' Can the Tram - Opinions


Updated January 14 2023

Letter, The Canberra Times, January 12 2023 from Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Shane Rattenbury and Jo Clay assert that "Light rail is driving Canberra into a future of opportunity". They should not be so confident: there are some serious engineering and construction problems facing their pet project.
Apart from the shambles already destined for the CBD (the raising of London Circuit and the installation of traffic lights on the southern side of City Hill, which will spoil the avenue vista towards Parliament House and interrupt traffic flow) I see serious problems along Adelaide Avenue and Yarra Glen.
Major earthworks and road works will be needed at the State Circle-Adelaide Avenue intersection to create a gentle slope that the light rail vehicles can climb.
The bridges over Adelaide Ave on Kent Street, and over Yarra Glen on Cotter Road and Carruthers Street, all have massive pylons with bases in the centre of the median strip: directly in the path of the planned light rail route.
The Cotter Rd site is further complicated by a steep slope across the median strip, which will require substantial earthworks; and a massive, very old fir tree is directly in the path of light rail at the Carruthers St site.
Have any of these problems been noted by the Barr government, and has addressing them been costed?

Letter, The Canberra Times, January 12 2023 from Maria Greene, Curtin

I agree with Shane Rattenbury and Jo Clay that we need high quality, frequent and reliable public transport. But in rejecting a 1970s model, why do we have to replace it with an 1870s one?
Buses to Barton would be good, especially for Curtin and Hughes residents who have lost theirs. Two hourly weekend buses and cancelled routes and stops have shown us Mr Rattenbury's way of getting people off public transport.
It's time for some intelligent planners to take charge.

Letter, The Canberra Times, January 12 2023 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill

The Greens' attempted defence of light rail ("Light rail is driving Canberrans into a future of opportunity" canberratimes.com.au, January 11) completely omits any mention of its huge financial cost and does not present any evidence for the government choosing light rail over express buses on major trunk routes.
Neither of these omissions is new. The ACT Labor/Green government has never shared with Canberrans the total cost of light rail. Available sources suggest the cost of the existing and proposed light rail to Woden could be as much as $4 billion. This is equivalent to about 60 per cent of all the taxes Canberrans will pay to the ACT government this financial year.
The ACT government has never presented a compelling case for choosing light rail over express buses on major trunk routes when both modes provide similar benefits in terms of transport. Might it be that light rail has been chosen because it provides more work for ACT Labor's supporters in the construction and transport industries?
I am a strong supporter of public transport, walking and cycling. But we must also fund education, health, and community services. There is a limit to the amount of money current and future Canberrans can reasonably be required to pay, particularly since the current ACT government already charges us higher taxes per person than any state government.
We need a proper and public cost-benefit analysis of all major initiatives including improving public transport.

Letter, The Canberra Times, January 12 2023 from Leon Arundell, Conservation Council Transport Working Group member, Downer

Local travel accounts for one 10th of the ACT's carbon footprint. Transport Canberra currently provides one 20th of local travel, and causes more emissions than the car travel that it displaces.
The ACT government has an opportunity to provide us with a world-class, zero emissions public transport system, before 2030. Canberrans can join the 32 million people, in almost 200 cities, who each day experience the benefits of bus rapid transit.
We can replace our entire fleet of polluting buses with zero emissions electric buses, and build bus rapid transit between Civic and Woden for less than the cost of the slower and less frequent services of Stage 2 of light rail.
Why do ACT Greens ("Light rail is driving Canberrans into a future of opportunity" canberratimes.com.au, January 11) not advocate bus rapid transit?

Letter, The Canberra Times, January 12 2023 from Brad Hinton, Garran

I couldn't agree more with Shane Rattenbury and Jo Clay's opinion piece "Light rail is driving Canberrans into a future of opportunity" (canberratimes.com.au, January 11).
Canberra's future population growth demands a mass transit system. Increasing housing density en route also makes sense to preserve existing green areas and bushland within the ACT. Extending light rail to Canberra's south for a city spine line must happen to make the rail system an integrated part of Canberrans' transport life.
Canberra is an international city that needs 21st century infrastructure. Light rail is for the future of Canberra so get on board and get building.

Letter, The Canberra Times, January 10 2023 from Brendan Halloran, Wanniassa​

The lack of planning around the impacts of the raising of London Circuit has seen the ACT government miss yet another opportunity to get more Canberrans out of their cars and onto buses. Light Rail stage 2A has been years in the planning and the approximate 15-minute peak period delays on road travel through the area are an expected consequence of the roadworks.
These travel delays should have been used as an opportunity for transport planners to establish quicker bus services in and out of Civic via dedicated slip-roads and transit lanes.
Instead of a quick bus option, the raising of London Circuit has delivered even slower public transport and yet a further reduction in bus services.
Workers who take their car to the city would have been very tempted to switch to a bus alternative that saved them petrol and parking fees whilst giving them a saving of up to 30 minutes of commuting time each day.

Letter, The Canberra Times, January 4 2023 from Mike Hutchinson, Reid

Andrew Barr asserts that there is "a powerful case" for federal investment in light rail. ("Focus on future funding", January 2). What is that "case"? So far he has not unveiled any credible, let alone "powerful", case to ACT taxpayers. Assertion, misattribution of benefits and understatement of costs do not make a case - other than for abandonment.

Letter, The Canberra Times, January 4 2023 from Albert Oberdorf, Lyons

In response to Matthew Bowes (Letters, December 31), I have never advocated low-rise buildings are better for the environment than multi-unit houses.
My point is the ACT's light rail-centric focus on intensive high-rise development, at the expense of low-rise residential development, creates extensive urban heat islands.
In my paper ACT planning not climate resilient, I support Kip Tanner who is in favour of balanced high-rise development, noting the world's most livable cities aren't packed with people - but neither are they sprawling suburbs in search of a city.
I also agree with him that "if increasing density allows more people to live close to employment opportunities and services, but also provides amenity in terms of open space and community facilities, then it can result in great outcomes ... on the other hand ... Families still need large and flexible homes, access to playgrounds and somewhere to play footy ... What we really need are housing choices that cater for everyone's needs."
I support the principles set out in the ACT Spatial Plan, which incorporates key principles for making the ACT climate resilient.
Higher density residential development will be promoted within the existing urban area, providing easy access between home and places of work, education, community services and cultural activities.
Primarily this increased development will occur in Civic, along Northbourne Avenue, Constitution Avenue, in Barton and Kingston and around the town centres with limited change to existing suburban areas. People will enjoy a choice of housing type.