trees.
This is a building site. I have never seen a building site that looked beautiful at the time. It is light rail being built. If this had been started 30 years ago, we would have rail to all town centres and to the airport!!! There would be beautiful trees growing again along Northbourne Avenue. So, People, Just get over it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 26 2017 from Ryan Hemsley, Wright
By attributing the sterility and emptiness of Canberra's town centres to the failings of successive ACT governments, Jimmy Jack and Stan Marks (Letters, October22) ignore the underlying issue.
With its enviable budget and planning powers, even the NCDC struggled to develop the town centres successfully. Whether it was fixing the "outstanding planning blunders" of Belconnen in the 1970s, revitalising the "stagnant" and "leukaemic" Civic in the 1980s, or, ironically, constructing the Tuggeranong town "centre" in a location central to nowhere, the NCDC found it equally difficult to transform acres of asphalt and single-use precincts into vibrant concentrations of urban activity.
These days, it seems inevitable town centres in a car-dependent city would end up surrounded by walls of car parks and moats of arterial traffic.
How else can you develop and access decentralised commercial and retail nodes in a city seemingly allergic to decent public transport?
The hard reality is that many of Canberra's town centres are the product of now-outdated urban planning ideologies.
With Amazon on the horizon and office growth being absorbed by Brindabella Business Park, our town centres must adopt more sustainable forms.
They should be places where people can live, with well-trafficked spaces at a human scale. Higher densities, active street life and better public transport should take priority over suburban sprawl and parking structures.
Far more work needs to be done to guarantee the future viability of our city's town centres.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 25 2017 from Murray May, Cook
Various experts on this week's Four Corners, together with the direct experiences of everyday users in Australia, made it abundantly clear that moving away from the "fibre to the home" model for the NBN really blew it big time.
No wonder Malcolm Turnbull is running for cover, as Australia's communications system is now lagging badly rather than leading.
New Zealand was shown as an example with superfast speeds, with businesses loving it.
Don't be fooled by all the hype around 5G wireless either. Each year brings more evidence of the harmful effects of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields, with much that is still unknown about the health effects of higher frequencies for 5G and how safe such frequencies are.
Recent studies by Israeli scientists found that higher frequencies intended for use in 5G could have significant adverse consequences for human skin.
In October this year, a much debated Senate Bill 649 paving the way for 5G in California was vetoed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 25 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
Your editorial "Anniversary of Andrew Barr's election triumph: where's the vision?" (October 21) puts a question that should have been made as soon as the Rattenbury-Barr light rail deal was announced in 2012.
You report that on his re-election in 2016 Barr stated, "Canberra has voted for light rail" but that now "he must outline quickly his plans to expand this into a genuine, city-wide network that realises the full benefits of a modern public transport system". That is impossible under the current scheme.
First, it is not rapid transit – initial trip speed is predicted at 30km/h, and destined to get slower as pressure for more stops inevitably arises.
Second, as longer trip times will be painfully slow, with minimal seating and not much scope for increasing frequency/capacity, it cannot work as a useful trunk network for feeder services. It is a betrayal of most Canberra residents, who now live in the suburbs.
Third, it will cost a bundle and as Griffith University light rail expert Associate Professor Matthew Burke noted last week it is going to be under serious challenge by driverless vehicle technology well before it has any chance of returning on investment.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 24 2017 from Sue Dyer, Downer
Shiny but deficient? So each new "eyecatching" tram will seat a mere 66 people while carrying up to 207 ("The shape of shiny new trams to come", October 20). Will the ACT government guarantee that seats will be available in peak hour and during the day for the hundreds of passengers who will have to catch a tram to the city from the Dickson Interchange stop or from the stops between Dickson and the terminus?
The promise of free wi-fi is also hardly enticing. When crowded, most passengers will have no hope of using Wi-Fi — they will be focused instead on accessing the handrails and grab rails.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 22 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Ryan Hemsley (October 15) wonders when those of us opposed to the West Basin development will stop our opposition.
He is right in suggesting that this will happen when the plan is withdrawn or watered down to nothing. The plan is bad and ought to be opposed. The only winners from it are the developers (as always), the unions (their members will get work) and the handful of people wealthy enough to buy a place there. Meanwhile, the rest of us who like living in a city that, until now, was unlike any other in the world, will lose out. It would be interesting to see what Hemsley likes about it.
As for his comment that the last "professionally produced, overarching master plan" for Canberra replaced the Griffin concept with a car-dominated model of sprawling suburbs divided by freeways and empty town centres, the original Griffin plan was done in the context of the technology of 1912. It had to be updated and the beautiful city we have today is the result. But it was not intended that the town centres be empty. That was a failure of the spectacularly incompetent governments we have had since self-government.
Had the town centres of Belconnen and Woden and, I guess, the others been developed and grown as planned instead of putting everything in Civic, we would not have the problems we have today.
But with a government whose only real interests are staying in office and gay rights, we don't have a hope.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 22 2017 from Jimmy Jack, Holder
Ryan Hemsley (Letters, October 15) takes aim at the messenger rather than the message when applying criticism at Murray Upton's call for a master plan.
Ryan tells us to be "careful what we wish for", citing the previous Y-Plan for Canberra as though it did us a disservice.
Ryan has the same opinion of new Canberrans lacking an understanding of the intention of a plan he describes as "... suburbs divided by freeways and empty town centres".
Decentralisation is something every major clogged commuter city, like Sydney, is scrambling to retro-fit. Empty town centres are purely the result of ACT self-government(s).
The foresight of previous planners to create satellite centres, catering for surrounding suburbs, served many benefits to residents for a long time in a modern era. It does not take much critical analysis to see the economic, environmental, liveability, and affordability benefits of a decentralised city.
Instead of utilising this blueprint, our current planners suggest the dual madness of putting more residents into the city (on public spaces), while also hacking Kings and Commonwealth avenues. Not to mention the removal of the functionally traffic-perfect "clover leaf" on/off ramps etc.
Murray Upton can fight his own battles, but perhaps Ryan should think of the message, rather than the messengers, when he bemoans the pleas of Canberra citizens who are helpless at the destruction of public places and hollowing out of satellite centres.
So yes, Ryan, there are Canberrans that do wish for the very thing you suggest is flawed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 17 2017 from John Mungoven, Stirling
I read that there are literally tens of thousands of bicycles piled up in streets in Chinese cities.
Security officers lump the abandoned bikes in huge piles to clear passage for cars and pedestrians.
Apparently they are the result of companies flooding the cities with bikes which citizens can use at will for a small fee and leave at their destination, ready for the next customer.
Sadly, the customers don't care where or how they leave the bikes. Sounds like a good idea gone bad.
Ownership makes a consumer more careful with their belongings. A bit like capitalism v communism.
If driverless (ownerless) cars (charging App-based fees for usage) become the norm in Canberra as some suggest, I can foresee the same result. Cars abandoned after use in all sorts of places (maybe even across the tram tracks), ignoring parking regulations, clogging popular car parks and public places.
Government hoists being required to clear passage.
I'll keep my own car (and bike) thanks.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 15 2017 from Ryan Hemsley, Wright
Murray Upton's (Letters, October8) call for a "master plan" for the whole of Canberra feels like yet another attempt at thwarting a specific plan he and like-minded individuals oppose.
By calling for yet another review and even more consultation, these groups seek infinite deferral of theplan, until it is either withdrawn oramended down to nothingness.
Even if the master plan approved the West Basin development, would these groups cease their relentless opposition?
I imagine not.
It's certainly worth noting that the last time a "single, professionally produced, overarching master plan" for Canberra was developed in 1967, it tore the Griffin concept to pieces and replaced it with a car-dominated model of sprawling suburbs divided by freeways and empty town centres.
Be careful what you wish for.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 14 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
NRMA chairman, Kyle Loaders, wrote in the most recent issue of Open Road: "The potential convergence of on-demand and autonomous technologies will provide the most significant disruption to personal transport in the almost 100 years that the NRMA has been operating."
Yet another person whose responsibility is to look at trends in car technology has seen the writing on the wall.
What if, no matter where you were in Canberra, you could walk to the nearest kerbside at any time and book a trip on a driverless car or people mover at an average wait time of one minute?
The NRMA can see the possibility and the enormous advantages for all citizens, whether poor, disabled, aged or able-bodied.
The intention of the ACT government to pursue the light rail extension to Woden can only frustrate the transition to this type of service and unnecessarily burden taxpayers with a multibillion-dollar debt.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 9 2017 from Judith Ballard, Kaleen
Meeghan Fitzharris, spokesman for the minister for transport and city services, says the new bus timetables "will result in an overall improvement for passengers across the network".
Perhaps she's right, but it's at the expense of the many for whom there will be quite some inconvenience. Surely this will result in lower patronage of the network.
Graham Downie (Letters, October 3) makes this point very well.
He is quite right also in his assertion that many of us are being softened up to learn to make bus changes in what was, up to last weekend, a one-journey, easy trip. Kaleen/Giralang residents now have to use the Dickson "interchange" to travel to Civic on the weekend — and it will be worse with the tram as the change will include crossing Northbourne.
For those of us not getting any younger having to change buses, waiting about in the heat or cold or rain, rushing along the "platform" when your bus is at the far end, having to find a seat in a crowded bus, and the time added to make the journey will mean it's much simpler to use the car.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 8 2017 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
Ryan Hemsley (Letters, October 5) clearly fails to understand the nature of the problem facing Canberra's future development. He is misguidedly barking up the wrong tree. Not a single letter of the two or three a week that now appear regularly in The Canberra Times has any NIMBY connection in it whatsoever.
The writers are not anti-development, they are all, like me (Letters, June 10), and Heather Henderson (Letters, October 6), complaining bitterly about the destruction of our city due to the complete absence of any professionally produced master plan for Canberra or any sensible approach to the methodical development of the city.
Bit by bit we are losing the very thing that should be the city's basic attraction, the expansive parklands around the lake. The appalling Kingston Foreshore that does not remotely resemble that planned originally for the site and the destruction of what should have been parklands at West Lake are just symptoms of the unplanned, ad hoc nature of recent developments.
I feel sad that Heather Henderson has to endure watching the grand vision her father had for Canberra slowly deteriorate before her eyes. It is a disgrace, one which the Barr government should be ashamed of.
To read (CT, August 21) that Malcolm Snow, the author of the NCA's now thoroughly disgraced plan to ruin Commonwealth Avenue, is to head the City Renewal Authority, is of great concern, and gives little hope that a single, professionally produced, overarching master plan for the city is ever likely to eventuate from this untrustworthy, unprincipled government.
There is indeed something "rotten" and it is not in the "state of Denmark", it is firmly within the ACT government's "Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate".
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 6 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
The National Transport Commission has just called for submissions (closing on November 24) to establish legal obligations for automated driving system entities (ADSEs) which transport ministers will consider at their May 2018 Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting.
Last month the US House of Representatives passed a bill that will exempt carmakers from safety standards not applicable to driverless technology.
In your editorial of October 2 ("Beware of letting good ideas stagnate", p16) you note that "the multibillion-dollar light rail project dictates budget allocations to all other potential initiatives" by the ACT government.
In other words, for a dispersed city that is designed to be always primarily dependent on road transport, and with the prospect of automated vehicles playing a major role in our urban transport from 2030, our government is basing all development initiatives around a very expensive, sparse, light-rail network.
That beats the national electricity grid renewables farce hands down.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 6 2017 from Heather Henderson, Yarralumla
It is sad, distressing, agonising (no word is too strong) to be a witness to the destruction of Canberra.
The aim seems to be to make it look like any other city. I have yet to find anyone who approves of what is happening.
I am sure we are all grateful to those who created the lake. But now we are seeing a piece stolen from us, apparently in the great cause of "vibrancy".
Many people arrive here via Northbourne Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
Well, the Northbourne Avenue entrance has been ruined, but please can't the lake and the view over West Basin to the mountains be left for everyone to enjoy?
Who, in their right mind, could prefer concrete and coffee shops and (greatest horror of all) blocks of flats, to calm beautiful water and trees on the shore and mountains in the distance?
The office of the Federal Minister tells me she has no power to intervene, so what hope is there for ordinary citizens?
This beats graffiti and theft.
This is major vandalism. What right has anyone got to amputate a piece of our lake?
And why do they want to?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 3 2017 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
The move by Transport Canberra to require more people to change buses to complete their journeys defies public transport wisdom but is integral to the introduction of the Gungahlin to Civic tram.
Explaining timetable and some route changes from October 7, Transport Canberra says some services have been modified in the new network to allow for changes in public transport infrastructure. In other words, the introduction of the tram.
Transport Canberra says, "This could mean that you may need to connect from one service to another to get to your destination. At this stage it is connecting from one bus to another. However, long term this may mean you connect from a bus to light rail." So, in defiance of best public transport practice, Transport Canberra is softening up its passengers for the introduction of the tram that will see many people having to make two changes to complete what at present are single-vehicle journeys.
A study in 2004 indicated ACTION lost about 30 per cent of passengers when they had to change buses to complete their journeys.
The changes now being required are to get people used to the loss of direct bus services from many north Canberra suburbs to Civic and beyond.
This flawed approach is intended to force people from buses to tram to justify the $1billion infrastructure cost. The likely result will be reduced use of public transport.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 29 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
Your editorial (September 25) referred to Uber by stating that "Ride-sharing has clearly improved transport in Canberra".
What is it about Uber that is different to a taxi when it comes to ride-sharing? Ride-sharing is not the difference, it is the cheaper fare on offer "most of the time" from Uber.
If, as you suggest, "it's time to think about how to build Australia's best ride-sharing market" in Canberra the key is ride-sharing by two or more parties.
Today's example is car-pooling to work, tomorrow it is a shared driverless electric vehicle.
It's time to discuss the transition to a Canberra where buses are replaced by driverless vehicles. One transition path would be to develop a city wide-car-pooling to work operation.
We could have 20,000 drivers offering ride-sharing while making their return journey to work each day.
Instead of the financial and dispatching elements of Canberra's taxi industry being liquidated within a few years, it could control this car-pooling operation and thereby grow into a public transport dispatching company for the driverless fleets of the future.
Meanwhile the ACT government could show a little initiative by offering parking discounts to participating drivers.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 25 2017 from David Roberts, Belconnen
Take a good look at the photo of the Commonwealth Bridge in the letters section (September 23) and imagine what it will be like if the NCA's plans come to fruition. 1. one lane removed for cars and trucks etc and replaced by a lane for the tram; 2. on ramp (top right) from Flynn Place removed so there is no free-flowing access onto the Bridge heading north; 3. off ramp to the National Library also removed which allows access to Lennox Gardens; 4. new traffic light intersection on the South end of the Bridge; and 5. new above ground pedestrian traffic lights replacing the pedestrian tunnel.
How long is the traffic jam going to be? How long are you going to fume (and the car) in the long wait? How many accidents and possible deaths are going to occur due to the traffic lights and red light runners?
Where are our two MPs and two senators when we need them? Nothing has been heard from them on this appalling NCA proposal. To cap it all NCA then proposes to build on the existing Flynn Place loops thus spoiling the view of the Lake. As Tony Powell said a few months back on an article on ACTPLA and NCA, we are totally bereft of any decent urban planners and traffic engineers.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 20 from John L. Smith, Farrer
Gary J. Wilson (Letters, September 18) did not mention the physical property of synchronism when debating the descriptive terms "baseload power" and "dispatchable capacity" applied to the national electricity grid.
Synchronism is crucial and is implicit in large fossil fuel and hydro-powered generators. It remains a technical issue for wind, solar and batteries. Indications are that the technology already exists to deliver large-scale synchronous wind and solar power, the problem being one of changing an extremely large and complex system that embroils the population, industry, government, politics and private enterprise.
The behaviour of the ACT government in this context has been to pursue its passion and obsession for renewables, seemingly oblivious to the real problems surrounding this almost fictional village.
On the other hand, the resistance to change apparent in our Great Gatsby government's light rail project is akin to building a new coal-fired generator. The ACT could take the lead in addressing the urban transport problem by following the only practical approach to the electricity conundrum: maintain and modestly expand the existing bus system, while giving every support possible to the introduction of the new transport technologies.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 18 2017 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill
Unions ACT secretary Alex White appears to attribute Canberra households' debt burden to decades of outsourcing, trickle-down economics and employers using tax avoidance and wage-theft as business models ("Beyond our means", September 14, p1).
At least some of this is true.
However, there is no mention of other factors, for example, the union-controlled ACT government's restriction of land supply that raises land prices and forces home buyers into more debt.
Of course, Unions ACT is not the only lobby group peddling one part of the story with the expectation of getting favourable treatment from ACT and/or federal politicians.
The lobby groups do this because many of the politicians we have elected are weak-kneed and legislate and spend money to favour particular groups (who often then make donations to the aforementioned politicians) rather than focusing on the community as a whole.
Voters should not try to hold their breath waiting for the lobby groups and/or careerist politicians to stop feathering their own nests.
However, if enough voters support independent candidates and the like who have spine and are willing to stand up for what is good for the general community we should get better decisions from the parliaments.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September14 2017 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
Brendan Cox came close to the mark with his observations on light rail (Letters, September12).
He suggested we forget the infrastructure and superstructure relating to light rail. The company filling our order for trams also makes a battery-run version. We could also request that the steel wheels be changed to ordinary bus tyres.
The only drawback for our ACT government would be the fact that we would finish with electric trams that for all purposes were the equivalent of the electric buses we are trialling now.
However, the plus factor is that we would save a billion dollars.
That money could be spent on affordable housing, which would mean that we were not the city with the second-highest proportion of homeless people in Australia.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 12 2017 from Brendan Cox, Richardson
We know the tram project will not recover its capital cost or run at an operating profit.
The question is not whether it should be built (that horse has bolted) but, rather, what is the correct policy prescription for dealing with such an investment error?
The rational decision-maker avoids the sunk-cost fallacy of throwing good money after bad.
As completion of the project is a sunk cost (due to contractual obligations), the only relevant costs are its future operating losses.
If there are lower cost alternatives for carrying commuters from Gungahlin to Civic and back, then the Canberra community would be better off if any or all of these alternatives were substituted.
Buses, in rapid transit mode, spring to mind.
What about the trams? I suggest we find someone gullible enough to buy them. A friend of mine suggested the South Australians. That was a bit gratuitous. Why not auction them off along with the steel rails, overhead gantries and wires?
That leaves the concrete right of way. Why not lease it to some eager R and D entrepreneur interested in developing autonomous vehicles (buses, cars) instead?
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 11 2017 from Mike Quirk, Garran
Having a City Renewal Authority and a Suburban Land Agency is all well and good, but there is an urgent need to review the ACT Planning Strategy to place the operations of the organisations in context.
The government is required to consider whether to undertake a review this year.
Given the challenges facing the territory and the inadequacy of the existing strategy, failure to undertake the review would confirm the Barr government's inadequacy in relation to urban development policy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 9 2017 from Warwick Davis, Isaacs
Your editorial ("Bold vision needed for vital gateway", September 7, p12) concludes that "if Mr Snow can pull all of this off then he's definitely the man".
This demonstrates a perfect circular argument: if he does the job, then he should get the job. Perhaps Malcolm Snow wrote the editorial?
Malcolm Snow certainly helped create the mess he is now going to spend our money cleaning up.
Malcolm Snow allowed Northbourne Avenue to be decimated, and his next demolition target is Commonwealth Avenue.
Traffic will be slowed from EPIC through to Woden. Buses and cars will both struggle to move past the slow trams but at least they will have nouveau-Snow decor to ease the pain.
Adelaide Avenue is at least in part a stormwater drain. When it rains as in the old days with lots of water, not the misting we get now, the tram will be under water.
The world's first submarine tram will be a tourist attraction, at least.
The Melbourne and Sydney buildings, among the oldest structures in Canberra, are privately owned. Why would ratepayers spend money on these relics?
Ratepayers are not anxious to pay for every initiative.
This appointment would be protested if only we had someone on the opposition benches in the Legislative Assembly. Buses already travel as far as Canberra Hospital.
Buses are better.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 8 2017 from Murray May, Cook
Fred Pilcher (Letters, September 6) is unrealistic in suggesting that the major parties can all somehow be swept away at the next election.
The current debacle for ratepayers under the ALP is an unfolding train wreck.
Why is money being wasted on stage 2 of light rail before the already very expensive stage 1 has demonstrated it is a fizzer or not? How is Barr's creation of increasing social inequality an example of the traditional ALP focus on social justice?
At least the Canberra Liberals committed to a more reasonable and equitable rating system.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 8 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
The first thing the new City Renewal Authority (Editorial, "Bold vision needed for vital gateway", Sept. 7, p.12) needs to do is to hold a properly constituted international design competition for its precincts, in association with the overarching National Capital Authority.
The brief for the competition needs public input, and should not rule out alternatives to existing plans for City Hill, Northbourne Avenue, Civic, Parkes Way, and West Basin, ie, "a clean slate".
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 5 2017 from Warwick Priestley, Amaroo
On November 21, 2015, I predicted in a letter to The Canberra Times that the only way to pay for the tram was to increase the rates for all Canberra households by between 15 per cent and 25 per cent initially and then an average of 8per cent per year for the next 20 years.
It appears that my claim was very close to the mark – now, the realisation is that the rates are going to go through the roof there is a huge outcry over the rising rates in Canberra.
I wonder how many of those affected with huge rate hikes will remember what this government has done at the next assembly election in October 2020?
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 5 2017 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill
I sympathise with people genuinely having a hard time paying unreasonable rates and other charges.
Unfortunately, the underlying reason for them — the Barr/Green government spending more than is needed so that we have a civil society including protecting the vulnerable - shows no sign of changing.
For example, Westside (the bunch of containers next to Commonwealth Avenue) is being moved to Stromlo Forest Park to make room for the West Basin development (another folly), and we will continue to be overcharged for water until at least 2023 (when Barr may insist that Icon water seek value for money in acquiring its services).
I have two suggestions for Canberra's residents.
Keep a record of the government's failures — so that you do not forget them when they stop increasing rates, temporarily, and shower us with promises in the 12 months before the next ACT election in 2020.
And, do some Googling and thinking before voting.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 5 2017 from Bill Blair, McKellar
With luck the second stage of the light rail will not go ahead.
My reading of the "benefits" in the business case for stage one was that much of these were uplift in land values along the route — ergo increases in rates for those who live there?
Much of the second stage passes through NCA and overseas diplomatic mission neighbourhoods — little scope for land value increases to provide increased land rates income there.
I await the business case. My sympathy does go to those on multi-occupancy blocks facing undue increases due to the change in the way that the UCV is shared.
Was this change forecast before the election?
Certainly seems to be contrary to the government's grand strategy to increase our population density.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 5 2017 from M. Flint, Smart Canberra Transport
Canberrans need to demand answers from this government as to where the rates and land tax money is going on projects other than on the prodigal light rail.
They had plenty of warning from the Liberal Party about rates tripling within 10 years and these are well on their way to that level.
Those who have voted this Labor/Greens government in twice since cannot complain — they have caused it.
For those who do not already know, the government is committed to making a capital contribution to stage 1 of light rail of $375 million as "soon as the trams start rolling" in late 2018 or 2019.
After that, it has to pay $1billion in capital repayments and subsidy of operations, over 20 years, i.e. about $50 million a year.
Ask yourself what you will get for that when only about 6per cent of Canberrans will ever use the Gungahlin-Civic tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 4 2017 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
There have ben numerous complaints over rates to The Canberra Times Letters page. The saddest thing about them is the rate rises were predicted before the last election.
In an ACT economy that is based on land sales and rates primarily there is no room for wasteful projects.
Light rail is an example. Infrastructure Australia and leading transport and economic analysis have all predicted that it has too small an economic return to be feasible.
How almost 50 per cent of the ACT electorate failed to take in those warnings most of us who did will never understand.
I also predict with confidence that Andrew Barr will prove to be the most economically illiterate of all our chief ministers. I further predict that the second stage of light rail will never eventuate.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 2 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
Could I translate Patrick O'Hara's "Let's keep it that way" slogan (Letters, August31) to recent decades.
Let's not have digital information storage so that we can retain the jobs of filing clerks.
Let's not have electronic payment on public transport so that we can retain the jobs of fare collectors. Let's not have electronic message transmission so that we can retain the jobs of postal workers.
And for the future, let's not introduce driverless vehicles so that we can retain the jobs of medical personnel treating hundreds of thousands of people annually for road trauma.
The defence of light rail for Canberra is clearly becoming untenable.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 2 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
The ongoing concern about the extension of the light rail to Woden suggests the government should pause and consider what it is hoping to achieve from the project.
The government has extolled the city transformative benefits of light rail, but the increase in apartment demand in areas of high metropolitan accessibility – including the town centres, Northbourne Avenue and Kingston – has occurred without the provision of light rail.
Are the claimed land value increases in the light rail corridors offset by lower land values from lower rates of development at other locations?
Will light rail promote environments primarily attractive to singles and couples to the exclusion of households with children? Will it contribute to a narrowing of housing choice by the development of an increasingly congested and unaffordable inner city?
Could the need for light rail be reduced by lowering overall travel by incentives such as land grants and rates holidays to promote employment at town centres?
Could the transport task be better met through improving the Canberra-wide bus network? Will the rapid improvement in electric bus technology, including battery powered driverless buses, deliver light rail benefits without the high price tag? As there is no urgency to extend light rail, there is time for the project's need to be explored thoroughly before a decision is made.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 31 2017 from Patrick O'Hara, Isaacs
Driverless buses are all very well. There seem to be plenty of statistics available for people who want to advocate their so-called "cost effectiveness".
There has, however, been no mention of the implications of drivers losing their jobs. People seem only too ready to sacrifice areas of employment for the sake of economic efficiency, and it is so easy for unaffected people to propose others losing their jobs. We already have a federal government hunting the unemployed in the name of economic efficiency.
The "bus driving" industry has been a huge area of employment for the ACT for a long time. Bus drivers have been part of the Canberra social fabric for a long time. Let's keep it that way.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 30 2017 from Brian Stone, Weetangera
Your editorial "ACT needs consultation, not abdication" (August 25, p18), Kevin Cox's reply to it (August 28, p13), and Kent Fitch's letter on light rail (August 28, p12) raise an underlying issue of trust and credibility.
The editorial seems to say that Ms Le Couteur's proposed "citizens' panels" should not have much, if any, control of infrastructure spending. It ends: "The voice of the people, as expressed by their representatives, is as the voice of a god" – a strange, ironical idea.
Most Canberrans know that ACT Labor pays even less attention to them than any god, and ministers routinely distort public opinion soundings to suit their own and developers' agendas. This is vividly seen again from the tiny number surveyed, three per 1000 population, and questions of route rather than yes/no, on the Woden tram.
Kent Fitch backs this up regarding why Northbourne Avenue is really being transformed, and asks "Woden – what's the benefit for anyone from a tram?". Especially one that doesn't go to the hospital, he could have added.
So Canberrans might feel they could do a better job of allocating priorities and funds, on any scale, than their "representatives" in the Assembly.
A glowing eulogy of the citizens' panels (as amended by Mr Barr) is found in Kevin Cox's letter. Kevin forgets a lesson he and I watched many times when we were colleagues: s/he who amends and signs the meeting minutes controls the future. Past pretences of consulting citizens have usually been written up by ACT public servants or consultants, ready to be dismissed in the Assembly by "representatives" who want something different.
The credibility of the citizens' panels is more important than budget limits on their powers. Let them write, approve, and sign their own minutes, and send their chosen leader into the Assembly to take the floor and put the panel's unfiltered views on record.
That would actually be a step towards democracy, wouldn't it?
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 30 2017 from M. Flint, Smart Canberra Transport coordinator
Thank you Canberra Times for publishing my letter (Letters, August 25), saying how and why the light rail network is not financially sustainable. However, it omitted another important point that I had made, namely that the tram network, as currently planned, would cost a conservative estimate of about $10billion.
With a population of even 500,000, spread over an area of some 45 by 35 kilometres, with negligible help from the federal government, it is simply not affordable, given other pressing priorities.
In the government's own words, "We need an accessible, integrated and smarter transport network that will grow with our city", but for many analysts, trams are not part of a smart solution.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 30 2017 from R J (Bob) Nairn, Hawker
As no patronage modelling or economic estimates have yet been made available for the proposed second stage light rail project to Woden, I thought your readers may be interested in the results of previous work provided to the ACT government as there have been at least four studies conducted over the past 30 years.
One recent study showed that, although the costs of the Civic to Woden service was estimated to be comparable, being only slightly higher, with that for the Civic to Gungahlin service, the benefit-to-cost ratio of the Woden service was only 0.47 compared with the Gungahlin service of 0.57.
The combined Gungahlin-Civic-Woden route has a benefit-to-cost ratio of only 0.41 as there was insufficient forecast through patronage to improve the economic result.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 29 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
Your report ("Canberra's first electric and hybrid buses go into service on Monday", August 25) included the nonsensical statement that the "battery cells ... carry up to 324 megawatts of charge". The specifications given by Carbridge Australia on the bus concerned are that the battery cells can store up to 324 kilowatt-hours of energy which power dual 90 kilowatt motors and give the bus a range of 500 kilometres.
I cite this example to highlight the benefits that could arise in moving to electric buses and subsequently introducing a ubiquitous driverless public transport fleet of electric vehicles.
In his substantial analysis of this ultimate scenario, local IT specialist Kent Fitch calculated that all passenger movements in present-day Canberra could be served by a fleet traversing approximately 10 million kilometres and consuming 2500 megawatt-hours of energy each weekday.
Not surprisingly the fleet of smaller vehicles assumed by Fitch is far more energy-efficient than the buses above which would consume 6480 megawatt-hours in traversing the same distance.
The significance of this clean energy potential in public transport can be seen by noting that the average electrical energy consumption in the ACT per day is about 8000 megawatt-hours.
The emissions created just by manufacturing the steel and concrete used in laying the rails from Gungahlin to Civic cannot be recovered in operations. Not only is light railunaffordable for this sparsely populated city, it is environmentally culpable to pursue it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 28 2017 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
Your editorial ("Light rail still light on with crucial detail", August 23) asks the key question of the still-vague Stage 2 tram proposal: what's the point if it can't compete with the speed of the existing bus service and "technical constraints" don't let it go where people want?
In the face of unambiguous evidence from the traffic studies in its own Environmental Impact Statement, the government belatedly conceded that Stage 1 is not really about better transport, but about "revitalisation" of Northbourne, which practically speaking, means "moving low-income residents way out of sight and helping property developers construct high-rise".
The tram was merely a smokescreen to distract from the real privatisation agenda: selling-off public land along Northbourne for a one-off budget boost.
With no equivalent privatisation opportunities along the Stage 2 route, why would the government persist with the proposition that slower and less flexible transport will revitalise Woden?
Finally, the quoted Stage 1 cost of $939 million is understated for two reasons.
First, it is the cost of future contract payments discounted at an arbitrary 7.52 per cent rate, not at the expected inflation rate.
Second, it is the cost only of the contract, not of the project. The actual cost in current dollars of the Stage 1 project will be almost half a billion dollars higher.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 27 2017 from M. Flint, Smart Canberra Transport co-ordinator, Erindale
Further to the letter by Vern Ize (Letters, August 24) about the government's report on its survey for light rail Stage2. The report gives statistics about feedback from respondents and claims that "97 per cent of respondents supported light rail ..."
Of course, statistically, the survey results are a nonsense, but that will not stop this government from claiming the foregoing level of support for light rail. The report is lightweight, to say the least, which means the government has not much to crow about at present. It says a lot about what the government did in consultation and survey feedback but nothing else other than the usual light rail feel-good propaganda.
There was not one mention of potential cost in the report, not that there needed to be, given the purpose of the report.
Minister Fitzharris subsequently stated the cost would be comparable with the $939m for Stage 1 – read "much greater", given a bridge to build (or steal from motorists) and a possibly difficult route, once sorted out.
The real test for Stage2 will come with the next planned step, ie: preparation of the business case.
In the above-mentioned report, the government is already throwing up difficulties for Stage 2. Readers should not be surprised if it all becomes too costly and difficult for the government to justify.
As expected, the government has formally advised me that the business case will not be made public before consideration by the government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 26 2017 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
Tuesday's announcement by the ACT government that it expected the Civic-Woden light rail would have a comparable cost to the Gungahlin-Civic link which would be around $936 million reveals it is totally devoid of financial clothing.
We all remember Katy Gallagher saying that if the present light rail cost was to exceed $600 million it would not go ahead.
Instead we have the present light rail section under construction doomed to exceed the $1 billion mark.
It follows that the Civic-Woden light rail will exceed the $1 billion mark also. Forget the talk about going via Parkes.
No one travelling from Civic to Woden will take a service that takes twice the time to get to Woden that the bus service does.
Forget going down Adelaide Avenue. The difficulty involved in would-be passengers crossing anywhere along that route at peak hours makes it impracticable.
I imagine an ever increasing number of people think Andrew Barr will leave a reputation of being the most impracticable Chief Minister we have ever endured.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 25 2017 from M. Flint, Coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport
Thank you Canberra Times for your editorial of August 23: "Light rail still light on with crucial detail".
The editorial said: "...voters are no closer to knowing what it will cost, when it will be finished or even where the track will run ..."
In fairness, it is the next step in the process, namely the business case, that should resolve these issues, especially the cost (but don't hold your breath).
The editorial cites huge expenditures promised by the government and rightfully asks Mr Barr where the money is coming from.
While it mentions a figure of $622 million as "infrastructure spend on urban renewal, health, education and the arts", it did not mention the $600 million it is also costing the government to relocate more than 1300 public housing tenants, before June 30, 2019, to make way for light rail Stage 1.
Canberrans are already complaining loudly about outrageous increases in their rates and a city drowning in graffiti and lack of maintenance of streets and footpaths. However, there seems to be no end of money available for bicycle tracks, speed bumps, tax breaks for favoured clubs, and expenditure on personal political preferences, to name a few.
At a published cost of $939 million, Stage 1 will consume annually up to 10 per cent of projected infrastructure budgets, at the expense of other priorities. Stage 2 would take another 10 per cent out of infrastructure budgets and each of the other six planned stages would also take their chunk.
This is not financially sustainable.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 24 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
The government's light rail obfuscation continues with the release of the consultation on the light rail route to Woden.
Rather than focusing on route selection the consultation should have been on the merits of the extension. The government's justification for the project, that it was an election promise, was made before any detailed assessment of the project.
The Government clearly believes light rail is an end in itself rather than a means to an end.
It should identify the transport need the project is addressing and establish it is superior to bus based alternatives in meeting that need.
It should also demonstrate that the funds could not have been better used in addressing housing, health and education needs.
The assessment of the extension to Woden should analyse a scenario in which the funds required to extend the light rail were used improve the frequency and comfort of the bus fleet across the City which would improve the accessibility of most Canberrans.
By not addressing the transport needs of the majority, light rail could increase rather than decrease car dependence.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 23 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
The appointment of Malcolm Snow to head the City Renewal Authority is welcome as is his desire to make Northbourne Avenue one of the world's most beautiful and functional boulevards.
However, the operation of the authority and the government generally needs to take place within the context of the planning and development strategy for the city.
A review of the strategy is overdue.
A review would enable the assessment of the environmental, social, infrastructure and travel benefits and costs of alternative distributions of employment and population and involve the community in discussions about how the city should develop.
It would examine whether liveability and connectivity are optimised by concentrating development along the light rail corridor from Gungahlin to Woden or whether achieving these aims is better served by focusing development at town, group and local centres or by increasing the frequency of bus services across Canberra.
It could explore whether the extension of the light rail to Woden is the best use of infrastructure funds, whether incentives should be provided to Commonwealth offices to locate in preferred employment locations and where new greenfields settlement and redevelopment should occur.
It should be accompanied by a 10-year urban development program outlining the likely level of population and employment growth, where growth is to be accommodated and the infrastructure costs associated with the development pattern. The government's reluctance to undertake the review will result in poor development outcomes and waste of limited infrastructure funds.
The Canberra community is the loser.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 13 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
Murray Coleman in his discussion with Tony Trobe (Sunday Canberra Times, August 6) prescribed targeting intensification to the CBD, avenues, town and group centres.
These areas are already identified in the Territory Plan for higher-density development. Some adjustment of the planning controls, especially close to group and local centres, is necessary to encourage townhouse and dual occupancy development.
Residential intensification policies cannot be considered in isolation from housing, employment location and transport policies.
While housing preferences are changing, there remains an ongoing need for greenfields development to meet the housing aspirations of many Canberrans.
Low-density development is not sprawl if it is accompanied by the provision of employment, schools, shops, community, recreation facilities and efficient transport including frequent, high-quality public transport services providing good access to employment opportunities.
The public transport services by necessity will need to be bus-based given the prohibitive cost of light rail.
Given increasing congestion, housing unaffordability,the reduced ability of the government to influence employment location, increasing rates, uncertainty over the location of future greenfields settlement and the government's somewhat reckless desire to extend light rail to Woden, there is an urgent need to review the ACT planning strategy to ensure the future development of the city is more socially, environmentally, financially and economically sustainable.
It is puzzling that the Barr government is not undertaking the review as urban development has been its Achilles heel.
The review would increase community confidence as it would place urban development decisions on a firm foundation.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 6 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
Rex Williams (Letters, July 30) has not seen anything yet! The Barr government is desperate to find funds to pay for the $1.8billion Stage1 tram (nominal, including construction and subsidy of operations for 20 years).
The government and one-eyed supporters claim that Stage1 is manageable at only 1 per cent of projected ACT budgets.
But the reality is that it will cost about 8 per cent or more of the transport and infrastructure component of the budgets, and each additional stage will add another 8to10 per cent to the infrastructure budgets.
How long do readers think that would be sustainable? Minister Fitzharris is doing her best in claiming public support for light rail, but the reality is that taxpayers are already being gouged to pay for the first tram alone, let alone for stages to come.
When wages are virtually stagnant at about 1.5 per cent a year or less, how can the government justify rate hikes in the order of 10 per cent a year, electricity and gas prices up 20 per cent a year, including service component of the energy bills?
The CPI basket is a joke; it does not reflect the true cost of living and apparently ignores government taxes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 4 2017 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
Felix MacNeill dismisses the arrival of autonomous cars within a "decade or so" (Letters, August2) by equating, without analysis, the chances of their appearance with that of jet-packs and other unmaterialised predictions.
In so doing, he ignores the stated intentions of Daimler, BMW, GM, Ford, Volvo, Audi, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, Google's spin-off Waymo, Baidu and others to commercialise the technology as shared fleets of autonomous cars providing mobility on demand, door-to-door, 24/7 within five years.
He ignores the evidence from dozens of academic and consultant models, and studies showing such services will cost much less than current cars and even public transport, be much safer, reclaim space from car parks and garages, and in low-density cities such as Canberra, eliminate congestion.
Mr MacNeill ignores the initiatives of dozens of jurisdictions planning to make best use of their arrival to improve the lives of their citizens.
Just as the coal lobby wilfully ignores evidence of climate change and developments in renewables, instead promoting "clean coal", he, like the ACT government with its focus on trams, is placing a very large bet against technology propelled by intense competition and research and development that will revolutionise the movement of people and goods, just as the internet transformed the movement of information and ideas.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 1 2017 from Felix MacNeill, Dickson
It's touching that there are still one or two starry-eyed optimists like Barry Faux (Letters, July 31) who are convinced that self-driving vehicles will be taking over our roads in a decade or so and obviating the need for public transport.
These vehicles will, of course, be reliable, legally acceptable, cheap enough to be available to all and magically able to solve all our transport needs without clogging our roads. This will, naturally, happen in much the same way that (as everybody knows) in the 21st century nuclear power will be too cheap to meter, robots will be doing all the work, we'll only be working one day per week and we'll all be flying around in silver jump-suits powered by personal backpack jets.
Then again, given the demonstrated reliability of such predictions and the fact that cars are just so twentieth century, we might do better to wait for teleportation. Beam me up, Scotty.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 31 2017 from Barry Faux, Kingston
The CEO of Mercedes has recently stated that autonomous vehicles will reduce the number of vehicles by up to 95 per cent in the coming years.
This will totally negate the necessity for light rail in Canberra. The light rail introduction is similar to introducing a new land-line telephone system.
Autonomous buses, taxis and other car sharing will be able to use the existing or similar road networks, giving the flexibility that rail cannot at far far less cost to build.
As this is happening the trend away from traditional offices is increasing.
The light rail will probably never return an economic benefit to the people of Canberra.
Why are we spending millions of dollars on 19th century technology in the 21st century?
We therefore need to ask if our elected representatives have the required expertise to be making these decisions.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 28 2017 from A. Whiddett, Forrest
Since the political contrivance of self-government, imposed on the ACT by the self-styled "Great Conciliator" Bob Hawke (who ignored two referendums which comprehensively rejected it, but was bent on ridding the Commonwealth of an artificial territory), we have endured the parody of what passes for "governance" in Lilliput under Barr, et al.
All of these have been seriously deficient when it comes to the utterly basic provision of good health, education and public safety in this community.
Unless and until basic services in the ACT are secure and guaranteed, light rail — as an example — is the Indulgence of an Emperor without clothes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 26 2017 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
The ACT Revenue Office, responsible for collecting rates that in my case have increased by almost 55 per cent in five years, is so far behind in its work that it is still responding to emails sent in April.
This was the explanation by one of its officers when I asked why I had been sent a land tax notice despite advice by me on May 2 that this charge no longer applied. He said emails sent later than April were not yet being actioned.Since its re-election last October, the ACT government has systematically reduced or cut funds from worthy community organisations and, it seems, its own agencies.
If only there were an effective opposition to this smug and developer-driven government.
This community is paying dearly for the ill-advised billion-dollar tram folly with cuts to far more worthwhile services. There can be no justification for rate increases of about 55 per cent in five years.
There is no apparent improvement to the amenity of the city.Indeed much maintenance is neglected and the government continues to thumb its nose at the needs of those who pay for its waste and neglect.
Our paying for seven more politicians has done nothing to improve the management of this city or the contempt for its citizens by its rulers.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 21 2017 from John L.Smith, Farrer
Richard Johnston (Letters, July20) refers to the "The Griffin Legacy", NCA, 2004, in seeming to advocate dense development along tram routes in Canberra.
This "blueprint for the future development of the central national areas" of Canberra has nothing to do with the planning without vision that is going on with respect to the towns.
Planning a tram line to Tuggeranong flies in the face of stark realities.
Here are some opportunities for the future development of Canberra:
Don't extend the light rail.
Exploit bus priority and bus lanes.
Sponsor commuter ride-sharing (2017).
Exploit the NBN and fibre optics (2018).
Introduce electric driverless-car public transport (2025).
Use the brainpower in our research organisations.
If these opportunities are taken, the threats itemised in "The Griffin Legacy" to Canberra (central) achieving its full potential will disappear.
Moreover, we might spin-off some new industries in Canberra.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 5 2017 from Richard Johnston, Kingston
John L.Smith (letters, July 14) denigrates the concept of higher density development along tram routes but finds the idea of densification within 300 metres of every suburban centre "attractive".
He may not know, or have forgotten, that no lesser planner than Walter Burley Griffin in his plans for Canberra proposed higher density development along the main avenues which were also to be the tram routes (see "The Griffin Legacy", NCA,2004).
Regrettably later planners departed from this sensible approach. Also, the ACT Planning and Land Authority introduced the concept of higher density development around suburban centres more than 20 years ago.
Of course, it was hotly opposed at the time but remains a policy of the Territory Plan to this day.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 17 2017 from Brendan Cox, Richardson
One aspect of the debate about the light rail project that should be ringing alarm bells is the breakdown in the Auditor General's role in the whole saga. Recently John L. Smith raised the Auditor's "damning indictment" of the government's benefit-cost analysis (Letters, July 8) and so have others. Yet at the time of its release about a year ago the then minister, Simon Corbell, ignoring the "damning indictment" bit, hailed the report as showing the project delivery was "best practice". The role of the Auditor General is key because it closes the accountability loop between government and parliament for funds appropriated by the latter. Its job is to call out government if it is making fast and loose with the public purse, and to do so in a timely manner. The Auditor General's report on the light rail project (No.5/2016) came out years after the "business case" was published. The project, costing nearly $1 billion, was well underway. Transport economists had been warning for years that the benefit-cost analysis was a fudge.
Some may think this is just a pedantic quibble. Nothing could be further from the truth. When the Auditor General fails to hold the government to proper account good government goes out the window. The ACT's abysmal performance on housing affordability and homelessness demonstrates just how dysfunctional the government has become. We need a more agile Auditor General to spotlight these sorts of shenanigans earlier, not after the horse has bolted.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 15 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
Gary J.Wilson (July 9) is a bit severe in his rejection of Tony Trobe's concept of densification for Canberra ("Design Matters", June 3).
After all, the government's urban development proposals for concrete canyons of apartments and shops formed along tram lines do not exactly fill one with expectations for future planning awards.
There is a hybrid suburban densification scheme that I find attractive. Aim to develop a population of 1000 within 300 metres of every suburban centre, while broadly retaining existing planning for other parts of suburbs. These focal areas would also host information-based industries and other harmonious activities such as health services thus forming distributed employment centres.
All suburban residents would benefit by having viable businesses that provide good food and social amenities a short distance from their home.
While rezoning existing suburbs would meet with strong resistance, new and emerging technologies underline the case for this type of development in new suburbs and in redevelopments.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 14 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
In a current request for comment about a safety assurance system for automated vehicles the National Transport Commission states "Automated vehicles that do not require human driver input into the driving task for at least part of the journey are expected to arrive on our roads from around 2020."
I understand Chris Steel MLA has stated publicly that automated vehicles "have potential to feed mass transit options like light rail" but "will not displace the role of mass transit systems like light rail".
It has been shown that the degree of ride-sharing that can be achieved with a large fleet of small automated vehicles can serve all commuting in the urban layout and population density of a future Canberra to great advantage.
Mr Steel's statement is a rearguard action by "Trammany Hall" that won't yet admit that it has got it badly wrong in committing to light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 11 2017 from Roger Quarterman, Campbell
In his response to letters by myself and Messrs Marks and Emery (Letters, July 10), Bill Gemmell alleges that I claimed buses sustain 80km/h along Adelaide Avenue. I did not.
What I actually stated was that, in contrast to the tram's maximum speed capability of 70km/h, buses were capable of sustaining 80km/h without difficulty.
Because I have no data on the actual speeds of buses along Adelaide Avenue, I refrained from stating the speed at which they actually travel.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 10 2017 from Bill Gemmell, Holder
The placement of Susan MacDougal's excellent description of the anti-tram letter writers (Letters, July 7) was very strategic of the letters editor, considering the confused contributions of messrs Quarterman, Marks and Emery that followed.
Mr Quarterman claims buses sustain 80 km/h along Adelaide Avenue, which Mr Emery trumps with a claim they safely do 100km/h.
The reality is buses often do close to 90 km/h, while carrying up to 110 unrestrained people in the same traffic lanes as Australia's worst drivers.
The trio claim light rail journey times will be considerably greater than bus times.
Putting some sense around this claim, the Woden to Civic distance is about 11 kilometres. Therefore, theoretical non-stop travel times will differ by less than a minute. Of course, both modes will stop for passengers.
Mr Emery also makes the absurd claim of a threefold increase in journey times if light rail follows the favoured route and services the Parliamentary triangle employment and tourist zones.
The actual increases would only be marginal.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 9 2017 from Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Tony Trobe, architect and author of the town-planning column, "Design matters" in the allhomes insert of the Sunday CT, has disclosed a self-interested support for densification. He wants to split up the suburbs with elbow room to make them also cheek-by-jowel precincts.
He argued from the basis of an irrelevancy, writing, "Canberra is one of the most spread-eagled citieson the planet."
That is as mucha result of being an urban conglomerate of discrete satellite centres as of the average plot size per dwelling.
He expanded his faulty rationale by holding up to mild derision a concept that never existed, writing, "The notion that everyone wants a quarter-acre block is out dated (sic)." Townhouses have been built here for decades.
He sought to seduce with silver, writing, "I often wonder why more people don't weaken to capitalist tendencies ... They have the asset in the land."
He finally advertised his self-interest, writing of himself as the keeper of "a register of interested parties" for "a joint venture with an architect, a builder and a financier".
DISCLOSURE: Mr Trobe has previously allowed me to present my own recommendations as an interviewee in his column.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 8 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
I am glad to say that I have bad news for Ms MacDougall (Letters, July 7) and others who think trams are a great idea for Canberra. After Shane Rattenbury's rattler starts operating down Northbourne Avenue, there won't be any relief for car commuters. In fact, it will be much worse, given additional sets of traffic lights and priority to trams at lights. Canberra's increasing population will ensure that the number of cars in Canberra will also continue to increase, including the number used by commuters. And for those starry-eyed voters looking forward to riding the Gungahlin-Civic tram as commuters each day, two-thirds of you can expect to be standing up for 30-plus minutes each way, not the advertised 24 minutes. Independent modelling puts the travel time for the Gungahlin-Civic line at from 30 to 35 minutes. Of course, it might be 24 minutes at 7am Sundays. Yes, we need fewer cars on the road but trams are not going to do it. What is needed is redistribution (not centralisation) of work places around Canberra to obviate car travel and reduce mileage and pollution.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 8 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
If Susan MacDougall (Letters, July 7) thinks the tram is going to reduce traffic congestion on Northbourne Avenue then she will be mightily disappointed.
The trams will remove 20 or 30 buses from Northbourne during a peak hour, freeing up the inside lane but having little other effect on general traffic. On the other hand, cross traffic will be disadvantaged because of the priority to be given to trams.
The tram is not rapid transit, so it will be less effective in accommodating growth than in just developing the bus services.
There are two actions now open to the government to significantly reduce traffic on Northbourne: sponsor commuter ride-sharing (not the type offered by Uber) and distribute the work force to the towns. Ultimately technology will force the government's hand on both these points to the extent that the tram will only be an expensive and wasteful promotion, built in the wrong place to boot.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 7 2017 from Chris Emery, Reid
Bill Gemmell (Letters, July 5) can relax on tram safety. The Spanish vehicles we are buying only have a maximum speed of 70km/h. Our buses move safely at 100km/h and are the only vehicles able to provide the "rapid" public transport specified in the ACT government's own "Transport for Canberra 2012-31".
The most favoured light rail route from Civic to Woden looks like taking about three times the current journey time.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 7 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Bill Gemmell might or might not be right in his assertion (Letters, July 6) that the express buses to Woden speed but his letter doesn't help the case for the tram.
The key point is the tram will have a maximum speed of 70km/h while the legal maximum for the buses is 80km/h. Then there is the fact that the tram route will be less direct than the bus. Thus, the tram will never be faster than the express buses.
Express busses running in bus lanes are a relatively inexpensive and much more efficient way of addressing the city's public transport needs than a tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 7 2017 from Roger Quarterman, Campbell
In his rather dismissive letter about the critics of light rail Bill Gemmell (Letters, July 6) is clutching at straws when he explains the higher transit speed of buses by accusing them of exceeding the posted speed limits.
He glosses over the fact that the light rail vehicles are designed to have a maximum speed capability of only 70km/h, which means that the light rail system never had a hope of becoming a rapid transit system, or competing with buses which are capable of sustaining 80km/h along Adelaide Avenue without difficulty.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 7 2017 from Susan MacDougall, Scullin
The anti-tram letters to The Canberra Times may be from grumpy, bored retirees or fat cats who never drive along Northbourne Avenue in the rush hour. But the wearisome bombardment of letters suggests a concerted Liberal campaign running up to the next ACT election. Yes, costs are a moot point. So is population growth. In the long term light rail could be of great benefit, complementing bus and other shared transport systems. What we really need is fewer cars on the road.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 6 2017 from Bill Gemmell, Holder
Buses fast for a reason I usually have a quiet chuckle at the near daily anti-light rail contributions from the hardy band of opponents.
However, Stan Marks' (Letters, July 5) contribution cannot be left without rebuttal. Mr Marks praises the current speedy buses that ply the Woden-Civic corridor and quite correctly states the proposed light rail will have slower journey times.
What Mr Marks neglects to mention is the buses traversing the corridor do often exceed the posted speed limits, while the light rail vehicles will be tightly controlled to ensure safety.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 5 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
So Peter Brassington (Letters, June 29) doesn't like the arguments Max Flint, formerly of Can the Tram, uses to demonstrate the effect of this folly on the pockets of ordinary Canberra residents.
Well, he can never get away from the fact that, in the end, the citizens of this city will have to pay for it and the cost is immense.
It was the Auditor-General, not just Can the Tram, who said that the tram had a benefit cost ratio of 0.47, i.e. that only 47 per cent of the money it will cost to build and operate the tram will come from the fare box. The rest will come from you, me and Brassington, whose government charges, including rates, will have to rise to cover it.
He can divide the money up how he likes. At the end of the day there is no way around that. We have had several letters recently from people arguing that the decision has been taken and that opponents have to accept this democratic outcome.
Partly. But the other fact that remains is that, although the decision has been taken in principle, to build Stage 2, it hasn't happened yet.
If stage 1 was mad, stage 2 is insane. It will have an indirect route and can never match the speed of the express buses between Woden and the city.
The government is plunging headlong down the same route as before, deciding to proceed before they even know the cost of the work, let alone any real idea of patronage etc. All they have is green ideology from Rattenbury and co; and the realisation that, if they don't proceed, it will look as though they are admitting that stage 1 was a mistake.
We probably won't stop them, but we will try. So, people will hear more from those of us who know something about transport and love our city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 3 2017 from Warwick Davis, Isaacs
If we poor voters must suffer the light rail line it must not be allowed to traverse Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and the road through Parkes and following, which would destroy the visual beauty and traffic amenity of that area.
The tram should travel Parkes Way — Tuggeranong Parkway, Hindmarsh into Woden; Parkway on to Tuggeranong; in the other direction, an easy trip to Russell, other Defence establishments and airport.
Access to Parkes Way is probably via Cooyong and Coranderk: both have the space.
It is laughable that Adelaide Avenue is referred to as having a median strip. It may but that also serves as stormwater drainage: well, it did in the days of rain. Capital Metro might be the world's first submarine tram.
Avoiding the bridges is worthwhile, as it is likely to be costly and time consuming to strengthen the bridges, or even just extend the bridge width.
The pedestrian underpass near Albert Hall is being abolished by the National Capital Authority, almost surely a low key preparation of a strengthened tram way. The underpass is of higher value.
It is much better to ban the tram from Parkes, which should have been the response of the NCA.
A tram on a fairly straight run along Parkes Way can travel fast enough to make up time lost, if any, by the slightly longer route. Taxis have proven to me the ease and speed of Parkes Way airport to Greenway, most of the route with no lights.
The airport end needs some design but the expertise exists.
Buses are better of course.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 3 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
In her damning report of the business case for light rail stage 1 (Initiation of the Light Rail Project Report No. 5 / 2016) the Auditor-General strongly criticised "Trammany Hall" for the use of land-use benefits and wider benefits such as urban densification in developing the benefit-cost ratio.
These non-transport-related benefits constituted 58.8 per cent of the total benefit-cost ratio of 1.2 for stage 1.
It is now apparent the rollout of the NBN in Canberra and the approaching driverless vehicle revolution will bring about a uniformity in property values and in the distribution of population, with little value arising from location along a tram line.
I assume Ernst and Young, the contractors charged with developing the business case for stage 2, will now observe the following forecast made in their strategic business document: "...it will become common in many sectors for workforces to be virtual, connecting to work anytime, from anywhere, and on any device".
Given this it is difficult see how the benefit-cost ratio for stage 2 will be more than 0.5.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 30 2017 from Wayne Grant, Swinger Hill
M. Flint (Letters, June 26) attempts to sensationalise the costs of a light rail network by comparing it to rates.
Is he aware that taxation as aportion of government revenue is 32 per cent. Rates isonly about 30 per cent of taxation.
To equate any general expenditure against such a small portion of revenue, and then to simply divide the number of ratepayers by the total is ridiculous bordering on the duplicitous.
One might as well say how on earth are we going to pay the health budget now that stamp duty is going down.
He also neglected to acknowledge any benefits, only the costs.
Already we have witnessed numerous transit-oriented developments along the light rail stage 1 route.
These promote construction activity, additional rates and land tax, payroll tax, GST, wages and so on.
We all understand "can the tram" (or now "smart Canberra transport") objection to light rail, but at least be honest in your arguments.
So what if wage growth is the lowest since figures have been recorded. So what if electricity prices have gone up another 20 per cent.
So what if motor vehicle registration has increased way over inflation again.
Residents should bear in mind that this is democracy at work and you must trust the government you have voted for as they would never mislead you.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 28 2017 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
Rather than asking readers to stop pointing out the folly of the tram, Chris Aulich (Letters, June 23), or indeed the government, could silence critics with counter evidence.
They could debunk the Auditor-General's finding that the nominal cost of Stage 1 for one 12-kilometre tram line is $1.8 billion (and around $1.4billion in 2016 dollars); that the project's own modelling showed it increases congestion and commute times in Gungahlin and North Canberra; and most confoundingly, reduces public transport capacity along the route in the morning peak hour.
But they cannot. Instead, the government has backed away from the tram as a "transport solution", now casting it as a catalyst for vibrancy.
After the property bubble bursts, the need for efficient transport will remain.
That demands more than cosy handshakes with property developers and carpetbaggers.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 27 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
Prior to self government Canberra was Australia's planning exemplar. Decisions of how the city should develop were shaped by a comprehensive analysis of the implications of alternative distributions of population, employment and facilities.
The purchase of rural leases to the west of the city, the government's land release program and the development of light rail and its associated corridor have all been made without the benefit of such analysis. The outcome is an increasingly unaffordable and congested inner city developing in parallel with car-dependent sprawl to the west.
Canberra's planning performance is now that of a poorly performing local government.
A perception is the government is heavily influenced by the need for land revenues from a future "government" greenfields development given revenues will be reduced from joint venture arrangements for Riverview and the CSIRO development.
If land revenues fall other options available include the culling of discretionary projects such as the untested extension of light rail. A review of the planning strategy should determine the location of the next greenfields area and would give confidence decisions are soundly based.
Canberra's planning has no pulse. It needs resuscitation. Are you up to the task Mr Barr?
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 25 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
Re: "Terrible news" about the economy in the context of "Economic diversity essential" for the ACT (editorial, June 22).
What do you expect from a "Trammany Hall" dominated by "socio-crats" and void of any engineering input?
We have a National Capital Authority that thinks the tram is about public transport in a city that can never support a useful tram network, a government that says it's about urban development (seen as income from real estate) and the CFMEU that knows it's about gold-plated jobs for the membership.
There are two technologies that will revolutionise this city and the way things are looking our private sector will only participate as sale organisations channelling profits overseas.
Before the Gungahlin tram is operational the backbone of the NBN will be complete in Canberra. Despite household internet disappointments, protests from people whose jobs will become relocatable and the usual political wrangling, fibre to the premises spells new organisation and new opportunities for business and government.
Later we can expect the driverless car to fundamentally change the way we look at transport and society.
With its quality roads and uniform street layout Canberra is the ideal city for the introduction of "Level 4" driverless technology.
The opportunities for industry in these technology areas are enormous.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 25 2017 from M. Flint, Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale
As yet the government has not bothered to make public any estimate of the total cost of its planned light rail network (if indeed it has even done one), but it has now been done by an independent analyst.
The network is estimated to cost a minimum of $8.7 billion in 2016-17 prices and about $9.4billion by 2019-20, when taxpayers have to start paying the piper.
The ACT Budget Papers for FY2017-18 say that for stage 1 (Gungahlin-Civic), the PPP payments to the consortium, will be $54.269 million in 2019-20, with similar amounts each year through until 2027-28, for a total of $1.46 billion in 2019-20 prices.
Given the projected number of ratepayers in Canberra, each will be paying, one way or another, a minimum of about $390 per annum, for a total over 20 years of $7792 in today's money. How many Canberrans will ever use the Gungahlin tram regularly?
This burden is only the start. It ramps up for taxpayers with every stage brought on line — to $740 pa ($14,800 over 20 years) for stage 2 (Civic-Woden) and, eventually, to $2291 pa ($45,816 over 20 years) by completion of stage 8 in 2036-37. Although all taxpayers will pay, it is estimated that less than 20 per cent of them would ever use any of the trams.
Every Canberran should be demanding to know how the government intends to pay for its planned tram network. Not only will the costs be enormous, but also, expected Benefit to Cost Ratios for any stage will be grossly uneconomic.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 22 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
A factor in the windfall gain provided to some ACT rural leaseholders was the low-growth paradigm that shaped ACT policies in the early 2000s.
The 'most likely' population projection at the time suggested the Territory's population would reach 389,000 by 2031 and then decline.
The low-growth expectation was also a factor in decisions to close schools.
The Canberra population is now 400,000 and could approach 600,000 by 2050, if recent growth rates continue.
The high level of growth is shaping the policy deliberations of the government.
History shows the ACT economy is subject to boom-bust cycles given its susceptibility to changes in federal government activity.
Substantial decentralisation of government agencies or lower levels of net overseas migration could significantly reduce the growth of the Territory.
In this context, the decision of the Barr-Rattenbury government to proceed with light rail to Woden, in the absence of any analysis of its merit, could be seen as poor a policy decision as selling off much of the ACT's urban land bank in the early 2000s.
It is also concerning that the LDA purchases of rural land could pre-determine the decision of where the next major greenfield area should be, without analysis of the merits of alternative settlement locations.
Such a decision should only be made in the context of the ACT planning strategy, a review of which is urgently needed to optimise community outcomes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 20 2017 from Peter Toscan, Amaroo
What's all the complaining about? A new $30,000 per unit property development tax, 20per cent increase in rates on units, a 7 per cent increase in housing rates, increases in electricity and water charges.
Developers were salivating about the prospect of huge profits to be made resulting from the construction/sale of properties along the tram corridor along with home owners anticipating a lift on their own property values.
You voted them in and now it's time to pay the piper along with the rest of us.
And those struggling to get into the property market will now be further down the queue than ever before.
You ain't seen nothing yet. Can't wait for stage two.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 20 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
Some inexplicable statements were made last week by Malcolm Snow, chairman of the National Capital Authority, to the hearing of the joint standing committee on the national capital and external territories.
Referring to Canberra's light rail Snow was quoted "it's all about trip times". "It's not like a Melbourne tram that wanders all over the place." ("NCA's light rail detour", June 16, p.12).
Perhaps Snow is confused by the number of trams you see in Melbourne, which has the largest tram network in the world, but the links are quite direct connections to the CBD. Tram speed is the issue for Melbourne where I suspect, consequently, the average trip length is only a few kilometres.
If Snow thinks trip time is the issue for the proposed Woden-Civic tram then he should consult the people who currently use the rapid bus services from Woden to Civic.
Most of them will have a mode change and a tram trip that takes twice the time of the current express bus.
It's not about trip time Malcolm, it's about journey time.
As the population density grows along the tram lines so tram speed will slow to that of Melbourne trams and no one will use the inter-town services.
This type of planning is wrong for Canberra.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 18 2017 from Bruce Taggart, Aranda
I suggest that those Canberrans who "bought" the ACT government's election propaganda about how light rail would reduce traffic congestion should get used to the congestion during the Stage1 construction phase because traffic light priority for trams will mean that that level of congestion becomes the new normal traffic flow on Northbourne Avenue.
Traffic congestion will be further compounded when traffic lanes on Commonwealth Avenue are appropriated for Stage2 and the government implements its Northbourne Avenue Plaza proposal in conjunction with the NCA's "Trammany Hall" proposal to replace Commonwealth Avenue slip lanes and the pedestrian underpass with multiple sets of traffic lights which will all give priority to trams.
Given that Andrew Barr has demonstrated that he can more than match Donald Trump for hubris, I suggest that he should bear in mind Abraham Lincoln's aphorism, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 17 2017 from David Hobson, Spence
There is an achievable solution to the issue of where the light rail should go from Civic to Woden ("NCA's light rail detour', canberratimes.com.au, June 16).
It could go under the lake. Starting from the Civic terminus of stage 1, it could go under City Hill and the lake and avoid a lot of disruption to current activities. It could resurface at an appropriate place in the Parliamentary triangle.
When the Acton tunnel on Parkes Way was constructed by digging a huge cutting then filling it in again, a nonconforming tender was submitted which would have achieved the same result by tunnelling, and at a similar cost.
I have no idea why that tender was not selected, but it was submitted by the people who constructed the Tuggeranong Sewer Tunnel of 9.6km so they had proven experience in this area.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 16 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
Obviously, "Trammany Hall" doesn't want to know about the fibre-optic NBN, currently being rolled out in my suburb, and which will be deployed to every town in Canberra by the end of 2018. Why are we still planning with outdated concepts?
Mr Rattenbury knows that fibre-optic internet is much more likely to attract high-tech industries than a tram stop half a kilometre away from their premises.
Barnaby Joyce has certainly realised the significance for regional centres.
High-speed internet, complemented by smart public transport, would allow the development of workforces and critical-density populations around every suburban centre, so that most social amenities could be available locally.
Families would be the winners.
The ACT government should be investing in extending the fibre-optic NBN network to business/office premises in every local centre, not in a network of steel rails that will be obsolete before its completion.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 13 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
People complaining about another big hike in rates by Mr Barr, well in excess again of the CPI (where personal incomes are essentially stuck), have not seen anything yet as the hikes to pay for the tram are yet to come.
CanTheTram has been saying for more than two years that the Gungahlin-Civic tram will cost householders an average of more than $500 a year for 20 years in higher rates or government debt. Either way, the householder pays (whether owner or renter). Stage 2 to Woden will be even more expensive than Stage 1 and considerably less cost-effective. So, when that comes on stream, we householders can expect, on average, an additional $650 or so a year for 20 years.
To all those starry-eyed Labor/Greens supporters who voted for the tram, I hope you enjoy paying for it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 13 2017 from Mike Lawson, New Acton
Every time the National Capital Authority or the ACT government releases a new drawing of West Basin, this part of Lake Burley Griffin seems to shrink a bit more to make room for future land sales. The latest rendering (Canberra Times, June 7, p8) illustrates this point, especially compared to early drawings for the City to the Lake project.
Based on a false interpretation of Griffin's vision for the lake which now bears his name, the ACT government is to get more than four hectares of submerged land in West Basin, reclaiming a strip up to 80 metres wide. Why? So it can build an eight-metre wide promenade, pavilions and coffee concessions, a cycle path and a road over the lakebed, which will then enable the new City Renewal Authority to sell the maximum amount of developable land on prime West Basin Estate for apartments, offices, restaurants and bars.
Development of West Basin is a rare opportunity to create a landmark precinct for the nation at the lake's shore. It would be an excellent site for the Australia Forum convention centre or a national institution.
Yet the best the ACT government can think up is more high-density shops and flats with limited on-street public parking, while incidentally creating a foreshore restaurant/bar district over the muddy bottom and cold north shore of the lake. Even the swimming pool looks to have now been put off and probably won't happen.
Canberra needs a world-class inner city public lakeside precinct. Linking the City to the Lake, joining Acton Peninsula to Civic and bringing light rail close to the best greenfield waterfront site in Canberra are all good in theory. But West Basin should not be alienated from public use, should not have its landscape heritage value trashed for private profit, and should not be repurposed as Kingston Foreshore 2.0. Think "Stanley Park Vancouver" rather than "King St Wharf Sydney".
I urge Canberra residents to have a say now about the future of West Basin. You can give your views on the National Capital Authority's proposed Kings and Commonwealth Avenue Design Strategy (at www.nationalcapital.gov.au, open till July 3) and the ACT's Light Rail Stage Two route (yoursay.act.gov.au/LRS2, until June 11).
There are many good elements in these proposals but neither seems to be giving much weight to the north-south traffic restrictions and congestion that would follow, especially the additional traffic load from a new suburb in West Basin.
You can also comment on the Acton Peninsula Precinct Draft Structure Plan (available on the NCA and other websites but only open till June 13) which has great merit but it also has heritage impacts and includes further land reclamations to make way for development sites on ACT-managed land in the north and west of West Basin. It's not yet too late to stop the sell-off of public foreshore land in Lake Burley Griffin.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 10 2017 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
Trevor Lipscombe ("Preserve diminishing green", Letters, May 27), Dave Roberts ("Avenue redevelopment plan will be disruptive disaster for the city", Letters, June 1), Juliet Ramsay ("Selling off Canberra's crown jewels a despicable act", Letters June 6), and Kaye Berry ("Traffic plan flawed", Letters June 7) all highlight once again the major defect in the ACT's planning regime.
There is a complete absence of a single, professionally produced, overarching master plan for the territory. As a result, we have witnessed both the Barr government and the National Capital Authority taking a destructive, ad hoc approach to the development of the ACT that has given us the Manuka Oval debacle; the West side pop-up village horror; the Gungahlin-to-city tram catastrophe; the Yarralumla brickworks fiasco; and Andrew Barr's desire to replace the Olympic pool with a stadium.
Tony Powell, in an article that everyone should read ("Canberra risks losing its character altogether" by Kirsten Lawson, CT, May 23), claimed, quite rightly, that the ACT government had slowly shredded its expertise in architecture, town planning, engineering and landscape design.
What is required for the proper planning and development of the nation's capital is a single, independent, statutory body headed by a qualified professional chief planner of world standing, who would be free of political interference, adequately funded and staffed by fully trained professionals.
This body would also obviate the need for the recently established pseudo "agencies". After all, Canberra is Australia's capital city, not some regional country town.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 7 2017 from Kaye Berry, Pearce
What does the ACT government think of the NCA's multiple proposals to deliberately impede the traffic flow on Commonwealth Avenue in order to enhance the avenue's "crucial ceremonial and symbolic role" (Canberra Times, May 23)?
The most bizarre of the proposed changes (although by no means the most harmful) is the planned removal of the pedestrian underpass at Albert Hall and its replacement with a pedestrian crossing and traffic lights.
As other letter writers have pointed out, the planned changes would result in major traffic congestion and would regularly inconvenience a great many Canberra residents.
The changes would delay not only private cars, but also buses, trams, taxis, motorcycles, tradesmen, delivery vans and emergency vehicles.
It is unacceptable that in the two weeks since the proposed changes were released by the NCA, the ACT government has made no public comment. The people of the ACT deserve to be told now whether the ACT government supports the changes or is opposed to them.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 7 2017 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
The folk at Woden should be very wary of the new "unsolicited bid" for a $100million development proposed for the Woden Town Centre.
This bid, ("Towers could revive Woden", CT, June 4, p1) lodged as a development application only two days after the public consultation on Territory Plan variation DV344 for the Woden Town Centre Master Plan closed on June 2, should be treated with suspicion.
Not only does it seriously jeopardise proper consideration of the master plan submissions but it appears to be a boost for the ill-conceived Woden tram line, especially as it is being backed by some already closely associated with the ACT government planning group.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 5 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
I believe that the underlying reason for the ridiculous NCA Commonwealth Avenue proposal criticised most recently by Dave Roberts (Letters, June 1) is to facilitate the construction of an expensive tramway.
A quick look at the map shows that the clover leafs linking Commonwealth Avenue to Parks Way would be a serious impediment for any structure carrying a tramway ramp to/from London Circuit, and similarly for the roadway ramps and slip lanes on the southern side of the bridge.
The NCA seems to have lost independence from the current ACT government. I am beginning to think there is a place in this city that might be called "Trammany Hall".
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 2 2017 from John Mason, Latham
I see that Stan Marks ("Beggaring belief", letters, May 26) wants to sack the NCA planners because they want to abolish cloverleaf intersections.
These planners, in my opinion, should be congratulated for courageously confronting the scourge of modern cities: the automobile.
Cars are great for taking the children to the beach or the mountains but their use for urban transport purposes should be discouraged. The second stage of our light rail system will mean that people will be able to get easily between the north and the south of our city.
Why would they need cars?
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 2 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
The widespread disquiet about the urban development in Canberra stems from the Labor government's hold on power since 2001, the lack of frank and fearless advice from a compliant SES and the lack of expertise in the ACT public service especially in architecture, planning, engineering and landscape design.
Actions necessary to improve outcomes include:
Firstly, employ urban policy experts within government, including a demographer.
Secondly, increase the security of tenure of senior bureaucrats dealing with development decisions to a minimum of 10 years to increase the possibility of competent and independent advice.
The extension of tenure also has the advantage of increasing the number and quality of applicants to SES positions.
Thirdly, require occupants of senior planning and land positions to have formal planning qualifications and extensive experience in strategic land use-transport planning.
Fourthly, a well-resourced review of the ACT planning and development strategy be undertaken to guide government decisions.
Finally, preparation of a 10-year urban development program for public input indicating needs assessments for land, housing, employment, transport, retailing and community facilities; showing where growth is to be accommodated and the infrastructure required to meet that pattern of growth.
It should include an assessment of what happens when the current "rivers of gold' from land and property end including the impact on discretionary projects such as the extension of light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 2 2017 from Dave Roberts, Belconnen
I support Michael Morley's letter (May 30) on the NCA's disastrous plan. The proposal by the NCA to turn Commonwealth Avenue/Bridge into a grandiose avenue will be a nightmare for Canberrans who regularly travel across Commonwealth Bridge.
The NCA fails to recognise that this is the main north/south thoroughfare, particularly for the inner south suburbs wishing to travel to the inner north or beyond to Sydney. The loss of one lane to traffic will mean a continual slow-moving traffic jam during daylight hours so that a speed limit of 60km/h won't be needed.
The proposal to delete the safe entry and exit slip roads in favour of a traffic light intersection is another stupid decision. NCA are proposing to replace perfectly safe methods of exiting and entering Commonwealth Avenue/Bridge with a potentially dangerous intersection where it will only be a matter of time before someone is killed by one of Canberra's notorious red light runners.
The proposal to build on the then vacant land currently occupied by the slip roads is environmental vandalism – it will ruin the vista of the lake as you approach the bridge.
It is time the NCA threw out their Burley Griffin plans for a city that is now 300,000 in population and nothing like the original WBG plan.
Wake up Canberrans, have your say on this monstrosity of a plan before it is too late.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 26 2017 from John L Smith, Farrer
When Karen Wright ("Have your say, but let planners do their job", May 26, p29) writes "we are in a new era of planning for Canberra: one of revitalising town centres that were built around the dominance of the car" she seems to imply that the car will not remain dominant.
Last week the leading national bodies in road transport (Austroads and the National Transport Commission) published the "Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia". The chairmen of these organisations wrote: "Automated vehicles are set to fundamentally change the way we look at transport and our society at large".
One would hope that the planners that Karen Wright represents heed this advice.
It has already been demonstrated that public transport can be based on automated vehicles ("Could self-drive cars be the death knell for city's light rail". May 4, p2) and Andrew Barr has acknowledged the possibilities ("Face-tracking tech on trial in driverless cars" May 19, p10).
To plan to revitalise the Woden town centre around a tram line and so underestimate the impact of (emerging) technology would be completely irresponsible.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 30 2017 from Michael Maley, Queanbeyan, NSW
If the NCA's "Kings and Commonwealth Avenues Draft Design Strategy" is to be taken seriously, there is a need for detailed mathematical modelling of the impact on traffic flow and car travel times of the proposed lower speed limits, and the elimination of the cloverleaf/slipway intersections and their replacement with rectangular intersections controlled by traffic lights.
Canberra is a spread out city with a relatively small population for its size, and it's clear that in my lifetime the light rail system, cycling and walking won't (for most people) be a feasible alternative to getting around by car.
For better or worse, Kings and Commonwealth Avenues are the major thoroughfares carrying car traffic between the inner north and the inner south, and on the face of it, the changes look likely to create traffic delays and jams at peak hours, to the great annoyance and inconvenience of many.
Since the relative absence of traffic jams has always been one of the benefits of living in Canberra, it would seem grossly irresponsible to make changes which could jeopardise that without the most careful and scientific analysis of the impact of the changes.
So let's hear from the NCA. Has the modelling been done? If so, what does it show? If not, why not?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 26 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
The proposal, outlined in the paper today (May 23) to eliminate the clover leaf intersections at either end of Kings and Commonwealth avenues and replace them with conventional intersections in order to slow traffic down would have to suggest that the planners at the National Capital Authority (NCA) all need to be sacked or the agency abolished.
Those avenues are important through roads and traffic needs to move along them freely. The planners at the NCA need to recognise that they live in the real world and these avenue, while they have ceremonial and symbolic significance, are primarily functional roads, important, as roads tend to be, for getting from A to B.
If they want to give more space for pedestrians and cyclists, then use the space beside the roads and, in any case, the cycle paths over the bridge were widened a few years ago.
It is beyond belief that such a proposal would even be contemplated.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 25 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
Congratulations to Seeing Machines on their research grant from the ACT government for the investigation of the critical subject of driver behaviour in automated cars ("Face-tracking tech on trial in driverless cars", May19, p10).
Experts agree that the handover of control to a human is the area of greatest challenge in the march towards the automated car. However, it is practical restrictions on the operational design domain for a fleet of automated vehicles that can lead to early deployment.
Given that all traffic signalling can be transmitted in a radio spectrum as well as the visible spectrum used for humans, the paradox of driverless trams without rails and catenaries, properly described as bus ways for driverless electric buses, is foreseeable within a decade.
This is not an insurmountable step in Canberra, given that driverless suburban trains will be operational in Sydney in 2019.
My question to Mr Barr is whether in supporting long-term research into the most challenging area of automated vehicles, is he just trying to deflect criticism of the indefensible Woden tram project?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 11 2017 from M.D.Curtis, Kalee
As a five-year-old schoolgirl in Edinburgh, I travelled to school every day, using both a bus and a tram. Watching the ABC TV Portillo-Baedeker program, last week, I was delighted to see the old double-decker maroon-coloured trams that I used to travel on every day.
These trams caused traffic chaos in the years after World War II, when more and more people were able to use private cars for their daily commute, and, in consequence the trams were put out of service at the end of 1957.
The trams didn't run much after midnight, or before 6am, during which time they were all put in various depots in different parts of the town.
I was shocked when the Scottish Nationalists decided that trams had to be restored – despite the obviously much heavier traffic flow in the present time, and shambles when the roads were dug up again and rails were replaced.
But what really amazed me was seeing the enormous area required for the new Scottish National Trams to be parked (washed, maintained, up-graded, etc), that was shown on Portillo's TV show.
Has anyone decided where and how large the depot will be for the Gungahlin-Civic tram?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 16 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
Every time Transport Canberra opens its mouth about the tram it highlights another damning aspect of this fiasco ("First look at city's proposed light rail stop", May 13, p2).
Despite reminding Minister Fitzharris of the undulation of the Brindabellas, tram stops spaced a kilometre apart can only draw patronage from a very narrow corridor, given the widely-accepted rule of thumb that most patrons are only prepared to walk 500 metres to a stop.
Introducing more stops in order to widen the catchment would put an end to the pretence that the network can provide inter-town services anywhere near rapid transit speed. Talk of feeder buses only accentuates the cost-effectiveness for Canberra of a good bus network.
Anyone who attended the recent Transport Canberra presentations about the Woden tram will know that when pressured with well-founded criticism, the response has been "the tram is not only about public transport, it is for urban development".
Given the urban development proposed only involves filling in the vacant land in Woden with apartment blocks and replacing the express bus route with a route that deviates through Parkes, Barton and perhaps ending at the hospital, the planning isn't exactly imaginative.
How about a busway from Gungahlin to Woden running driverless buses 24/7, and operated by human drivers until the technology is tested and proven? Advantages would be lower cost, integral with the existing bus network, a step towards the future of driverless public transport, and inspirational for developers.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 13 2017 from Nora Preston, Weston Creek
I attended the WVCC meeting on May 3 and pointed out that with 20 years of free electric buses and bus services being unreliable, the light rail will simply add to the chaos of unreliable public transport.
I suggested to put more buses on the road and make them reliable or to develop free solar-powered buses. Light rail is unaffordable, with Canberra already rating as the second-highest city for homelessness. Our city is sure to rate as the highest in homelessness as a result of the hikes in rates and tax increases needed to pay for it.
Light rail will have high maintenance costs that buses don't. Trams won't bring vibrancy into Woden as everyone is leaving Canberra because it is already the most unliveable, most expensive city to live in. There won't be anyone left to use light rail.
It has already been stated that light rail is not suitable for Canberra. Canberra is supposed to be the Bush Capital but the light rail is destroying the Bush Capital and wildlife habitat.
Dump light rail. It's outdated and a waste and abuse of taxpayers' money.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 11 2017 from Russ Morison, Theodore
Re "Canberra Business Chamber continues push for new convention centre" (May 9, p8). If I remember correctly, this project had a 4:1 ratio, which should mean that for every dollar invested, four would be returned to the ACT government.
As Infrastructure Australia knows, the tram project showed a return of barely 1:1.
So, which is better value for the ACT government and why are we not going ahead with it yesterday?
This ought to be a priority, not the tram. As should a major project for the ACT government to get back into the business of building public housing.
Katy told us the tram would cost roughly the same as the Convention Centre. Let's buildit!
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 11 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
Rob Holesgrove would not have made his ill-informed assertion about the need for light rail (letters, May 10) if he had listened to the talk given by Canberra IT specialist Kent Fitch "Could self-drive cars be the death knell for city's light rail", May 4, p2.
Self-drive car fleets will replace buses and trams in Canberra in the next 20 years and become the public transport system. Building light rail now is a complete waste of money.
The reorientation of the major auto manufacturers towards building public transport fleets is already evident.
The battle is on in the US for control of the new public transport systems, involving the mega players Ford, GM, Google and others.
Contrary to Holesgrove's concept of cars clogging the roads, the use of a private vehicle in the populous urban areas will be an exception. Almost all urban travel will be provided on-demand by self-drive vehicles automatically dispatched just as taxis are today. Ride sharing will be very common, as with all forms of public transport.
The result will be fewer vehicles on the road, cheaper transport for everyone, less emissions and better road safety.
Travel in Canberra will be untrammelled.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 28 2017 from Lee Welling, Nicholls
It's obvious there are many advocates of the tram project - excluding those with a vested interest, of course - who have been so seduced by the colour and motion propaganda videos put out by the government's PR machine that they have not grasped the magnitude of what it is all going to cost.
The tram is a horrendously expensive folly that we will never be able to pay for.
The establishment of the tram system is, and will increasingly be, directly responsible for a real cut in everyone's income and will provide no tangible benefits to the community at large as would, say, an upgraded hospital, low-cost housing and so on.
By the government's own figures, patronage of the system will be minimal.
In reality, it will probably be a lot worse.
But we'll never know.
The government has suppressed the unfavourable report into the tram that it commissioned.
There was an eminently sensible, and relatively inexpensive option, that was ignored for political expediency (the Rattenbury vote) and that was to establish priority bus lanes.
Rather than a tram trundling down Northbourne Avenue with nowhere to go other than back the way it came, a bus could do the same.
It would also have the flexibility to go elsewhere when required.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 10 2017 from Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor
Couple of ridiculous thought bubbles in The Canberra Times of May 4. First the idea that self-drive cars would obviate the need for the light rail southern extension. Oh I get it; clog up the roads with tiny cars and forget about a public transport system.
Second, the recently installed NSW Premier spouting nonsense about the ACT holding NSW to "ransom" and forcing other states to follow a "lowest common denominator" approach. As Andrew Barr said, the ACT often takes the high road on reform issues. For some reason NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not name other jurisdictions with small populations such as Tasmania and the NT.
What really has the ACT done to upset the Premier, or was she just searching for a headline?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 9 2017 from John L. Smith, Farrer
In response to Jack Wiles (Letters, May 6) the current situation and the next stage towards resolving his questions about responsibility for automated vehicles are clear.
The existing policy position is that the human "driver" remains in full legal control of a vehicle that is partially or conditionally automated.
The National Transport Commission has issued a discussion paper titled "Clarifying control of automated vehicles" (see www.ntc.gov.au).
Submissions are invited with the aim of finalising national guidelines in late 2017.
Every state and territory in Australia except the ACT has already conducted trials in connected and automated vehicles, or has plans to do so.
Our dark-age government is still firmly committed to a policy of building light rail to promote urban development.
This policy is going to waste billions of dollars and ensure that Canberra becomes an impossibly expensive city ("A tale of two Canberras", May 6, p1).
Meanwhile, it is becoming clear automated vehicle technology will enable the current urban form of Canberra to prosper without any expensive infrastructure investment.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 8 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
Here we go again. A light rail proposal. No clear objective of what it is to achieve.
No assessment of how it fits into the planning and development strategy for the city.
Justification of the project through a misinterpretation of a low benefit to cost ratio. The Greens arguing it is a choice between light rail and cars ignoring bus alternatives.
No assessment of why light rail is being prioritised over alternatives including improving the bus network, increased funds to provide housing and improve education, health and disability services.
Well informed criticism ignored.
Deliberate distractive consultation akin to what colour do you want to paint the house when it is about to burn down.
Waffle about how it will increase "vibrancy" and be "transformational" ignoring the increased residential development already occurring at the town centres and a failure to consider incentives to increase employment at desired locations.
An opposition party that is too far to the right to be elected.
Evidence-based policy is dead. Light rail to Woden is a fait accompli.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 8 2017 from John Casey, Curtin
What factors should be considered in determining the route of light rail Stage 2? According to the manager of the Doubleshot cafe in Deakin ("Light rail stage two a step in the right direction", May 3, p.2), the route should convenience those from the northside who wish to visit his cafe.
Others interviewed suggested the Deakin route would "make people come out here". As Geoff Barker points out (Letters, May 3) it was self-interest that spawned the light rail project; now it seems that self-interest is having a voice in determining the route for Stage 2.
We risk missing the woods for the trees, as John Mungoven says that a circuitous route via Deakin (and the Doubleshot cafe) will threaten the express bus service between Woden and Civic (Letters, May 3).
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 8 2017 from Mick Van der Plaat, Mawson
In the lead-up to the last ACT election the Mawson park-and-ride facility was littered with billboards from the ACT Labor Party confirming that Stage 2 of light rail would terminate at Southlands park-and-ride.
This advertising ensured local southside residents and those that use the park-and-ride facility would gain some benefit in the light rail decision in what was a pivotal election issue.
As this no longer appears as an option in Stage 2, has a study confirmed that the southside won't use light rail or were we simply misled by the ACT Labor Party at the last election?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 5 2017 from Murray May, Cook
M. Flint (Letters, May 4) comments that property rates will increase by an average of $500 per year to pay for Stage 1 of light rail alone.
Add to this increases in rates as a result of the reorientation of charges away from stamp duty towards rates.
I am wondering when the tipping point on rates and levies will come for ratepayers (on top of any increases in electricity, gas and water charges).
The community doesn't get continuing proportional income rises sufficient to fund the rates increases.
The warnings came at the last ACT election, but the reality will surely begin to bite by the next election.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 4 2017 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Light rail is premature for Canberra (I'd stop the current works at Dickson). But, if we're looking at long-term Civic-Woden routes ("A bridge too far?", May 2, p.1), then consider this.
Like the NCA apparently, I'd worry about tracks intruding on the fine Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. So, I'd avoid it (and the converging Kings Avenue one) and any associated difficult Parkes Way and London Circuit intersections.
I'd examine a more useful two-way south-side route, firstly extending from Civic to Russell along Constitution Avenue (as already envisaged); down to the Menindee Drive/Boat House precinct; onto a new eastern lake crossing (a low-impact trestle for rail, pedestrians, and bikes only, with a cafe on it) close to Griffin's causeway line; connecting to lively Kingston Foreshore at busy harbour-side Honeysett Street (with maybe a branch line into the Parliamentary Zone); on to the railway station; then south on splendid axial Sturt Avenue (a future development corridor); on to sweeping Captain Cook Crescent (a similar corridor); into busy Manuka; along Canberra Avenue past upgraded Manuka Oval; along the edge of the Barton hotels and offices; on to State Circle and Parliament House's south entry; up land-axial Melbourne Avenue (a logical future development corridor); into a fast tunnel direct to Canberra Hospital; and then surface to Woden Town Centre — notably, avoiding Adelaide Avenue and Yarra Glen, thus protecting their magnificent sylvan settings from "light-rail-land-capture" high-rise flats.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 4 2017 from A. Curtis, Florey
Yes Murray May (letters, April 28) the Gold Coast Light Rail is certainly successful because it links major urban tourist destinations.
It (stage 1) covers a 13km route connecting Southport (CBD of the Gold Coast), with Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, stops also including Griffith University, University Hospital, Broadwater Parklands, GC Aquatic and Convention Centres.
Interestingly, the Gold Coast is a large local government area which includes 81 "suburbs" — separate townships such as Burleigh Heads, Currumbin, Mermaid Waters, Nerang, Oxenford; and three major urban towns — Coomera, Southport and Robina.
Buses and Rapid Bus networks provide the regular high frequency transport services between all of these. (With some heavy rail).
These "suburbs" are separated by distances comparable with those between Canberra's town centres. The trams which come to Canberra will be modern and whizz bang, but as a transport system, light rail is not modern, nor as cost effective as Rapid Bus systems in linking up decentralised areas.
Hopefully this fact is being given due consideration by those in charge of Canberra's future transport services.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 4 2017 2017 from Steve Ellis, Hackett
I would like to assure M. Flint (letters, May 5) I have no strong feelings one way or the other about the tram. If people want to repeatedly beat their heads against a brick wall it might be more useful to do so over a more important issue than one that has already been resolved.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 3 2017 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
The announcement of possible routes for the Civic-Woden light rail project ("A bridge too far?", May 2) is an exercise in futility.
A large portion of the route will be along Adelaide Avenue and Yarra Glen.
Firstly anyone who travels that route by bus will have noticed that the bus does not stop for passengers anywhere along that sector.
Without doubt a tram would be in a similar situation.
Secondly if a tram was to pick up or drop off passengers they would at peak hours have to make their way through a very heavy traffic flow to the centre or when disembarking to the sides.
Doing so at peak hour would be something like the charge of the light brigade at Balaclava – magnificently brave but ending possibly in disaster. Thirdly having a large part of the route with no passengers is not good economics.
Andrew Barr wants financial help from the Commonwealth government.
Only Andrew would think any finance would be coming for a light rail project where the cost -benefit was absolutely in the negative.
Personally I think that he is just going through the motions to keep Shane Rattenbury onside.
Personally I do not know why he bothers.
Just keeping Shane in cabinet should satisfy him.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 3 from John L Smith, Farrer
The alternative routes depicted in "A bridge too far?" (May 2) serve as a reminder that that the Barr-Rattenbury tram line is going to be a dud, whatever plan is followed.
The Capital Circle dilemma illustrates the futility of trying to make trams work in the sparse extents of Canberra.
This is not Sydney or Melbourne where people might walk a kilometre from a tram stop along the covered walkways of these mega cities.
Please, before this disaster unfolds any further, take a lead from the mandatory wire-free running and don't lay any steel rails.
Put pneumatic tyres on the vehicles so that the system can deliver the flexibility that is desperately needed from any public transport system in Canberra.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 3 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
I apologise to Mr Steve Ellis (letters, May 2) for boring him with letters against the white elephant that is the Gungahlin-Civic tram.
I can assure him that I am neither bitter nor foolish in criticising the wastefulness of this tram, just disappointed. He and many other daydreamers may have never bothered to investigate details of the project to realise that it does not stack up, being a political giveaway to the Greens.
What would Mr Ellis think if he were to know that property rates will increase by an average of $500 per year to pay for Stage 1 alone? Every Canberran householder will pay, whether they ever ride on a tram or not.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 2 2017 from Geoff Barker, Flynn
Steve Ellis (letters, May 1) wants letters to the editor regarding the "tram" to be given "a rest".
While l have some sympathy for his lament, I feel I must answer the query raised by Mike Quirk (letters, May 1) who says "it remains unclear what the objective of light rail is".
May I advise Mike the "objective" is very staightforward. It certainly is (was!) to Shane Rattenbury, who wanted a condition for supporting the Labor party. That condition was to have a "green" objective, or a light rail system. So by making this promise to Shane Rattenbury to support the light rail, Labor ensured that they gained control of the Assembly.
Simple really! I hope this answers Mike's question.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 2 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
The appointment of consultants to investigate the extension of light rail to Woden is welcome. The results of the analysis will need to be scrutinised forensically to ensure that the benefits of the project are sufficient to outweigh its costs.
It needs to be established that the investment would exceed the return if the funds had been applied to alternatives, including the extension of public transport services across Canberra, the provision of social housing and investment in education, health and education services.
Despite the commitment of $1billion for the Gungahlin to Civic light rail, it remains unclear what the objective of light rail investment is.
Is it to reduce overall travel in the territory? Is it to reduce car use? Is it to improve connectivity across Canberra? Is it to address climate change? Is it to attract knowledge workers? Is it make Canberra more sustainable and liveable?
If the objective can be clearly established, the merits of alternative strategies to meet the objective can be evaluated.
The Barr-Rattenbury government by its fanatical devotion to light rail is running the risk of sacrificing the efficient running of the city and the welfare of its residents. If the answer is light rail, what is the question?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 2 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
I was amused to read John Mason's letter (May 1) about his favourite project, the tram.
He thinks I am a Liberal supporter but I have voted Labor all but once in the past 20 years. I am disgusted that Labor is prepared to spend $1 billion for political purposes. Labor used to be the party of principle. Not any more, at least not in the ACT.
I am also a lifelong rail fan, which will surprise him. My opposition to the tram is not a form of hate as he suggests; it arises from the fact that I have spent 10years of my life working with the rail industry.
It is green ideology that trains and trams are always better than cars and buses and you put them in everywhere.
That policy, if implemented, will be a disaster. Rail-based passenger transport is good when put in the right places and I would put more of it in the big cities. But put in the wrong place, it is a disaster.
We will have to wait until the project opens to see but you have to get a pretty good outcome to warrant spending $1 billion and we aren't going to get it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 1 2017 from David Jenkins, Casey
Stan Marks (Letters, April 26) continues to maintain the rage about the monstrous (in both senses) cost of the tram, and rightly so.
Of all the possible ways to provide community benefit by such massive expenditure, this would rank near the top as the stupidest, particular given its appalling cost-benefit ratio.
Perhaps only poor, doe-eyed Shane Rattenbury believed that this was just a transport project. In contrast, the eyes of Andrew Barr must have lit up with the knowledge that it was really a Trojan horse for its true purpose, a giant land redevelopment project.
Decrying the tram might be a lost cause, but the next battle will be to forestall the otherwise inevitable creation of a canyon of concrete mediocrity lining Northbourne Avenue akin to that now blotting Kingston Foreshore.
At least Jon Stanhope gave us public art for some visual interest before the philistines regained control.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 1 2017 from John Mason, Latham
A thousand thanks to you, Stan Marks ("Billion dollar headache", April 27, p15) and your fellow anti-light-rail Electras.
Your Straussian wailing and teeth gnashing is music to my ears as I watch my favourite project spreading its steel wings from Gungahlin to Civic. However, you should not hold your breath as you wait for your Liberal Orestes to destroy the object of your hatred. Alistair Coe is far too clever to attack a winner.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 1 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
In respect of the article about planning contracts being let for Stage2 of the tram, readers need to know that all of these millions to be spent on planning for Stage 2 are in addition to the costs of ACT public servants administering the project and in addition to any costs for construction and operation of Stage2.
While we do not have any idea yet as to the total of these preliminary costs, an indication can be inferred from what preliminaries to Stage1 has cost and is costing taxpayers.
That figure approaches $150million for public servants and consultancy contracts (over FY2013-19; $137 million cited in government budgets and forward estimates), in addition to any construction contract (official cost $937 million but actual cost at least $1.3 billion, over 23 years). Stage2 will cost much more than Stage1 and will also be far less economic. Stage2 was an election sop to Woden Valley voters, nothing more.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 30 2017 from John Rodriguez, Florey
John Davenport (Letters, Sunday CT, April 23) refers to the proposed Gungahlin to Civic light rail as "progressive and innovative transport system". Research shows that trams are one of the oldest intra-city public transport modes in existence around the world. Trams are particularly useful in densely populated cities of traditional design (Canberra is not the case), where the relatively expensive and intrusive infrastructure required can be justified by its usefulness and financial return.
In Canberra, where this (usefulness and financial return) will not be the case, an alternative to the trams could have been replacing the current ageing bus fleet with a much more flexible, economical, low polluting and less obtrusive bus system. I understand we never even considered that option.
I am a lover of trams; I grew up in a city that had a comprehensive and effective tram network which was eventually replaced by buses and, more recently, complemented by an underground metro system. But, I do not think that Canberra is a tram city, whatever Walter Burley Griffith might have said.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 29 2017 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
It would appear that Andrew Barr's light rail trams are already out of date. A recent visit to the NSW Central Coast revealed that the currently-being-constructed light rail for Newcastle will be the only one in Australia with a wire-free line.
According to The Newcastle Herald (April 18), "Newcastle light rail vehicles will be fitted with on-board energy storage in order to remove the 'spider-web' of overhead wires and preserve the city's heritage". The Newcastle system will use on-board energy t and have charge points at stops.
It also claimed that there were already some 3million kilometres of this system in Europe. According to NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, implementing world-class light rail technology aligns with the NSW government's plans for Newcastle to become a city known for cutting-edge research and innovation.Is it too much to hope for Andrew Barr to get with modern technology if he is to persist with light rail here?
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 28 2017 from Stan Marks Hawker
So Andrew Barr is thinking about using citizens' juries to let the people have their say on major matters.
Pity he didn't do that with the tram. Instead, he used his call-in powers to stop even parliamentary consideration of the issue and let contracts just before the election to stop people having their say there.
He won, as it happens, but that election wasn't a referendum on the tram; the Liberals would have gotten the tram right and everything else wrong, which is why people didn't vote for them.
Let's hope, if he does go ahead with the idea, that he doesn't get his random sample of voters from the rolls of various ALP sub branches.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 28 2017 from Murray May, Cook
I agree with John Trueman and M.Flint (Letters, April26) in their responses to John Davenport's defence of the tram. Davenport demonstrates what happens when a blind commitment to ideology overrides careful rational analysis.
It is obvious there are some savvy and experienced transport people involved in Can the Tram, who are committed to public transport and rapid transit solutions.
However, the Gungahlin tram project failed badly on multiple grounds, when the detailed analysis was undertaken by various experts. In contrast, light rail examples such as the Gold Coast make sense in view of the number of visitors daily to that area and enough pivotal institutions along the route to make its use viable.
So Dallas Stow and John Davenport wonder why people keep sending letters to the editor decrying the tram. It shouldn't surprise them; people are still annoyed at a government that is happy to spend a billion dollars of our money for political purposes.
Stow's suggestion of putting a billion dollars into a hole in the ground is a fair equivalent of the tram. But if we spent that money digging a hole and then filling it in, we at least wouldn't have to cover the ongoing operating losses.
People all over the country were annoyed that the federal government would commit $50 billion to build submarines in SA to help retain a few seats in the House of Representatives. That is $2 billion per million people in the country.
The tram will cost $1 billion plus for a jurisdiction of about 400,000. That is equivalent to more than $2 billion per million of population. That is why people continue to pursue this matter.
As for the argument that people voted for the tram, there are a string of reasons why people wouldn't support the Liberals. They voted for the ALP in spite of the tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 26 2017 from M. Flint, Erindale
I wonder why people like John Davenport (Letters, April 23) bother to waste their time railing against opponents of Canberra's light rail aspirations, if it is such a fait accompli. Is he, like other writers of the same ilk, concerned that the Gungahlin-Civic tram will turn out to be the white elephant and financial burden that others believe it will be?
In making his specious case, he could have at least got his facts right. The Gold Coast's Glink Stage2 has not yet been opened. It is a 7.3-kilometre link between Parkwood and Helensvale at a claimed construction cost of $420 million of which the Gold Coast is paying only $55million.
Canberra citizens will have the pleasure of footing the total bill for its tram, except for $60million it might yet qualify for from the federal government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 26 2017 from John Trueman, Downer
John Davenport (Letters, April 22) can rest easy. The ACT government tram policy is to get people like me out of the inner north, and it is working. I'll be out of here as soon as the increase in land value caused by tram pays my cost of relocating and reimburses the additional rates caused by increased land value caused by tram. Who wants to live in a bleak concretescape, anyway?
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 26 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
The threat by the Turnbull-Joyce government to relocate Commonwealth departments from Canberra is a timely reminder to the Barr government that it simply cannot assume ongoing high levels of growth when planning the future development of the city.
In making major infrastructure decisions it needs to consider the best use of limited public funds. To guide such decisions a planning strategy needs to be developed which would enable assessment of environmental, social, infrastructure and travel benefits and costs of alternative distributions of employment and population and involve the community in discussions.
It would consider, for example, whether Canberra's future liveability and connectivity is dependent on concentrating development in Civic and along the Northbourne Avenue Corridor and extending the light rail to Woden.
Too often the government has supported half-baked proposals (cf Manuka, Yarralumla and Greenway west) only to backtrack when deficiencies were identified. Canberra cannot afford a repeat of the Gungahlin to Civic light rail, being developed despite well documented deficiencies on the basis of somewhat nebulous "transformational" benefits, that it is "leading infrastructure" necessary to attract the knowledge workers and exaggerated employment and environmental benefits.
It has to be asked whether funds devoted to the project could have been better used in improving bus-based public transport services across all of Canberra and on improving disability, health and education services.
Increasing the transparency of decisions would improve community confidence. It would also reduce the likelihood that Canberra will develop like every other city rather than a city like no other.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 23 2017 from Dallas Stow, O'Connor
As I drive down Northbourne Avenue enjoying the marvellous new vista all the way from Dickson to Parliament House (now the rotten old trees have been chopped down), I can't help thinking that if the Northern Infrastructure Facility is so flush with funds the Prime Minister can consider tossing a billion dollars into a hole in the ground, it's a pity the facility can't be used to fund the tram.
After all, who's going to want to live in the north once the reef's dead and climate change brings more and stronger cyclones?
Far better to have some reverse pork barrelling to compensate Canberra for public servants being transported to the sticks.
And if nothing else, we might see an end to the droning anti-tram letters of crusty curmudgeons.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 23 2017 from John Davenport, Farrerl
You would have thought that the hard core of anti-light-rail letters writers to The Canberra Times, would have fled Canberra, now that the light-rail construction is under way and electors of the ACT voted last October for this to happen.
You can imagine them relocating to a regional centre such as suggested by Barnaby and Fiona of the National Party, where they would never be upset by the sight of a tram.
Surprisingly, they are still here and still writing the same old anti-light-rail letters to The Canberra Times, still talking of a "stupid never-never proposal for a tram network" (CT Letters, April 22).
Construction does seem to be well under way! Barnaby's favourite, Armidale, would be a good choice for them, as they will never see trams grace the streets of this town.
Regional centres of danger for their relocation would be the Gold Coast, which has recently opened Stage Two of its light-rail network, Newcastle which is about to start its light- rail network and Bendigo and Ballarat, which both have successful tourist tram services.
No, I think Barnaby's Armidale would be the best for them and they can devote the rest of their lives to making sure that a tram never runs in Armidale and leave the rest of us in Canberra to enjoy a progressive and innovative transport system.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 19 2017 from Roger Quarterman, Campbell
Re "Barr moots stadium deal", April 15, p1. The government says it will progress plans for a new stadium in Civic.
This is second only to the idea of lowering Parkes Way for the "City to the Lake" brainstorm in the arena of silly planning ideas.
Stadiums need a lot of space, both for the actual facility and for parking.
They also spend a significant proportion of the time not in active use.
Using high-value CBD land for such an application is a poor use of resources.
The previous planners who located the Bruce stadium, EPIC, Thoroughbred Park and the greyhound track (well away from the CBD) were on the righttrack.
If a new and bigger stadium really is needed (and is not just a reflection of Mr Barr's personal interest in AFL) it should be placed in a greenfields site with easy access from an arterial road.
Possibilities include Symonston or Hume, with easy access to Hindmarsh Drive and the Monaro Highway respectively.
This would also help to balance the north/south distribution of facilities, thereby dispersing the traffic going to different activities.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 18 2017 from M.Flint, Erindale
Thank you Canberra Times for the editorial on April 13, describing the progressive mess the ACT government finds itself in over conflicting priorities. Sadly, it can all be sheeted home to the purely political decision, enshrined in the Parliamentary Agreement of December 2012, when the Labor Party had to buy the last remaining Green MLA to stay in power, including an obligation to start laying tram tracks from Gungahlin to Civic sometime in 2016. The financial chickens are now coming home to roost as many of us have predicted for the past three years.
In particular, the editorial correctly mentions the ill effects of having to rehouse the many public tenants from along the Stage1 corridor, but could have elaborated on why.
On May 24, 2014, the Chief Minister signed a National Partnership Agreement on Asset Recycling.
Under that agreement, Mr Barr agreed to sell about $400million of government assets, in order to qualify for a $60million federal contribution to the Stage1 tram.
However, two vital conditions of the deal were that the government could not allow the public housing stock to fall below 10,848, and that some 1288 public tenants had to be relocated before June 30, 2019. Hence the current scramble to rehouse these tenants.
Barr expected that the sale of land along the Stage1 corridor, especially along Northbourne Avenue, would pay the government's deposit on the tram but it will cost at least $500-600million to rehouse 1288 public tenants.
The Stage1 tram alone, which will cost an absolute minimum of $1.3billion and most likely $1.6billion or more over 23 years (2016 prices), is completely distorting the development of Canberra, all done to buy the Green vote.
The Gungahlin-Civic corridor was chosen for Stage1 as the most propitious of potential corridors, but still falls short of being anywhere near economic.
How can any other corridor be considered viable? Stage2 to Woden has to be considered as no more than a pipedream promise and sop to Woden valley voters at the last election. It will never happen.
The government could yet even be forced to pull the plug on Stage1. What a mess!
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 17 2017 from Penelope Upward, O'Connor
I noticed along the fence down Northbourne Avenue, guarding development of the tram line, to justify their tramline the ACT government has placed advertisements stating the tramline was part of Walter Burley Griffins original plan in 1912.
Why has it taken over 100 years to build? It concerns me, that with five lanes of traffic down either side of the line (bike paths and four lanes of cars), drivers might be distracted with the novelty of the tram going past and lead to accidents. When is the ACT government going to tell us how much the fare will be from Gungahlin to Civic?
On a happier note: a charming tram driver from Melbourne, recently on television, said at Christmas time in Melbourne, his passengers sing carols down Collins Street on their way to the city.
Let's hope passengers from Gungahlin to Civic feel just as happy and celebrate Christmas and the tram in the same way.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 16 2017 from R.R.Harding, O'Connor
Yesterday, I had the unsettling experience of traversing most of Northbourne Avenue. For the first time since I came to Canberra in 1946, the avenue was totally bereft of trees on the median strip between the two carriageways. Buildings with their appearance no longer softened by trees, stood out in their stark reality.
The scene immediately became a potential canyon of buildings with 20-30 storeys and the avenue at its lowest level. Unless strictly limited, this could happen.
Already, in the short history of the avenue, many sites along it have sustained a succession of three buildings each larger and higher than its predecessor. Limits appropriate for this city can be enforced.
Rather than leave such a vital factor to the whims of a developer, a firmly enforced decision for the long term should be made now before it is too late.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 14 2017 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
Jack Palmer's defence of Canberra's $1 billion, 12-kilometre tram line (Letters, April 10) lacks credibility because, as he says, "I am ... disinterested."
Those who are interested in public transport, especially those who depend on it for their primary mobility, are keenly interested in this project, which, as proposed, will further fragment much of north Canberra's public transport.
In an attempt to force passengers on to the tram, the government will ban all buses on its route, requiring many people to make two changes – bus to tram to bus – to complete what is now a single-vehicle journey. The result will be less public transport use, substantially higher costs and further reduced government funding of genuinely worthwhile projects and organisations.
Palmer is correct that this blight on the landscape will be "a new and significant landmark", but other infrastructure already starved of funds (so as to pay for the tram) is reducing Canberra's stature of Canberra as a mature city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 14 2017 from Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Our town council "is refusing to release a bus communications strategy it commissioned in 2015".
Anita Perkins acknowledged that "release of the document could promote government accountability and may contribute to debate on a topic that has been a matter of public discussion and interest".
She "judged the bus strategy an 'internal working document' and as such exempt from release under freedom of information laws".
How a report from an external contractor can be considered an internal working document beats me. It would seem that our ongoing tramway contract may yet be open to serious legal contest that could see the protagonists seriously compromised.
Perkins admitted "the opinions and recommendations it contains do not reflect the current government position". The big elephant in the room is the question concerning the basis on which those recommendations were rejected.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 13 2017 from Michael and Christine O'Loughlin, Griffith
The ACT government decides it wants to fund its light-rail project by selling off its old public housing apartment complexes along Northbourne Avenue and in various other parts of Canberra, thus displacing many tenants from their long-term homes. Why?
In so doing, it says it wants to rehouse the tenants along main transport corridors, but excludes all public housing from the Northbourne light-rail transport corridor. Why?
To justify its apartment complex sell-off, the government describes these complexes as "concentrations of disadvantage", only dropping this description when people start questioning how this label came to be. Why?
It also decides to replace the complexes, in part, with 30-unit clusters around the city, without explaining why they won't be "concentrations of disadvantage". Why?
Weston Creeks residents discover that such clusters are planned for open spaces resumed by the government through furtive amendments to the Territory Plan, and with no consultation. Why?
Then a public-housing tenant publishes a plea for public-housing tenants ("Care for refugees? Why not your neighbours?", April 7, p17), while "friends of public housing" start writing letters attacking Weston Creek residents for being upset at how they were treated (Letters, April 11).
In all of this, no one questions the government's stewardship of its public-housing estate. Why?
To paraphrase an old saying, while the battle rages below, the government sits watching from its ivory tower, emerging only to "shoot the wounded".
And still we ask: why?
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 11 2017 from Jack Palmer, Watson
Recent anti-tram letter writers (Letters, April 3) assume my support is for personal convenience. I am, in that respect, disinterested. I welcome it because it is a new and significant landmark, and advances the stature of Canberra as a mature city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 9 2017 from Lee Welling, Nicholls
As Stan Marks' letter suggests (letters, April 2), Mr Barr and the rest of the ACT Politburo seem hellbent on turning the bush capital into an urban jungle by lining the streets of Gungahlin with rows and rows of soulless apartments and filling them with tram fodder.
And they're doing it under the deceitful pretext that it's progress. It's not progress, it's regression.
Canberra's first-home buyers, those who can't afford the extortionate land prices the ACT government charges, are being forced into concrete layer cakes (tarted up with gaudy colours and glass) reminiscent of the brutalist architecture that blighted post-war urban landscapes and which proved to be a recipe for social disaster.
And it's not just Gungahlin that's suffering from the march of "progress" . Social engineering now threatens the city with boundaries of a "precinct' ' being carved out from both sides of Northbourne Avenue: more apartments, more tram fodder, more rates per unit area to fill the government coffers. If I lived in any of the suburbs designated as part of the Northbourne Avenue carve up, I would be very concerned. This is the ACT; you don't own your land, the government does, and history has shown us that the minister's call-in powers are an unstoppable force.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 6 2017 from Gary J.Wilson, Macgregor
The editorial of April5 encouraged the utilisation of Haig Park to make it "a popular and versatile recreational space" rather than the 1.8-kilometre-long, 143-metre-wide strip of "wild beauty" it is today.
Its "unfortunate history of crime and substance abuse" was pointed out. I suspect that Braddon and Civic's history in these matters is far worse.
The fundamental objective is to continue the piecemeal destruction of this wild urban forest, which has begun with the allocation of a portion of the park as a parking lot for tramway construction plant.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 4 2017 from W. A. Brown, Holt
Funny how the Barr government's plan to replace the Northbourne Avenue flats does not seem to involve Gungahlin residents, the folks who voted in heaps for the tram.
There must be some community space in Gungahlin.
Instead the "salt and pepper" shakers seem to have most of the holes blocked — except for those located over south Canberra and Weston.
Most of the vocal support for the tram in The Canberra Times seemed to be sourced in old inner North Canberra, where co-incidentally, land values will increase with the closeness to the tram. Nothing like self-interest.
Those of us who will never benefit from the tram know we will pay for it in increased rates and charges for decades.
But I guess few who voted Labor last year thought some of those Lyneham and Dickson refugees would be plonked in their community green spaces in a mature suburb miles from Lyneham and Dickson, with no relief from the angst of Barr's poor planning .
Now comes the fun part — experiencing what passes for "community consultation" in the Barr lexicon.
Manuka Oval re-visited.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 3 2017 from Ric Hingee, Duffy
It was a good letter by Stan Marks (Letters, March 30) in response to Jack Palmer's (Letters, March 28) concerning light rail. However, trying to change Palmer's views by force of logic will not succeed. He lives in Watson and is probably driven by the savings and convenience of light rail near his suburb at the expense of the majority of people, who do not stand to receive any benefit but who, along with their children and grandchildren, will have to bear the extravagant costs associated with this white elephant.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 4 2017 from Frank Boddy, Lyons
I am amazed the ACT government is still spruiking the need for public housing, this time a block of 30 apartments at Holder ("Residents warning", March 29, p1).
Has not the ACT government learnt that socially unmixed public housing becomes ghettos, and that eventually they are bulldozed because of community outrage?
Does not the ACT government remember Baringa Gardens Melba, Burnie Court Lyons and Fraser Court Kingston, all bulldozed at great public expense?
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 3 2017 from Keith Burnham, Stirling
The ACT government says public housing is allowed on community facility zoned land because it is supportive housing.
When the Territory Plan was changed more than 10 years ago to allow supportive housing on community facility land the use was restricted to support for reasons of age and disability. How is general public housing now supportive housing?
The answer lies buried in a 2015 technical amendment that changed the definition of supportive housing to include "social housing".
This was the subject of limited consultation.
The Planning and Development Act restricts the use of a technical amendment to clarifications of language that do not change the substance of the plan.
The residents of Canberra's south no doubt think it has changed the substance of theplan.
The change to the definition means the government no longer needs to use valuable residential land for public housing and has more residential land to sell.
At the same time it can use community facility zoned land atno cost.
But there is a cost to the community and that is the supply of community facility zoned land is rapidly diminishing and won't be available for childcare centres, residential care accommodation and supportive housing as originally intended.
This is not the first time a technical amendment has changed the substance or policy of the Territory Plan.
It raises the need for an independent review into whether technical amendments are being prepared in accordance with the act.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 3 2017 from Jeff Carl, Rivett
Hugh Malcolm (Letters, March 29) and Michael and Christine O'Lóughlin (Letters, March 30) have, I suspect, both misunderstood the real reason behind community opposition to the proposed public housing estate on the grounds of the former Holder Primary School.
The older suburbs of Canberra (developed before 1990) had 10-12 per cent of their land area reserved as public open space so that members of the local community had areas for recreation and play.
This open space included suburban playing fields, public school ovals and small local parks.
Holder, as developed, had two public schools (Holder Primary School and Holder High School) and two small local parks, but no suburban playing fields.
The former high school oval is now occupied by the Canberra Montessori School and is no longer available for public recreation. This means that Holder has less than 7 per cent of open space, with most of this space being the former primary school oval. The loss of this oval means that the few per cent of open space remaining in the suburb consists of the small parks, an archery range, pathways and an open drain for Weston Creek.
The ACT government says it wants to build healthy communities in Canberra. It demonstrates its commitment by proposing to build housing on the only large area of public open space remaining in Holder.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 2 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Elizabeth Teather (Letters, March26) makes a good point when she refers to the tenacious defence of their suburbs by the residents of Reid and Braddon (and elsewhere in the inner north and south). Personally, I support them and all those others who like the city the way it is, or has been until fairly recently.
The ACT government's advertising on Northbourne Avenue, which claims the support of Walter Burley Griffin for the obscenity of the tram and all that goes with it is farcical. Griffin talked about "a city like no other" where the city was blended into its surroundings. That is what the planners until the last decade or two achieved and it is the "big picture" that we ought to retain.
But the present government, which will turn the West Basin into another Kingston Foreshore and has already destroyed Northbourne Avenue, has other ideas. When they have finished, Canberra will be like every other city on earth, congested and lacking the natural beauty it has now.
Self-government was inevitable but no one anticipated quite the level of incompetence we see now.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 1 2017 from Penelope Upward, O'Connor
Just as new number plates for ACT cars are to be named The Bush Capital, all the eucalypts leading into Canberra which truly did make us welcome into the bush capital have gone.
The entrance into Canberra will have more streams of traffic than any other major city – in fact 12 lanes: 2 of bikes, eight of cars and I presume two tram lines.
Canberra is like every other Australian capital city now where you need to go outside the city to see the bush for 99per cent of trees in Canberra are European.
We are still waiting to be told what the tram fare is going to be from Gungahlin to Civic. And brace yourself, Canberrans, because there will be huge development beside the tram line.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 1 2017 from Leon Arundell, Downer
Stan Marks (Letters, March 30) says that, "anyone with any brains builds projects only where the benefits exceed the costs," but I fear he is wrong on some other points.
He says of light rail that in 2012 the government announced that it would build light rail, , without any serious consideration of the alternatives, even though before the 2012 election it was described by the government of the day as too expensive at $614million.
Labor's 21 September 2012 commitment to light rail basically copied the Greens' policy. It contradicted the Greens' $200 million cost estimate, saying, "the current revised total project cost estimate is $614million."
That figure did not include operation or maintenance costs. I believe that was the first time the government published that figure, and its media release did not say the project was too expensive.
Labor's cost figure came from the government's August 2012 submission to Infrastructure Australia.
That submission included a very serious consideration of the bus rapid transit alternative, finding it to be a far better investment than light rail. Each extra dollar of investment required for light rail would generate less than 35¢ worth of extra benefits.
The government kept that submission under wraps until 27 July 2013.
The October 2012 election delivered one of the four Greens seats to Labor, and two to the Liberals.
The result might have been very different if the government had published its submission before the election.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 30 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
Articles such as "Woden Development Round Table", canberratimes.com.au, March 25) highlight the need for a robust planning and development strategy for the territory.
The appropriate residential density can be determined only in the context of such a strategy.
Similarly, the establishment of the City Renewal Authority and the Suburban Land Agency can improve outcomes only if the organisations are guided by an agreed strategy which would place the operations of the organisations in the context of the planning and development goals of the city and identify how the goals are to be delivered.
The strategy should indicate the population, housing (quantity, type and location) and employment (level, and location) parameters in which the two organisations would operate and provide a context for the assessment of development applications.
The existence of such a strategy would maximise benefits to the Canberra community.
It would also enable a comprehensive assessment of the light rail stage 2 and facilitate the development of Canberra as a more sustainable city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 30 2017 Stan Marks, Hawker
Jack Palmer (letters, March 28) describes the supporters of light rail as "forward looking". The opponents are both forward looking and backward looking and they also look at the present.
Looking forward shows a project that will cost well over $1 billion to build and operate, of which we will get less than 50 per cent back in benefits, according to the Auditor-General.
Anyone with any brains builds projects only where the benefits exceed the costs. On top of that, the additional traffic lights and the planned development along Northbourne Avenue means congestion will probably increase rather than decline.
The backward look shows a project which, before the 2012 election, was described by the government of the day as too expensive at $614 million.
Then, without any serious consideration of the alternatives, in the middle of the 2012 election campaign when it was becoming clear that the government would need Greens support to form government, they said they would build it after all. Then, they used their call in powers to avoid serious parliamentary scrutiny of the project.
The present look shows a mess in Northbourne Avenue that will continue for a couple of years, ugly, hampering traffic and generally reducing the amenity of the road. What a debacle.
The supporters of the tram don't look anywhere except at their own navels.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 28 2017 from Jack Palmer, Watson
It is reassuring to read of former chief planner of Vancouver Brent Toderian's support for the ACT government ("Expert urges more density for Canberra", March 25, p2).
His comment that Canberra is "car-centric" is evidenced by the continuing letters to The Canberra Times opposing the forward-looking light rail, a breakthrough in progressive development.
One must conclude that the opposers are locked in an immature cherishing of their car as a status symbol, as it may once have been in the 1950s.
Fortunately, there are enough enlightened voters who supported the light rail, now enhancing Canberra's status as an up-to-date liveable city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 28 2017 from B. M. Cooke, Latham
It was interesting to hear Andrew Barr say a new sports stadium would be a white elephant, and unviable unless there were at least three professional football teams playing there.
It is amazing logic from a man who has no qualms about spending close to $1 billion of ACT ratepayers' money on a white elephant from Gungahlin to Civic.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 26 2017 from Robyn Coghlan, Hawker
Gweneth Leigh raises many issues around urban trees and especially those along the tram corridor ("Ode to the 'street kids' of Northbourne Avenue's urban forest: our dying river peppermint gums", CT, March 18).
What is never discussed is the inevitable problem of tree litter falling on the tracks.
The central island is not very wide when considering a double tram track and at least two rows of decent-sized trees. All trees shed leaves, bark, twigs and b
I have sat on a train that crawled into Nottingham railway station while the conductor walked ahead and cleared litter from the tracks after the trees lining the railway had been trimmed.
What is the likelihood that the natural litter fall along the Northbourne corridor will become such a safety issue that they will all be rooted out and replaced by prissy little trees that do not threaten the tram lines?
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 24 2017 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
My thanks to the Canberra Times (editorial, March 23, page 12) for its article on Shout.
We have a so-called Labor ACT government that can find money to build an unnecessary and ruinously expensive light rail and cannot find money for the necessities of our community.
It is not only Shout that is underfunded. It is also affordable housing and others such as the Women's Crisis Referral organisation, which closed three years ago, and small voluntary church organisations that look after the homeless.
One such organisation that provides food and shelter told me that the most it got from our big-hearted ACT government was a needle exchange service.
The government has its priorities hopelessly out of order.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 23 2017 from Paul E Bowler, Holder
There should be two slogans for ACT licence plates. For those living north of Lake Burley Griffin the slogan should be "Canberra – Ride the Tram" and for those of us south of the lake the slogan should be "Canberra – What Tram?".
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 20 2017 from Juliet Ramsay, Burra, NSW
Once we had planners of renown who designed into the Griffin city framework, respecting the work of planning experts who gave us our beautiful lake and landscaped city.
Now Canberra is shaped by developers who hijack city planning, lobby politicians and where possible give their proposals the "Griffin" imprimatur. Penleigh Boyd (letters, March 16) pointed out how the Light Rail works has misappropriated Griffin's name in its hoarding presumably to justify the light rail's location along Northbourne Avenue.
However inappropriate the naming in the hoarding is, it is not as damaging as the West Basin so called "Griffin Legacy" building estate proposal that will obliterate the community parkland designed by the Griffins.
But the suggestion by Boyd for the NCA to counsel the ACT Government on misquoting Griffin is questionable when the NCA continually uses Griffin-green-stamping propaganda to justify the building estate subdivision over West Basin's lakeside parkland.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 20 2017 from Simon Tatz, Curtin
I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you, at the latest outrage to befall Canberra. I'm talking about the proposed seven-storey development in Forrest that the Canberra Times exposed on March 15.
Only last month there were plans to turn Curtin shops into Las Vegas, with a six-storey glittery skyscraper destroying every vestige of community life.
And apartments. In Curtin! I shudder to think what is next: outdoor dining, active transport, broadband?
What are these evil developers trying to do – turn Canberra into a thriving, cosmopolitan, national capital?
It is bad enough we are having a modern light rail system built to meet our future needs, but now they want to impose six- and seven-storey monoliths on us.
What we need is a Residents Action Group on every corner, manning the barricades against making Canberra tall, wide, and architecturally interesting.
If we don't make a stand now, who knows what will be developed in Canberra: the Hanging Gardens of Bonython, the Leaning Tower of Pearce, the Colossus of Reid, or the Great Pyramid of Gilmore?
I only hope my cats and grandcats never live to see the day when Canberra is ruined by becoming a medium-density, contemporary, much envied and vibrant city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 12 2017 from Chris Emery, Reid
Interesting South Australia plans to fix its power problems for less than one-third of the cost of Canberra's first tram line.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 17 2017 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill
It has been six months since Andrew Barr and the Greens resumed control of the ACT Assembly.
I can't see any sign they have learnt from their mistakes or intend to implement key election commitments.
For example, the too close and opaque relationship with developers continues and there is no sign, apart from inaction, of an independent commission against corruption.
The one glimmer of hope that excessive development may be reined in comes from the National Capital Authority – a federal agency!
None of this should be surprising. The Liberals alone do not have the numbers (11/25), and the two Greens are joined at the hip to Labor and not willing to hold Labor accountable or support the Liberals even on ideas that would help Canberra.
The Assembly would be performing better if it included quality members of independent mind who were dedicated to helping Canberra reach its potential rather than to being pawns to a political machine.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 17 2017 from Bruce Taggart, Aranda
Although Transport Canberra's Light Rail Business Case contains multiple references to traffic congestion all of those references relate to the promised benefits of the light rail project in reducing future congestion.
The business case doesn't seem to take into account any of the additional costs of traffic congestion that will be caused during the project's construction phase.
It will be very interesting to see whether the over-hyped benefits of light rail in reducing future traffic congestion will outweigh the undisclosed but all too real costs of significantly increased traffic congestion during the construction phase.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 17 2017 from Peter Toscan, Amaroo
It was with great comfort that I read the information provided by Meegan Fitzharris (on the ACT government website) about the impending disruption to all and sundry daring to drive, cycle or perhaps perambulate along Flemington Road for the next nine months.
This could be 12 or more given the experience with other Canberra roadworks.
I particularly appreciated her suggestion we, the suffering public, should seek alternative routes in order to reach our desired destinations.
What bloody alternative routes?
Every road in and out of Gunghalin is undergoing major road works.
Perhaps Meegan could charter one of Bronwyn Bishop's spare choppers to ferry we Gungahlians to our destinations over the coming months. No doubt the $1.7 billion direct construction cost of the tram hasn't accounted for the cost of time lost by the general public in negotiating the disruption caused by this white elephant.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 16 2017 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
In 2010 Andrew Barr said Walter Burley Griffin was dead and implied that Canberra had nothing more to learn from him.
Time to move on. But it seems that poor old Walter cannot be left in peace. The current hoardings for the light rail along Northbourne Avenue state: "Walter Burley Griffin's 1912 plan included light railway in the ACT, running down Northbourne Avenue."
What Griffin's 1912 plan actually showed is a "railroad" (his word) running along what is now Lonsdale Street.
The ACT government should either justify their claim of Griffin's Northbourne Avenue alignment or remove the misleading hoardings.
Griffin said: "Railroads that enter large cities mar their beauty. The railroad line that will enter the Australian capital from the north has been treated in my plans with regard to beautifying rather than disfiguring the city." (The New York Times, June 2, 1912).
The National Capital Authority should counsel the ACT government on misquoting Griffin's aims and demand removal of the offending hoardings, unless the claimed alignment can be proved correct.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 15 2017 from Murray May, Cook
Former chief minister Jon Stanhope provides common sense critique of the current ACT government on more than one front.
One concerns the undersupply of land for detached housing (Letters, March 11).
Another is the suspect business case behind the Gungahlin tram project and how a very expensive expanded tram network will be paid for.
Clearly his ALP successors have gone badly off the rails.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 15 2017 from Peter Moran, Watson
I see that the Liberals are exercised about the salary package of the light rail project director, Scott Lyall ("Light rail director's contract questioned", canberratimes.com.au, March 10). If Mr Lyall delivers the light rail project on time, on budget and to specification, the owners of the project and the people paying his salary – we, the ratepayers of the ACT – will likely be unconcerned at his level of remuneration. However, if he doesn't deliver ...
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 12 2017 from M. Flint, CanTheTram Inc vice-chairman, Erindale
CanTheTram Inc has pointed out many times that the business case for Stage1 (Gungahlin-Civic) was terribly flawed and not a sound basis of decision to proceed; it was a political decision, not an economic one.
The best benefit-cost ratio the government could produce for Stage1, using smoke and mirrors, was 1.2. CanTheTram has always claimed the BCR was only about 0.6 in real, tangible terms.
The Rattenbury/Barr government went ahead anyway with a maximum of $60million expected from the federal government, if it met specific conditions. Now the Barr government shelves the new convention centre with a claimed BCR of 2.5 because it cannot get federal money.
Readers may recall the government's "official" cost for Stage1 was $939million. In fact, it will be at least $1.3billion (June 2016 prices) and that is before any cost blowouts during construction.
This translates into a burden on every ACT taxpayer of about $550 or more per year for 20 years, irrespective of how it may be paid for. Every passenger using the tram will be subsidised by at least $11 a ride. Stage2 to Woden was an election promise but will be even more uneconomic than Stage1, if it ever gets built.
These are a few things to think about for those readers who voted for the tram, whether deliberately or indirectly in ignorance.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 12 2017 from Mike Quirk, Wanniassa
The Canberra Times' (March 5) call for the ACT government to commit to a review of the planning strategy is timely.
A review is crucial for Canberra to become a more sustainable city socially, economically and environmentally and provides an opportunity for the Commonwealth and ACT governments to demonstrate commitment to sustainable city development. The location of residential development should be a key focus.
Redevelopment in established areas has merit to reduce the level of travel in the territory, as Canberra Central has some 55 per cent of employment in the ACT but only 20 per cent of the city's population. The review needs to consider the design quality of the redevelopments, the cost of augmenting infrastructure to accommodate the additional population and the suitability of higher-density dwellings to all households, including those with children.
The review also needs to consider where greenfields development should occur. Currently there is a mismatch between settlement in the west of Canberra and employment growth occurring in Canberra Central, including the airport, resulting in increased travel, much of it by car with associated increases in infrastructure costs and emissions.
The high Commonwealth office share of ACT employment dictates that office location should be major focus. It is essential office location decisions be made by a joint Commonwealth and the ACT committee, not individual departments as they fail to consider the total costs of location. These costs are borne by the ACT community.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 10 2017 from Peter J Cook, Forrest
I note in the report on the planned Manuka Circle development (Canberra Times, March 8), it is proposed to "focus on landscape quality". Is this the same quality of landscaping currently evident along the adjacent Canberra Avenue from Manuka Circle to State Circle?
In the Government's own planning document, Canberra Avenue, is formally recognised as "one of the Griffins' Main Avenues and one of the main approaches to Parliament House and the Parliamentary Zone" with the requirement that it "be developed and maintained as high quality landscaped corridors (which) continue the established design theme of irrigated grass verges and medians and formal tree plantings". The reality is that much of Canberra Avenue is in a deplorable state that in no way conforms with the landscape guidelines.
The original outer lines of trees in the median strip have all died over the last few years.
Broken trees from the last storm are still evident in the median strip and long-dead trees have not been removed.
There are no formal plantings despite the requirement that they be in place.
The median strip is purposely left as a periodic parking lot (to handle overflow parking associated with events) at Manuka Oval. Advertisement
This "Griffin Main Avenue" is neglected, unattractive and an indictment of government ineptitude.
There should be no development of Manuka Circle until the landscaping along Canberra Avenue is remediated to a state where it fully conforms to the requirements for landscaping of a "Griffin Main Avenue".
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 6 2017 from Michael Levy, Campbell
Thank-you Clive Williams for reminding us that there is a rail-line leading out of Canberra.
The Burley Griffin Plan clearly had a link planned for a city connection to the Sydney to Bombala railway.
In fact remnants still exist in Kingston and Reid.
The emerging light rail could easily swing down Constitution Avenue, through Russell and somehow on to Kingston.
Then a light rail through Queanbeyan and on to Goulburn would be a dream run. At Goulburn station there should be frequent connections negotiated with the NSW Premier for Public Transport, Gladys Berejiklian.
A further possibility is swinging south from Queanbeyan to a historic site of a station named ... Tuggeranong.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 6 2017 from Chris Emery, Reid
awaken each morning to the sound of chainsaws in leafy Reid as our tree-hating government removes mature trees for the redevelopment of the ABC flats.
The latest beautiful, healthy, over 40-year-old elm trees to go are set among the Bega Flats where the land has not yet been sold, there is no development application and the long-suffering public tenants are still being evicted.
Why is there such a rush to destroy?
How many people know that the DA for the redevelopment of the Allawah Flats includes removal of all the mature street trees along Currong Street, even though these trees are on the verge and not part of the property sold to build the monstrous 12-storey apartments replacing the existing three-storey flats?
What happened to the protection of street trees next to construction sites?
Even the NCA's desire for the 500 trees along the light rail corridor to be be removed gradually from Northbourne Avenue, to avoid a moonscape, has just been circumvented.
In contrast, I watched with great interest a recent episode of Grand Designs showing the way British governments value their trees, with an owner struggling to fit a new home on their beautiful site without adversely affecting a single tree. They certainly have a different breed of town planners in the UK.
Yet we have elected two Green MLAs who should be protecting our trees and protecting us from adverse changes to micro-climates, as we struggle to survive global warming.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 5 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
The Chief Minister plans to can the Convention Centre project because the benefit cost ratio (BCR) is only 2.4.
I wouldn't complain about that. If it needed federal funding it wasn't much of a project anyway.
But it is clear and irrefutable proof that the tram which, on normal criteria, has a BCR of 0.47 and, using the inflated methodology of the government, could only generate 1.2, really is a dog.
The pity is Shane Rattenbury cannot also see the point.
What really is required is an apology to the Can the Tram group, which the government criticised as out of touch when, now, it is clear that they were right.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 4 2017 from Bruce Taggart, Aranda
Given that Chief Minister Andrew Barr has defended the ACT government's decision to shelve the proposal for a new convention centre on the basis that the project could no longer be justified in cost benefit analysis terms ("Convention Centre shaky", February 28, p.1), I suggest unless the government can demonstrate the Parkes Way realignment aspect of the City to Lake Project really does stack up in cost benefit analysis terms it should, for the sake of consistency, also shelve that aspect of the project.
In order for the government to demonstrate that the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars to realign Parkes Way is justified, it would be necessary for the Land Development Agency to publicly release the full, unexpurgated version of ISG Projects Rapid Appraisal of the City to Lake Project, including the cost benefit analyses for the six realignment options that were blacked out in the original, expurgated version.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 3 2017 from Bruce A. Peterson, Kambah
It is not only Defence (Ken Barrs, Letters March 1, M. Flint, Letters March 2) that is de-skilled. In the mid 1990s our son was fresh from university with a newly minted engineering degree. He soon found himself responsible for information technology (IT) in a government department.
As he told it, the department had been forced to make the IT staff redundant. The redundant staff immediately set themselves up as contractors to the same department.
They were making two to three times their former salary, and doing very little. However, no one in the department, except our son, understood what the contractors were up to. The contracts had been drawn up and let by people with little technical understanding, leaving him with no authority to enforce useful deliverables.
In order to prevent permanent damage to his moral compass, he soon left for an IT job in London.
When I read about technical problems at Centrelink, at the ATO, at Defence, I just nod my head and think, "that all sounds about right". De-skilling mistakes made two decades ago have still not been fixed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 2 2017 from Andrew L. Schuller, Campbell
Kim Fischer (letters, February 23) is right that the NCA needs strengthening but her reasoning is quite wrong.
She wants the NCA to 'step up and become a strong voice for local residents and the ACT government' whereas, in reality, the NCA needs strengthening precisely to be able to stand up to the ACT Government, whose relations with developers is increasingly being revealed as far too close and opaque.
Between them they are set on destroying the unique landscape character of Lake Burley Griffin. Not only are they proposing to ruin the special landscape qualities of the Lake foreshore but they are also encouraging and allowing the private acquisition of what has until now been public land – consult the plans for West Basin. For years the ACT Government has stymied proposals to put Canberra and its lake on the National Heritage List.
This listing has the backing of relevant federal, territory and independent agency experts and is surely appropriate given that the lake is so central to the visual character of the National Capital.
The NCA needs to act in the long-term interests of the nation not simply to enhance the short-term revenues of the ACT Government and the developers. That is why it is the National Capital Authority.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 2 2017 from John R. Baker, Griffith
Let me add a comment to Peter Langhorne's comments about broken footpaths in Griffith and Narrabundah (letters, March 1).
I take regular morning runs in Griffith and last year made three separate reports of damaged footpaths to the ACT Government's 'Fix My Street' accesscanberra website ( and yes, I still have the website work order numbers).
The first report was in April 2016, the second in May and the third in June. Within several days of each report the damaged footpath was inspected and marked with white arrows showing exactly which parts of the concrete paving needed replacing.
However, as of March 2017 none of the marked footpaths have been repaired, and in one location the white arrows have now completely worn away.
Interestingly the damage in two cases was caused by cranes and concrete trucks used on new home constructions and the third set of damage was caused by the heavy trucks of ActewAGL contractors who were installing a new power pole.
So in all three cases those responsible for causing the damage should foot the bill rather than ratepayers.
There seems to be a failing somewhere in the system!
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 2 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Of course the Commonwealth should pay the bulk of the cost of the national convention centre ("Convention centre shaky", Feb 28, p.1). And it should be on National Land, prominently sited in the Central National Area, near Civic, with lines of sight to and from Capital Hill and City Hill. Cultural facilities should be included, like a performing arts centre.
Acton Peninsula is the logical place for that complex, where associated hotel towers can replicate Griffin's planned building massing. Of course, the sadly ephemeral National Museum of Australia, and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies should have been built at, and now should go to Yarramundi Reach, as recommended by Australia's best experts in those fields, in an evocative "tract" format, allowing incremental growth over time.
The "commercial visibility" demanded for the museum can be achieved by close proximity to the National Arboretum.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 2 2017 from Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Re your editorial ("Convention centre a dead duck", March 1, p.14). I found it intriguing Mr Barr observed that the Australian Forum was "not my top priority, it never has been"'.
There has been a lobby group demanding a new convention centre since before the 2005 $30m upgrade of the National Convention Centre. That's longer than the City to the Lake plan has existed.
The Forum is an afterthought tacked on to City to the Lake. The 2011, architect's drawing of the Forum showed a crystal palace on the foreshores of the lake.
That changed in 2015 with Massimiliano Fuksas's design planned for the head of Commonwealth Avenue.
There's always hope the City to the Lake plan could go the same way the Forum seems to be going. That's only on the shelf. Our town council will dust it off and trot it out again in a few years.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 1 2017 from Bruce Taggart, Aranda
Although the rapid business case for a new national convention centre forecast a positive cost benefit analysis of $2.40 for every $1 expended (double that for light rail), the ACT government is unwilling to proceed without substantial federal government funding ("Convention Centre shaky", February 28. p.1).
Unlike light rail, where the ACT government has not been deterred by unflattering economic analyses, the government seems to have lost interest because there is a risk of a significant cost blowout.
Perhaps the government is content to keep most of its infrastructure spending in the one (light rail) basket.
Is it possible the government is confident of receiving substantial largesse from a future federal Labor government?
In late May 2012, just over a year before the demise of the previous federal Labor government, the ACT government managed to wangle $42 million for the upgrade of Constitution Avenue, a project that could well be Australia's worst-ever road upgrade in cost-benefit terms.
Given that promises of infrastructure largesse for Canberra would likely cost votes outside of the ACT, we're unlikely to find out if the ACT government has been given a nod or wink from the opposition about future funding for a new convention centre, or light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 1 2017 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill
It is heartening that Andrew Barr seems to have recognised the notion of cost-benefit ratio: "once the cost moved considerably beyond $400 million, the cost-benefit ratio fell".
Unfortunately, his recognition occurred well after the ALP/Green government committed to light rail stage 1. Furthermore, I expect that if stage 1 is shown to have a negative cost-benefit ratio, even after including social benefits such as reduced congestion, stage 2 will proceed – with Barr pointing to prospective "network" benefits. While network benefits are probable, the construction costs of the light rail, including because of the ALP's MoU with the construction unions, probably makes it a white elephant for all time.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 24 2017 from Penelope Upward, O'Connor
It was a sad day for us when our politicians and developers sacrificed all sense of beauty for profits and dollars.
What is more beautiful: a median strip of magnificent eucalypts in a mass of cream blossom when they flower or 12 lanes of traffic leading in and out of Canberra with nine storey concrete buildings either side?
Or driving along King Edward Terrace beside the National Library under a canopy of magnificent trees providing cool and shade while Northbourne Avenue becomes hot and the ugliest entry into any major city in Australia?
Or what would the public prefer?
Sitting by the Kingston Foreshore enjoying dinner by the water and staring into ugly blocks of units?
Or sitting by the water and looking across the lake to trees and hills in the distance?
All hope of the latter is gone.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 23 2017 from Linus Cole, Palmerston
Trees removed from Northbourne? Whatever? Having lived a hell with dangerous eucalypts for years until our neighbours had the owner remove them, I say good riddance.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 22 2017 from David Johnston, Ainslie
It is one of the great mysteries of Canberra on why there is still no ACTION bus service to and from the Canberra airport.
Yet the Barr government is happy to spend billions of ratepayer dollars on light rail.
Unlike the very expensive Mick Gentleman's overseas trip ("Gentleman's light rail trip cost $70,538", February 15, p.8) the ACT government would not need to look far to see good airport public transport services operating in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Newcastle.
There is also an excellent private bus service at Melbourne airport.
It is high time that there is ACTION by the ACT government on providing public transport to and from the Canberra Airport terminal for all, including visitors to our city and the disabled.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 20 2017 from Bruce Taggart, Aranda
Just over a month after a majority of Canberrans had voted in favour of the government's light rail dream the NSW government had to confront some harsh economic realities in relation to its 12-kilometre Eastern Suburbs light rail line.
The estimated construction cost had blown out by $549 million (approximately 30 per cent) to $2.2 billion.
The line's annual operating costs had blown out by 70 per cent to $949 million.
It had (also) overestimated the line's benefits by $1 billion (largely due to the estimated journey times having been unrealistically low).
Factoring the revised estimates into the cost-benefit analysis reduced the line's benefit down to $1.40 per $1 [spent], which surpasses the ultra-slim estimated benefit of Canberra's light rail line of $1.20 per $1 spent.
Almost on the eve of the ACT election, the NSW government acknowledged the estimated cost of the proposed Parramatta light rail line had also blown out by $2.5 billion to more than $3.5billion. Fortunately for NSW taxpayers the state government, on the back of consecutive multibillion-dollar budget surpluses, is now almost debt-free and able to meet such sizeable cost blowouts.
The ACT government's budget position is far more precarious than NSW's.
Minister Fitzharris should very carefully analyse what's happened in NSW so as to avoid any possibility of such light rail cost blowouts happening here.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 18 2017 from Gary Kent, Inner South Canberra Community Council, Griffith
The ongoing saga of the proposed redevelopment of a heritage building near Manuka Circle ("Manuka residents knocked back in bid to stop development in Forrest fire station precinct", canberratimes.com.au, February 13), demonstrates the deficiencies of the ACT's planning regime.
This Byzantine system needs urgent reform if community interests and heritage values are to be respected and enforced.
At every point in this sorry episode, the system has been stacked against the residents who sought to raise their concerns about this redevelopment.
Despite the best efforts of the presiding member, ACAT's consideration of the case deteriorated into a lawyers' picnic – so much for cheap and fair access to justice.
The heritage concerns expressed by the residents do not appear to have been given any serious consideration by ACTPLA or the Heritage Council.
And, to cap it off, third party appeal rights in relation to this and other heritage precincts and residential areas were abolished by an obscure 2008 regulation.
ACT politicians must honour their election promises to completely overhaul the Planning and Development Act.
It is time we drained Canberra's planning swamp.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 16 2017 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Your article on Mick Gentleman's overseas trip ("Gentleman's light rail trip cost $70,538", February 15, p.8) illustrates what is wrong with this government's approach to transport.
He was looking at successful tram operations in 2016, long after the government was committed to its tram.
The sensible time to do a trip like that was before the decision was taken and to look, not only at operations, but also at the analysis that was undertaken before they were built.
The key to a successful operation is proper planning where all the various options are looked at before making a decision, not the ACT approach where this analysis wasn't done and the decision to proceed was taken, for political reasons, in the middle of the 2012 election campaign.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 16 2017 from Neil Lynch, Kambah
I wish to thank Mick Gentleman for taking the time to investigate how light rail can improve Canberra. Now, if he'd just arrange to spend $70,538 fixing Kambah's recently resurfaced roads, I'd thank him again.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 16 2017 from Leon Arundell, Downer
The ACT government once again assumes, against the evidence, that people will want to cycle excessive distances ("ACT's first park and pedal to open at National Arboretum car park," February 9, p. 10).
Even in the cycling-mad Netherlands, fewer than one in 12 cycling trips is longer than eight kilometres.
The government has not learnt the lesson from its $10million off-road path that covers only part of the 15-km-plus route between Gungahlin and the airport. Fewer than 30 commuter cyclists use it.
The government now expects people to put their bikes in their cars, drive to the Arboretum, remove their bikes, and then cycle more than eight kilometres to work.
Building more footpaths will do more to encourage walking and cycling.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 16 2017 from V. Munoz, Holt
I fully agree with R. Wright (Letters, February 13) in that "members of the ACT government must be chauffeur driven around with their eyes closed not to notice the disgraceful state our nation's capital is in" as far as lawn mowing, litter, graffiti, and so on are concerned. Many road signs are covered by overgrown tree branches.
I often have to call TAMS to get very long grass cut on corners that don't let you see if a car is coming from your right.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 16 2017 from Pat Crowley-Bacon, Carwoola, NSW
Studies have demonstrated that Canberra's newest concrete wastelands (Gungahlin, Wright, New Macgregor, et al) are more than seven degrees centigrade hotter than their well-planned, leafy and older suburban siblings ("Please re-leaf me ... no canopy means hotter suburbs", canberratimes.com, January 14, 2014).
This means that the new developments in the ACT will put more stress on the power grid, demand larger volumes of water and raise the risk of fires by increasing the average temperature of nearby bushland and farms.
Despite these inconvenient truths, all of our major political parties are dead set on expanding Canberra!
Have these "leaders" forgotten that we barely scraped through the last drought?
Are their heads in the sand? Or do they lack the gumption to withstand the lobbying and whining of major developers?
Canberran's deserve better.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 14 2017 from R. Wright, Greenway
Prior to the ACT election in October 2016 Mick Gentleman wrote to The Canberra Times saying how proud he was with what he and the Labor government had achieved over the previous four years.
I wonder if Mr Gentleman and the Labor/Green government are proud of the unkempt state they have allowed the nation's capital to become by way of graffiti, lack of mowing and the amount of litter in general.
Mowing is supposed to be undertaken, weather permitting, on a four-weekly basis.
The area along Athllon Drive between Learmonth Drive and Sulwood Drive since September 2016 has been mown twice – in the weeks ending November 11 and December 23, 2016, and is an absolute disgrace.
Members of the ACT government must be chauffeur driven around with their eyes closed not to notice the disgraceful state our nation's capital is in.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 11 2017 from Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
A plan "to spend $8 million" next financial year preparing "an investment-ready proposal" for a new convention centre, the "Australia Forum", has been shelved due to lack of funds ("Surplus shrinks to $5m", February 8, pp1,2).
A spokesman for Andrew Barr said, "The project is only feasible with significant financial support from the federal government." The claimed need for a "large injection of federal funds" was floated in 2011 ("City's waterside vision", April 11, p1), immediately (after) the Steering Committee for the Australia Forum Scoping Study released its report.
Their proposal was for a $328 million complex in Acton Park on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin. It has been hauled off the back-burner, just for show, now that the City to the Lake plan is hitting a few snags.
The issue is not so much a new convention centre or even an Australia Forum whose self-appointed members would tell the government what to do. It is just another demonstration of the town council's dogged determination to sell the lake foreshores.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 10 2017 from Ron Edgecombe, Evatt
The ACT government's budget priorities in the 2016-17 mid-budget review are totally wrong.
Shelving the new ACT Convention Centre which is economically feasible whilst proceeding with the Gungahlin to Civic light rail project which on any cost benefit analysis is not economically viable (other than on a purported value capture basis) starkly demonstrates flawed thinking.
A new convention centre would very significantly improve the ACT economy's revenue base by bringing in higher visitor numbers, which would provide increased hotel bed nights, increased spending in our local retail centres, cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as in our many national institutions and memorials.
Instead the Barr government wants to continue to take the lazy way of ensuring future growth in the ACT revenue base by continuing to rely on massive above CPI increases in the forward years on ACT residential rates, levies, insurances, utility taxes and charges.
Many of these charges are already unique to the ACT amongst all other jurisdictions and I can't wait for the next few ACT budgets to see what new imposts the Barr government will announce to continue this very unfair approach.A new convention centre would very significantly improve the ACT economy's revenue base by bringing in higher visitor numbers, which would provide increased hotel bed nights, increased spending in our local retail centres, cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as in our many national institutions and memorials.
Instead the Barr government wants to continue to take the lazy way of ensuring future growth in the ACT revenue base by continuing to rely on massive above CPI increases in the forward years on ACT residential rates, levies, insurances, utility taxes and charges.
Many of these charges are already unique to the ACT amongst all other jurisdictions and I can't wait for the next few ACT budgets to see what new imposts the Barr government will announce to continue this very unfair approach.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 10 2017 from Dave Rowell, O'Connor
Jennifer Rowland draws attention to the loss of trees in Northbourne Avenue as a result of preparations for building the tramway (letters, February 8), however, this would have happened in any case.
The ACT Liberals' proposal involved taking the width of a new bus lane off each side of the median strip, and building a 3-metre cycle path down the centre. Allowing a minimum offset of at least 2m leaves little space for trees, and certainly a large proportion of the trees could not have stayed in their current positions – even if the Liberals' claim that the strip is 26m wide was correct.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 9 2017 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill
Canberrans should consider if the Barr government's intention to reportedly make "five new senior appointments" in planning related areas in the next few months ("House quits directorate", February 7, p.1) represents value for our money.
We don't need highly remunerated bureaucrats ($300k-$700k pa seems to have been set, simply by precedent, as the going rate) to facilitate filling in open spaces and constructing over the top multi-storey buildings, while ensuring the true cost to the budget and reduced amenity remain hidden.
Our assembly should conduct a transparent and genuinely open inquiry into key planning matters, such as the "City to the Lake" project, construction of which has essentially commenced on the Black Mountain side of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
There is definitely nothing cool or little about the current or proposed works.
The inquiry should consider the need to preserve open space particularly near built up areas and the appropriate scale of development generally.
It should be informed by impartial expert advice, remunerated if necessary – that is much more likely to add value from a community perspective than the "Labor mates" who often seem to be appointed to senior positions in the ACT public service.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 9 2017 from Lee Welling, Nicholls
Professor Jenny Stewart ("Labor rode the rails to election victory", February 6, p.15) was spot on when she said "Labor and the Greens adopt an essentially magic pudding approach to budgetary policy. You can cut as many slices as you want, and there will always be plenty left."
In addition to maintaining essential services, some of the pudding is used to keep the ALP in power.
For example, supporting vanity projects like the tram so as to ensure Greens support in the assembly.
The pudding is provided mainly by the Commonwealth government in the form of salaries to its staff, which in turn supports the rest of the ACT economy. The ACT economy relies solely on us, the ratepayers for its income.
We're in a Ponzi scheme where the government makes money from new capital derived from investors (ratepayers and building developers), rather than from profit earned through legitimate sources.
The territory needs private investment. The government should be looking to attract high tech industry to Canberra by offering low set up and low running costs for the first few years of operation.
They should also be looking at establishing partnerships between industry, government, CSIRO and universities. This is how Silicon Valley began in California.
But it is all a dream, I know that.
At the end of the day, we don't have a government, not a proper one. We have a town council. And, as everyone knows, town councils have small minds, but large appetites – especially for puddings.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 8 2017 from John Mungoven, Stirling
I recently observed the first major test of the new Barton Highway roundabout in the morning peak hour of January 30.
I had predicted in a number of CT letters that the roundabout (nine traffic lights instead of an overpass) was likely to be a major planning error.
While I couldn't possibly say that I was wrong, (a la Donald Trump), the roundabout on the morning of January 30 worked very smoothly.
Good light sequencing and a much longer slip lane for turning left to the city out of Gundaroo Drive were the successful ingredients.
So far so good. Credit where it is due. Well done traffic engineers.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 7 2017 from Ian Davies, Canberra
Good on you Caroline Le Couteur ("Building plan slammed", January 31, p.1).
Why is the government not enforcing sustainability principles in this important development on the edge of Civic?
Why is it not mandatory to have a decent-sized area of landscaped gardens with many trees? It seems the developer thinks having a roof garden will compensate for that. It doesn't.
On the matter of submissions, I had great difficulty even finding where to put in a submission, and the process is unduly complicated.
Also, the due date was some time in January, when everyone knows many Canberrans are away.
The government should not allow developers to set a final date for submissions around Christmas or in January.
Finally, it should be the government, not developers, that sets the aesthetic tone and sustainability principles to guide all developments in Canberra.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 7 2017 from Brenton Forrest, Conder
For light rail to be accepted and used, let alone popular, it must go to the destinations people want to travel to.
I was privileged to go back to Adelaide for the Day-Night Test in November last year and for the Big Bash League game at Adelaide Oval on Dec 24.
I travelled to and from the Adelaide Oval on the train. A 20-minute journey each way, and no worries about trying to find a car park in Adelaide, which can cost up to $15 a day. The train cost $1.69 during off-peak travel, and $3.54 during peak travel. Adelaide Railway station is only 400 metres from the Adelaide Oval.
For light rail to have a similar popularity here, the rail from Civic to Belconnen must go to Bruce Stadium, and from Civic to Woden must go via Manuka to serve Manuka Oval.
The trip should be cheaper than paying for parking at the grounds.
Just let the stop be no more than 200-300 metres from the ground.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 6 2017 from M. Silex, Erindale
Thank you for the article "Light rail chief's big deal" (January 28, p1). While many ordinary, long-suffering ACT taxpayers will be somewhat dismayed by the $740,000 figure that the chief will receive over 15 months, it seems to be consistent with the outrageous sums chief executives seem to be able to screw out of employers these days, especially if it is coming out of a public purse.
Readers may recall that the "official" cost of the contract for Canberra Metro Stage 1 (Gungahlin-Civic) is $939million. In fact, it will be at the very least $1.3billion.
What many readers would not know is that, before any contract signature, the government had spent some $150million in planning etc.
Now, and henceforth until whenever the project ends, the salaries of the chief and his "project" staff and many other hefty expenses for consultants, will again be additional to the price of any construction contract.
I sincerely hope that all those who voted for the tram will enjoy paying for it when they eventually get the bill.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 5 2017 from Leon Arundell, Downer
Should we continue to force 24 million Australians to share roads and footpaths with motorised vehicles that can harm fragile bodies?
Anthony Virgona was killed by the tram he was about to board when the waiting crowd surged forward and pushed him into the tram's path.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull proposes using bollards to separate motor vehicles from people, after a car killed six Melbourne pedestrians.
Bollards keep motor vehicles out of Canberra's Parliament House, and off our shared walking and cycling paths.
But we need more than bollards to protect the 150 Australians who are killed each year while walking across or along roads.
Many streets offer nowhere to walk but along the road.
Last year Mohgamat Hendricks got a $9 million compensation payout after his motorised bicycle collided with a car reversing out of a driveway. Such collisions are an inevitable result of allowing bicycles on footpaths that are designed only for walking speeds.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 4 2017 from A. Smith, Farr
I hope the "Curtin shops stand-off" (February 2, p1) is the catalyst for the "debate that Canberra needs to have" ("Destroying Canberra to save it", Editorial, January 12, p16).
My question to the residents of Curtin is: are you opposed to infill around your shopping centre or are you only opposed to the architectural and planning aspects of the current proposal? The location of the Curtin shops, about 400 metres from the likely route of the Woden tram, muddies the water.
Any development would suit the Barr government's predilection for trams and infill along the routes.
Infill around all suburban centres (large and small) is the only realistic alternative to tram corridor development. I favour the former because it would be consistent with building the economy of the towns and it would offer the families, who are the backbone of society, convenient access to a wide range of services and entertainment.
Mr Barr's vibrant Civic is for the tourist industry and those without responsibilities.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 2 2017 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
No city has ever become famous for a housing estate. Yet here in Canberra we find our local government busy planning a housing estate for one of our central lakeside parks at West Basin.
Our current city fathers should remember we are not building a city just for today, but also for well into the future.
This is the same local government busy promoting higher population for Canberra and further urban densification for inner-city areas.
Do they not know densely populated communities need even more open space if they are to remain healthy and sane.
Our future city will need all the lakeside parks it can get.
Comparisons are sometimes drawn between West Basin and Kingston Foreshore. Let us not forget that Kingston Foreshore was a "brownfields" site of disused industrial buildings, prime for redevelopment.
To propose a private housing estate at West Basin is simply stealing public parkland, in no way comparable to rejuvenation of a post-industrial site.
West Basin has enormous potential to return to being a beautiful and popular recreational lakeside park with rejuvenated boat and bicycle hire, picnicking and a natural lakeside swimming beach.
Perhaps the name West Basin, in its raw simplicity, appears inviting to real estate concerns wanting location, location, location.
A name change, such as Menzies Park, should be considered together with proper safeguarding of the space as a designated public park for now and future generations.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 1 2017 Peter Graves, Curtin
Thanks to Caroline Le Couteur for her welcome examination of yet another Development Application meeting local resistance ("Building plan slammed", January 31, p.1).
Her opinions seem widely shared across our city ("City in State of Neglect"; Beware Rough Paths"; "Listen to the Experts": letters, January 31).
It now seems to be technologically difficult even to register such objections ("On Submission Roundabout", Letters, January 30).
David Biles' (recent) concerns about that DA at the Curtin shops are especially apposite.
Interested parties have just been advised that the owner will close down all the Curtin businesses involved, when their leases expire in October, and fence off the site, if the DA is not approved.
This "advice" included the following: "If the DA is not approved, indefinitely until such time as a development that the owners consider to be economically viable is approved."
So much for the owner's expressed concerns for the Curtin residents.
I do hope that this will not influence the final decision of the Planning and Land Directorate.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 1 2017 from Peter Desmond, Flynn
As I didn't have an account (on yoursay.act.gov.au) I went through the process of registering and logged in.
I received no on-screen acknowledgment that I was registered nor to date have I received an email. When I logged on to vote I received an online message to say I was blocked as I had tried to log in too many times.
Is trying to log on once too many times? How am I to vote?
It would have to be one of the worst sites I've tried to use and needs some attention by the site programmers.
I'd like to ask: what the hell is wrong with the existing slogan? I feel our government has far more important issues to address without spending unnecessary money on number plate slogans.
As for "CBR", to most people it's a baggage code used by airlines to follow checked luggage to its final destination, not for promotion of our city.
Another lame duck idea by our government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 31 2017 from Robyn Coghlan, Hawker
Derek Wrigley is spot-on with his criticism of ACT government redevelopment of our beautiful city (Letters, January28).
This one-eyed focus is accompanied by a neglect of existing infrastructure. Walking from the carillon under Kings Avenue Bridge into Grevillea Park, managed by the ACT government, is like moving from a first-world country to a third-world country.
Thistles line the rock wall of East Basin, blackberry bushes flourish, tree suckers mingle with long grass.
It is obviously a long time since this area saw any TLC.
We should probably be thankful the Commonwealth government still provides enough funding to maintain the Parliamentary Triangle.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 31 2017 from G. M. King, Narrabundah
Phillip Harris (Letters, January 25) is right. I challenge Minister Fitzharris to find 50metres (or even 25metres) of unbroken, unlifted pavement along the well-used community path between Narrabundah College and Griffith Ovals (next to Manuka).
Instead of relying on complaints lodged by the general public, the ACT government needs to take a systematic approach to maintaining community paths.
We already have ready-made surveillance vehicles: posties' bikes. The government could also require builders to lodge a bond and a photograph of the state of the adjacent pavement before they start a major project, with the bond to be forfeited if the pavement is left damaged.
In response to increasing obesity and climate change, the government is encouraging Canberrans to take public transport, walk or cycle, so it is vital that our community paths are quickly brought up to scratch — even more so with our ageing population.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 31 2017 from Patricia Watson, Red Hill
Why doesn't the current ACT government listen to the likes of Derek F. Wrigley (Letters, January 28) plus other well-credentialled town-planners, landscape designers — Jack Kershaw and John Gray spring to mind — instead of placing the future development of Canberra in the grubby hands of single-minded developers?
On the subject of planning around the lake shore of West Basin (I think) Derek's idea of the extension of Commonwealth Park right around to the National Museum (is a good one).
Perhaps this could also incorporate Floriade in the future. His idea seems to me to be of more merit than some grandiose developer's dream of high-rise dominating the wonderful view to the Bindabellas.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 30 2017 from David Biles, Curtin
On Saturday, January 21, I attended a meeting in the Curtin shopping centre square at which about 200 to 300 people indicated their opposition to the proposal for a developer to build of a multi-storey apartment block on one side of the square.
I signed a petition, chatted with some of the other protesters, and listened to the well-informed speakersThe following day I was pleased to see the meeting was given extensive coverage in this newspaper.
I then tried to make a submission, or "representation" as it is called, using the ACT Government website, but for whatever reason this did not work (perhaps it was my fault).
I then tried the second option of sending an email to the appropriate address, but again this did not work.
After two failures, I sent an respectful email expressing my concern to the responsible minister which prompted an automatic reply indicating that the matter "will be responded to as soon as possible".
Three days later I received a long email from another MLA who was acting in the minister's position which suggested I make representation to the website which had stumped me previously.
As I am feeling completely disenfranchised, this letter is intended to bring public attention to this proposal which in my opinion is misconceived and totally unacceptable in this location.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 28 2017 from Derek F. Wrigley, Mawson
Does our ACT government listen to the public voice about planning matters? Anyone with an interest in environmental matters understands that growth and development have reached a critical point in Canberra, yet we continue to import the ugliness of other large cities with increasing disregard for conservation of the natural beauty we have inherited.
The proposal to build six-storey private residential buildings in the northeast area of West Basin is wrong in principle and will only replace the unfortunate Westside Village with even more obtrusive development, destroying one of the finest sunset views of the Brindabellas that Canberra has to offer our visitors.
Canberra is different from other Australian cities and we love its natural beauty. Previous planners have done a marvellous job in preserving and reinforcing the natural and historic attributes given to us by the Griffins.
Greed, insensitivity, inequity, and lack of vision are slowly destroying its unique character. An opportunity is being lost to continue Commonwealth Park to the National Museum to retain and reinforce its natural landscape close to the centre of the city for all to enjoy. West Basin is not an empty space awaiting development.
Our current politicians must learn when enough is enough and be held accountable for this particular rape of Canberra's natural beauty.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 26 2017 from Phillip Harris, Holt
Bravo John Trueman (letters, January 20). Who needs trees?
Clearly, neither ACT ministers nor their officials get out in the suburbs to see the parlous state of footpaths, road gutters and stormwater drain inlets, children's' playgrounds etc.
Basic maintenance no longer exists and it is a disgrace!
After cycling around Holt and Higgins last Sunday morning I would like to publicly invite Minister Fitzharris to come for a walk around Holt so I can show her what I mean. I would even shout her brekkie if an early morning start was necessary, due to her arduous days sorting out trams, Barton Highway roundabouts and multiple non-compliant unit developments!
Unfortunately I am certain she will not take up the offer because ugly, unkempt suburbs are not on the government's radar.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 23 2017 from A. Smith, Farrer
Given Andrew Barr attends major cricket and AFL interstate events at taxpayer expense purportedly to lobby for international matches to be held in Canberra ("Top cricket name backs Barr's visits" January 17, p5) wherefore Manuka Oval, surely the most inaccessible site in Canberra?
The problem is with the "want-it-now" culture that underpins Barr's electoral base. True planning is about future generations appreciating the foresight and goodwill of those who went before them. If Canberra's population were to double in step with the deployment of a light rail network, it would remain a sparsely populated city primarily dependent on its road network for transport.
The road network topography is such that the centre of Canberra is Molonglo (measured by minimum aggregate travel time from all points). This is likely to remain so. Is there one planner in this godforsaken place?
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 23 2017 from L. J. Thompson, Gungahlin
A warning should be issued to all visitors entering the ACT along the Barton Highway as well as to ACT residents regarding the dangers they face when using the Barton Highway/William Slim Drive/Gundaroo Drive roundabout.
It is the busiest highway into the National Capital and everyone has the right to feel safe when using it.
Over Christmas/New Year our visitors from Queensland and Victoria found it very confusing in daylight and even more so at night, to be suddenly confronted by nine sets of lights and road markings in every direction.
Whilst driving south along the Barton Highway, using the right hand (turn right only) lane we indicated we were turning right into William Slim Drive.
We entered the roundabout on the green light and were suddenly confronted by a red light just inside the roundabout. We stopped only to be tail-ended by another vehicle which was also turning right.
There seems to be an awful lot of confusion and almost every time we use this roundabout we have witnessed near collisions.
The ACT Green-Labor government and ACT Roads have created a nightmare and should be held accountable for the sheer stupidity of the whole concept.
It seems only a matter of time before someone is killed or very seriously injured. It may have cost less than a fly-over but surely motorists' lives are worth more than a few extra dollars.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 21 2017 from Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla, Mark Gibbs, Curtin
We should all join Rebecca Scouller (Letters, January 18) to thank the many who worked very long hours to restore services after the Friday 13 storm.
She is however probably wrong to describe the event as a "freak storm" because, as global temperatures increase, the frequency and severity of such events will increase.
January 13 must be treated as a timely warning to us all. How lucky we were that no one was killed.
Many parts of the city have ageing trees growing in inappropriate and unnatural conditions.
Canberra must modernise its attitude to, and care of, its urban trees.
Current controlling legislation aims merely to conserve trees, it seems not to weigh the risks that trees can present to people and infrastructure. The present legislation, which calls pruning and removal "tree damaging activity" rather than "tree care and maintenance", was not drafted with serious storms in mind.
Trees should be subject to rules like those controlling other potentially dangerous urban objects; vehicles, buildings, etc.
ACTEWAGL must have charge of clearing trees that could damage power lines.
Local government should focus its resources on trees in public places.
Home owners should be actively advised on the best species to grow in gardens, and where to plant them.
When a tree is assessed by a qualified arborist to be a danger, the owner should be required to remove it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 20 2017 from John Trueman, Downer
Recent correspondents (letters, January 17, 18, 19) debate the virtues of kurrajongs versus eucalypts as a replacement tree species for Northbourne Avenue.
Why use trees at all? The tram is inherently ugly, not only financially and as a non-transport option but in real life.
It will be running under ugly wires on ugly rails inside a canyon of ugly, oversized concrete boxes, each spawned in the loading-dock school of architectural ugliness.
The main road entrances to the ACT each recently gained two huge advertising signs on oversized rusted girders, presumably decommissioned from the shipyards at Gdansk.
Bunda Street shows us how a job-lot of old drain covers transform a streetscape, and let's not start on the uglinesses of Flemington Road, Gunghalin town centre, the lakeside container depot, Wright, and infill flats everywhere, or on the horrors yet to come at West Basin.
For Northbourne Avenue I propose we continue as we've begun, since we are doing so well. Dump a heap of scrap metal where each tree was, add a six-metre concrete gargoyle by each road crossing, and let's aim for maximum ugliness and maximum developer profits throughout the ACT.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 20 2017 from Margaret Atcherley, Forrest
After last Friday's winds, we have all become more aware of the state of our city's trees. The verdict must be, 'not good'. Drive around central Canberra and you see trees half dead and dying, branches extended precariously over footpaths and roads and wilted leaves.
Trees do not just have aesthetic value; they provide homes for birds and insects and they provide shade.
Trees oxygenate the air and catch dust and grime, reduce effects of pollution and enable excess water to penetrate the soil and so help prevent floods.
Trees have a significant effect in improving our health and wellbeing.
TV detectives frequently advise each other to 'follow the money,' when investigating a case.
Apparently, the ACT government has allocated a paltry $900,000 a year for the city's trees.
I wonder how this compares to money spent on sport or public transport, the relative luxury of a light train or the arboretum?
It is all about priorities.
In a normal household, food comes before party dresses; basics before luxuries. Where do trees come — a basic or a luxury? We must decide.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 20 2017 from Chris Johnson, Curtin
The Canberra Times editorial ("Canary in the Coalmine/Destroying Canberra to save it", January 11) refers to the real stakeholders in Canberra, the people who live in, and love, this city. Many people have invested a lot in Canberra as residents – time and love.
They chose to come and live here and many have chosen to remain here.
Even ordinary citizens who are residents have invested a lot of money. If being a stakeholder means having an interest, that investment needs to be weighed up.
The current DA to put an outrageously high building into the Curtin shops values the development at just under $15million in construction costs, on a block of land already leased by the developer with unimproved value $848,000.
This is less than $16 million all up. Half of an average street of houses, about 25 properties, has a monetary value that is more than that.
Curtin has around 2500 dwellings – its residents have invested 100 times as much in Curtin as this developer is proposing.
Add in the surrounding suburbs who use Curtin as a group centre and even from a bean-counting point of view, this community has put up a lot more stake than the developer.
So who are the real stakeholders here?
The residents and the communities deserve to be listened to.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 20 2017 from Murray May, Cook
The "no holds barred" trashing of Canberra continues, as outlined regularly in letters to the Canberra Times e.g. Colin Smeal (Letters, January 18).
The article by Juliet Ramsay ("West Basin's path to urban awfulness", January 18, p16) provides an excellent overview of the disease now taking hold in earnest.
Consultation processes are a farce, as flagged by Chris Emery (Letters, January 17).
I read the latest contributions in a cafe in Curtin, only to be reminded of what is occurring when walking through the Curtin Shopping Centre, with citizens seeking signatures with the sign "Development threat to Curtin Square, Rally 11 am Saturday 21 January".
The Manuka Oval development plans by stealth should have been signal enough to the Canberra populace. Apparently not, it seems.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 20 2017 from J. J. Marr, Hawker
Juliet Ramsay's excellent article ('West Basin's path to urban ugliness', January 18, pp. 16-17) raises many questions but the one that fascinates me is what is the objective of the Green Party?
It is clearly not making Canberra green.
The Labor Party is beholden to the unions which may explain why they are happy to desecrate parts of Canberra in the name of development but the Greens?
The ACT Greens must be the only green party in the world so set on co-operating in the destruction of natural beauty.
Perhaps that is what happens when they become part of government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 20 2017 from Paul E. Bowler, Holder
In September last year we had the example of a new block of units in Franklin being issued with a Certificate of Occupancy by the relevant government directorate – on advice from the (private) certifier – despite the fact that at least half of the units did not have electrical power connected.
To date, no explanation has been advanced as to how and why this was allowed to happen.
Now we learn, courtesy of Chris Emery of Reid ("Public ignored on high rise", letters, Jan 17) that the project design in the Development Application for the BAC site in Braddon does not comply with the building fire regulations!
How can a DA for such a project be accepted with such glaring non-compliance on occupant safety?
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 19 2017 from Dave Rowell, O'Connor
Like Ron Gray and Kristine Klugman (Letters, January 17-18), I am also very fond of kurrajong trees. However, I do not think they are suitable for the Northbourne Avenue entrance to the city.
In 1919, Thomas Charles Weston supervised the planting of this species along Limestone Avenue, and a quick look indicates it is not the majestic tree we might wish for to line the entry to the nation's capital (even though in nearby regions there are some very impressive specimens).
In contrast, Eucalyptus mannifera, the chosen species for this redevelopment, does grow well in Canberra and is striking with its white trunk and clean lines.
E. mannifera has received a bad rap recently. However, many of the plantings in the inner north have been there for 60years and only began to shed branches in the past 10 to 15 years, mainly as a result of poor maintenance.
Perhaps for a bit of variety, these trees could be interspersed with the Queensland bottle tree Brachychiton rupestris, a relative of the kurrajong and an iconic tree that is growing well in many Canberra gardens.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 18 2017 from Colin Smeal, Holder
Saturday's Canberra Times made me shudder as it dawned on me that here we were just two weeks into 2017 and the developers' rape of our once beautiful city was already in full swing.
The articles spruiking the Geocon development at the old NRMA site and QIC's plans for another massive development linked to the Canberra Centre ("Centre to be left in the shade", January 14, pp. 2-3) are just the start of the wholesale sell-off and over development of Civic as this government's mates cash in on the "opportunities" afforded by the tram and a lack of any overall plan or standards being applied to rampant development.
I moved to Canberra almost 60 years ago in wonder at its beauty, potential and amenity, which flourished under the careful guidance of the National Capital Development Commission and the Department of Works.
Everywhere I look now saddens me; has there ever been an uglier building in our suburbs than the shed housing the emergency services in Bindubi Street — who on earth approved this monstrosity?
What about the massive apartments behind Anzac Parade, the most sacred road in Australia?
I wonder now if those good citizens who went so blindly to the polls and re-installed the Developer Party, sorry Labor Party, might now be having second thoughts about their choice?
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 18 2017 from Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
The header "Congestion choking delivery economy" (January 16, p.37) was like reading an updated reprint from 50 years ago masquerading as today's news. The subhead: "Our 'smart city' ambitions are facing serious roadblocks, writes Caroline James" is nothing new either.
This rephrasing of the basic problem, the escalating logistical inefficiencies within major cities, is surpassed by the obstructionism which those who would implement the equally long-standing solutions, decentralisation and railways, face.
The solutions are expensive - in the short term. They go by one name — infrastructure.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 17 2017 from Chris Emery, Reid
When Penny Moyes (Letters, January 16) read in 2015 that the ACT government's "planning intent is to: engage with community, industry, business and research sectors early and ensure public engagement is meaningful, transparent, effective and ongoing" (Statement of Planning Intent 2015), she would have hoped she wasn't dreaming.
The urban redevelopment of the ABC flats has stumbled from planning disaster to disaster. The original masterplan showed a maximum of 10 storeys which, after the extensive community consultation recommended eight storeys, got raised to 15storeys. This height survived 137 written appeals from the community but then the minister relented and cut it back to 12storeys.
I think this is called the ambit-claim tactic.
The development application for stage 1 is now out for comment (closes January 19) and continues the 12-storey height despite professional advice in the application itself that the design doesn't comply with fire regulations for the number of alternative fire exits, nor the access to these exits, for this height.
So why persist with a design that interposes this 12-storey monstrosity between the four-storey Canberra Centre, zero-storey Glebe Park, three-storey Argyle Square apartments, single-storey residences in heritage Braddon and the two-storey heritage Gorman House?
What was wrong with the consulted eight storeys? By building beyond eight storeys the entire building requires fire sprinklers, thus raising the cost of every apartment well beyond anything affordable.
The DA 201630648 should be withdrawn and the developer compelled to enter "meaningful, transparent, effective and ongoing public engagement".
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 17 2017 from Ron Gray, Cook
There will be some recriminations about trees being uprooted and branches falling after the ferocious windstorm on the afternoon of Friday, January 13.
Many of the trees would be eucalypts which have been widely planted over many years in Canberra.
The Eucalyptus mannifera due to be planted in Northbourne Avenue for the light rail system is foremost amongst the damaged species affected by the storm.
Its rapid growth and attractive bark makes it a favoured species but the spreading crown and numerous branch system cause problems in later years.
The native kurrajong (Brachychiton populneum) should be interplanted between these eucalypts as it is slower growing and can eventually be the main tree after the removal of the faster growing eucalypt at a later date.
The kurrajong is a very stable tree due to its deep tap root system and also does not shed bark like the eucalypt.
An added bonus is the bell shaped cream or pink flowers which appear after the minor shedding of leaves, usually in summer.
The kurrajong is frequently seen on farm properties as it is ideal for providing shade for stock and it is a very long lived tree requiring minimum maintenance and would be an ideal species for Northbourne Avenue in the long term.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 17 2017 from John Mungoven, Stirling
It seems to me there has been barely an audible comment by our Chief Minister since the recent election and certainly not since Christmas.
Numerous recent letters to The Canberra Times reveal a deep concern in sections of our community about the direction, scale and frenetic pace of building development, planning issues and community consultation and their effect on the future Canberra.
How about some leadership, Andrew.
Is there some overall plan or is it just gung-ho and let us see what it looks like later? That would be a tragedy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 17 2017 from C. Adams, Yarralumla, ACT
I read the article "AFL on Barr's travel tab", December 16, p.1, several times looking in vain for a reference to our chief minister's interstate excursions relative to furthering any of the many other sports and activities in which the ACT electorate, both young and old, participate.
Sadly, it seems like our man is as selective in his sports as the conga line of leaners in the broader political population.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 17 2017 from Hugh Dakin, Griffith
Your question "Heritage lost or progress?" (January 16, p.1) about demolishing duplex houses in Narrabundah, may be answered by another question: "Cui bono?" (who stands to gain?).
Those who demolish handsome solid brick heritage buildings, and those who build (perhaps inferior) replacements, gain. Heritage, streetscape, community preference, economy and sense, lose.
But, as the choice is made by the ACT Labor government it is not surprising demolition of these fine solid buildings, that could stand for centuries, gets the nod.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 16 2017 from Penny Moyes, Hughes
Krystian Seibert's article "Government of the people" (January 9, p12) and your editorial "Destroying Canberra to save it?" (January 12, p16) hit the nail on the head. Siebert mentions the need for proper and sincere community engagement which is severely lacking in the Canberra planning processes.
It is rather puzzling, as early last year the ACT government brought two Canadian planners to Canberra to discuss how community consultation could work to the benefit of all.
My hopes were raised that at last there would be a different approach to the archaic, bullying tactics of the LDA. But no. None of the wisdom of the Canadian planners has been taken on board, even though the City of Geraldton in WA and the South Australian government have had great success with such an approach.
For citizens juries to work effectively the government has to be sincere in wanting to hear what the community views are and have the community involved from the beginning.
Here in Canberra the opposite approach is taken – rather – this is what you are going to get unless you scream. With this approach the ACT government now has on its hands many issues that the community is very unhappy about – the City to the Lake, the Manuka Oval complex, the Curtin and Dickson shops developments, and the Currong flat development, not to mention West Basin where part of the Lake is due to be filled in and a private housing development plonked right on our park. It is truly time for a more mature approach to our planning process so that we don't lose the city we love and treasure.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 15 2017 from Murray May, Cook
After Friday's windstorm I happened to drive around Reid and Ainslie. Whole trees and large trunks and branches were down everywhere. With further climate change and more intense storms a certainty, it doesn't take much foresight to conclude that brittle gums are a silly choice for the Gungahlin light rail route.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 14 2017 from A. Smith, Farrer
You say in your editorial "Destroying Canberra to save it" (January 12, p16) that "there is a debate that Canberra needs to have ... and the sooner we pause and reassess the better". Hear, hear!
While the Griffin legacy would undoubtedly shape the debate the ultimate determinant is likely to be the attitude of the community and the planners towards Canberra's towns.
The form of infill that has been chosen by the government treats the towns as dormitories, complemented by infill along the light rail network that is to be developed to bring workers to the centre of the city. This strategy inevitably puts more emphasis on development near the centre thus threatening the Griffin legacy.
Griffin said "I have planned a city that is not like any other in the world". Our challenge is to stop this government making it like every other city in the world.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 14 2017 from Trevor Lipscombe, Campbell
The Canberra Times editorial "Destroying Canberra to save it" is a timely reminder of the need for all Canberrans to engage more keenly with the planning and heritage issues they face as custodians of the future of this unique city and National Capital.
Governments today are generally more attentive to public opinion, especially when it represents a broad demographic and is well informed.
Besides residents' associations and community councils there are many community organisations quietly working to inform planning debate and protect Canberra's amenity and heritage.
Examples are National Trust (ACT), Friends of ACT Trees, Lake Burley Griffin Guardians, Canberra Woodland and Wetlands Trust and The Walter Burley Griffin Society.
Inevitably perhaps, many of those best informed about these issues, and most actively engaged, are time-rich retirees.
There is a special need for time-poor younger Canberrans, the future guardians of their city, now busy with careers and family, to consider joining and supporting such organisations, and becoming better informed.
One easy and enjoyable way would be through the many heritage walks and events during the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival from April 18 to May 7. This year's theme is "Questions and Change", a timely one indeed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 13 2017 from N.Bailey, Nicholls
Once again, the residents of the Gungahlin area must thank the Barr government for its consideration of all the daily commuters who travel to the CBD and beyond.
Not only are we confronted with a roundabout controlled by nine sets of traffic lights, but then we are later confronted with the resealing of the Gungahlin Drive Extension (GDE) on both north and southbound lanes. It is inconceivable how any planner could create such a monumental foul-up.
Yes, the GDE resealing states traffic speed is restricted to 40km/h but on Friday at 4pm we crawled along at 5km/h.
Our only salvation will be when Mr Barr and his Minister for Transport accept the invitation to sit atop the island roundabout and witness the traffic gridlock that has been designed by his government.
When millions of dollars are being expended on light rail surely there is enough money for the resealing to be undertaken between 10 pm and 6 am when traffic is minimal, tar can congeal and workers are cooler.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 13 2017 from Jeremy McGrane, Kingston
Some Curtin residents are concerned the scale of a proposed shopping centre redevelopment is too large for the central square ("Curtin call to reduce size of development", January11, p.1).
Public response for the preparation of a Draft Master Plan, Master Plan, and for the developer stressed the importance of scale and for no additional shadowing of the square.
The development application for Mrs Haridemos claims few people sit or linger in the central square in winter and that the proposed building, predominantly the commercial section, would shadow the courtyard progressively from noon on June21, lengthening further from 2pm. Its wall height adjacent to the square is the equivalent of three residential floors. Documents note "ground floor with mezzanine", which may be why the commercial section is sohigh.
The applicant states new retail developments tend to deliver floor-to-ceiling heights of five to six metres. The height could be reduced by two metres, satisfying the developer and lessening the shading of the courtyard. On the wall facing Strangways Street, the floor height of the commercial section equals three residential floors. The reduced height of the ground floor still would comply with the waste collection standard of a six-metre overhead clearance.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 12 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
We're told there's a looming oversupply of new apartments. Hopefully, developers will start offering better designs to move their products.
Over the years, accommodation standards have been cut back, in a pushy sellers'/absentee-landlords' market. Amenity and privacy have been sacrificed. Development densities have crept up and up.
Planners comply by notching up their dwellings-per-hectare settings, apparently ignoring scandalously high sold-apartment vacancy rates.
Gardens have disappeared. So have private in-flat entry spaces, generous living rooms, kitchen and bathroom windows, separate dining rooms, bedrooms all with good-sized windows, spacious private balconies, quiet lifts, attractive common spaces, good acoustic separation, exemplary solar access – the list goes on.
Irrespective of market forces, all of these items need improvement via better mandatory controls.
Otherwise population health must suffer.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 12 2017 from Peter Graves, Curtin
Thanks for your article ("Curtin call to reduce size of development", January 11, p.1).
It's the latest in many residents' concerns about planning decisions: e.g. ("Forrest hotel consultation 'misleading', September24, 2016, p.17, "Soulless planning avoidable", letters, January7, "Disaster in Curtin", letters, January7).
It is noticeable the Curtin Group Centre Master Plan has not been finalised, nearly one year after comments closed.
This draft plan recommends a redevelopment height limit of two storeys.
Yet the the developers now want six, knowing this will reduce the winter sun in the town square and will also temporarily remove the public toilets presently on ACT land.
Not good developments for the commercial attractiveness of the centre.
It will also be quite disproportionate to the otherthree sides of single-storey buildings. I am unaware of any resident who welcomes thisproposal.
It seems, once again, a publicamenity in Canberra is set to be appropriated for privateprofit. Stick to the master plan – draft or final.Please.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 12 2017 from Simon Tatz, Curtin
Ian Warden ("Swept away in a capital dream", January 8, p.17) presents a worthy case for a Canberra version of the wonderful musical La La Land.
In my version, Seb, a ruggedly handsome jazz pianist, dreams of running his own Residents Action Group to prevent any six- storey buildings, swamps or development in Canberra.
He meets Mia, a gorgeous singer, whose ambition is to become a parking inspector.
They fall in love while stuck at a seven-traffic-light roundabout.
Seb's career is derailed after he's arrested for rolling down the lawns of Parliament House; Mia is left stranded in Woden waiting for the promised light rail to be built.
In an all-singing, all-dancing finale, Seb runs for the ACT Assembly as a pro-poker machine candidate, while Mia achieves fame and fortune singing to an empty Manuka Oval.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 11 2017 from Llois Cutts, Kingston
I'm sorry Ivan Barrette (Letters, January 7) did not enjoy his recent return visit to Canberra.
He asks 'What the hell happened?' to the grasslands around the lake and to the standard of street cleaning his memories of 20 years ago suggest was the norm back then.
This city grew up. It recognised the Federal Parliament, aka the taxpayers of the rest of Australia, was no longer prepared to support the high level of public amenity many Canberrans had come to believe was their entitlement.
It was time to pay our own way and to make our own decisions via the ballot box as to what taxes to raise and where our spending priorities are. This is what self-government entails.
Sure, as someone who has lived in this city for over 70 years, I too have nostalgic recollections of pristine streets and parks. But this is not a realistic expectation in this day and age when so many other important policy concerns demand attention.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 11 2017 from John Mungoven, Stirling
Fellow citizens, don't be misled by the frantic activity in Northbourne Avenue or the giant roundabout.
These are just clever diversions to take our focus off the developments taking place at West Basin.
I agree that building a well-designed waterside walkway there would add vitality to the area, especially with the planned public facilities, playground and long-awaited cafe outlets and so on.
However, the ACT government can't be trusted and its main aim is undoubtedly multi-storey waterfront apartment blocks (and bigger and more) than they have indicated to date. Supposedly the infill of West Basin is to be minimal. We shall see.
Maybe our "cool" government should go all the way. How about infilling and developing the whole of that pesky West Basin.
There would still be much of LBG left for the public.
We could have our own little Venice – a canal-style gated community, multi- storey eco Italian villas set against the backdrop of Black Mountain.
Perhaps we can't afford to run light rail there but I know of a cheap monorail no longer being used. Ideal for City to the Lake.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 11 2017 from John Whitty, Hawker
Ivan Barrette asks if we are aware of the long grass, the unkempt roads and the general squalor.
The answer is "yes, we are". It has been creeping up on us for years.
Ivan would be shocked to know of the massive rates hike (45 per cent) we have endured under the Barr government with no signs of improved municipal services.
We are a great example to the rest of Australia of how to dumb down the definition of municipal services in return for the payment of rates.
Rates can now be considered a tax in Canberra. They are paid with very limited services in return. Surplus money, including levies, is diverted to who knows where.
We should be grateful for non-residents like Ivan to highlight the sloppy management.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 10 2017 from Heather Crawford, Holt
Ivan Barrette's letter inspires in my mind the image of an uptight British butler with a comb-over, gliding around the stately (though decaying) mansion with a white glove on, swiping surfaces to check for dust.
Living and working in Canberra for many years, and raising a child here, I've found so many things about my now home town to love and enjoy. From big public attractions to smaller scale and often quirky places in the city or its natural environment, along with a diverse, lively and welcoming community.
Sure, not everything's perfect, but I don't think a little bit of dust on the bookshelves is worth fussing about.
Doesn't that just go to show that Canberra is not the sterile place it has been condemned as in the past?
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 10 2017 from Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal
There has been a flurry of letters to the editor critiquing the roundabout at the junction of the Barton Highway and Gundaroo Drive.
The criticisms are unfounded.
The roundabout is well signed and works as designed. When turning right get into the right-hand lane and expect to stop at a red light. If turning left or going straight ahead, you do not stop.
If you are in a right-turn lane and wish to go straight ahead, merge left.
The intersection is free of shattered glass, and there are no long queues.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 9 2017 from Paul E. Bowler, Holder
Peter Thomas (Letters, January 4) wants to know who signed off on the Barton Highway roundabout traffic lights project.
It was announced in August 2015. Being a roads project, it "belonged" to Roads ACT, a sub-unit of the Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) Directorate.
It can be safely assumed the then director of ACT Roads signed off the project directly and the then minister for TAMS signed off indirectly, when presenting the TAMS budget for cabinet approval.
That director of ACT Roads is no longer in that position so I shall not name him.
However that minister for TAMS – Shane Rattenbury – continues to serve in the ACT government, though not as minister for the TAMS replacement — Transport Canberra and City Services.
Peter, you could direct your question to Mr Rattenbury. Good luck with that.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 9 2017 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
I suppose a flyover at the Barton Highway-William Slim/Gundaroo Drives intersection would be better and safer than the current arrangement.
Typically, such structures cost a fortune, and take ages to build (remember the GDE bridges).
That's because local decision makers favour low-profile, heavy concrete structures. If they chose light-weight, long-span, pre-fabricated structural steel (Australian please), a flyover would be operational sooner and cheaper.
Good fabricators around here and no corrosive salty air.
Carefully designed steel bridges have presence and are beautiful.
And, their anti-throw screens can be more cheaply and unobtrusively integrated.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 9 2017 from Frances Cornish, Spence
Has Robert McKenzie (Letters, January 5) tried turning right to get to Hall or Yass from Gundaroo Drive (on the Barton Highway roundabout).
You move into the right hand lane. Seems obvious doesn't it? The roadway is even marked with a large white arrow.
However, if you follow the arrow you go back around the roundabout and head north again on Gundaroo Drive.
If you want to go to Hall or Yass, after receiving the green light, you need to cross a mass of white lines, a pseudo median strip, and move into the next lane in the middle of the roundabout with barely time to check if there is any through traffic, or stop and create a traffic jam if there is.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 9 2017 from James Grenfell, Spence
There was a rumour of an extremely challenging time trial being considered for Summernats this year. It was called "Negotiating Barton Highway Roundabout In A Moving Vehicle".
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 3 2017 from Michael Catanzariti, Florey
Why would a normal thinking person bring traffic to a stop halfway through the exits (of the Barton Highway roundabout?).
After entering the roundabout off William Slim Drive through traffic lights then turning right you are immediately confronted with a second set of lights.
These will always be red and needs no explanation on the consequences it will have with cars, particularly heavy vehicles following behind. The off-ramp onto William Slim Drive is another accident waiting to happen.
Before these "improvements" it had an un-interrupting merging lane.
Now it is unnecessarily controlled by traffic lights. (Whoever designed it) should take time to experience these changes in the real world rather than jump for joy at how good it looks on paper.
In the meantime I might just plonk myself in the middle of the roundabout and instead of washing windscreens start handing out insurance claim forms.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 3 2017 from John Mungoven, Stirling
I'm visiting Melbourne at present. The Victorian government has a major program under way to assist long-suffering motorists by easing crippling traffic congestion where trains cross major suburban roads. The crossings are rebuilt so that trains are either sent under or over the problematic intersections. Problem significantly eased! Forever!
Meanwhile the ACT government has a major program under way to create new traffic congestion by building tram crossings on some of Canberra's major arterial roads (and it promises more to come). Not only that, it reconstructs a major roundabout and installs traffic lights on it.
The need for an overpass on Barton Highway was so bleeding obvious it makes you weep.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 3 2017 from Robert McKenzie, Dunlop
We have driven through the roundabout at the corner of Barton Highway and Gundaroo Drive several times. I am at a complete loss to understand why anyone has an issue. It acts like a standard intersection. If I reach the lights when they are red I stop (as per usual). Then, when they turn green, I make my way through the roundabout without any delay. What is the problem?
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 3 2017 from Linus Cole, Palmerston
The Gundaroo Drive/William Slim/Barton Highway roundabout is Canberra's new "how to drive" school model, throwing every outrageous challenge you could imagine in one circle.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 3 2017 from Peter Thomson, Latham
Who was the traffic expert that signed-off on the Barton Highway roundabout? How long do we have to accept these ridiculous projects from faceless bureaucrats and amateur politicians in this territory.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 4 2017 from Paul E. Bowler, Holder
When the announcement about this roundabout "improvement" was made in August 2015, through these columns I asked Roads ACT to advise us if there were any technical reasons why a flyover on the Barton Highway alignment could not be built.
I have seen no correspondence from that august department!
The provision of this flyover is such a glaringly obvious solution there must be some engineering problem which prohibits (its') construction.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 2 2017 from Frances Cornish, Spence
Q. How do you get workers to leave their cars at home and travel on light rail?
A. You build a dangerous and confusing roundabout in the middle of two main roads – the Barton Highway and Gundaroo Drive/William Slim Drive.
Vehicles now have to change lanes while IN the roundabout; lanes converge without warning; and vehicles entering the roundabout with a green light may be stopped by a red light, leaving them stranded across the roadway preventing cars in the next sequence of lights from entering the roundabout. If anyone knows how this arrangement is going to improve traffic flow and congestion, and avoid accidents, I'd like to hear about it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 31 2016 from John Mungoven, Stirling
Wow. Nine sets of traffic lights on the Barton Highway/William Slim/Gundaroo Drive roundabout. Barr and Fitzharris never cease to amaze. Not even the vivacious Lara Bingle could sell that one to the tourists.
Having just read various CT letters on this new tourist attraction, where authors find it impossible to describe a safe passage, there is no way I will risk my vehicle going through there.
It's to and fro via Wee Jasper in future for me.
Come and join me in the safe centre space of the roundabout on January 30 when school goes back. I'll be the one with a clown's hat on and in a deck chair on the hill with a coffee and a camera. All welcome!
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 31 2016 from Stan Marks, Hawker
David Hobson (Letters, December 26) asks why a flyover was not built at the William Slim/Gundaroo Drive/Barton Highway intersection.
The answer, unfortunately, is all too simple. Andrew Barr was beholden to the Greens when the decisions were taken on this, and he is still in bed with them. The Greens won't spend a cent more on roads than they must though roads are, and will continue to be, the major means of transport in the ACT for the foreseeable future. If these ideologues want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they need to improve the efficiency of the road system. But then we need to find billions to build our current tram and extend it to Woden and beyond.
The Greens should change their credo from "saving the planet" to "ideology without common sense".
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 24 2016 from Leon Arundell, Downer
Shane Rattenbury and Transport Grinch Meegan Fitzharris have announced their Christmas "gifts" to Canberra.
Grinch Rattenbury will allow Segways on our footpaths, to discourage children and adults from walking to their local schools, shops, bus stops and light rail stations.
Segways travel at twice the speed of mobility scooters. They are twice as heavy and three times as powerful as electric bicycles, and need twice as far to stop. Their ability to suddenly lurch off course knocked world champion sprinter Usain Bolt off his feet, and cost the life of Segway manufacturer Jim Heselden.
Grinch Fitzharris will condemn Canberra's bus commuters, and all Gungahlin's commuters, to two more years of unnecessary travel delays. Converting part of the Flemington Road bus lane to a transit lane would increase traffic flow through the intersection of Flemington Road and Northbourne Avenue. That would cut several minutes from peak travel times for private vehicles. Converting strategic sections of the left lane of Northbourne Avenue to T3 lanes would cut several minutes from bus travel times, without affecting other traffic.
The Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate has acknowledged "that during the period of [light rail] construction there will be delays in transit between Gungahlin and Civic," and confirmed that Grinch Fitzharris has again refused to consider using inexpensive transit lanes to reduce traffic delays.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 23 2016 from J. J. Marr, Hawker
I was not surprised to read about the inadequacies of the William Slim/Gundaroo Drive roundabout. Two high-volume roads like that warrant an overpass. But where would we find $10 million to do that when we have to find a billion dollars to build a tram?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 22 2016 from Mark Raymond, Manton, NSW
I have been driving through the William Slim roundabout for the last 5 years. When the lights were activated on Tuesday my northbound movement was smooth and uneventful. On Wednesday morning I discovered the southbound arrangement is dangerous and confusing.
The roundabout now has three lanes, while the approaches still have two. Northbound, the transition is properly achieved prior to reaching the roundabout.
The opposite is true southbound: little or no permanent signage and the arrows painted on the road in the right lane indicate traffic has the option to go straight ahead.
Upon arrival at the roundabout, however there is no transition from two lanes to three, and the painted arrow suddenly changes to "right turn only". This arrangement will cause accidents. Peak-hour chaos will replace the previous calm snaggle; hardly an improvement!
Anyone who thinks reserving half of the southbound approach lanes for a right-turn-only movement is an idiot who hasn't performed an origin-destination study at this intersection, and will be responsible for one of Canberra's worst-ever traffic jams, come the first decent morning peak in January, and an accident rate no better (and possibly worse) than the "blackspot" these works were intended to remediate.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 22 2016 from Stephen Barnett, O'Connor
I expect the number of Victorian tourists will be well down this summer. They'll get to the new roundabout at the Barton Highway/Gundaroo Drive, with its nine sets of traffic lights, do a U-turn and head home. What a terrible thing to greet our roundabout-nervous, southern kin.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 21 2016 from Bill O'Connell, Waramanga
Graham Downie (Letters, December 18) refers to "the stench in this city" and notes "there has been nothing since the October election to indicate a breath of fresh air".
The "stench" is anecdotal evidence of alleged corruption involving the ACT Labor government, its departments, and dealings with the private sector.
It comes as no surprise the government and Greens minister Shane Rattenbury have consigned to the bottom drawer a promise made during the recent ACT election to establish an "Integrity Commission" with powers similar to the NSW ICAC. Since that election, Rattenbury has refused to provide details of when the "Integrity Commission" would be established and its terms of reference, thereby reinforcing a widely held view the promise was a cynical vote catching exercise.
It's little wonder voter disdain for political parties and their politicians is growing, including the Greens.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 21 2016 from Maria Greene, Curtin
Murray Upton (Letters, December 21) doubts Andrew Barr's grand (pool) plans. The DPP thinks money should be directed towards justice.
No doubt others think our exponentially increasing rates should go towards health and education. No. Our rates are there to fulfil Mr Barr's dreams of a developer's paradise.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2016 from Keith Pantlin, Downer
One of Canberra's best kept secrets? The location of the ACTION bus stop at Canberra Airport.
Pity the poor misguided arriving airline passenger who has hopes of travelling to Civic by public transport.
There are many helpful signs pointing them to taxi ranks, Uber pick-up points and private bus stops, but not a word about public transport.
One would think that a government that is committed to spending about a billion dollars on a 12-kilometre tram line would be able to stump up a few thousand dollars on signs to help incoming visitors and returning Canberrans find the public bus stop at the airport.
For those interested, the bus stop is hidden away in Brindabella Circuit, just past the big roundabout.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 19 2016 from Peter Graves, Curtin
About time, National Capital Authority ("Residents fear date with density", December 15, p8)! Our garden city is being trashed by developers, assisted by an ACT government apparently caring more about revenue than the terminal damage being done to Canberra.
This city need not be like Sydney, as so frequently proposed by some. Usually by those who don't understand the origins of our city, in the planning theories of Marion and Walter Griffin and the planning practices of the former National Capital Development Commission.
Modernise (if 250-400-square metre blocks can be called that) in the new areas. Maintain the civic amenity in the older areas. That's what makes Canberra a living and liveable city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 19 2016 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
With the Greens having effectively forced upon Canberra the Gungahlin to Civic tramway, largely justified by the development it might engender, ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur seems to have taken a long overdue stance against developers (""Greens MP hits out on planning choices", December 14, p4). With good reason, she notes it would be easy to think planning decisions are being made for the developers, not the community. It can also be reasoned many of the dodgy planning decisions are made to benefit the government's coffers with increased rates and other charges. And with the former Labor staffer, Adina Cirson, now head of the Property Council, the link between government and developers might be seen to be even closer.
I have previously written about the stench in this city and there has been nothing since the October election to indicate a breath of fresh air. It will be most interesting to see what influence to this end Ms Le Couteur, as chairwoman of the ACT planning committee, will have.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 18 2016 from John Mungoven, Stirling
One of many reasons Paris has succeeded as an attractive modern city is the general absence of high-rise apartments and massive developments that stand apart and clash with their immediate surrounds.
While Canberra is certainly not Paris, our bush capital's charm has been in part due to spacious, modest-height development in keeping with our surrounds.
It is disappointing to observe the changes happening in our city and the scale of developments already approved by planning authorities.
Massive high-rise developments, such as part of C5 Campbell overhanging the precious Memorial precinct in Anzac Park, SQ1 Southquay in Greenway, the Tower developments at Emu Bank in Belconnen and new multi-storey unit blocks at Phillip, in my view, are all examples of overdevelopment at odds and out of scale with their surrounds.
Much of the new Northbourne Avenue building program is yet to be seen. I'm totally for infill and appropriate higher-density housing in Canberra but only when the development is in harmony with the existing built and visual environment.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 18 2016 from R. Nelson, Canberra
The Commonwealth has allowed its significant assets, the Anzac Park East and West Portal Buildings, to degrade to a point where they say they cannot be reused.
The Department of Finance claims there is no option other than demolition. A lack of use for 18 years can do that. It is called wilful neglect and is a blatant breach of environmental heritage obligations under the EPBC Act.
These buildings are included in the Commonwealth Heritage List and are significant not just for framing Griffin's Land Axis between Mount Ainslie, the War Memorial and Parliament House; they represent an important phase of Canberra's development.
It was the NCA's forerunner, the Commonwealth's National Capital Development Commission, that delivered high-quality, international-standard, architectural and urban planning to this beautiful city. Something stinks and it is not just the dying carp in Lake Burley Griffin.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 18 2016 from Mario Stivala, Spence
The ACT government has proven to be totally inept at project management and costing, with the current Currong public housing demolition project a classic example.
From an original demolition cost estimate of $3 million, costs rose to $4 million and have now blown out to a staggering $16 million.
In 1982 the projected cost of light rail was $45 million, in 2002 it rose to $80 million while the current estimate is $1 billion, with an envisaged completion of the 13km railway by 2026 .
Hence we could be looking at an unbelievable $5 billion, or $385,000 per kilometre, for light rail for the actual cost at completion.
To all those myopic voters who voted for Labor and light rail, I say thanks for nothing .
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 14 2016 from Vic Robertson, Page
We are visiting the Gold Coast. Having arrived late on Friday evening, we expected to use light rail during the visit.
On Monday, Brisbane's The Courier Mail published an article stating thunderstorms had damaged fibre-optic communications cables.
Light rail services were resumed on Monday, having been offline since Saturday morning.
I wonder if lightning strikes have been considered in the risk management plan for our ACT light rail?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 12 2016 from Heather McMillan, Greenway
I almost choked on my morning coffee reading the suggestion re light rail, from Gerdina Bryant (Letters, December 6).
She must be joking; the light rail trundling along the long rambling route she suggests.
Suffice to say most of the streets would not cope with the space needed for the infrastructure.
I am sure the residents of Mugga Way would not welcome this disruption to their life styles, and property values (definitely no apartment blocks)!
A ramble via a scenic route, culminating, as she suggests, with the trip down Hindmarsh Drive, checking out the view. . Instead of a 15-minute express bus serving Woden/Civic, an hour-long sightseeing tour! I think not.
And let's not mention cost, even if it does follow the direct route.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 10 2016 from Peter Trickett, Fraser
It should come as no surprise nurses at Canberra Hospital have expressed urgent concerns over staff shortages and work fatigue, which they say are putting patients at risk ("Nurses at breaking point", December 3, p1).
The response by ACT health Minister Meegan Fitzharris, that the government will not support the nurses' request for an independent review, is disappointing.
As a recent patient, it is my clear impression the nurses' concerns are fully justified.
The nursing and medical staff are having to work in often overcrowded conditions in buildings which are antiquated and inadequate.
I am not a member of the Liberal Party, but I note that at the recent ACT election the Liberals promised to build a new hospital and immediately increase medical and nursing staff numbers.
The voters turned this down in favour of funding the Gungahlin tram. I fear we are now beginning to see the results of this decision.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 8 2016 from Paul E. Bowler, Holder
I can only assume that Gerdina Bryant (Letters, December6) is "having a lend of" your readers! If this be the case, then well done, Gerdina – the whole project is but a parody of transport planning and urban development.
As previously noted, it was suddenly announced weeks out from the recent election, without a skerrick of evidence to show that there was a problem with the current public transit services between Woden and Civic, nor that light rail was the correct answer to any problem which might seem to exist.
Now we are going to pay millions of dollars just to have consultants tell us which route the tram should take – as if that were not somewhat obvious!
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 8 2016 from Warwick Bradly, Weston
Gerdina Bryant suggests a competition for the most efficient and effective light rail route to Woden.
Assuming it was not satire, her letter epitomised the wonderfully deluded world of the light rail enthusiast. Gerdina's suggestion of replacing the direct Civic to Woden bus route with a light rail journey traversing Manuka, Mugga Way and then grinding up Hindmarsh Drive may take longer than the meaningless reconstruction of Constitution Avenue.
I hardly think a few quick glances of the Brindabellas from atop Hindmarsh Drive constitutes a tourist attraction, let alone a replacement for our Red Explorer tourist buses.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 6 2016 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
Three days before the introduction of ACTION's new timetable on August 27, I observed late running would continue.
Routes which had consistently run late over the past two iterations of the timetable had the same running times. Late running was inevitable.
Apparently disregarding data from the MyWay ticketing system, transport officials produced the current weekday timetable, originally due to begin on October 12, 2015.
Even with a 10-month delay they could not get it right.
Routes 1, 3 and 8, even during off-peak are often up to 10 minutes and even almost 15 minutes behind their scheduled arrivals.
There are similar delays on numerous other services.
The inconvenience to passengers belies the government's stated commitment to improving Canberra's haphazard public transport.
Those who depend on public transport continue to be treated with contempt by the government because they represent such a small percentage of the population.
Even the $12.5million NXTBUS system which promises live departure times is unreliable. Recently in Civic it said a service to Kippax would depart in zero minutes. There was no bus at the platform then or for the next five minutes.
General traffic delays of 10 to 15 minutes are reported by Canberra's media.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 6 2016 from Gerdina Bryant, Watson
I would be surprised if there are not other residents of this city, such as myself, who have an elegant solution for the most efficient and effective light rail route to Woden ("Light rail plan formulated on the run", Editorial, November 28, p12).
The solution to the problem of where to place the rail route to Woden could form an open competition. The prize? Cutting the ribbon at the opening of light rail in Woden.
I am offering my solution for the Woden light rail route, in anticipation of entering the competition.
(1) Civic across Commonwealth Avenue Bridge; (2) left along State Circle; (3) Brisbane Avenue; (4) Wentworth Avenue ; (5) Giles Street; (6) right onto Canberra Avenue ; (7) Manuka/Flinders Way; (8) Mugga Way; (9) Hindmarsh Drive; (10) Canberra Hospital; (11) Woden Town Centre.
The route offers many, many advantages.
Existing population densities along the proposed route; proximity to schools (for student use); Mugga Way is already a wide street and, having no medium strip or trees, is very cost-effective.
My proposed route offers an immediate tourist attraction. Wonderful vistas across the Woden Valley as the train crests Hindmarsh Drive and the opportunity to see some of Canberra's most beautiful houses and landscapes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 3 2016 from J.J. Marr, Hawker
I read an article in The Sydney Morning Herald which states the NSW government has understated the costs and overstated the benefits of its current light rail project. Reminds me a bit of our own tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 1 2016 from Bob Nairn, Hawker
When we first built in Canberra we were encouraged to buy an incinerator from the government and then told we were not allowed to use it.
We were told we should buy water tanks because of the water shortage and so we bought four tanks, a pump and a grey water system.
Now we pay higher water rates to pay for the extended dam, which means there is no shortage of water.
We were told it was a good idea to buy solar panels to reduce our power bills.
The beautiful indigenous trees, which we were told we should plant and are not allowed to remove, provide so much shade the solar panels perform poorly.
Then it was suggested we switched from oil heating to gas. We did, only to be told we should now switch to electric heating.
Isn't it nice to have such clear guidance from our ACT government? Now we are told we should ride the tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 1 2016 from Kathleen Read, Watson
What a poisonous, butt-covering government ACT electors have just installed.
Now it is blaming Mr Fluffy, together with light rail, for project delays (CT, November 30, "AIS Arena considers scrapping concerts ...").
The previous ACT Labor/Greens government decided on both the Mr Fluffy destruction as well as building light rail.
It's us wicked Mr Fluffy homeowners who are denying Canberrans the bells and whistles "developments" the government wants to undertake.
Hopefully one day they'll reap what they've sown.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 1 2016 from Matt Ford, Crookwell
Steven Hawking sees intergalactic travel as the stumper humanity must solve to save itself, but first we must get the tram through the triangle.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 30 2016 from A. Smith, Farrer
While I cannot dispute the ACT government has a mandate to build a tram line from Gungahlin to Woden, the development tragedy it forebodes is something future Canberra generations will rue ("Time to form next stage of tram plan", November 26, p2).
High-density strip development from Gungahlin to Woden is the name of the game. The tram line is an incidental for the developers to hang their hat on.
There has not been any analysis to suggest that the tram line can be the linchpin of a successful transport strategy.
Claims it is visionary are just ludicrous. The logical extension is for "the strip" to run all the way to Tuggeranong, and be complemented by a cross city strip from Belconnen to Queanbeyan.
The planning that saw Canberra grow over 60 years towards a unique city of prospering towns is being scrapped.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 30 2016 from Ed Dobson, Hughes
According to the Canberra Times editorial ("Light rail formulated on the run", November 28), there are two issues still to be resolved "the possible need to reinforce the Commonwealth Avenue bridge to carry trams" and "the National Capital Authority's opposition to the use of overhead lines in the Parliamentary Triangle".
The fact these issues were not resolved before the light rail Stage 1 contract was signed is a sign of gross incompetence.
Resolution of these issues could result in the cancellation of the Stage 1 contract, not proceeding with any further stages, designing the network to by pass the bridge, by passing the Parliamentary Triangle or operating two light rail networks, one powered by overhead wires and the other by the light rail.
All would result in enormous ongoing overheads for Canberrans.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 30 2016 from M. Silex, Erindale
Thank you for the editorial (November 28) highlighting the lack of due diligence so far by the Barr government in respect of light rail Stage 2.
Given the severe criticism from many expert quarters on Stage 1 that the government simply ignored for more than two years, there can be zero confidence this government will bother to consult in good faith, let alone listen to external experts, on Stage 2.
This is particularly true given the stranglehold UnionsACT and the CMFEU have over ACT government tendering, through the scandalous MOU.
Irrespective what Messrs Barr and Rattenbury may privately want to do, there is no way UnionsACT would allow Stage 2 to be halted, business case or not.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 30 2016 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Your editorial "Light rail plan formulated on the run" describes the shortcomings of the government's approach to light rail.
Take the decision to proceed first, think about it later.
There is always a reason when government's behave irrationally, in this case ideological for the Greens and political for Labor.
Rattenbury will undoubtedly continue to claim that the project is "visionary" as if that exempts it from serious analysis. It doesn't.
As your editorial says, the question is whether the government can bring the project into being in a "cost effective, user friendly and practical" way.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 30 2016 from Paul E. Bowler, Holder
While your editorial on the Woden Light Rail proposal is "on the money" and most welcome it is a bit late.
You should have published it before the election. The switch of Light Rail Stage 2 from Canberra Airport, where some form of enhanced public transport is surely needed, to Woden was, as you noted, nothing but a cynical exercise in vote buying.
Stage 1 – the Gungahlin-Civic line – is the wrong solution to the perceived traffic problem along Northbourne Avenue.
Correctly, you state that considerable intellectual rigour appears not to have been applied to the Light Rail project.
The omission was deliberate and not accidental.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 30 2016 from John Gray, Mawson
Transport minister Megan Fitzharris is in the process of finalising proposals for a tram to Woden.
I do hope the ACT government is not going to replace the intertown bus service with the tram. I travel to Civic on it often and find it very convenient, fast and comfortable.
I have travelled on the Gold Coast tram and I can't see that a tram service will be any better than a bus.
Why do I have to pay for the capital cost of a tram service that is unlikely to be superior to the existing intertown bus service?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 27 2016 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
For readers interested in a little diversionary therapy, here is a conundrum to muse over.
In 1976, when I came from Sydney to live in Canberra, there were two sets of traffic lights: one on the corner of Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive and the other at Northbourne Avenue and London Circuit.
The ABS tells me that Canberra then had a total of 96,584 registered vehicles, of all types, including almost 80,000 cars. The population was some 200,000.
Fast-forward to 2016 and the total number of registered vehicles in the ACT has reached almost 300,000 and the population is nudging 400,000. The number of sets of traffic lights is now 315.
What could be the mysterious formula that connects a doubling of the population and a tripling of the number of registered vehicles to a skyrocketing number of traffic lights?
Or, is it all just down to chaos theory?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 26 2016 from Leon Arundell, Downer
Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris can offer faster commutes ("What Canberra's light rail construction will mean for your commute," canberratimes.com.au, November 21) by putting transit lane signs on strategic sections of Canberra's roads.
The government's transit lane study found many Canberra roads to be suitable for transit lanes, subject to further analysis.
My analysis shows converting 150 metres of Flemington Road from a bus to a transit lane would cut minutes from peak car commute times.
H. P. McKenzie's "Carpooling and Transit Lanes: a Case Study" found "the number of carpoolers ... increased approximately 23.4per cent since the introduction of the transit lane".
Ms Fitzharris claimed "there has been no analysis performed because there is no clear Australian data on the impact transit lanes have on people's travel behaviour".
Will the transport minister reconsider?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 21 2016 from Paul E. Bowler, Holder
Thank you, John Kimber for your insightful observations on the Denver light rail system (Letters, November 13).
A similar situation appears to be unfolding in Portland, Oregon – where Shane Rattenbury rode the light rail (from the airport, Mr Barr!) and decided that this was just the thing for Canberra.
From the Tri-Met website, it is apparent that over the past four to five years ridership on the light rail system has gone down (over 10 per cent) whilst operating costs have risen by over 10 per cent.
The subsidy per passenger carried has increased by 50 per cent and the average speed of the light rail vehicles has remained at a stately 18mph (30km/h). Is this what we want or need for Canberra?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 20 2016 from Wayne Grant, Swinger Hill
In response to ACT residents (M.Silex et al, Letters, November 13) who are voicing concerns at the financial and social effectiveness of the Gungahlin Light Rail project, well it appears that it's too late.
The cards have already been dealt with ACT residents recently re-electing the ACT government, fully aware that re-election would confirm the proposed construction of the light rail project.
Furthermore, ACT residents were also aware that provision was made by the government for ACT residents to be liable for the funding of any financial shortfall in the construction and running costs of the project by way of additional charges to residential rates or an increased budget deficit.
The big issue now is for residents to demand the ACT government provide accountability on the financials of the light rail project by reporting to media in a timely – say, six monthly – fashion via an Auditor-General-approved cashflow statement detailing running revenues and costs of the project and any net amount residents may be required to pay and how?
A government that would not willingly provide such information would be subject to an absolute avalanche of justified criticism if ACT residents were committed to making the ACT government totally accountable for its actions.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 20 2016 from Maria Greene, Curtin
What M.Silex fails to understand is that the Greens (and their Labor friends) can't afford to let facts get in the way of a good ideology.
Public transport good, private bad. That's all you need to know.
The best part of this folly (apart from the cost) will be the seamless building of it. Think Constitution Avenue "upgrade".
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 19 2016 from Bryan Lobascher, Chifley
To win re-election Labor's Andrew Barr hooked Gungahlin area voters with that Civic tram.
He dodged explaining to the rest of ACT's people it's billion-dollar installation cost and $60million annual operating cost.
Now, regardless, he's launching propaganda "events" to mask real-estate buccaneers poised to exploit consequent soaring prices along its corridor.
Who will pay, and who will suffer the most?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 18 2016 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
Mark Boscawen (Letters, November11) wonders whether a shared fleet of 23,000 autonomous cars will either use scarce parking spaces in the city, or create gridlock leaving the city after morning peak-hour. Between the morning and afternoon peaks, passenger journeys fall to 60per cent of their peak, but as cars are shared by passengers along common routes during peaks but are not shared off-peak, the number of idle (and parked) cars only increases slightly between these peaks to at most 8500, distributed across all of Canberra, ready to satisfy 98per cent of requests within one minute. By way of comparison, the ABS Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, October 2014, estimated there are about 227,000 passenger vehicles in Canberra. Canberra Centre alone has 5250 car spaces; Belconnen Mall has 2880. Most unoccupied travel (or "dead running") of autonomous cars occurs during peak periods as cars relocate to collect the next "wave" of passengers (for example, back to the suburbs in the morning peak). But these cars are empty only in proportion to the lack of demand for travel in that direction, and hence do not cause congestion but utilise otherwise unused roads.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 17 2016 from A. Smith, Farrer
I would add to the comments by Sue Schreiner ("Bias against elderly grows", Letters, November 16).
Apart from healthcare and guaranteed minimum income, the most important provision the government can make for this group is to ensure their mobility.
There are about 50,000 people aged over 65 living in the ACT today. The government expects this to increase to nearly 100,000 in 2040.
Given Canberra's topography means public transport in its traditional form (bus or tram) is highly unsatisfactory and many aged people will be unable to drive, not own a car, or only be able to walk short distances, one would expect planning to be under way to meet this need.
This is one more reason the ACT government should scrap that part of its parliamentary agreement on the Woden tram and begin planning for the transition to driverless vehicles as public transport.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 14 2016 from John Kimber, Denver, Colorado
As an Australian living in Denver, Colorado, I have watched its recently completed rail transport struggle to compete with cars. Four years after its completion, empty trains run every 10 minutes past freeways choked with cars.
It has been a valiant attempt to curb motor vehicle addiction. However, it has robbed taxpayers who cannot use public transport in order to subsidise a small minority that reluctantly walk long distances to catch the train.
Even bike trails get more traffic than the rail and some commuters who used to ride their bikes to the rail now ride all the way to work even in snow.
Anyone who needs a car for work drives. Families are not prepared to give up the convenience of a car. Not everyone has the time to wait for a train. Not everyone wants to live in an inner-city apartment and walk everywhere.
The answer to the problem is driverless electric cars that are hired on demand and run door to door. They are cheaper, more efficient, less polluting, more convenient and will not create the cost overruns inevitable with public infrastructure.
Meanwhile, income generating infrastructure like Canberra Airport will attempt to offload the public transport expense it has created onto the taxpayer by demanding its own light rail.
The property developers who made heaps out of subdividing and developing land in outlying areas share none of this cost.
The new light rail is a much bigger problem than simply the removal of trees. The massive cost will rob education, health, welfare and public amenity of funds and it will be obsolete even before it is built.
I predict that eventually fares will be unaffordable and that those who are supposed to use the light rail will resort to other forms of transport while paying the taxes required to keep the light rail running.
It's not too late to reverse this expensive out of date white elephant and embrace technology that is affordable, convenient and more friendly to the environment.
The original vision of Walter Burley Griffin is being destroyed and the Bush Capital will descend into just another Asian or US city created by shortsighted expensive policies that are paid for by taxpayers.
It is time to consider better more technologically advanced solutions than a light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 14 2016 from Wayne Grant, Swinger Hill
I have noted with interest the comments of Chris Carder (Letters, November 4) that in relation to Canberra's transportation issues, including light rail, future miracles take time. Looking in a broader world context, strange things appear to be happening and being promoted as totally normal such as governments and individuals suddenly living in massive debt being a totally acceptable economic lifestyle, and many other issues too numerous to cover here but no doubt in the main due to globalisation and massive technology advances.
We can always dream of getting a money printing machine like the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, the European bank and the Bank of England who have collectively printed out close to $US20trillion totally unsupported paper money, to implement our dreams and miracles and just keep printing. On that basis we don't have to suck it out of the ratepayers till they financially bleed to death.
The big issue locally appears to be who goes broke first: the ratepayers or the government? If interest rates ever go up we are both financially dead anyhow as we are both wallowing in debt. Current world and local sentiment appears to be if we go out let's live the dream first. That mindset appears to be what got us to where we are now.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 14 2016 from John Mungoven, Stirling
Brexit. Light Rail. Trump. What can go wrong next?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2016 from M. Silex, Erindale
Thank you, Stephen Jeffery (Letters, November 6) for pointing out how different Capital Metro (Stage 1) will be compared with the Gold Coast's GLink (both about 12 kilometres).
Let's compare other realities.
GLink cost $1.2 billion, of which the federal and Queensland governments contributed $600million; CMetro Stage 1 will cost $1.3billion, of which Canberrans pay the lot.
GLink services a "string of pearls" from Broadbeach, through Surface Paradise and its beaches, to the medical/hospital complex and the university, through the densest residential area in Australia, servicing a normal population of more than 500,000 and with more than 5 million tourists a year.
What will the Gungahlin-Civic link service in comparison? Commuter rushes morning and evening (now serviced by Red Rapids) and almost nothing the rest of the day.
In its first year, GLink carried 6.5million passengers. CMetro Stage 1, at its maximum (business case figures) will carry 6.3 million passengers a year, resulting in a subsidy of about $10.50 for every passenger.
And as far as a "killing" by the government on real estate value capture along the Stage1 corridor is concerned, think again. The government is obliged, under an agreement with the federal government, to rehouse about 1100 public tenants in units along Northbourne Avenue to free up that land for sale. It has already been reported that rehousing those tenants will cost Canberra taxpayers $500million. How much will be left of "value capture" after that lot is paid for?
Canberrans have been sold a pup with light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 12 2016 from Stan Marks, Hawker
So, Chris Hunter (Letters, November 11) awoke with a sense of disbelief on Thursday to news of Donald Trump's win. I remember feeling the same a few weeks back when the ACT, a constituency as well educated as any in the world, re-elected the tram coalition.
Barr/Rattenbury will no more solve the Gungahlin congestion problem with their tram than Trump will bring back the jobs of the unskilled white workers of the rust belt. They offered fantasy in place of reality and aspirational bunkum in place of logic, just like Trump, and Canberra fell for it. Americans will realise by the next election that Trump hasn't delivered.
It will take a little longer here but, once the tram starts operating, people will see quickly enough that they have been sold a pup. We will still have congestion, probably worse than ever, and people will wonder, as they see the tram roll by, empty outside peak hours, what they got for the billion dollars they paid for it. We can't criticise the Americans.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2016 from A. Smith, Farrer
The suggestion in your editorial, "Tech woes are useful lessons" (November 7, p10), that "the Australian Public Service lacks the right staff to manage complex technological services" and "is often 'captured' by the businesses from which it buys" applies in the superlative form here in the ACT.
Combine this with Gwynne Dyer's forecast in "Pointless panic about the rise of automatons" (Forum, November 7, p11) that "automation ... will probably abolish all driving jobs in the next 20 years" you have the genesis of an essay which I would entitle "The Anatomy of a Tram – 2016".
Dyer notes that "the secure jobs and decent living standards they [the angry people] enjoyed in the latter half of the 20th century are gone". If Dyer's "guaranteed minimum income" is to be available for them then the economy as a whole must have the necessary productivity.
The ACT government has embraced the $1.3 billion (2016 cost) tram project, and will create 500 temporary gold-plated jobs for its champion, the CFMEU. At the same time it has rejected taxi-bus, a simple technological development by the local NICTA/CSIRO group, that would cull the enormous waste in unused ACTION services. To survive we must generate the right jobs.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2016 from Mark Boscawen, Banks
Regardless of the desire of A.Smith (Letters, November 9) to limit the discussion of autonomous vehicles to potential public transport options, the fact is these vehicles will need to integrate with other privately owned autonomous and driver controlled vehicles.
Thus, any increase in traffic movements by owned autonomous vehicles will slow the movement of public transport autonomous vehicles, and vice versa. I am curious though, once having met the high peak of morning and afternoon commuter demand, where do up to 23,000 vehicles go and park when there isn't the same demand during the day?
If in the city, plentiful parking will be denied to driver controlled vehicles. If it is somewhere out of the city, the additional traffic movements will create gridlocked chaos for hours. The technology described by Kent Fitch (Letters, October 31) may be good, but it can't make myriad autonomous vehicles magically disappear when they are not needed again till the afternoon commute.
They will be public transport, mostly shared ride.
They will not be parked while there is demand.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 7 2016 from R. Morison, Canberra Public Transport Alliance, Theodore
Labor-Greens votes have shown their true colours and elected a government that has betrayed democracy, common sense, fair play and rational decision making.
The voter betrayers are also happy to see more debt at the expense of the rest of us.
I am in favour of the finding the 28 years of missing good transport planning, and even to see an above-ground tram to help with dealing with congestion.
Can we expect those same voters will now buy themselves a MYWAY card pronto and leave the car at home?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 7 2016 from Bryan Lobascher, Chifley
The ACT Labor Party's commitment to a Gungahlin-Civic tram will condemn many old, disabled, or pregnant women to an extra time-wasting journey, probably by bus, to catch the tram.
Also many working people who will not have that time to spare.
Both groups will be forced into taxis, or their own cars which need parking space, with resulting expense.
Who benefits from that, apart from pollies and their rich allies. No more tram contracts. Waste not want not.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 7 2016 from A. Smith, Farrer
While Chris Carder (Letters, November 4) may pooh-pooh a transport panacea based on driverless vehicles, the facts are that the transition could begin today. Don't think of driverless vehicles being thrown into the traffic mix on day one. When you limit the situations in which driverless vehicles must operate, you greatly increase their feasibility.
The transition will be based on driverless vehicles that traverse a segregated roadway that has been "autonomy enabled". Bus ways are good examples. The main road engineering required is to ensure that all forms of signalling are compatible with the driverless technology and to support the lane following technology with all-weather lane definition.
Driverless buses could provide an effectively unlimited service on a segregated Gungahlin-Woden spine by 2025. The plan would be to operate the hybrid buses with drivers in complete control until the technology is accepted.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 6 2016 from Mark Boscawen, Banks
Chris Carder (Letters, November 4) is correct with the observation that the transition to a future with autonomous vehicles won't be smooth.
Some drivers have already worked out that a semi-AV's collision avoidance system can be turned against it. Instead of merging one for one like a zipper, a conga line of drivers in the adjacent lane bully the vehicle into submission, requiring the driver to turn the system off.
Myriad privately owned AVs also have the potential to gridlock our roads. Rather than look for a paid parking spot, owners will more than likely tell their AV to circle the block.
If going to work, the owner of the AV will program it to return home, or trawl through the surrounding suburbs to park, to avoid high parking costs. These extra traffic movements will bring city centres to a standstill and destroy the amenity of near suburbs.
The utopia of Messrs Bradly, Fitch and Smith (Letters, October 31), where privately and publicly owned AVs are seamlessly integrated with a legacy fleet, is a long way off, if ever. More than 150 years since the invention of the motor carriage, we are still trying to have bicycles and cars share the streets.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 5 2016 from A. Smith, Farrer
One of many issues evident in David Flannery's article "Best way for Woden rail" (Forum, October 29, p10) is the contrast with the Gungahlin route design.
The Gungahlin design is all about getting the shortest time from street level trams for the 12-kilometre journey and infill to boost patronage. Flannery's proposal is based on retaining the express bus service for the 11-kilometre journey between Woden and Civic and exploiting the trams for short journeys from near suburbs towards either Barton/Parkes or Woden.
While the design also gets the Gungahlin commuters to Parkes and Barton, to hint that a tour through the inner south could be part of a Tuggeranong-Civic tram route is ridiculous. Driverless technology is certain to remove the idea of buses and trams from consideration within the decade.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 4 2016 from Chris Carder, Spence
I'm pleased my letter (October 27) questioning autonomous vehicles and pointing to a lack of information about such vehicles from "can the tram" types has managed to elicit some information on their vision(s) for a future Canberra with roads populated by very many autonomous vehicles.
What we see in the responses from Messrs Bradly and Fitch and A.Smith (Letters, October 31) are visions of a Canberra far removed from what we have today.
I doubt the visions they see are likely to appear until well after the tram has been wending its way through our city for quite a few years.
I agree self-driving vehicles will eventually become the norm; there will no doubt be state-of-the-art systems in place to provide the wherewithal for those wonderful visions to be implemented. I just don't think the idealists' views will be achieved very soon.
Imagine the difficulty facing the roll-out of the high-tech integrated system that will be required throughout our expanding city to direct, for example, a privately/publicly owned fleet of 23,000 autonomous vehicles.
The issues surrounding implementation of the visions will keep governments, business, commentators and letter-writers busy for decades.
Meantime, we need to face up to ever-increasing traffic congestion and pollution while awaiting future miracles.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 4 2016 from R. F. Shogren, Barton
David Flannery's piece "Best way for Woden rail" (Forum, October 29, p10) about "feasibility planning and detailed design development" for the Stage 2 light rail line from Civic to Woden was fascinating.
Flannery makes it clear that Stage 2 is going ahead come what may, and that attention must now be given to trying to make it feasible. This is to be achieved by routing it here, there and everywhere, ensuring it is useless as a means of travelling from Civic to Woden, because the trip would take ages and, as Flannery acknowledges, the existing express bus does the job well.
At the same time the proposed route provides no benefit over existing bus routes through the suburbs, much less those that could be developed in the future.
But think of the wonders of putting tram lines through the two-lane streets of Deakin, Hughes and Garran.
God preserve us from planners whose intellectual armoury consists of coloured pencils.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 4 2016 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
"Transport planning is most effective when integrated with land-use planning, and increased value is captured through the uplift of land-use zoning on land immediately adjacent to, or within a short walking distance of a transit corridor". These are worrying words from David Flannery ("Best way for Woden rail", Forum, October 29, p.10).
Until recently, we had equitable planning. Location, connectivity, amenity, privacy, community, lifestyle, public open space, landscaping, access to a fine hierarchical road system, and public transport were available for all.
Buses were integral to that scenario. All that, and our dispersed town centres, avoided urban sprawl.
Now, as Flannery reveals, town planning is about "land economics", a system in which all those good things are passe, and maximising land value is king.
A Civic-centric tram system encourages "land economics" and low-grade "densification".
Nothing exemplifies that more than the shockingly-as-yet-unresolved tram route for Civic-Woden.
Property owners on it will win, and those not, will lose.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 3 2016 from Stan Marks, Hawker
David Flannery's article (October 29) highlights yet again how entirely unsuited the tram is for Canberra. On the one hand, he says it needs to be a rapid transit service for people coming into the Woden terminal for Tuggeranong. Not very rapid, of course, because it can only do 70km/h when the existing express buses can do 80. Then he goes on to argue it also needs to be a bus service for the intervening suburbs and ends up with a route that would be useless for rapid transit. They can't have it both ways.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 2 2016 from M. Silex, Erindale
In the new Parliamentary Agreement between Labor and the Greens (Section 3-1) provides for "1. Immediately commence community consultation, scoping and design work of Stage 2 of the light rail network, to progress the Woden Stage 2 extension to the procurement stage and contract signing in this term".
There is zero mention of costs or of a business case to justify the cost, which will be at least 30 per cent more than that for Stage 1 (at $1.3 billion in 2016) and even less economic to operate.
Mr Barr has agreed to a blank cheque for Stage 2 of light rail. How sad for taxpayers, but the unions will love it.
Appendix 2 of the Agreement, the Labor Party platform, says "Labor's plan for an integrated transport network and better suburbs" includes "Completion of Stage 1 of light rail, to commence operation in early 2019, and commencement of design and scoping of Stage 2 to Woden".
There is no mention of signing a contract this term.
So which is it?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2016 from Warwick Bradly, Weston
Chris Carder (CT letters Oct 27) demonstrates a poor understanding of the potential impact of autonomous vehicles on our society.
The traditional car ownership model itself may well be disrupted.
Uber and Lyft are investing heavily in autonomous technologies. Autonomous vehicles may offer all manner of ways to overcome traffic congestion.
These may include ride sharing in minibus type vehicles, intelligent routing, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, vehicle chaining, moving freight deliveries out of busy periods, demand shaping pricing, drop-off bays and recharging complexes.
Singapore's autonomous taxis and London's expansion of the Heathrow ULTRapod system are current examples of larger cities realising the potential for autonomous vehicle solutions.
We can be certain [autonomous vehicles] will have a huge impact on the structure of our future cities.
The full picture of the autonomous revolution as a disruptive technology is only just emerging. This was the worst time to bet Canberra's transport future on old technology light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2016 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
Chris Carder identifies limited benefits when human-driven cars are replaced by autonomous versions.
Co-ordinated cars will double road carrying capacity, improve safety and help those unable to drive regain independence.
The biggest gains will only occur if electric autonomous cars are operated as a shared fleet.
A shared fleet of 23,000 such vehicles is enough to service the common travel needs of Canberrans, providing a 24/7, on-demand, door-to-door service for 20-25 cents/km and a 60-second waiting time for 98 per cent of journeys, but only if cars are shared during the morning and afternoon peaks.
The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group announced on October 24 that Paris, Buenos Aires, Austin, Nashville and Los Angeles are leading the "Cities and Autonomous Vehicles Initiative" to transform city transport systems to, as the mayor of Paris put it, "prioritise the health and welfare of our citizens" and help "cities deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change".
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2016 from A. Smith, Farrer
Autonomous cars will be part of a public transport revolution that will eliminate pressure on parking, reduce road congestion and improve road safety.
The tragedy of the light rail mandate is that Canberra has lost its chance to be a leader in public transport innovation.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2016 from Penelope Upward, O'Connor
Could the public please be informed how long will it take to build the tramline from Gungahlin to Civic? How many passengers does one tram take? How many passengers does a bus hold? How much will be the fare from Gungahlin to Civic?
How many tram stops will there be from Civic to Gungahlin?
Will there be two trams running each way along Northbourne Avenue?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2016 from R. Moulis, Hackett
If light rail is to be pushed out to Woden for stage 2 can it please go to the Canberra Hospital in addition to the plaza?
Only a small extension to the line would be needed.
This would make the tram ten times more useful than if it just went to the plaza alone.
It would help ensure patronage after hours I think as people could use it during visiting hours to the hospital (up to 9pm) and it would help ease parking issues.
The hospital is a major community facility and deserves to be on the line.
The Gold Coast ran their tram to their hospital and we should do the same.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2016 from Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Despite Labor losing primary votes notwithstanding its guaranteed CFMEU voting bloc, the CanTheTram lobby lost the election.
Yet still the letters page is peppered with arguments for and against the tram.
Before this continues further, possibly we could establish the current rationale for the enterprise.
Is it to reduce traffic congestion or merely a cost-effective investment in a growing city?
Maybe it is to reduce fossil fuel emissions from buses and cars. It could be to speed up the commute.
Ongoing availability of parking spaces at employment hubs could be the issue or maybe the community health benefits of a longer walk to transport and most commuters having to stand on their own two legs for the trip.
Maybe it is just to force implementation of the long-planned densification of the inner north.
I think all of those have been thoroughly debunked excepting the last possibility.
Anyway, we're stuck with it. This show pony of an enterprise looks set to bolt south.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 30 2016 from Jill Middleton, Stirling
No matter what your views are of light rail, it is here to stay, so I suggest that we try to make it a welcoming entry to our beautiful city. Is it too late to change the proposed tree scape?
I suggest that we line the tram line with flowering deciduous trees. These trees would show off the four seasons of Canberra. In autumn and spring tourists visit Canberra for its colour. We would have a beautiful venue of colour in autumn and a profusion of blossom in spring, fresh green leaves in summer and even winter could be impressive, producing an eerie effect, particularly on foggy mornings.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 30 2016 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
The best solution to the pathetic rail service between Sydney and Canberra is the planned first stage (it's the Sydney-Canberra leg) of the Department of Infrastructure's Brisbane-Newcastle-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne high-speed rail (HSR) plan ("Oh, for a better railway", October 25, p12).
Professor Clive Williams' suggested upgrade of the existing Sydney-Canberra service could result in Canberra being (unacceptably) dropped from the Infrastructure Department's plan.
Stage one of the department's east coast HSR plan is best for Canberra, with its station, as selected by the department after broad-ranging analysis, being a terminus-style one, in or near Civic, preferably with a "national capital arrival experience" built in. It would be noiselessly accessed via a tunnel under Mount Ainslie, avoiding local land acquisition, while enabling time-saving, arriving-and-departing high speeds in the tunnel.
The department rejected a Canberra airport location; however, a tram service to the airport from Civic is on the cards.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 28 2016 from Leon Arundell, Downer
When ACT Labor delivers on its 2012 election commitment "to increasing the public transport share of all work trips to 10.5 per cent by 2016 and 16per cent by 2026", I will admit that I was wrong to oppose its 2012 election commitment to light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 27 2016 from Robyn Coghlan, Hawker
Canberra Business Chamber chairman Glenn Keys declares that the debate "should be about our economic growth and development" ("Liberals should now embrace light rail, says business community", canberratimes.com.au, October 26).
What this debate never includes is the impact of a much larger urban presence in the headwaters of the major river basin in Australia. This is where the greatest production of food occurs in our nation. We need scientists involved in this debate, not just economists and business interests.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 27 2016 from Chris Carder, Spence
There have been several Letters to the Editor arguing that the near-imminent introduction of self-driving vehicles will render light rail in Canberra irrelevant and unnecessary perhaps because traffic congestion will cease to exist.
I can't see any logic in these assertions, presented as they have been with few arguments to support their premise.
If I replace my current vehicle with a self-driving car, I will still have a car. Perhaps the proponents of the aforementioned views expect self-driving cars to drive closer together and so enable more vehicles to fit onto any designated length of road. "Perhaps" being the operative word. I still foresee traffic congestion, however, particularly given the city's rapid growth.
Alas poor Yoricks, self-driving cars does not equate to a valid argument against the tram.
Methinks you will have to concoct another argument, or, point out the error of my ways.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 26 2016 from John Mungoven, Stirling
Already the drums are beating with a significant oversupply of units in various cities across Australia. This may eventually repeat itself in the Northbourne precinct.
Unit buyers should beware what they purchase and its likely future value. The ACT government is desperate to sell any available public land in that precinct asap to raise funds for light rail and to bolster rates revenue long term.
Unit rates have already increased disproportionately.
The Dickson Towers ex Tourist Bureau site recently sold under expectations for $40million.
Some astute developers can already see the writing on the wall.
I understand that block may have been sold without lease variation charges and is pre-approved for about 700, yes 700, units plus hotels.
Much more to come. Welcome, folks, to the new Northbourne.
Meanwhile the election polls weren't even declared when much of Northbourne was ringed with heavy industrial fencing with havoc occurring within.
The next battle will be for West Basin.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 26 2016 from Robyn Coghlan, Hawker
John Hutchison is right (Letters, October 25), the people have spoken. Maybe they can explain what will entice people to catch light rail other than to get to and from work. Otherwise, we will have empty trams beetling up and down Northbourne Avenue between peak hours.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 25 2016 from M. Silex, Erindale
I certainly hope Kevin Cox (Letters, October 20) is not an accountant or financial adviser. What does he mean by " ... getting rid of the cost of debt. We can do that by self-funding light rail with techniques such as negative gearing, used by the wealthy to get richer." Who is "we" to be self-funding – the ACT government or a private company owned by whom? Negative gearing works only if the entity using it has income against which to deduct the loss of an investment negatively geared, so as to reduce the tax burden payable to the federal government.
The letter also reveals a bit of envy, jealousy or even detestation of those smart enough to take advantage of the perfectly legal device that is negative gearing.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 25 2016 from Tom Ruut, Garran
We may be a city bitterly divided by an election but what is absolutely clear is the mandate given by the voters for substantial increase in taxes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 25 2016 from John Hutchison, Coombs
John L. Smith, Can the Tram Inc (Letters, October 19) says, "The CanTheTram committee will continue to monitor and inform about new transport technology and better public transport for Canberra."
That is fine by me, as long they recognise that it was them who turned the recent election into a virtual referendum on the light rail; a referendum they lost.
There can now be no argument that the government has a mandate to build stage 1, and they should be allowed to get on with it.
As for Stage 2, I agree that the government needs to be open about its "design and scoping work" so we can consider it on its merits.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 25 2016 from Christopher Hood, Queanbeyan
A. Smith (Letters, October 18) and B. Taggart (Letters, October 22, p9) say driverless cars mean light rail transport projects should not proceed.
It seems that self-driving cars we don't yet have and can't yet use make new public transport projects unnecessary.
Do Smith and Taggart call for no road projects to proceed, because of self-driving cars?
Or is it only public transport that is to be postponed into the never-never, while private cars are duchessed with road extensions, road duplications, enhanced parking options and the like?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 25 2016 from Bryan Lobascher, Chifley
Now ACT electoral members and their parties' positions are evident Andrew Barr must face up to a near billion dollar tram debt being imposed on our kids and their kids. He must rethink upgraded bus services at a quarter of the cost of only one tram line.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 24 2016 from Stan Marks, Hawker
'How the north was won' (October 19) raises some interesting questions.
It quotes the President of the Gungahlin Community Council as saying that 'Congestion was the top issue'.
It then quotes labour leaning independent, David Pollard, as saying that 'Every person leaving Gungahlin in the morning experiences congestion, so if we can get any of those people onto light rail, or those roads duplicated, everybody's going to benefit'.
The fundamental reason for the congestion is that, whereas elsewhere in Canberra the roads were built first and then the population was brought in, the process was reversed in Gungahlin.
The Labor government built the Gungahlin Drive Extension in single lanes. It took a massive public campaign to get that fixed.
It has taken a lot of public pressure to start duplicating Gundaroo Drive.
The Labor government has continued to grow Gungahlin for years without providing the infrastructure to handle it.
If the people of Gungahlin are annoyed about congestion they have the present government to blame.
So they voted for the tram to remove congestion.
I look forward to the election in 2024 when it dawns on them that they have gotten the tram and increased congestion as well.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 24 2016 from Ross Kelly, MurrumbidgeeRoss Kelly, Murrumbidgee
I didn't want four more years of Labor/Greens deals in Canberra, ballistic rate notices, or a tram that is barely an "even money bet" to ever reach so many of the southern and western zone residents who will be funding it for years to come.
Opposition to that tram was a key reason for my vote.
Alas, Barr won. It seems that many of my fellow Canberrans want the tram, or want Barr, or didn't want Hanson; it's difficult to say.
There will be a tram – or at least the early stages of it. The people faced the hyperbole, vitriol, and vested interests. The people have spoken, and perhaps because I saw the process, and participated in the process, I am adjusting surprisingly well.
I'm even looking for the bright side of the new reality.
There is, I think, a powerful implication in this anecdote for the political opponents of a gay marriage plebiscite.
A popular vote may briefly – for a few months – visit us with a few bruises. But the democratic process can be important for bringing acceptance and healing to those who have traditional positions even as they likely yield to progress in the final reckoning.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 24 2016 from Brian Hale, Wanniassa
Will it be worth $1 billion plus for the fun as we chuckle and see the likes of Barr and Rattenbury trying to explain budget blow-outs and the lack of tram patronage by Gungahlin residents who "apparently" voted it in? Time to double their rates now!
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 22 2016 from Bruce Taggart, Aranda
Although I hold the same concerns as A. Smith about the very high cost and low transport value of the light rail project, I am unable to agree with the suggestion (Letters, October 18) that imminent improvements in driverless vehicle technology will dissuade the government from extending the line from Civic to Woden.
Given the government proposed and committed to Stage 1 from Gungahlin — Civic in spite of its own objective economic analyses and then proposed Stage 2 from Civic to Woden without bothering to undertake any such analyses, it is hard to imagine it will adopt a more rational economic approach in the foreseeable future.
The government no longer has to worry that light rail only offers low value transport benefits for very high cost, or that rates will have to be hiked to pay for it because it can justifiably claim the electorate has just given it a mandate to sign contracts without any regard to cost or benefit.
Given the CFMEU has provided significant funding to the ALP and the Greens, coupled with the fact that, with the possible exception of property developers, the union's members will be the major beneficiaries of light rail, the government has strong political incentives for proceeding with Stage 2.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 22 2016 from Steve Ellis, Hackett
How delicious to witness the figurative gnashing of teeth and rending of garments of mourning ACT Liberal Party supporters in the letters page.
From Mario Stivala's lament that well-educated people tend to vote Labor or Green, to Greg Cornwell's decision to punish local charities, to Alan Cowan's fatuous linking of Andrew Barr with communism, to S. Sainsbury's plaintive cry for voters to "wake up", we are given wonderful examples of how to be bad losers.
I think some of these folks might have been among those demanding federal Labor roll over and support Malcolm Turnbull because he has a (one seat) "mandate" to govern.
I expect them now to encourage the ACT Liberals to get on board the tram and give up their usual conservative obsession with stopping change.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 22 2016 from M. Silex, Erindale
he only reason we have stage 1 of light rail is after the 2012 election the Greens forced the Labor Party, in the parliamentary agreement of December 2012, to commit to start building stage 1 in 2016.
To form a second minority government, is Mr Barr going to again let the Greens "extort" Canberrans by signing another parliamentary agreement, committing to build stage 2 to Woden?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 22 2016 from Tom Cooke, Pearce
North Canberrans can celebrate the fact they will get their tram paid for by the South. If Canberra's cost blow outs are anywhere near the billions predicted for Sydney's short tram runs designed to serve a population of millions, South Canberra will never see a tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 21 2016 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
I sense that Andrew Barr has never been all that enamoured with the current (anachronistic) light rail scheme. I'm told that more technologically advanced, clever, cheaper, greener, individualised and flexible modes of transport are emerging.
They could optimally suit our unique dispersed-town-centre urban layout, which is seriously threatened by the outrageously expensive, civic-centric, fixed-route tram plan.
Mr Barr should place moratorium on the current scheme, say for 10 years, so we can choose the most advanced and optimum transport improvements for Canberra.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 21 2016 from John Davenport, Farrer
I have just returned for a trip to Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, all of which have trams, even in cities which are about the same size as Goulburn.
The regular trams in Budapest are modern, silent, fast, non-polluting and very well used. Please assure those who made dire predictions about trams in Canberra, that trams are efficient and fun, and ask them to join the modern world.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 21 2016 from John L. Smith, CanTheTram Inc.
If the light rail project was a bad decision before the election then it remains so, despite the re-election of the Barr government.
The CanTheTram committee will continue to monitor and inform about new transport technology and better public transport for Canberra.
If the Barr government is open about its "$25million design and scoping" work for the proposed Woden link ("ALP promises $25m for second stage of light rail", October 11, p8), that a particular urban development policy is saddling the wider Canberra community with an extremely inappropriate tram network will come to the fore.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 20 2016 from Don Sephton, Greenway
Andrew Barr may well be cock-a-hoop about another apparent Labor victory, and claim a mandate for light rail, but he needs to remember — and acknowledge — a number of important facts:
(1) Labor has won just 12 out of the 25 seats and so can form a minority government only.
(2) Labor received less than 39 per cent of primary votes across the whole Territory, which means that more than three in five people voted for a party other than Labor as a first preference.
(3) In the southern electorates of Murrumbidgee and Brindabella Labor received less than 35 per cent of primary votes.
Please remember Mr Barr that your government needs to govern for the whole of the ACT, not just the constituents of the Yerribi and Ginninderra electorates.
You have much to do to convince the constituents of the Murrumbidgee and Brindabella that you also have their interests at heart.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 20 2016 from J. Newman, Mawson
I have never been so disappointed by my fellow Canberrans, those who do not think it is a folly to have a tram line running through the centre of Canberra. This would potentially spoil the entrance to the nation's capital and destroy our iconic broad avenues.
Commonwealth Avenue is an historic avenue and in the Parliamentary triangle.
Is nothing sacred? If our money is to be squandered on a tram I think a better route would have been more effective. I see so many buses running around almost empty and I wouldn't be surprised if there's not enough people to use this tram to make it worthwhile.
I was born in Canberra many years ago, have seen it grow and have a deep sense of place here. I could almost weep for what is happening to this beautiful city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 20 2016 from Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal
Now we are going to have light rail to Gungahlin we need to get it to the rest of Canberra. We also need to properly integrate it into other modes of transport.
The barrier is cost. We can more than halve the cost to Canberra taxpayers of any infrastructure by getting rid of the cost of debt. We can do that by self-funding light rail with techniques, such as negative gearing, used by the wealthy to get richer.
The biggest problem of integration is "the last mile". Some people can walk and cycle, but most are too far away.
One way to integrate is to have a home-grown shared car service for light rail built into light rail ticketing.
We can also incorporate school drop-offs and walk buses to schools into ticketing and increase the benefits and reduce the costs.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 20 2016 from G. A. Bell, Franklin
Doug Hurst (Letters, October 17, 2016) speaks of "19th-century technology of trams and windmills". Is he not aware that automobiles, petroleum and gas also represent 19th-century technology? This even applies to the solar panels on the roof of my home. The first solar cell was patented in 1888.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 19 2016 from Howard Carew, Isaacs
As usual, the Canberra Times editorial ("Hard decisions lie ahead for Canberra Libs", October 18, p10) summed up the Liberals' woes. There are issues in the ACT that politicians wanting to make Canberra a better place should be passionate about.
To my mind, both Andrew Coe and Jeremy Hanson had all the passion of a plate of cold porridge. What could be added to that comment is their failure to nail the two big issues of the election. These were housing affordability, which is confined to the reasonably well off, and homeless people who are increasing year by year.
Canberra has the second-highest amount of people who have no permanent place to lie their heads.
In the debate between Andrew Barr and Jeremy Hanson, there was little mention about either issue. Many voters would have listened to both and thought they did not like the social conscience of either.
Turning to the Greens. who say they are the party with a conscience. Their light rail project will eat up money that should be spent on the above mentioned issues.
Many of us in the ACT will look at our politicians and think what a sorry lot.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 19 2016 from Peter Brassington, Coombs
Judging by the stream of letters in the past couple of days from disaffected Liberal voters, they just don't seem to get it.
I and many other Canberras gave a huge sigh of relief on Saturday night after Labor's re-election. We chose a progressive, forward-looking approach, setting Canberra up for a long-term sustainable future. The alternative of ripping up legitimate contracts, settling with more and more congestion as the years roll by was rightfully rejected.
When the Liberals put themselves forward as a sensible middle of the road alternative, and not resort to silly rates scare campaigns, they will have a much better chance of forming government.
But in the meantime, a quote from the great Ted Whitten springs to mind: "Winners are grinners and losers can please themselves."
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 19 2016 from Dave Kelly, Aranda
As someone who opposed light rail as an independent candidate, I would urge all like-minded people to move on in the light of the election result. Friend or foe, we should all now do what we can to ensure the project is expedited in the best possible manner.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 19 2016 from Peter Robinson, Ainslie
As someone who opposed light rail as an independent candidate, I would urge all like-minded people to move on in the light of the election result. Friend or foe, we should all now do what we can to ensure the project is expedited in the best possible manner.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 19 2016 from Richard Milner , Dunlop
Congratulations, people of Canberra. Your rates will double in the next four years, but you will be able to travel by tram to Gungahlin. What a fantastic quid pro quo!
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2016 from
I just don't think anyone has honestly factored in the need for everything to stop, including the light rail, to let traffic at major intersections cross Northbourne Avenue.
I feel real concern for the needs of the ageing electorate of Brindabella being ignored, along with other disadvantaged communities like Oaks Estate.
With these and other unresolved issues such as homelessness, housing and rent affordability, heritage management, and good design and aesthetics being an intrinsic part of town planning, it is going to be a long time between elections.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2016 from Edward Corbitt, Farrer
The Liberal Party ACT election result is hopefully the ACT "Nay Saying".
The Liberals have learnt two lessons: People of the ACT honour contracts and don't lightly terminate them! People of the ACT support the investment in ACT transport infrastructure for the future.
It would be appropriate for Jeremy Hanson and Alistair Coe to stand aside after pursuing and losing this campaign, promising to tear up the contract with Canberra Metro if the Liberals won.
But they won't! What will be the Liberal's new whinge?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2016 from Susan Swift, Kambah
We learn now the plan for the light rail is proposed to go to Woden.
From which government department will the money come?
I doubt that health will miss out, which leaves the vulnerable department of education.
Good luck to the elected candidate who will inherit that poisoned chalice.
This gives more ACT parents another reason to send their children to non-government schools.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2016 from Dave Jeffrey, Farrer
The weekend's election results shows that the old adage "you can fool some of the people all of the time" remains true today.
The Civic to Gungahlin tram is a purely political exercise, and those living on the north side fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Surely the first tram line should run from the airport through Russell to Civic. This would immediately assist many hundreds and thousands of Canberrans and visitors to quickly depart the airport and allow many public servants easy connection to the bus interchanges before and after work.
After a suitable trial, the tram could then be pushed out to Dickson, Woden, Belconnen and beyond in stages.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2016 from A. Smith, Farrer
It is now apparent a majority of Canberra voters accept the prospect of trams, although there would be varying degrees of appreciation as to how inferior to rapid transit the system will be, and the degree to which the system will be reliant on buses.
One thing is certain. The huge potential for public transport systems and private transport based on fleets of driverless vehicles will be apparent before the next election.
This will ensure the rest of the proposed Canberra tram network is never built.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2016 from John Sherborne, Torrens
I am glad that Lesley Beckhouse lives in Queanbeyan and not the ACT. Her views (Letters, 17/10) sum up nicely why the Canberra Liberals will remain in opposition. Misinformation, ignorance, short-sightedness and no real policies for the future. Her comment that "light rail will never show a profit" says it all.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2016 from S. Sainsbury, Latham
The electors of Canberra have elected another Labor/Green government! This will ensure increases in rates, more tax on the long suffering people of Canberra and subject us to keep on paying for the tram for years to come!
When will people wake up?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2016 from Christine Hawkins, Isabella Plains
Well, the people of Gungahlin and the Inner North have spoken - light rail it is.
However, I'm baffled at what Stage 2 of the light rail project, which duplicates part of the existing Tuggeranong-Woden-Civic-Belconnen express bus route, is supposed to achieve.
Does the government think that the novelty of light rail will lure more people on to public transport? Speaking as a commuter who catches the bus at the Tuggeranong end of the route, will I be expected to climb off the bus and onto a tram at Woden and reverse the process at the end of the day? I can see that adding an extra 15 minutes or so to my journey each way. Don't be too surprised if former express route users outside the Civic-Woden corridor decide it's all too much trouble and start taking their cars to work instead.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 17 2016 from Lesley Beckhouse, Queanbeyan, NSW
What are they putting into the water in Canberra? It's hard to comprehend that the electorate is happy to have another four years of a Labor-Greens coalition which has an enormous debt and is willing to spend another $1billion approximately, probably more, on light rail, which will never show a profit.
Consequently, the ratepayers of my beautiful city of birth will be burdened for many years with large increases in rates and taxes, including huge costs in electricity to pay for the dubious policy of renewables.
Ironically, the Greens, likely to have the balance of power, will allow the destruction of the beautiful trees along Northbourne Avenue. For what?
There is nothing inconvenient or wrong with using a Canberra bus. Thousands of passengers in Sydney go to work every day in a bus and they prefer that to driving a car.
Your editorial ("In vital poll, Liberals are better choice", October 14, p18) argued for a change of government. Thank you for that advice, but the voters obviously don't read newspapers!
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 17 2016 from J.J. Marr, Hawker
There are many reasons why people in this city vote Labor, and a well placed lack of confidence in, or respect for, the Canberra Liberals is one of them. If I were an ACT public servant, I would be afraid of losing my job in an Abbott style clean-out of the public service, and that was probably enough to get Labor back.
Had the Liberals won, that would have been an endorsement of their views on light rail because they didn't have much else in what was a very negative campaign.
Except in Gungahlin where the Labor vote was well up, the best that Labor can say is that people voted for them in spite of light rail.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 17 2016 from Doug Hurst, Chapman
Highly educated Canberrans have opted for the 19th century technology of trams and windmills and have thus sentenced us to higher rates and power bills. George Orwell said something to the effect that some things are so stupid only highly educated people can believe them, and Canberra has proved him right.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 17 2016 from R. Morison, Theodore
Let's see all those who voted for the tram leave their cars at the park and ride and catch the bus, to get the feel of letting someone else do the driving until the tram is delivered. You wanted it, you got it, now support and use it as often as possible and perhaps those rate rises will be minuscule!