POST 2020 ELECTION OPINIONS
Updated December 31 2022
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 30 2022 from Bill Gemmell, Holder
We should shortly see the Gungahlin light rail line doing the heavy lifting of Summernats patrons for the first time uninterrupted by bushfire smoke or COVID-19 arrangements. I look forward to seeing the uplift in light rail patronage figures.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 29 2022 from David Wardle, Canberra
The ACT government has many light rail options. Why not a service to Belconnen. There are no major infrastructure obstacles in the way and no need for NCA involvement.
And what about a shorter but planned route along Constitution Avenue. A visionary route south via Edinburgh Avenue, Acton Peninsula, with a dedicated Lake crossing and on to Woden.
Why choose a route with major impediments, significant infrastructure demolition, heritage implications and no end point for at least another decade and major unknown cost issues?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 27 2022 from Albert Oberdorf, Lyons
Like Richard Johnston (Letters, December 23) I disagree with Minister Gentleman's view there is good governance in ACT planning and that we need to replace the complex and cumbersome existing legislation.
The following examples provided to the ACT Planning Standing Committee show the problem is how the existing planning legislation has been misapplied:
The ACT Planning Strategy 2018 set a development target of 70 per cent within the existing urban footprint, with urban density to be balanced with a natural environment, green spaces and trees. However, the ACT planning process continued to focus on intensive high-rise development at the expense of separate low-rise residential development, creating extensive urban heat islands;
The ACT government has ignored its ACT Spatial Plan which incorporates key principles for making the ACT Climate resilient including its goal to provide Canberra's urban footprint with the equivalent benefits of a 30 per cent tree canopy cover and 30 per cent permeable surface.
Instead, it is putting in place its Transport for Canberra which is not "just about creating a frequent network consisting of high-density transport corridors ... it is ultimately about re-engineering all of Canberra".
The ACT government needs to abandon its light rail centric planning focus and return to principles set out in the ACT Spatial Plan which incorporates key principles for making the ACT climate resilient.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 24 2022 from Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
David Purnell (Letters, December 23) is an enthusiastic supporter of the ACT government's stubborn pursuit of its breathtakingly expensive light rail project. He evidently is not familiar with the uncomfortable facts.
It has been alleged during the 2012 ACT election campaign, Shane Rattenbury, the lone Greens MLA, demanded Labor's commitment to a light rail connection between Gungahlin and the city.
In the same year, a feasibility study showed a rapid bus service, using easy-access buses (for the disabled and those with mobility problems) would have twice the benefit-cost ratio of the light rail equivalent. A rapid bus service would also involve less than half the capital cost of light rail to generate development stimulus along the transport corridors. Stage 2 has an even weaker business case.
It seems to me ACT residents have been the victims of a de facto bribe to support, and vote for, an inferior and much more disruptive and costly "mass" transport system in order to satisfy a power-hungry Labor government and an equally power-hungry Greens MLA.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 23 2022 from David Purnell, Florey
I have travelled on Canberra's public transport for over 70 years. Despite numerous timetable and route changes over the years, and the advent of newer buses, the shift of people from car usage to public transport has been very slow.
Since light rail that has changed markedly.
The efficiency, speed and comfort of light rail has much to commend it over buses and cars that traverse bumpy roads and share common delays.
As far as I'm concerned the obvious lesson is now very clear.
It is necessary to expand the use of light rail as soon as possible, to all parts of the city if the habit of car usage is to be overcome as the population grows.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 22 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
Your editorial arguing Canberra should have public transport befitting a national capital ("Capital needs public transit system unbound by timetables", canberratimes.com.au, December 18) would have wide support.
The funding available to improve its frequency, reliability and coverage depends on the priority it receives relative to competing needs. Funds are limited and will be constrained by the high level of borrowings, which are estimated by the Auditor-General to increase from $3.44 billion in 2018 to $14 billion by 2026. Given the high demands in health and housing, the commitment to the extremely expensive light rail extension could reduce funds available for the bus network and the electrification of the bus fleet.
Consideration should be given to bus rapid transit (BRT), which if the Brisbane BRT (Metro) is a guide, could provide savings of one-third, probably more, when compared to the cost light rail.
How can the Barr-Rattenbury government claim to be "mature and responsible" when it has failed to analyse BRT?
Is its unquestioning support of light rail a consequence of listening to spivs, a lack of robust advice from an under-skilled bureaucracy or being part of a inner Canberra bubble unaware or arrogantly dismissing the complexity of planning, transport and urban development issues and the preferences of a wider community?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2022 from Jack Kershaw, FRAIA RIBA (retired), Kambah
From the reported ongoing questions asked of the National Capital Authority by the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital, getting the Woden tramline from Civic to Capital Hill, on its currently planned route, has always been an intractable problem.
There's the expensive and disrespectful ruination of City Hill south's important infrastructure and open spaces; related intrusive property development and the unresolvable problems of expensively crossing the lake on, near, or between the carriageways of the iconic Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
Then there is also the destruction of the cultural landscape of Commonwealth Avenue; costly roadworks at State Circle; and required expensive facilities to avoid overhead power lines.
It's time to stop the roadworks at City Hill; and, with the added advantage of wider Central National Area coverage, and some sensitive "land value capture", to take the tramlines, with sensible overhead power, along the north reserve of Edinburgh Avenue.
This would serve New Acton, with its easy pedestrian link to Acton Foreshore and beyond. From there it is straight on into the ANU; across the existing Parkes Way land bridge; on to the national attractions at Acton Peninsula.
Then we need Griffin's elegant missing third central lake crossing, made yacht-friendly; over the lake to the "notch" (purposely located for a bridge abutment close to Flynn Drive) in Lennox Gardens North.
After that it is up Flynn Drive to State Circle and on to Woden as planned.
Express trams could be catered for.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2022 from Bill Blair, McKellar
I can only hope that the Labor-Green government absorbs the common sense in David Brudenhall's advice to the Canberra Liberals on public transport redesign ("Canberra Liberals' light rail opposition must include a better alternative", canberratimes.com.au, December 18). Some clear thinking here from someone with expertise.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2022 from Ben Schutte, Holder
David Brudenall says some very common sense things about the negative impact of proceeding with stage 2B. He offers sensible suggestions. Is the Assembly listening?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2022 from M Flint, coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale
Why did the Public Transport Association of Canberra feel the need to take a pot shot at The Canberra Times (Letters, December 16) for daring to question the rationale of and transparency about light rail in its editorial of December 12? I am still waiting for the PTAC to produce any solid case for light rail, rather than simply parrot the government's line.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 19 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
Should light rail 2A be delayed until, if and when, stage 2B is approved? Given the approval delay, should bus-based alternatives to light rail be assessed given improving electric bus technology?
What is the relative cost of bus rapid transit (BRT) and light rail on the inter-town route to Woden? Can the land value capture of BRT match light rail?
What is the cost of raising London Circuit and could it be avoided by retaining the simple left-turn access ramps up to and down from Commonwealth Avenue, as suggested by Richard Johnston (Letters, December 13)?
Can the raising of London Circuit be stopped? If not, could the new road network be used for bus-based public transport, until an approval occurs for 2B? The government's past opaqueness suggests such much-needed analysis is unlikely.
To proceed with 2A without the approval of 2B would be reckless and unnecessary spending of limited infrastructure funds. The writing-off of the cost of raising London Circuit may be necessary if light rail is found wanting. Shifting dirt for no benefit could be the real legacy of the Barr-Rattenbury government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 17 2022 from Justin Watson, Bonython
I don't often agree with the ACT Liberals, but Light Rail Stage 2B doesn't make much sense right now. The only reason Labor want to build this stage next is because every election the Liberals tell us southsider's how we are missing out.
It makes far more sense to build Stage 3 now from the airport to Belconnen. It already has high density and workplaces such as Defence, the hospital and the University of Canberra along the potential route. Given they seem to also want to attract more low cost flights to Canberra the users of these flights are far more likely to catch the light rail to accommodation also.
Any light rail to Woden and Tuggeranong needs to be more focussed on less stops to improve the speed, or to have rapid services, by having a third overtaking track at stops so express trams can overtake other "all stops" trams.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 16 2022 from Ian MacDougall, Farrer
In the interest of saving squillions on the tram I suggest the following. In 1958 I visited Manila. It had the most effective and efficient public transport system I have ever encountered, all based on ex-military jeeps.
Large numbers were left behind by the US Army after World War II. In the Philippines they were converted to become the nation's huge fleet of largely owner-operated "jeepneys". They carried up to seven or so passengers along fixed routes. Passengers paid for the distance travelled.
t is in the ACT government's short-to-long-term financial interest to minimise the competition faced by the tram. But while it may be some help to tourists, the elderly, and those stuck without their own private transport, for most people a tram stop is not within easy walking distance of either their departure point or their destination.
I suggest it is not too late to open up our public transport to include a fleet of small private buses operating on the jeepney principle.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 16 2022 from Ryan Hemsley, Public Transport Association of Canberra, Denman Prospect
Your recent editorial "The intractable problem of light rail", canberratimes.com.au, December 12) gives the impression of ongoing conflict between the ACT government and the National Capital Authority on the issue of light rail. In reality, the big ticket issues were resolved several years ago.
Bringing mass transit through the national triangle is a complex exercise. The NCA is required to ensure that any project in this area demonstrates the highest standards of urban and landscape design. Describing this approvals process as an "intractable" problem for light rail is, to put it mildly, misleading.
Another myth is that crossing the lake is some sort of sticking point. Since 2019, the agreed position between the territory and federal governments has been for a third bridge along Commonwealth Avenue, consistent with the intention of the existing bridge design. This is a solved issue.
Finally, while we agree with the editorial's call for more information from the ACT government, any suggestion of "sustainable alternatives" is far more reliant on "vibes" than plans for bringing light rail to Woden, and don't withstand scrutiny.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 14 2022 from Leon Arundell, Downer
At the 2012 ACT election the Greens sought a mandate to build light rail from Gungahlin to Civic. They were voted out of three of their four seats.
Labor sought a mandate "to increas[e] the public transport share of all work trips to 10.5 per cent by 2016 and 16 per cent by 2026".
It gained one seat and formed government with the one remaining Green.
The public transport share increased from 7.8 per cent in 2011 to only 8 per cent in 2016, and the car-as-driver share reached a record high of 73 per cent.
By 2021 the public share transport had fallen to seven per cent and the car-as-driver share had reached a new record high of 75 per cent. Greenhouse emissions from bus travel doubled.
How does the government plan to increase the public transport share of all work trips to 16 per cent by 2026, and how will that plan impact on our greenhouse emissions?
Letter, The Canberra Times,December 13 2022 from Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
In his column "Hallelujah! Trams tracks extend forever" (December 11), Ian Warden metaphorically and amusingly sings the praises of what may become a money-eating monster spreading its tentacles through Woden to the far reaches of Tuggeranong; to west Belconnen and Ginninderra; and if light-rail believers can extend their imaginations that far, to Canberra Airport and Majura.
In other words, Mr Warden quasi-religiously supports the spending of billions of ACT rates-payers' dollars on mass-transport engineering that could be equated with the Old Testament.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 13 2022 from Richard Johnston, Rotorua New Zealand
Ian Warden (December 11) may be looking forward to "having light rail's stage 2B trundle out in 2035 to my already privileged niche of Woden" but I think it would be fair to say not too many other ACT citizens would share his eager anticipation or his extraordinary patience!
Let alone 'stage 2B', the thing I can't get my head around is the utter pointlessness of stage 2A, involving raising London Circuit, instead of several other much more sensible ways of getting the tram from Civic to Commonwealth Park (which will benefit nobody anyway).
It is of course not the unnecessary tram that is driving this idiotic exercise at all, but rather the desire to open up more land around City Hill for development by getting rid of the 'cloverleaf' roads (which greatly assist traffic flow in this area). Absurdly, you could still avoid raising London Circuit by retaining the simple left-turn access ramps up to and down from Commonwealth Avenue. The whole thing suggests an imaginative but highly implausible cautionary tale, perhaps called Andrew in Wonderland.
Letter, The Canberra Times,December 12 2022 from James Mahoney, McKellar
Oh, for heaven's sake Dave Roberts (Letters, December 8). Fixing the high pollen count with funding from ending light rail is almost Trump-like. The potholes could be fixed if the ACT government tripled the roads workforce - and how'd you like that additional cost on your rates?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 12 2022 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Apart from Chris Steel, is anyone excited about Stage 2A of the tram?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 9 2022 from M Flint, coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale Centre
Re "Canberra Liberals' position on light rail out of touch" (canberratimes.com.au, December 6). The government's attitude is 100 per cent predictable and disingenuous. Minister Steel's claim of "unparalleled level of transparency" is a sick joke. What transparency?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 9 2022 from Mario Stivala, Belconnen
Andrew Barr believes the ACT Liberals' position on the tram extension is "stale and conservative" and the Transport Minister Chris Steele says the existing tram is a "great transport system" that northsiders enjoy.
By northsiders I assume that he means those that are fortunate enough to reside along the 12 kilometre tram corridor between Civic and Gungahlin. What about the vast majority of those who are missing out , but still have to pay through the nose for its exorbitant capital and maintenance costs?
ACT Labor would have us believe that the stage 2A extension would be the greatest thing since sliced bread, yet it is very reticent about releasing cost estimates and a cost to benefit ratio, quoting "commercial in confidence" as a very weak excuse.
Could it possibly be that they know fully well that the figures would not be in their favour and are therefore best kept secret? ACT Labor are trying to con the public into believing that one of the reasons why it won the last election was owing to its pro-tram policy.
It was "despite of" that policy and because of the lacklustre opposition .
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 9 2022 from Chris Emery, Reid
The recent debacle at EPIC, where trams were unable to cope with the crowd, is not surprising. Trams cannot wait for passengers because the next tram is coming behind. Trams must move on.
Only buses can wait in a lay-bys, parking areas or in a road lane until needed. We have been told that the tram released many buses for use on other routes.
These buses should have been used to handle the spectators at EPIC. As public transport experts say "for every tram you must have a backup bus".
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 8 2022 from Dave Roberts, Belconnen
Most people voted for the ALP because the Libs were in such a disarray, not because they supported the light rail.
It is madness to rip up the NCDC's clover leaf intersection. There have been no serious accidents there in the 51 years I have been using it.Replacing it with a traffic light intersection could lead to injuries and deaths.
The chaos that will happen over the next two years will be more than enough to throw out the ALP/Greens government.
Under the Barr/Rattenbury government, Canberra has become a run-down, third world city with potholes everywhere, uncut grass, a pollen count that is off the scale and shoddy looking and energy inefficient apartment blocks.
The NCDC had first class urban planners and engineers.
None of their stuff fell down, unlike the GDE bridge.
The NCA, on the other hand, has agreed to rip up the free-flowing clover leaf intersection and replace it with slow moving traffic lights.
As a long standing ALP voter, I will vote for anyone that will end the light rail madness and fund the hospital, ambulance service, schools, parks etc and get Canberra back to a first-class green and clean city.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 8 2022 from John Davenport, Farrer
It's no surprise the ACT Liberals are opposing extensions to our light rail network. If they had had their way under their mentor Zed Seselja, we would have no arboretum, no Stage 1 of our very successful light rail system and more recently, no territory rights and no hope of VAD legislation.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 8 2022 from Leon Arundell, Downer
I join with the Public Transport Association of Canberra in wishing the Canberra Liberals good luck with their policy of spending our money on worthwhile projects, rather than wasting billions of dollars on a tram that would return only sixty cents worth of benefits for each dollar that it would cost.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 4 2022 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill
Chris Steel's comment that the Liberals' shift on light rail is a betrayal of the south side struck me as another round of politicking rather than as providing meaningful information on stage 2.
Furthermore, the government's reported commitments, to publish estimated costs for light rail stage 2A after contracts are signed and to release business cases and contract details when possible, are too little too late and probably not binding.
There is no good reason for the supposed benefits of light rail (including compared to the much cheaper option of augmenting the existing Rapid Route 4 bus between Civic and Woden) to be kept secret by the government until after contracts are signed. The contracting and negotiating process will essentially concern construction and possibly operation, rather than any benefits of the proposed project.
If Labor and the Greens do not know what benefits they are seeking and what they want constructed, how will the government conduct a competitive tender process?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 2 2022 from Leon Arundell, Downer
Traffic congestion and emissions increase every time a car passenger becomes a car driver. Census statistics show that since 2006 this has been the main cause of Canberra's increasing proportion of car-driving commuters.
We can save up to 25 seconds of travel time per day if we commute as car passengers along the poorly designed Adelaide Avenue T2 lanes. Otherwise we are stuck in traffic like everyone else. Why should we bother?
The government can cut car and bus commute times for the whole of Canberra by providing more effective transit lanes. Instead, it shortened the T2 lane.
The government has identified bus rapid transit as the best option for public transport. If it had built bus rapid transit from Gungahlin to Civic we would be able to travel quickly from Tuggeranong to Woden, Civic and Gungahlin, without shifting seats. We would have saved enough money to extend bus rapid transit to Woden. That would cut more than 10 minutes from the travel time that the government plans for that route. We would not be facing the prospect of paying billions of dollars for a slow pubic transport project that will cause years of traffic disruptions.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 2 2022 from Susan Colwell, Canberra
The Canberra Times's recent articles on Canberra's future builds make for interesting reading but raises some questions.
How is infrastructure being put in place to match these projections? In particular light rail going to Woden seems ill thought out.
Belconnen's current population (last years figures quoted) and projected growth vs Woden's have me scratching my head as to the drive for light rail to Woden. Is there something Canberrans don't know?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 29 2022 from Ben Damiano, Waramanga
The Canberra Liberals should reconsider if they want to oppose the Woden leg of the tram ("Hard to see how light rail stacks up, says Canberra Liberals' Elizabeth Lee, as Labor warns of 'extraordinary betrayal", canberratimes.com.au, November 23).
Like many Canberrans, even those who are politically engaged, I haven't really followed the current tram debate. I do know there are good reasons to oppose the Woden leg.
They include the cost, the lack of development opportunities on the route (the NIMBYs would block the developments anyway), the fact more people are working from home, the problems getting over the bridge and dealing with the NCA and the ease at which a bus lane already operates.
However, it appears that many Canberrans are supportive of the tram, and would like to see it extended.Polling last year showed 63 per cent of Canberrans strongly support or support the Woden leg, well above the 33 per cent who oppose or strongly oppose the project.
In 2016, the tram election, Labor got a primary vote of 52.2 per cent in Harrison (a swing of +12.2 per cent from 2012) and 57.1 per cent in Franklin, suburbs along the light rail route.
The tram is good politics. Do the Libs really want to oppose a popular project that runs through three electorates they need to win an extra seat in?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 28 2022 from Peter McLoughlin, Monash
Elizabeth Lee appears to have decided that being anti light rail may be enough for the Liberals to win government at the next ACT election. I am a Tuggeranong resident who attended a focus group prior to the first stage of light rail being built. The group was dubious about the business case and couldn't see any benefit for huge sections of Canberra including Tuggeranong and Belconnen. It is also old technology. There are alternatives.
She knows that people are about to encounter years of traffic chaos and delays. Parking is only going to get worse. Getting a parking spot near Lonsdale Street is akin to winning lotto. That being said, what is the point of opposing it, it's being built?
I know that policies are a novel concept for some political parties but Ms Lee may find that they're helpful in making people decide who they'll vote for. The Nancy Reagan mantra "just say no" doesn't cut it any more.
Let's not forget that the Liberals opposed the arboretum which is now an outstanding place to visit and will only get better. It has added an enormous amount to Canberra.
One critical issue which is hopefully about to head the way of the Legislative Assembly is a Territory Rights Bill. I hope that has bipartisan support. It was a significant reason why Zed Seselja lost here.
I see light rail as a poor investment but it's too late, it's going to be built, positive policies are what is needed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 28 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
The high demand for apartments at Kingston, the Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Woden town centres, in the absence of light rail, supports the argument of the ACT Auditor-General that the transformational benefits of light rail could be overstated. The government should produce evidence supporting its stance or cancel the project. What is it hiding?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 25 2022 from Mike Hutchinson, Reid
Having spent part of my career developing and assessing transport systems internationally, I was intrigued when the ACT Government publicly conceded "Building light rail ... will have an impact on traffic flows [and] lead to increased travel times ...". It then announced major works "...to ease disruption caused by the construction of ... light rail".
Obviously, this expected disruption will have a significant economic impact on road users. The announced "... intelligent transport monitoring technology..." can only partially offset it.
I wondered what value the ACT government had ascribed to this traffic congestion, as a cost, to offset the calculated benefits of the light rail project. An FoI request revealed no estimate had been made at all.
This neglect continues the incompetent and deceptive business cases that the ACT government has long put forward for light rail. Travel time savings are claimed for a slower trip to Woden. Land value increases from rezoning are improperly attributed to light rail. Congestion during construction is ignored, along with the material loss of public amenity from the removal of mature trees, formerly on Northbourne Avenue and now, proposed, Commonwealth Avenue.
This project's real purpose is to sustain Greens support for the ACT government. It is mendacious to claim it was mandated by the ACT election when its merits are so grossly misrepresented. It should be abandoned before it gets worse.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 25 2022 from Brian Bell, Isabella Plains
David Perkins (Letters, November 22), rather than complaining about them, attributes long grass and potholes to an "almost unprecedented" period of wet weather and recognises the effort workers are making to keep things under control. Then, amazingly, he praises light rail and its positives (eg. infrastructure development, urban consolidation).
And this just when I was going to write to the editor to seek a moratorium on any letter that mentioned light rail, potholes or long grass. Good on you David.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 25 2022 from James Mahoney, McKellar
Gee, a whole letters page (Letters, November 23) without a mention of the tram, not even in the lead whinge about Floriade's fences. But Elizabeth Lee's media conference has probably put paid to a continuing tram-free complaints page.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 23 2022 from Maria Greene, Curtin
Suzanne Jedryk (Letters, November 18) wants funds diverted from the silly tram to health funding. But how will that keep Shane supporting Andrew Barr? And how unfair to developers. Imagine how many awful boxes would be delayed (despite our proposed free-for-all planning (non) regulations).
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 19 2022 from Bill Gemmell, Holder
Thank you B Hutchison (Letters, November 13) for pointing out the ongoing folly of the bakers' dozen of letter writers to this august publication about the forthcoming light rail between Civic and Woden.
For their benefit I would like to point out that the next stage of light rail will be happening and they could perhaps direct their letter writing skills to advocating for the construction of the best possible model for their community.
Issues that concern me include the design of the intermediate stops and how they will ensure the best possible access to surrounding areas. For example, the certain densification around Curtin and Deakin will need to link with stations along Adelaide Avenue.
I am very concerned that the current Dickson design will be parachuted into an environment where it will just not work. I am also concerned about how bus passengers from the southern suburbs transferring to/from light rail to get to the Barton area, Civic West or points further North will make the change.
A further concern is how long it is taking for our government to sign the necessary contracts and get on with the job.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 16 2022 from C Williams, Forrest
B Hutchinson (Letters, October 13) suggests the re-election of the Barr government gave it a mandate to extend the tram line to Woden. I beg to differ. In 2020 it was more about the unelectability of the Liberal opposition than popular support for the tram. A referendum would be the best decider. But that won't happen because the government would probably lose.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 16 2022 from Eric Hunter, Cook
B Hutchison (Letters, November 13), extols the virtue of being able to vote on the tram and still having a majority in favour despite the number of anti-tram letters. As a wise man once said: "In a democracy the people have the right to be wrong".
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 15 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
Canberra has its own big lie. The Barr government has continually failed to justify its claim light rail is superior to alternatives. The community needs to be assured the project is not unnecessarily diverting funds from much needed projects. Mr Barr where is the evidence?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 15 2022 from Jill Sutton, Watson
B Hutchison has a point with the lead letter headed "Voters, not letter writers have had their say on light rail" (Letters, November 13). But, as someone who has been a public transport enthusiast (and this included for the light rail concept for Canberra up till recently when I found myself changing my mind) I must make some further points.
In a democracy we must surely allow for a change in its citizens' minds between elections based on new information. I have read letters suggesting alternative routes, alternative materials, alternative vehicles and alternative passenger experiences, all of which have made me reluctant to support the plan as is, without further expert explanation which has not been forthcoming so far.
I would argue, disagreeing with B Hutchison, that a democracy should allow for this reconsideration in the light of new information between elections.
I would also point out that, in a democracy, priorities may need to change between elections.
Hence I would argue that although I might still end up supporting the complete light rail plan in the long run, I might change my view when I hear that Canberrans are receiving less than satisfactory care in our hospitals.
In the light of this revelation, I might change my view about the schedule for light rail installation and I believe that a democracy should make space for its citizens to be heard like this, although of course retaining their ultimate authority.
In all, I think the more our governments engage with us, explaining their necessarily controversial decisions, the better. I think the ACT government definitely owes its citizens a lot more explanation on its incredibly expensive insistence on its light rail plans.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2022 from B Hutchison, Canberra
C Williams (Letters, November 11) considers it wise for government direction and policy to be determined by the volume of letters to Canberra publications. The validity of this approach is of course flawed and limited by the very small number of people who choose to write letters into publications.
May I suggest a better approach of determining the wants and desires of the community already exists in the form of elections, and for as many elections as one can remember, one side of politics continues to take a light rail policy to the electorate and they continue to be elected into government.
If we learn anything from recent history, we must show our democratic processes more respect by accepting that sometimes we are in the minority and not actively encourage civil disobedience in response to not getting our way.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2022 from C Williams, Forrest
If letters to Canberra publications are anything to judge by, Canberrans are at least 10 to one against having their rates used to fund the tram to Woden. However, the Barr-Rattenbury government seems determined to ignore public opinion and forge on regardless with this extravagant and disruptive vanity project.
The cost of the already obsolete light rail will be approximately $750 per person in the ACT, even without extending it beyond Woden.
Canberrans are not by nature particularly militant, but one simple protest option would be to withhold rates and land tax payments. If enough people withhold them, it would be guaranteed to attract the government's attention.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
Andrew Barr in the State of the Territory Business address indicated the Infrastructure Plan will be progressively updated over the next 2 years. This is the opportunity for the government to justify its priorities.
Much of the current Plan is based on the unsound 2019 Planning Strategy. The Strategy did not analyse the social, environmental or economic consequences of alternative urban futures, housing preferences or strategies to reduce travel by influencing employment location. It failed to justify why light rail is a more appropriate technology for inter-town public transport, despite its low benefit to cost ratio, than bus rapid transport.
Unless the Strategy is reviewed and amended the government will not effectively manage growth and deliver the 'best bang for the buck" to the community. Its proposed development strategy needs to be justified with business cases provided for proposed major infrastructure. It would make clear how relative infrastructure priorities were determined.
Canberra can be an exemplar of a liveable, financially, socially and environmentally sustainable city if the government can overcome its obstinate opaqueness and undertake, disclose and implement the findings of a review.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2022 from Penny Moyes, Curtin
Graham Downie's letter (November 5) sets out clearly the problem with the tram stage 2A and 2B. $86 million to move a few people a kilometre or two. Where is the business case? Why isn't the Canberra community allowed to see it? Where is the comparison between building the tram to Woden and providing small electric buses that could take in more of the suburbs. Why isn't there a plan showing the proposed apartments along Adelaide Avenue? Transparency is needed!
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2022 from Michael Finck, Chapman
This issue keeps coming up all the time and the ACT government just doesn't listen.
The trackless tram, or autonomous rail transit (ART) as it is known in China, combines the best of high-speed rail and autonomous-vehicle technology with on-street mass transit to achieve a flexible, carbon-neutral and cost-effective urban connector. It is sold as a kit of parts - three cars plus a station - that can be installed about as fast as a city's permitting process would allow, according to its proponents.
We don't need tracks, we don't have to rip out trees and we can save money. Money which can be ploughed back into fixing ACT roads and back into our hospitals where it's desperately needed.
It's a no-brainer.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2022 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
Canberra's Public Transport Association committee member Damien Haas is correct there is a shortage of public transport in the ACT, but squandering further money on light rail will not fix that. ("So we were pork beneficiaries after all?", canberratimes.com.au, November 1).
The light rail project, bequeathed to Canberrans by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher in return for political support by the Greens' Shane Rattenbury, has so far taken well over $1 billion from general public transport and numerous other deserving projects.
This figure is set to triple if the tram should ever get to Woden. Since the tram began in 2019, other hapless commuters have had their bus services cut, truncated or rerouted to direct people to the tram. Most Canberra suburbs now have the worst weekend bus services for at least 50 years.
Mr Haas is quoted saying prioritising the completion of light rail Stage 2a is a high priority. Surely, spending nearly $86 million to move people from Civic to Commonwealth Park, already achieved in several minutes by regular buses, is not a priority for most public transport users.
Current estimates are that light rail will almost double the travel time between Civic and Woden and will suck another $2 billion from government coffers. Add to this the economic and environmental cost of raising London Circuit to accommodate light rail, and the agenda of the Public Transport Association is unfathomable.
The government has always seen light rail as a revenue raiser from land development, though even this has been shown by credentialed reports as unsound. Meanwhile, the needs of the declining number of public transport users remain largely unmet.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 7 2022 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
The responsibility for federal funds being diverted from a number of important ACT infrastructure projects ("Road dollars diverted to tram", October 29, p4.) in order to finance the tram lies solely with the Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
The federal government have made it clear that they "consulted with the ACT government which made it clear that the priority project for the ACT was stage two A of the light rail".
This despite the fact that no business case has yet been made public to show that either stage 2a or 2b will ever be financially or environmentally sustainable.
Blame the Chief Minister who did the deal, not the federal government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 7 2022 from M Flint, Erindale Centre
Athlon Drive, like many other thoroughfares in Canberra is now a Via Dolorosa (sorrowful road) and is definitely "holey". There is no prospect of reprieve given the government neglect of the roads and the decision to trade off the Athlon Drive upgrade for money to help pay for light rail.
Light rail Stage 2 is nothing less than an outrageous boondoggle by this Rattenbury/Barr government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 7 2022 from Sue Dyer, Downer
We should thank the gods yet again for Senate estimates proceedings ("Timeline for Stage 2A tram extension clarified by feds", October 29), since none of our ACT government ministers or federal Labor representatives would, or could, provide succinct clarity after the budget about the long Stage 2A construction and disruption timeframe linked to the $218.4 million committed by federal governments.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 5 2022 from Judy Dillon, Garran
I couldn't agree more with M Flint (Letters, November 3) on the preposterous pushing by the Barr government of stage 2 of light rail when there are far better, more flexible and cheaper transport alternatives.
Not to mention all those things in urgent need of government funding, like upgrading roads, which are of much higher priority than the tram, the gift that keeps on taking.
Why are they not taking notice of the very significant number of Canberrans who are against the extension of light rail?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 4 2022 from Peter McLoughlin, Monash
I've supported Labor all my life and was one of millions of Australians who were delighted to see the back of the dysfunctional rorters we've had pretending to be a government for the last decade.
Labor has done a number of excellent things since May, including the releasing of the Biloela family, the 43 per cent emissions target and putting us on the road to a Federal Integrity Commission.
Surprisingly we have a government interested in governing. It's comedy gold watching Dutton and crew pour out such concern over cost of living expenses, a concern they didn't show in a decade in government.
I'm aware Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher are managing a trillion dollar debt after a decade of incompetence but their decision to cancel major road projects in favour of the extension of light rail is short sighted and unfair.
I attended a focus group prior to light rail being built where the group suggested the project wasn't viable as most business modelling showed. I was told we had to look at the "greater good" of Canberra. The light rail does nothing and never will for the people of Tuggeranong or Belconnen. We could have had dedicated bus lanes and electric buses which would have catered for everyone.
I'm deliriously happy for the people of Gungahlin and eventually Woden. The government has made a truckload of money flogging land for endless ugly high rise with exotic names. I support the Labor government but this decision is counterproductive.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 4 2022 from John Madelly snr, Melba
The Canberra Times (October 29) gave much space to the apparent chicanery of pushing federal funds from pillar to post, to the great benefit of light rail Stage two A, and to the detriment of other much needed infrastructure.
The federal government makes great claims of "getting the best bang for your buck".
The ACT Auditor-General was not convinced of the value of light rail Stage two A.
Does that mean that the federal government is satisfied with the business case for light rail Stage two A?
Tellingly, the report said political considerations often came before the wider public interest.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 4 2022 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
City Services Minister Chris Steel is disingenuous at best when he demands money be spent on projects only after seeing particular deliverables with a proper business case. ("City Services Minister Chris Steel defends light rail funding", canberratimes.com.au, November 1).
He was commenting on the transfer of nearly $86 million from three major road projects to extending light rail from Alinga Street to Commonwealth Park. If it is a "proper business case" Minister Steel wants, he won't find one supporting the light rail project.
Instead, there are numerous objective and professional reports and advice recommending against it.
These include a 2013 discussion paper from the Chief Minister's Directorate, withheld for two years by the government, which found the cost-benefit ratio for the tram was 1.02 ($1.02 of benefits for every $1 spent), and for bus rapid transit 1.98.
Under a "higher-density scenario", light rail had a cost-benefit ratio 2.34, and the bus option 4.78.
In 2015, Infrastructure Australia reported the case for light rail over buses had not been strongly made, particularly when the government's economic analysis showed buses would deliver a greater cost benefit than light rail.
Similarly, a Grattan infrastructure report in April 2016 said the ACT government had decided to proceed with the light rail proposal, though its business case substantially overestimated the economic benefits of the project.
There had been no valid explanation for why the government had chosen a project that its own analysis suggested was not the best option available.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 3 2022 from M Flint, coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport, ACT
I refer to the article "'All pork' Steel slams funding for road" (November 1, p3). What rank hypocrisy by Minister Steel in claiming that upgrade of the south-west corridor was "pork-barrelling" and that the previous government had approved the "ill-defined" project before seeing a business case.
Where is the business case for stage two of light rail and an admission of its outrageous cost, a likely impost on taxpayers of $3 billion (or more)?
By any criteria light rail in Canberra is an indefensible boondoggle by an ideological, and entrenched government. A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) alternative would halve tram-commuter times and achieve the same political ends at half the cost and with no need to raise London Circuit or build a bridge across the lake.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 3 2022 from Leon Arundell, Downer
The business case for stage two A of light rail says (page 21) it will provide only 40 cents worth of benefits for each dollar that it costs. Andrew Leigh is a local federal MP. He is also an economist. He says that Labor will fund projects based on economic cost-benefit analysis. Surely, as an economist, he understands it would be better to put $86 million in a bank savings account, at no interest, than to spend it on Stage two A.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 2 2022 from Warwick Davis, Isaacs
Wow. An ACT minister has detected, and criticised, "pork barrelling" in a federal decision to fund road works, in particular the south-west corridor upgrade ("All pork': Steel slams funding for road", canberratimes.com.au, November 1).
This justifies stripping funding from the road projects. There are "no deliverables" we are told.
Improving a road used by tourists, commuters and emergency services is a deliverable.
No business case is the standard set by the tired, worn-out Barr government.
A business case for stage one of the tram, which concluded buses were better, was ignored. It did not suit.
In practical terms the business case for stage one of the tram/light rail is the business case for all stages: City/Woden/Weston Creek, South Canberra, Tuggeranong, Belconnen, Airport, Fyshwick and logically - Queanbeyan.
The "deliverable" for the tram is "keep the current chief minister in office". In turn the chief minister gives the Greens leader a senior cabinet post. Each has "delivered" for the other.
Light rail for the ACT is the most expensive pork barrelling Australia has ever suffered.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2022 from Chris Pratt, O'Malley
After wiping the blood from my wife's face and recovering from my bout of shaking, I spluttered in anger at the ACT government's neglect of basic footpath maintenance.
The long-term maintenance demands of city paths, roads, schools, public housing and mental health don't generate headlines, photo opportunities or sound bites like shiny red trams, yellow machines shifting mounds of earth, ruminations about new stadia or a convention centre, and trumpeting progress on addressing current social issues.
The city centre may be "vibrant and cosmopolitan", but the suburbs are increasingly neglected, grubby, worn, and dangerous. As one of Barr's 'fuddy-duddies' I am weary from negotiating obstructed footpaths with their cracked concrete and shifting slabs.
Thanks are offered to those who deserve better government: the high-vis guys who hurried to help me raise my wife to her feet; the customers and staff of Mawson's Lil Milk Bar for their concern and assistance; and the superb staff of the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre who repaired my wife's damage far more efficiently than the government maintains its infrastructure. I was once a rusted-on Labor voter.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2022 from Felicity Chivas, Ainslie
Keith Hill is right, don't even think of draining the lake lest someone in authority takes you seriously and makes it happen (Letters, October 26).
At the moment, someone in authority can sanction the construction of an antiquated tram with an eye-watering price tag, which will require 60,000 cubic metres of fill to raise London Circuit, causing disruption to life and traffic in Civic for two years.
Draining the lake may seem like a picnic by comparison.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 31 2022 from Tony May, Pearce t was heartening to hear the federal government is going to kick in for Canberra's tram. I can't wait for the reduced rates notice.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 24 2022 from Richard Johnston, Kingston
Thanks to Bruce Wright of Latham (Letters, October 18) for adding to my suggestion for looping the tram around City Hill a couple of times to avoid raising London Circuit by suggesting steam-powered trams.
As a further alternative, horse-drawn trams would be appropriate 19th century technology and a tourist attraction as well.
Draining the lake, to avoid having to build a new bridge, would also celebrate Canberra's early heritage. I did suggest to the NCA that lowering Commonwealth Avenue rather than raising London Circuit might work better with their desire to line the Avenue with new buildings, but they were strangely unreceptive.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 23 2022 from Oliver Raymond, Mawson
Chris Doyle (Letters, October 17) might be interested to know the rates on my Mawson property have risen by a factor of 4.46 since 2012-13 (in 10 years). I can show him the rates notices to prove it.
Part of the increase resulted from the iniquitous change made in 2017 to the method by which rates are calculated on strata properties. The increase in that year was 52 per cent. Even if I "discount" by the whole of that year's increase, the 10-year factor is still 2.93; that is, tripled.
It seems that the Libs' forecast was about right
. I don't see anything to show for it and can only look forward to more of the same apart from the major degradation in public transport service which the Woden tram will eventually bring (at egregious cost).
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 22 2022 from P M Button, former Canberran
Ever since the annual allocation of over one billion dollars of federally raised GST revenue the ACT government has behaved like a drunken sailor.
In business you don't throw good money after bad. Parents of aberrant children do not give them more money to waste on useless or senseless purchases.
The federal government should not be throwing more money to any aberrant state or territory government bent on "pie in the sky" projects that represent an ever growing and ongoing waste of public funds.
Taxpayers throughout Australia should not have to contribute to the ACT government's ill-conceived toy tram project.
This "green brain wave" will forever be known as a great white elephant and ridiculous cause. Without doubt it is the greatest waste of ACT government revenue since self-government.
Before the federal government allocates any monies to the ACT government in its up-coming budget it should consider such allocation of funds for tram investment as a misdirection of national revenue that could be better spent on more urgent and needy national causes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 21 2022 from John Madelly snr, Melba
The hospital program, housing program, homelessness program, Coppins Crossing bridge program, footpath and road mending program are all deplorably behind schedule. The government should put the tram on hold until it has the important matters sorted out. An independent look at the business case for stage 2 would not come amiss either
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 20 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
It is not surprising the standing committee on public accounts found deficiencies in the government's land release program (ACT government should release more land for housing, Legislative Assembly inquiry finds (canberratimes.com.au, October 12).
Urban consolidation and its primary benefits - reduced travel and lower development costs - has been a feature of land release programs from the late 1980s with approximately 50 per cent of housing demand being met through urban consolidation and 50 per cent through greenfields development.
The recent shift to 70 per cent infill was made without sufficient consideration of its implications. The policy needs urgent review. Detailed assessments are required of housing preferences, affordability, whether it adequately meets the needs of all households and the costs and benefits of developing alternative greenfield and infill areas. It should include travel and infrastructure costs.
For example, it is likely infrastructure costs would be lower in Tuggeranong than north Canberra as Tuggeranong would likely have greater under-utilised physical and social infrastructure while north Canberra would have lower journey to work costs.The Barr government is unlikely to undertake such a review as it has dismissed criticism of its infill policies. Its obstinacy is also apparent in its stance on the light rail extension, which despite failing social and financial sustainability criteria and is unlikely to deliver environmental benefits above those associated with electric bus alternatives, is continuing.
Is the government capable of justifying its urban development and transport policies?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 19 2022 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
Katy Gallagher does not "think it is right to waive debts for the price of a vote on the Senate floor". So why did she think it right to form a disgraceful coalition with the Greens to hang on to power and cripple the ACT with the tram? Senator Pocock is right. She is open to accusations of hypocrisy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 19 2022 from D Bogusz, Greenway
Overheard at a coffee shop: "the ACT government is deliberately creating potholes to encourage people to utilise public transport as their main commute". As with most conspiracy theories where there's smoke there's bound to be a pothole or a tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 17 2022 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
When she was ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher reportedly said the tram would not proceed if it were to cost more than $600 million. Of course she's not going to waive the ACT's $100 million historical housing debt. She knows they'd just blow it on the tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 17 2022 from Warwick Davis, Isaacs
How can anyone expect the Federal government to lash out $115 million plus to settle a long standing housing debt from the ACT when the ACT is busy spending billions to build a tram project which was rejected by Infrastructure Australia well before commencement of the project's first construction segment?
It may be that the ACT tram government have forgotten the close involvement of the now Prime Minister Mr Albanese in establishing Infrastructure Australia as a source of expert advice about major projects which, it has been said, tend to be started by state entity politicians during the pressure and excitement of state elections.
The cost to the ACT is not limited to the cost of the Gungahlin section. To be an effective mass transport system the tram must service Gungahlin, Belconnen, Weston Creek, Woden Valley north and south, south Canberra plus Fyshwick and north Canberra.
The then ACT Chief Minister put a limit on the Gungahlin section cost as a condition for that initial route to proceed.
But it was easy to reduce the cost of the first contract simply by removing any requirement for the contract to include civil engineering adjustment works: for example reinforcing or relocating a road crossing for services to cross from the East to West side of Northbourne Avenue.
It is just not reasonable and not realistic to expect the federal government to settle a longstanding ACT debt to the Commonwealth for housing.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 16 2022 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
The ACT government need not sweat the small stuff when there's an out-of-control debt tram barrelling towards them. The $100 million housing debt they are working hard to weasel out of is only 0.7 per cent of the $14 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities they (well, we) are on the hook for by 2025-26, according to the latest ACT budget. It is just a sliver of the estimated annual interest repayments of over $500 million diverted from rates in 2025-26, which works out at over $2000 per household just to service the debt, each and every year.
It is a mere trifle compared to the over $520 million already spent on contracts for just the planning stage of light rail stage 2.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 3 2022 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
In the September 2022 ACT government newsletter, Our CBR, an illustration of a stage 2a (Civic to Commonwealth Park) tram passing through the raised intersection of London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue on the south side of City Hill, is labelled "pending approval". The very expensive and disruptive roadworks are approved and have just commenced, but no tramline works are involved.
There are acknowledged serious (many say, insurmountable) and costly problems in integrating tramlines with Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, and south of there, in stage 2b of the Civic to Woden line. However, the raising of London Circuit south, releases extensive ACT land for property development.
Maybe a grasping ACT government would settle for that (it needs extreme care and sensitivity, and the ACT's track record on that is not good).
The honourable and respectful thing to do, of course, is to install the Civic to Capital Hill section of light rail 2, on a route that doesn't involve Commonwealth Avenue at all, but that can still serve Acton Waterfront/Commonwealth Park (along with New Acton, the ANU, Acton Peninsula, and Lennox Gardens North).
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 3 2022 from Mike Hutchinson, Reid
Self-evidently the construction of the unnecessary raising of London Circuit and the grossly uneconomic Woden tram project is going to cause massive prolonged traffic congestion. The reduced efficiency of traffic flow across London Circuit/Commonwealth Avenue/Parkes Way will pertain in perpetuity ("New traffic technology to ease Woden light rail construction disruption: ACT government", canberratimes.com.au, September 30).
Will this secretive ACT government yet acknowledge the economic cost of this congestion and efficiency loss, and disclose by how much this cost offsets the (grossly inflated) "benefits" from this vanity project?
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 29 2022 from Felix MacNeill, Dickson
Ed Highley (Letters, September 26) asks for evidence of light rail's ability to enable cost-effective transit-oriented development. He could have started by reading the article on comparative development costs in the same edition as my letter.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 27 2022 from Warwick Bradly, Weston
Felix MacNeill (Letters, September 20) used the term "cost-effective transit-oriented development" to describe light rail.
Cost-effective is definitely not a term usually applied to light rail, but then I realised what he meant is that light rail allowed ACT Govt to evict public housing tenants and move them to the outer burbs thus allowing towers of shoddy private apartments to be built. This may have some fiscal, if not compelling or moral merit.
Applying the same scorched earth policy to Stage 2 of light rail will not be so easy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 27 2022 from Judy Dillon, Garran
Signs around the Woden Town Centre currently proclaim "we're upgrading these roads". What that seems to mean is a total dog's breakfast of extra traffic lights, a labyrinth of many blocked off lanes and a large section of Callam Street permanently closed to cars. That's not "upgrading" in my opinion. We apparently have the coming of light rail to Woden to thank for this mess.
This shambles is about to be put in the shade by the monstrous government plan to raise London Circuit, causing huge traffic chaos and at vast expense, just so the tram can make it up a fairly insignificant incline.
When are Messrs Barr and Rattenbury going to answer the many concerns and questions of Canberra voters regarding the proposed next stages of light rail? When are we going to hear a single word from the putative Liberal opposition on this egregious issue?
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 26 2022 from Ed Highley, Kambah
Felix MacNeill (Letters, September 21) writes that "light rail will continue to enable far more cost-effective transit-oriented development that will help to guarantee Canberra a leafier suburbia overall and a more liveable future". I wish. Please bolster my hope with evidence on each point.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 26 2022 from Shane Mawer, Kingston
If Felix MacNeill (Letters, September 21) thinks light rail will guarantee Canberra a leafier suburbia and a more liveable future then I fear he may have overdone it on the jungle juice.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 23 2022 from Rae Harvey, Griffith
I have just read the statement from Katrina Spadafora ("Calls for formal inquiry into Canberra's paediatric services", canberratimes.com.au, September 18) regarding the terribly sad death of her daughter Rozalia.
Andrew Barr should hang his head in shame, but will he ever? So many terrible stories about things that happen or don't happen in the Canberra hospital, and Mr Barr and his Health Minister tell us it's due to a lack of staff.
Well, if that's the reason then employ the necessary staff and pay the necessary wages to get the very best we can find, to give every patient that enters the hospital the appropriate care they need. Mrs Spadafora and her daughter waited 14 hours, only for Rozalia to die.
I am shaking with rage that this could happen here in our national capital. We know that the staff do their best, but there are just too few of them.
But, meanwhile, billions of dollars are being wasted on building the tram no one wants, and the construction of the West Basin (whatever is it for?). I notice a huge extension being built at the Canberra hospital, but what is the use of another huge building when we can't afford to pay the staff to run the hospital properly?
On the subject of the hospital, what provision is made for disabled people to park close to where they need to go? Yes, we see disabled parking available, but how on earth is a disabled person to make their way into the hospital building?
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 23 2022 from Noel Baxendell, Holt
As a baby boomer, I was fortunate by accident of birth to live in the best of times, in the best country, and in its most livable city.
I have owned a car for all my adult life, a magic carpet that took me effortlessly wherever I wanted to go, and any time I wanted.
There are, however, problems with this dream lifestyle. For one thing all the easily extracted oil had gone. We are now forced to drill the ocean bed and tar sands and rely on fracking. But more importantly, the constant release of carbon has caused a climate emergency.
Again, Canberra is the lucky city. Half of Pakistan is under water and thousands are dying from water-borne diseases and tens of thousands will later die from starvation as crops fail. Even in Australia, many living on our coastal flood plains have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed.
One easy step Canberra can take is to update our public transport system by interconnecting the major town centres with light rail as Walter Burley-Griffin originally planned. Voters have endorsed this policy at successive elections.
Yet there are some who believe that they can continue to use petrol or diesel private transport as they have done in the past. To keep this delusion alive, they have written letters to the editor for almost a decade now. Just one more letter and the inconvenient truth will go away.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 19 2022 from Oliver Raymond
Felix MacNeill asks (Letters, September 16) why we shouldn't have both the tram and electric buses. Here's a simple, very compelling reason (there are others). The tram is egregiously expensive.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 19 2022 from Chris Emery, Reid
Felix MacNeill, (Letters, September 16) makes the mistake of suggesting trams for the primary routes and light rail for feeders. Buses are much faster and have twice the seating of trams making them ideal for the longer primary routes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 19 2022 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
Yet another timely report from the ACT Auditor-General demonstrating the continued inability of the ACT government to let properly documented tenders for its major infrastructure construction projects ("West Basin tender poorly designed", September 17, p6).
As a number of tenders for the light rail stage 2 are already in the pipeline can we now expect the cost of this project to have been similarly "grossly underestimated". I believe that stage 2 should be immediately reviewed by the Auditor-General before any work is carried out. With no business case made public to show that the project is value for the excessive cost already suggested, any increase could be catastrophic for the ACT budget and Canberrans as a whole.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 19 2022 from M. Flint Coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport
Senator Pocock ("'Front of mind': Pocock puts Labor on notice over $100m ACT housing debt", canberratimes.com.au, September 16) is right to pursue waiving of the $100 million housing debt, given that at least two states have had larger debts waived.
However, he would do much better if he could have the $185 million promised by federal Labor for ACT Greens/Labor travesty, being light rail, used to pay off the housing debt instead.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 17 2022 from Christopher Ryan, Watson
Senator David Pocock wants the ACT housing debt waived by the Commonwealth. To do so waives the appalling delinquency of the ACT government's tram expenditure.
The tram billions would provide fully for public housing needs. Senator Katy Gallagher was the ACT chief minister at the early stages of an election promise to build the tram stage 1. Is it now appropriate, as Minister for Finance, Ms Gallagher make the decision to waive the debt?
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 16 2022 from Felix MacNeill, Dickson
Why do so many people, such as Stewart May (Letters, September 15) keep insisting that we must choose between either light rail or electric buses when we can have, and need, both: light rail for the longer term and the primary routes, and electric buses for the more immediate term and intermediate and local routes?
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 15 2022 from Stewart May, Reid
Perhaps it is time to remind Andrew Barr and Shane Rattenbury that truly wise people know when to admit that they have been wrong? Especially when the fiasco of the tram is sucking funds from essential items such as education, health and urban services. Electric buses would be a very much better and cheaper option!
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 11 2022 from M Flint, coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport
Having heard about the deleterious state of the ACT health system, especially of the unnecessary deaths of two children, I call on Shane Rattenbury, Andrew Barr and Chris Steel to tear up the nonsensical agreements to build the ruinous light rail system. Our health system and other more important priorities of the city demand it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 2 2022 from John Madelly snr, Melba
Mr Steel has reportedly cited contractual negotiations and the need to develop a business case for stage 2 B of light rail. If stage 2 B is still uncertain what is the use of stage 2 A? Works approval for stage 2 A is expected to be lodged with the NCA before the end of the year. No contract can be signed before the NCA approval. City Hill will be changed forever and there is currently no certainty that stage 2 A or stage 2 B will ever be constructed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 17 2022 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Romaldo Giurgola's Parliament House's architecture has been described as "sublime orthodoxy" - a "landscape solution", respecting the symmetry, functions, and built forms envisaged by Griffin for the hilltop site; and expressing itself in readily understood forms, with references to related antiquity and Australian iconography.
In contrast, the use of City Hill and Commonwealth Avenue for the Civic to Capital Hill section of ACT light rail stage 2 (Civic to Woden), has been described as "constipated amateurism" - misunderstanding, disrespecting, and exploiting, in misguided, knee-jerk ways, those massively important National Triangle elements, and their carefully thought out development, following Griffin.
The nation would lose the important engineering, landscape, and urban design heritage of City Hill, notably, important inward and outward vistas, in the name of "land value capture"; the massively important cultural landscape of Commonwealth Avenue; and the iconic bifurcation of its bridge, matching its Kings Avenue counterpart. And there's an expensive cringing requirement for no overhead power lines.
The Prime Minister needs to impose an immediate moratorium on this project, to examine and adopt, an alternative route for the Civic to Capital Hill section, via say, briefly, Edinburgh Avenue, ANU, Acton Peninsula, Griffin's missing third lake crossing, and Flynn Drive - with sensible overhead power lines.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 13 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
The federal government would be undermining its financial credibility if it provided funds to the ACT light rail in the absence of a strong business case for the project, including the evaluation of alternatives such as bus rapid transport ("Catherine King tells Chris Steel, ask for more light rail funding when your ready", August 9).
The ACT government's failure to provide the justification suggests it may have something to hide in its commercial in confidence deal with Canberra Metro.Senator Pocock should inquire why the project is a higher priority than health, housing, city maintenance, a sports stadium and convention centre.
Senator Pocock should inquire why the project is a higher priority than health, housing, city maintenance, a sports stadium and convention centre.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 12 2022 from M.R. flint, coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport
The new Labor federal government is apparently prepared to subsidise Light Rail Stage 2 to the tune of $181.2 million plus $132.5 million, supposedly already committed by the federal government, for a total of $313.7 million, so far (August 9).
While this is a significant sum, it is still only about 10 per cent of the expected $3 billion or more cost of Stage 2 (construction and 20 years of operations) that the ACT taxpayer's will be stuck with, all from debt. However, as Mr Barr has said "We are all Keynesians now", ie debt is good.
Given that Minister for Finance Katy Gallagher is boasting that she started the tram, even though she was reported in June as saying that "cabinet will not support a cost substantially beyond $614 million, even more of taxpayers' good money can be expected to be thrown after bad. But Dracula is in the bloodbank.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 12 2022 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
It is very hard to understand why the federal government is supporting Canberra's light rail before any meaningful business case for the project has been made out by the ACT government ("Feds back wire-free trams", August 9). With the additional costs of raising London Circuit, expanding the Mitchell depot, enlarging the fleet, and now having to retrofit and upgrade all existing vehicles to battery operation; the original costings for the project must now be astronomical.
It is time Minister Steel came clean and provided Canberrans with the true cost and business case for this project. It is unfortunate that Katy Gallagher, who is largely responsible for this appalling project, should be involved with this project at all at a federal level.
When the ACT has a disgraceful hospital system, appalling homeless and housing problems, surely now is the time, before it is too late, to stop this totally uneconomic and socially irresponsible project in its tracks.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 3 2022 from Tony Cook, Kambah
Why can't the Green/Labor government understand that it can't bring more people to Canberra without updating infrastructure such as hospitals other health services? We also won't have the water if we enter another dry spell. The money wasted on the tram could have built two new hospitals.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 28 2022 from Tony Cook, Kambah
I can't believe ACT government can waste two billion dollars plus on a tram while people needing gynaecological cancer treatment have to travel to Sydney or Newcastle because it's not available in Canberra hospitals.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 27 2022 from D Bogusz, Greenway, ACT
There continues a conga line of letters denouncing the folly of the tram to Woden, usually with a list of more beneficial uses for the money.
Yet there is never a response from the government or the provision of the business case based on an analysis of the benefits of the tram.
Makes you suspicious as to their reluctance. This a serious case of the government not listening to the people.
There are committed community-focused members in the ACT Legislative Assembly but it would appear that Barr and Steel are not in that cohort.
It would be interesting if some candidates at the next ACT legislative assembly election stood on a daring platform of listening to people, ripping up the tram line and repurposing it for other uses.
It might sound crazy but it would be no more so than the current activity.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 25 2022 from John Madelly, Melba
Well said, Alastair (Letters, July 25). I agree the ACT government has far better things to spend money on than the tram. They should follow federal Labor and institute a "value for money" review.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 25 2022 from Alastair Bridges, Wanniassa
Who will you vote for in the next ACT election? I am resolved not to vote for the Barr regime ever again. Judder bars on every road, shaking my old limbs to pieces, legislation to force me to use a bus or bike even when I need to carry bags of compost home for my wife's garden, and our money going on trams and support for our druggies rather than housing, health and education.
I have a solution. If Barr and co will stand up and admit they got it wrong on trams and they will divert the millions into the far more important issues then I will consider voting them in again to give them about 25 years in government. Such courage by a politician must be rewarded. Who will join me?
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 20 2022 from Andrew Morris, Kingston
Chris Emery is mystified by the claim that light rail to Woden can contribute to a viable sustainable public transport system. He is worried by the time of travel between Woden and Civic. I think he needs to take a wider perspective. The population of Canberra has now reached a critical point in terms of public transport. At peak times the roads are increasingly choked with traffic - cars and buses.
Buses have their role as feeder services, because of flexibility, but they cannot provide a mass transport system. This is why cities all around the world have turned to light and heavy rail again.
Light rail is comfortable and reliable. It does not depend on traffic flows. It can carry larger numbers of people per unit.
I think some Canberrans have become fixated on light rail as some sort of major irritant. There is room for divergent views, but wider planning and environmental issues should be kept in view as well.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 20 2022 from Richard Johnston, Kingston
Andrew Morris, Kingston (Letters, July 18) hopes for a "viable sustainable transport system". Can he explain how the tram's doubling of current travel times between Civic and Woden for about $2 billion will achieve this? It is a mystery to me.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 20 2022 from Richard Johnston, Kingston
The ACT government has allocated only about $2 million over four years for planning this major urban renewal project, the 'East Lake precinct'. And yet they have let a contract to AECOM for $83 million for work on Light Rail Stage 2. This government's spending priorities seem totally crazy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 19 2022 from B M Bodart-Bailey, Narrabundah
No, Andrew Morrison, we do not need to sacrifice the Himalayan Pines for a sustainable transport system for a city rapidly approaching a population of half a million. (Letters, July 18) Heard of battery-operated buses? They are faster, do not burden the next generation with a massive debt, and do not destroy the environment.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 18 2022 from Andrew Morris, Kingston
No, Malcolm Robertson (Letters, July 13), it is not unconscionable to lose the Himalayan pines for the tram route. Unfortunate yes, but unconscionable no. We are looking at the need for a viable sustainable transport system for a city rapidly approaching a population of half a million. Keep things in perspective.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 18 2022 from Richard Johnston, Kingston
Good on the ACT Greens for calling on the government not to proceed with the $93.33 million duplication of Athllon Drive, saying this could be "much more effectively spent on new, dedicated public and active transport projects in Tuggeranong". How about applying the same logic to the $2 billion for light rail stage 2.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 18 2022 from Jim Derrick, Florey
To paraphrase Greens MLA Jonathon Davies "we could do a lot of good for the community with one billion dollars". A lot more good than building one tram to Woden. An improved health system, more social housing, better schools and more urban maintenance spring to mind.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 18 2022 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
It is time the ACT government came clean with the big picture for its Canberra-wide tram service. Let's face it, Stage 2 isn't going too well and has already been broken into Stages 2A and 2B because 2B has some unresolved issues.
Such piecemeal approach to city planning just literally pushes problems further down the track and is simply irresponsible. The government should now reveal the big picture: When and at what cost will the future stages of Woden to Tuggeranong, Civic to Belconnen and Civic to the airport be carried out? Presumably the timing and cost of such major infrastructure projects are already known to government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 14 2022 from Gordon Fyfe, Kambah
Peter Campbell's letter, referencing light rail "whingers (Letters, July 11), prompts me to express my frustration at how anti-trammers are often characterised. Some of us are not against light rail, per se. However, in relation to Canberra's light rail (present and future), many of us object to the cost, relative to other solutions. Saying some people believe the money could be better spent would be a better way of portraying their views.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 12 2022 from David Rossiter, former inaugural regulator of NGER Act 2008-12, Fadden
Leon Arundell (Letters, July 11) details beautifully how electric transport, be it buses or cars, can reduce emissions substantially in Canberra.
But why go to the trouble of installing electric trams, when electric buses can do the job much more flexibly with zero emissions?
For those of us who are captive to car transport with jobs, kids, friends and relatives in places other than town centres can also be zero emissions by using EVs.
Even the humble transition, range-anxiety free, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle can cut the public transport emissions to a tenth of those quote by Leon. A pure EV drops emissions to zero. Go electric.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 12 2022 from Jorge Gapella, Kaleen
About that disputed stage-two tram to Woden. Will it actually take significantly longer to travel on it than the non-tram public transport alternatives possible? If yes, what's the rationale?
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 10 2022 from B M Bodart-Bailey, Narrabundah
Collisions with the light rail are increasing. As the general manager of Canberra Metro operations, Tilo Franz, has explained, the tram can travel at 70km/h but needs longer to brake than a car, due to steel wheels on steel tracks.
The lack of friction produces a smooth ride and has made the tram popular from its beginnings in the 19th century. Then traffic was slow.
Now the long braking distance is problematic and will continue to endanger lives, even more so once London Circuit is raised and trams, cars, bicycles, scooters and pedestrians all use the same crossings.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 5 2022 from Fred Pilcher, Kaleen
Our hospitals are at bursting point and our waiting times are among the worst, if not the worst, in the country. Under those circumstances, spending $2 billion dollars on the tram is nothing short of an obscenity.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 5 2022 from Russ Morison, Theodore
Please stop Felix O'Neill (Letters, July 1). There is not a small group with a diabolical hatred of light rail. There are too many Canberrans who feel powerless due lack of effective opposition, lack of a house of review.
The Self Government Act of 1988 had only one thing in its favour - the provision for referendums. But none have been sponsored.
Now we're about to throw rocks around the city to suit the manic behaviour of the Greens, to cross Commonwealth Avenue.
If they had a social conscience, they would have had a referendum as elections are too broad.
Katy sold us a pup: "I'll give you a tram for $614 million" which later became $1.8 billion.
Our current system is a case of "if isn't broke, don't fix it".
I like trams but our city cannot afford this monstrous expenditure when so many other community facilities desperately need money invested.
A huge deficit that will be a burden for the young, a housing debt needing to be written off, and you still want the tram?
This particular route works but generally public transport in this town is not going to be resolved by a gold-plated tram solution.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 4 2022 from Ian Pearson, Barton
Why is it so difficult for Canberrans to have a respectful debate about the merits of extending the light rail network? The short answer was kindly provided by Felix MacNeil (Letters, July 1). The thrust of his argument in support of light rail was limited to denigrating its opponents.
Why can't we have a civilised discussion in which, with complete transparency, the merits of the proposed $2 billion plus extension are all laid out, weighed against what our community actually needs, and all other options for best meeting our community's needs properly considered? Why indeed?
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 4 2022 from Leon Arundell, Downer
If the ACT government redirects money from horse racing to transport then by 2024 it could use that money to extend the transit lanes between Woden and Civic, and to buy zero-emissions buses that would do the trip in under 20 minutes.
Alternatively, by 2025 it could use that money to fund a design for stage 2 of light rail, that would take at least twenty-five minutes to make the same trip.
By 2062, it could use that money to construct light rail from Civic to Woden.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 4 2022 from Felix MacNeill, Dickson
Just a little reminder to the tiny but dedicated band of obsessives who love using these pages to blame light rail for pretty much all the ills that beset us: the dogs may bark, but the tram moves on.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 3 2022 from B M Bodart-Bailey, Narrabundah
Many have pointed out the hypocrisy of Jo Clay criticising $40 million for the racing industry, but supporting $2 billion plus for the extension the tram. The same applies to carbon dioxide emissions. Jo Clay has proclaimed "We're facing another apocalypse now. We are in a climate emergency."
Well then, stop the unnecessary pollution produced by the complex infrastructure, shipping trains from Spain and the traffic chaos created by the tram extension.
Remember, Australia is 10th in carbon dioxide emissions per capita with 15.22 tons, topping the 13.68 tons of the US in 13th place, while China with 8.20 tons is 28th in the world.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 1 2022 from M Flint, Erindale Centre
Thank you The Canberra Times for the crop of letters exposing the hypocrisy of the Greens complaining about a government subsidy of a few millions to the racing industry while committing Canberran taxpayers to around $5 billion over the life of only two tram lines that will service only about 7 per cent of Canberrans at the expense of all.
This can be added to the Greens' penchant for destroying valuable trees when convenient and to the misinformation about Canberrans consuming 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 1 2022 from Felix MacNeill, Dickson
Anyone who has read the letters pages of The Canberra Times in recent years is aware there is a small but vocal group of Canberrans with a near obsessive hatred of light rail.
If they each write another 10 letters a week for another decade they might persuade one or two readers to their position. Or not. Either way, it will certainly be incredibly boring.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 28 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
I almost choked on my Weet-Bix. There was Jo Clay, Greens MLA ("ACT racing industry does not deserve $40 million in government funding", canberratimes.com.au, June 27) arguing against funding the industry on the grounds the funds could be better spent on a range of purposes including public housing, solar panels, trees, bike paths, street and music festivals or providing extra staff to hospitals, schools and aged care.
Furthermore, she argued for a public grant or procurement process to give the community confidence it is getting value for money and that more care should be taken over the expenditure of public money, both with regard to transparency and to priorities.While the reasoning is sound the Green's support of the light rail extension, a project likely to cost north of $2 billion and yet to be adequately justified or scrutinised, demonstrates astounding hypocrisy.
Better governance requires action rather than superficial rhetoric. The Greens should practice what they preach.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 28 2022 from Garry Ryan, Scullin
With reference to "ACT racing industry does not deserve $40 million in government funding", (canberratimes.com.au, June 27).
The Greens refuse to commit to supporting the local racing industry. The Greens spokeswoman said the party did not support horse racing arguing the money could be spent on homelessness and housing affordability. Both these are worthwhile initiatives.
How many homes could you build for $2 billion plus. Ms Clay and the Greens would be better off dumping the tram project. This would ensure that public money could be spent building enough government housing and have plenty left over.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 28 2022 from Don White, Campbell
Ms Clay's objection to $8 million per year going to racing as she thinks it would be better spent on homelessness, etc. is astounding. I haven't heard her saying the billions going to trams could be better spent on social and environmental problems which she seems to be concerned about.Being a part of the government, I am sure she knows government revenue from gambling on racing exceeds any outlay to the racing club.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 28 2022 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Good of Jo Clay to question the ACT government's $40 million funding of the horse racing industry saying it could be spent on better things such as social housing. Now let's get serious and question whether the $2 billion you are about to spend on the Civic to Woden tram could be spent on better things too.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 28 2022 from Richard Johnston, Kingston
Well said, Jo Clay: "I just can't see how we could possibly prioritise $40 million going into the horse racing industry when we have all these major social and environmental problems to deal with". And how about at least 50 times that amount going into a light rail extension that will benefit very few people?
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 28 2022 from Chris Emery, Reid
Pedestrians have unfortunately learnt to ignore the light rail traffic signals which just cycle between "walk" and "don't walk" and bear no relation to an approaching tram. Both Capital Metro and Roads ACT are aware of this design deficiency. Minister Steel should investigate before someone is hit by a tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 17 2022 from Judy Dillon, Garran
Messrs Barr and Rattenbury continue to ignore the strong opposition of southside residents to the plan to send their dinosaur tram to Woden.
They have shown nothing but contempt for southside residents by not fronting public meetings to address residents' concerns. When will they stop hiding and present their case to the public in public?
Mr Barr's claim that the 2016 election was a mandate for building light rail does not apply to south Canberra where the Liberals convincingly won more votes than Labor.
For a great many voters this was due to the tram being a highly vexatious issue.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 13 2022 from Tony May, Pearce
There's been calls for more transparency about stages 2A and 2B of light rail. It is my belief they haven't a clue as to how to straddle the lake and cut its way through the Parliamentary Triangle. It's obvious from reading these columns over a lengthy period that no one believes the cost warrants the extension to go ahead, with the possible exception of Ian Warden.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 11 2022 from Terry Werner, Wright
Jack Kershaw (Letters, June 9) refers to the key problems of his particular hobby horse, the Civic to Capital Hill part of the tram journey to Woden. I think he needs to take a broader view. The entirety of the proposed journey is much slower than currently achieved by buses, the cost is crippling, the embodied energy could never be recovered, and there will be a decade of traffic chaos. Apart from that the tram seems a good idea.
He also demeans the concept of a trackless tram, with axle loadings designed to run on our (admittedly poorly maintained, dodgy and potholed) roads. He calls these vehicles electric buses, and they are not. MLAs, in particular, please take note. These new vehicles are a much cheaper alternative to the tram, function much the same, and can make huge improvements to Canberra's traffic and emissions right now.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 9 2022 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Terry Werner's sort of "gotcha" attempt (Letters, June 3), criticising my May 29 letter mentioning that electric buses [trackless trams] need expensive strengthened carriageways (in which he compares the electric buses to heavy "A and B-Double" semi trailers which don't) doesn't necessarily make electric buses cheaper than trams.
Unlike intermittent randomly routed A and B-Doubles, frequent heavy electric buses mostly have to run in dedicated lanes which, unless expensively strengthened, will develop troublesome deep tyre grooves in normal road surfaces.
The destructive route, and the NCA's requirement for underground power, both massively expensive, are the key problems with the proposed Civic to Capital Hill section of the proposed Civic to Woden tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 3 2022 from G. Elphick, Mawson
I am absolutely devastated to hear that the wonderful historic cypress trees in front of the Albert Hall are to be cut down. Is it because they are unsightly? No.
Are they diseased? No; they have to make way for a tram that we don't need.
The bus from city to Woden takes up to 15 minutes, whereas the tram will take 30 minutes. I wonder how many ratepayers like me object to this unwarranted expenditure.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 3 2022 from Terry Werner, Wright
Jack Kershaw (Letters, May 29) sets out the glaring problems in getting a tram from Civic to Woden, but he dismisses the alternative of electric buses. He says the cost is on a par with the tram because of the need for pavement strengthening.
Not so. Brisbane is introducing the Metro. It's not an electric bus, but a trackless tram. Some typical figures: A conventional articulated bus weighs 26 tonnes and is 18 metres long; a trambus weighs 33.5 tonnes and is 23.8 metres long; a trackless tram weighs 51 tonnes, is 31.6 metres long and can carry from 250 to 300 passengers.
By way of comparison, a seven-axle B-double weighs 57 tonnes and is 26 metres long, while a 12-axle A-double weighs 85 tonnes and is 50 metres long. My figures are taken from the Australian Transport Research Forum 2021 Proceedings 8-10 December, Brisbane.
Most publications put the cost of a trackless tram at an order of magnitude less than a tram. In our case, the difference is even greater - because with rubber tyres, a trackless tram can get up hills. Lifting London Circuit because the tram can't manage that feat? Was it April 1st when I read about it? Any way you look at it - the expense, the environmental impact, the disruption to lives - it's demented.
The ACT government is proposing the most complex, costly, damaging and unsustainable solution to a problem that frankly does not exist until you introduce a steel-on-steel vehicle. Unless the real problem is how to keep itself in power with Greens backing, and be damned to the citizens of Canberr
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 29 2022 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Those who would deny the rest of Canberra a tram service now the north has one are on the wrong track. The often promoted alternative, electric buses, require their dedicated carriageways to be heavily strengthened, putting them on cost par with trams.
With regard to the proposed Civic to Woden tram, it's the Civic to Capital Hill section that's the glaring problem. It will wreck the format, integrity and heritage of City Hill, while causing significant traffic disruption during and after construction. It will destroy Commonwealth Avenue's cultural landscape and its bridge's iconic format and heritage, and require expensive underground power (for aesthetic reasons).
Terminus-to-terminus speed of travel for commuters is not so important on the Civic-Woden route because, briefly, both termini are already major employment centres. However, extent of coverage is important, especially in the central national area, and the current route is weak in that regard.
To solve all those problems the Civic to Capital Hill section of the Woden tram, very briefly, needs to travel via Edinburgh Avenue, straight on into the ANU, the existing land bridge over Parkes Way, Acton Peninsula, Griffin's missing third lake crossing, and Flynn Drive turning east on to State Circle.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 26 2022 from Dr John Bell, president, Deakin Residents' Association
The Chief Minister's hopes of obtaining federal funding for light rail stage 2B are just wishful thinking.
The dodgy business case for this project was heavily redacted to prevent public scrutiny of the details. It drew scathing comments from the Auditor-General. Excluding the so-called "wider economic benefits", the real benefit-cost ratio is not high enough to justify Commonwealth funding. When borderline projects like this were funded by the previous government, they were heavily criticised.
The feds have already recognised a dud when they see one. The possibility of a $200 million Commonwealth contribution has already been abandoned. The ACT taxpayers would be left to carry the burden of a project that has been estimated to cost as much as $3.8 billion.
The Chief Minister's claim that the Commonwealth stands to benefit the most from "an efficient public transport system" are ridiculous. There is nothing efficient about a tram which takes nearly twice as long as the current City to Woden express bus. Electric buses would come in at around one-tenth of the cost.
The incoming federal government is not going to make the mistakes of its predecessor.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 26 2022 from Terry Werner, Wright
I refer to Graham Downie's letter of May 19 about light rail. In Canberra we are irrefutably on the wrong track by bulldozing ahead with stage 2. What a waste.
This is how it should be done. From the Brisbane City Council: "As part of Brisbane Metro, Brisbane City Council will introduce a new fleet of 60 battery electric, high-capacity metros. The metros will integrate seamlessly into busway operations, sharing the busway with existing bus services."
And: "Council is working with world-leading vehicle manufacturer HESS, electric infrastructure experts Hitachi Energy and leading manufacturer Volgren to design and build the battery electric metro fleet and state of the art flash charging infrastructure."
Google it. Can someone please show the Greens how to do that?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 23 2022 from Warwick Davis, Isaacs
Contrary to Graham Downie's suggestion development is the raison d'etre for the tram (Letters, May 19), we have light rail because Andrew Barr gets to be Chief Minister by satisfying the Greens leader's obsession with trains. Developers do not care how folk travel. But if they did they would choose electric buses because of the convenience for their apartment and house customers.
Buses are more flexible. Development sites we know of will not be serviced by trams but by buses within suburbs.
I agree with Downie's analysis otherwise.
Our Territory services especially health and education are starved of funds so that two politicians can satisfy their respective desires for power and trains. It would be cheaper to let Shane drive the Gungahlin tram back and forth with no passengers.
Andrew Barr can be Chief Minister but no trams.
The money saved ($1-1.5 billion) plus billions more for Tuggeranong and Belconnen connections could restore the ACT and Canberra as a world leading place to live.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 22 2022 from David Purnell, Florey
Anyone who has travelled on Canberra's public transport system for as long as I have (since the 1950s) will know that the light rail has been a game-changer in terms of its capacity to attract patrons and provide a smooth, reliable and regular service.
Our city needs more people to use public transport in the future, and the investment in extending light rail will prove far more effective than relying on rubber-wheeled vehicles on roads.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 22 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
The Federal ALP states attention should be on the quality of expenditure proposals so benefits to the community can be maximised. Unfortunately, the ACT Labor government does not have such a focus.
Canberra light rail has been found by the Productivity Commission, Infrastructure Australia and other experts to be a poor use of public funds, funds which would provide greater benefits if used for other purposes including social housing, health and improved bus services, including the more rapid electrification of bus fleet.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 19 2022 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
Even if waiving the ACT's housing, land and building debts of more than $100 million to support social housing has merit, ("Clearly in crisis: David Pocock urges waiving of $100m ACT housing debt" canberratimes.com.au, May 18) the proposal overlooks the elephant in the room of the more than $2 billion committed by the ACT government to extend light rail to Woden.
As with the Gungahlin to Civic light rail, there are far less expensive options with far more effective public transport alternatives which would free up in the order of $1.5 billion for social housing and a raft of other services.
Even if Mr Pocock were successful in having the housing debt waived, there could be no guarantee the ACT government would spend this largesse on social housing.
The government has shrugged off yet another Auditor-General's report on light rail, which found the government had paid insufficient attention to an economic analysis for stage 2A of light rail, and should assess the benefits of the entire route to Woden.
No independent financial or transport assessment has supported the light rail project, but the arrogant government, with an eye more on the development dollar than effective public transport, is determined to saddle future generations with the cost of this folly.
Meanwhile, health, education, urban upkeep, and indeed the rest of public transport suffers through lack of resources.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 12 2022 from John Howarth, Weston
During my regular morning runs at the National Arboretum I've been wondering what all the construction work I've been seeing was for. Now that the Commonwealth Avenue bridge has been given heritage status I'm guessing it is going to be for tram route Stage 2B Plan B.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 5 2022 from David McIntosh, Gordon
The NCA has greenlit the raising of London Circuit. It is apparent this decision paid no regard to the light rail proposals to come. Only the aesthetics of the new intersection in isolation seemed to matter. Amazing, but Sir Humphrey would be proud.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 5 2022 from Mike Quirk, Garran
The NSW government is deferring the extension of the Parramatta light rail due to a blowout in costs and labour shortages, saying to proceed would be reckless. Can the ACT government reassure the community the cost of the light rail extension to Woden has not blown out and it is not being reckless?
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 29 2022 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
How does Rebecca Vassarotti square her "tree change" ("Extra protection for Canberra's old beauties", Sunday March 27, front and p4) with her Green party's advocacy for destroying the beautiful Himalayan and Atlas Cedars on Commonwealth Avenue to make way for their light rail to Woden? Is this a case of government saying do as I say, not do as I do? And politicians wonder why people distrust them.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 24 2022 from Chris Emery, ReidRecent correspondents have focused on the eye-watering costs of extending light rail to Woden. However there are other reasons Infrastructure Australia said Light Rail would be "unsuitable" for Canberra, while noting the north-south residential dimension of Canberra is the same as Sydney and they have metro heavy rail.
Public transport needs to be fast, direct, frequent, dependable and comfortable. Stage 1 light rail to Gungahlin matched the original bus journey time only by introducing traffic signal priority for trams and by leaving out the Mitchell station.According to the Light Rail Stage 2 business plan the tram to Woden will take almost twice the journey time of the current buses, with half the frequency, half the seats and twice the operating subsidy per boarding.
Extending the tram to Tuggeranong would introduce over an hour's travel to Civic, more than likely standing up. And then you need to catch a bus or tram to your destination.
Why is the ACT government so determined to make public transport less attractive to us all?
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 24 2022 from John Smith, Farrer
"Canberra is a car city and that sits uneasily with the ACT government's repeated bragging about its green credentials" ("Canberra Day is a day to remember our good fortune", editorial, canberratimes.com.au, March 13).
The government's response has been to build a tram line from Gungahlin to Woden and cram the corridor with high rise apartments and offices.
What sort of people will live there? Will they have any children? If so, where will these children play and go to school? There is no evidence in the current redevelopment of Woden that any consideration has been given to this basic community requirement.
It is clear from the ever-widening gap between house prices and unit prices what people want. Why not spend the $2 billion required for the tram Stage 2 on utilities to the new subdivisions that are required for cheaper houses? The advantages to mental health and families would be a very good return on investment. Moreover, it remains to be shown that high rise living is greener than having one's own backyard.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 8 2022 from Richard Johnston, Kingston
I see from the article by Peter Brewer ("Multiple inquiries into the heavy transport sector have yielded little or no action from government", canberratimes.com.au, March 2) that the former federal transport minister, Darren Chester, drew attention to the "second stage of Canberra's light rail project, which will bring thousands of heavy truck movements into the busiest part of the city". What does the ACT transport minister have to say about this very important issue?
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 22 2022 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Andrew Barr recently opened the new Tesla showrooms in Civic. It is a pity the innovative Tesla boss, Elon Musk, could not be there. Imagine the look on Musk's face if Barr was able to tell him about the 19th century technology behind the impending "iron horse" from Civic to Woden.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 21 from John Smith, Farrer
The National Capital Authority (NCA) will soon respond to the ACT government's works approval request for the raising of London Circuit "to facilitate development of several undeveloped city blocks and to provide a path of travel for a future light rail system".
Perusal of the 2017 NCA document "Kings and Commonwealth Avenues Draft Design Strategy" suggests that it will embrace the changes to Commonwealth Avenue proposed by the ACT government, and so it would be very surprising if approval for the works were not given, despite much opposition expressed in the public submissions.
Blame for such a terrible planning decision would rest almost entirely with the ACT Labor-Green alliance, given the restricted functions of the NCA.
It has long been apparent that ACT planners have as much vision as a stone wall, with their failure to foresee the impacts of technology and focus on developing central Canberra while ignoring the previously established distributed town design.
Many people have rightly criticised the choice of, and continued preference for light rail technology, but it is the associated urban planning that is now under the microscope.
Working from home is a long-term phenomenon that will significantly reduce commuter traffic and public transport rides. Once a substantial portion of the workforce commits to primarily working in the suburbs service industries will follow, promoting development across the towns and undermining the rationale for light rail corridors.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 15 2022 from G Byrne, Hughes
I feel sorry for the lady who missed her oncologist appointment (Letters, February 11) because of the protesters convoy. Just imagine the disruptions when the tram line is being built for the antiquated means of transport that nobody wants.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 12 2022 from Bill Stefaniak, (former Liberal MLA, ACT opposition leader, and Belco Party candidate in 2020), Narrabundah
I sympathise with the many correspondents who wish that light rail stage 2 would be canned.
However, whilst the people of the ACT keep re-electing a Green/Labor government committed to light rail despite all the evidence against it, this will never happen.
I am pleased to see the local Liberals now have elected the leadership team of Elizabeth Lee and Jeremy Hanson.
It ticks all the right boxes. We now have a very viable opposition.
Might I also point out that at each recent election there have always been a number of sensible, potentially very good independent candidates much better able to represent their respective electorates than some of the usual Green and ALP government hacks?
Names such as Fiona Carrick (Murrumbidgee), Jason Potter (Brindabella), Chic Henry (Ginninderra) and David Pollard (Yerrabi) spring to mind.
All would have developed into fine MLAs with a wide range of political views.
If elected, they would have, in combination with a Liberal minority government, provided a much more balanced and viable Legislative Assembly, representative of all views in the community.
I'm sure a number of good independents will stand in 2024. People like Kim Rubenstein should consider it; maybe even David Pocock.
Remember, the current government will have been there for 23 years in 2024.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 7 2022 from Terry Werner, Wright
Well said, Sandy Paine (Letters, February 3), light rail stage two is madcap. This scheme has embedded itself as a thorn in the sides of all: the Greens, who cannot admit the folly after all the pain they have caused, and who abused their balance of power; Labor, who allowed themselves to be bought off to retain power; the Libs, who failed to be a viable alternative government by being directionless and gormless. It's not apathy on the part of Canberrans that is the problem, it is the fact that our pollies have all backed themselves into corners.
The people of Canberra do not want $3 billion (yes, many claim it will head towards that) spent on this lunacy, and a decade of traffic chaos. The cost is not the cash, it is the lost opportunity to create a world-leading public transport network of renewably powered smart vehicles (guided trackless trams, trambuses ... you name it, they exist now), free for all of to use.
Sometimes we do need to change course, for all sorts of reasons. We can back away from this shambles and create something visionary, but it will take some MLAs to finally show good sense, and many to show guts.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 7 2022 from Yvette Alberti Devlin, Cook
Sandy Paine (Letters, February 3) is the latest correspondent to express their despair at the unjustifiable light-rail-to-Woden project of the Barr government.
The Chief Minister is disingenuous when he argues that, by winning the last election, he received voters' approval to proceed with stages 2a and 2b. The election was not a referendum on light rail - voters consider a range of issues before casting their vote.
I wrote to the ACT government in May 2020 expressing my reservations about the project and asking whether an analysis of the comparative costs of various options for achieving the objective of substantially improving city-to-Woden public transport could be made public. Minister Chris Steel's reply was verbose bureaucratic tripe, much of it irrelevant to the issue.
Various commentators have identified exorbitant costs of the infrastructure, inflexibility of the light-rail system, slower service, massive disruption to traffic flow for a lengthy period - as some of the grounds for reconsidering this project. Andrew Barr's continuing disregard for people's well-founded concerns is damning.
Rather than being apathetic, I suspect Canberrans are despairing of ever being listened to. Regrettably, the Liberal opposition has not been vocal about demanding costing details and a reconsideration of the project's viability. Perhaps the return of Jeremy Hanson can change this approach.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 3 2022 from Sandy Paine, Griffith
I find it difficult to understand the widespread apathy in Canberra about our government's impending expenditure of over 2 million dollars on Light Rail Stage Two.
This is plainly a madcap scheme, fraught with physical and logistical problems. Its starting point, raising London Circuit, is equally madcap, as indicated recently by Murray Upton in his letter, the public response to this proposal was very strongly negative.
The cost envisaged is simply colossal, and the opportunity cost breath-taking.
Think of how far even half of that sum could go towards the proper maintenance and establishment of better health facilities, road, footpath and cycle path repair, street tree care, and a multitude of other "dull" but nonetheless essential issues.
The solution to our mass transit needs, obvious to many, is electric buses: flexible, modern, efficient, and non-polluting. An electric bus fleet would cost a tiny fraction of the 2 billion dollars our government and the NCA are planning to spend on the light rail.
We must all wake up to what is in the pipeline. As taxpayers, this is our money. Personally, I object in the strongest possible terms to my money being thrown away on this extraordinary and grossly extravagant plan.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 21 2021 from Maria Greene, Curtin
Shane Rattenbury (Opinion, December 18) has a hide to boast how the Greens have improved public transport. His obsession with an outdated, slow tram is the reason we can seldom catch a bus since his "reforms".
We live nowhere near the tram, but we can no longer catch a local bus to Barton. We have lost our express buses, and as most school buses disappeared there is little room left on the buses that remain during the peak. What horrors he has in store for our remaining buses, after years of traffic chaos and squillions of wasted dollars, are the stuff of nightmares. Shane, you made me vote for the Liberals at the last election. The choice will be even easier next time.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 19 2021 from Graham Anderson, Garran
There have been numerous letters over recent months despairing at the government's persistence with plans for more light rail. But the government remains bunkered, apparently unable to answer the criticisms, and is pressing ahead regardless.
Since 2016 Brisbane has been planning a new metro system, initially intended as light rail but changed when it became obvious that light rail would not provide value for money. They are now going ahead with a dedicated electric busway, adapting existing European technology to Australian conditions.
This approach may not be the right one for access to Woden. Simply electrifying the bus fleet may be sufficient.
Being prepared to think again when the odds are so clearly in favour of doing so is what is needed.
The ACT's government's persistence with light rail in the face of its cost, the chaos it will cause on London Circuit, and without clarity on how to get it across the lake doesn't make sense.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 10 2021 from Judy Dillon, Garran
There is very strong community opposition to the ACT government's plan to extend light rail to Woden.
There are concerns about the huge cost, the adoption of a 19th-century transport technology and whether or not there are cheaper and more efficient alternatives such as electric buses.
There is also the issue of the traffic chaos that will be caused both during construction and after completion, due to the raising of London Circuit to create an intersection with traffic lights instead of a free flowing cloverleaf. Where is the sense in that?
By calling the tram to Woden "a fantastic catalyst for urban renewal", I assume the Barr government is planning to construct apartment blocks along the route.
Why are Messrs Barr and Rattenbury not fronting up to town hall meetings with southside ratepayers so we can voice our concerns and have them addressed?
Questions needing answers include: will the express bus be retained between Woden and Civic that would run in competition to the tram? Are tram stops planned along Adelaide Avenue, and if so, does this mean there will be traffic lights at each stop to impede what is currently free-flowing traffic?
Given the billion-dollar cost of the tram proposal, can we expect our already monstrous rates to increase even more steeply?
And why replace the current bus service with a tram that will make the trip almost twice as long?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 25 2021 from Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
I agree with Penleigh Boyd's cautions (Letters, November 22) regarding the NCA's limited role in assessing the ACT Labor/Greens Woden tram proposal. However, support for raising London Circuit to the level of Commonwealth Avenue will be a fait accompli for the extension, and should be opposed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 22 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Many Canberrans despair that our money is being lavished on the tram when other city services, including healthcare, are chronically underfunded. Canberra's tram is as much an economic debate as it is an environmental or urban design issue.
The NCA is currently seeking public comment on the ACT government's proposal to raise London Circuit to the level of Commonwealth Avenue to allow the tram to proceed further south.
The NCA will not be assessing the ACT government's fiscal priorities nor the environmental impact of the tram proceeding further south. That is not their role. The NCA will only look at the proposal from the point of view of its conformity to the National Capital Plan; primarily urban planning and aesthetic issues.
The ACT government has adopted the AWM approach of submitting its desired works application in stages. This way, for example, you might get approval to raise London Circuit before having to seek NCA approval to cut down the Himalayan and Atlas cedars further down the track.
If making a submission to the NCA, good luck, but don't think it is the NCA's role to bring the ACT government to its proper senses.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 19 2021 from John Smith, Farrer
I hope readers will respond to Renée Goossen's appeal (Letters, November 11) to make submissions to the NCA call for consultation on the "Raising of London Circuit". Before doing so it would be worth reading the NCA document "Kings and Commonwealth Avenue Draft Design Strategy" (2017) and the submissions made about that document that can be easily found by internet search.
The most important difference between the NCA document and the public submissions concerns the critical transport role of Commonwealth Avenue in crossing the lake. On the other hand, the ACT government planners and the NCA appear to have some sort of telepathic harmony.
Their plans remind me of an impressionist painter focused on the street cafes of Paris, not on the Bush Capital. Both planning organisations want to get rid of slip lanes and cloverleafs in favour of level intersections and traffic lights. If light rail south must be, I suggest that adding a new cloverleaf between the London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue grades in the north-east quadrant would work very well.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 18 2021 from Leon Arundell, Downer
For about $70 million, by the middle of next year, Transport Minister Chris Steel and Chief Minister Andrew Barr can provide quieter, cleaner, faster bus travel between Woden and Civic. Buses currently do that trip in seventeen minutes at peak times, and as little as fourteen minutes at other times.
For about $20 million they could extend Adelaide Avenue's transit lanes and cut peak travel times to about 15 minutes. For about $50 million they could replace the noisy, polluting fossil-fuelled buses on the route with quieter, zero-emissions electric buses.
They plan to eventually replace buses on that route with light rail that will cost $1.5 billion and take 25 to 30 minutes for the same trip.
When that happens, it will make sense to re-allocate the new buses to provide more zero-emissions buses, on more routes, for the benefit of the broader community.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 17 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Rather than truck in 60,000 cubic metres of fill to raise London Circuit up to the level of Commonwealth Avenue, wouldn't it be easier to use $2 coins readily available from the Mint, just down the road?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 16 2021 from John Madelly snr, Melba
The article by Jasper Lindell headed "Time to put rubber on the road" (November 13) is some years too late. The article would have had more currency if he had written about the hiatus which will be caused by the destruction of City Hill. However, the concept of "rubber on the road" does have considerable appeal.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 16 2021 from Russ Morison, Theodore
Re "Is it time to make tracks on light rail in Canberra" (November 13). What we know now is that Malmo, CRRC in China, and Brisbane Metro all have or are acquiring some like and with similar capacities to the tram at significantly less cost than our red rattler. That is hardly unproven technology.
It is obvious that the minister has not ridden on a bus before. I were a bus driver, I would be rightly upset with comments like "rude, grumpy" drivers, noisy, smelly etc. What is true is that we've been conditioned to jump in the car to get around and that public transport will never compete. Yes, they look nice but they are a means to an end for a significantly small population that has to support this expensive mode.
Gold standard minister? My gold standard means everyone has a roof over their heads, a medical system that is responsive to peoples' needs, and transport that will get users to their destination quickly, swimming pools and other community facilities, not a very expensive transport system that will rob future generations of their community facilities.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 15 2021 from Geoff Henkel, Farrer
I can see very little merit in this expensive Woden tram indulgence. The tram journey will take twice as long as an express bus service and will have an underscoring benefit-cost ratio. The disruption to London circuit and the beautiful treescape destruction along Commonwealth Avenue is deplorable.
Canberra has been planned mainly for easy car transport and we will have in the near future self-driving smaller electric cars that could even utilise narrower lanes and thus provide an increase in car capacity. The Gungahlin tramway had an initial benefit cost ratio of about 0.5. Then a plan to densify Northbourne Avenue with high-rise buildings was conceived to bring the ratio up to about 1.5. So, apart from a very expensive lake bridge, are we also planning to densify Yarra Glen with high-rise buildings? Before any disruptive and destructive construction works are commenced on stage 2a, the government ought to provide an economic statement to clearly demonstrate its benefit cost ratio and any other intentions are acceptable.
There are alternatives. I found electric trolley buses in Kathmandu, years ago, quite quick and successful; this may be a more efficient and certainly much less costly option. Let us be mindful of all the implications and developments in urban transport technology. We must have other projects more beneficial to the Canberra community and with better benefit cost ratios.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 15 2021 from B.M. Bodart-Bailey, Narrabundah
The raising of London Circuit for the light rail is not only "a costly, ugly mistake" (Letters, November 12). It also exposes the hypocrisy of Labor and the Greens attempting to garner votes with their "Net Zero Emissions Policy Forum" and similar "blah, blah, blah" as Greta Thunberg would call it.
As long as the government insists on producing large amounts of greenhouse gasses by trucking 60,000 cubic metres of soil into Civic and blowing up access to the iconic arterial road connecting Civic with the inner south to replace this well-designed layout with traffic lights - resulting in long lines of cars waiting with idling engines - all assurances that it is committed to taking effective measures reducing CO2 emissions are suspect.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2021 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
The $409 million Cotter Dam is a valuable community asset, which cannot be said for the $1 billion Gungahlin to Civic light rail.
Rick Britain, "Complaints should dry up" (Letters, November 11) is not correct that there was a constant stream of complaints about the building of the dam. A few self-appointed experts said it would never fill, though downstream flows from Corin and Bendora dams showed it would. Canberra Liberals opposed the new dam, not because they did not want a dam but because they wanted it in the wrong place.
Toward the end of an almost 10-year drought and consequential harsh water restrictions, the new dam was largely welcomed, despite a $50 million budget blowout. The result, wouldn't you know it, of a major flood which would have filled the dam had it been completed. There would almost certainly have been water restrictions by 2018-19 had the dam not been built.
This $409 million asset serves about 500,000 people. Stage one light rail for at least $1 billion serves a small percentage of Canberra's population, though far less costly and more flexible transport options were available. Despite this, at least twice that money is to be spent getting the tram to Woden with about a 50 per cent increased travel time. This project simply does not stack up on financial, public transport or environmental grounds. Critics have made these points since at least 2012 and should continue to do so, not least because it is a stitch up between the Greens and Labor and not in the best interests of Canberra ratepayers or public transport users, of whom I am one.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 12 2021 from John Smith, Farrer
I strongly support the case put by Jack Kershaw (Letters, November 12) that the light rail route should not be allowed to deface Commonwealth Avenue and the cloverleaf roadways that make up the defining landscape feature of Canberra on the northside of the lake.
The role of the National Capital Authority (NCA) in this vandalising of our city should not go unnoticed. Supposedly its national capital plan is to ensure that Canberra and the territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance.
It is stated on the NCA website that the chairman, Mr Terry Weber, is lead partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Canberra consulting practice in the areas of property, infrastructure and facilities management.
On its website, PricewaterhouseCoopers talks about "The New Equation" to address "issues that can't be solved using old formulas but instead require new thinking".
If some new thinking were applied to Canberra, it would be obvious that transport in the Canberra of 2030 will still be dominated by the car, but using the new robotic technology. Light rail will then be seen for what it already is, an old formula.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 12 2021 from Jeremy Wainwright, O'Connor
Intelligent discussion of transport options for Canberra is not well served by Penleigh Boyd's assertion (Sunday Canberra Times, November 6) that "Melbourne is to have a trackless tram system from Caulfield Station to Chadstone Shopping Centre ... twice the speed of an average Melbourne tram, $1.4 billion and running by 2025". For a start, it is clear from the article cited that all that is going to "happen" so far is that "federal Labor has pledged $6 million to plan [i.e. finance a business case for] a trackless tram route ... if it wins the next election".
In addition, it is not helpful to rely on the comparison of the theoretical operating speed of the proposed Trackless Rapid Transit with that of "an average Melbourne tram" - operating on busy streets and beset by many impediments to clear passage - rather than, say, that of a light rail vehicle operating on a relatively unimpeded route similar to the R1 route here in Canberra.
Reliance on the touted savings in the cost and time taken for implementation depends to a great degree on the veracity of the claim (as stated in The Age) that the rubber-tyred TRT vehicles "run on asphalt", rather than on a heavily engineered road base. Readers may recall the deep wheel ruts left by conventional buses in the kerbside lanes of Northbourne Avenue remedied by the recent reconstruction of the roadway.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 12 2021 from Kim Fitzgerald, Deakin
I just don't get it! According to media reports, the ACT's health system is in immediate crisis and needs a massive injection of funds.
Whatever your thoughts are on the light rail stage 2A and beyond (and its bodgy business case), there is no imperative to build it now. We have to get our priorities right, and 20th-century technology isn't one of them.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2021 from John Howarth, Weston
It seems we now have a cracking public transport strategy, just like NSW.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2021 from Rick Britain, Melba
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 from Rick Britain, Melba
I keep seeing the complaints about the light rail and keep wondering ... whatever happened to the complaints about the new Cotter Dam? Just like the light rail there was a constant stream of complaints about expense and how unnecessary it was.
No one seems concerned anymore?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2021 from Nick Pinter, Narrabundah
In the days of old
When the men were bold
And Canberra trams were not invented
They'd catch buses
And trust us
It was a problem solved!
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2021 from Anton Buchi, Chapman
All tram passengers are kindly asked to carry a Mig Welder.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 11 2021 from John Madelly snr, Melba
Why is Mr Barr about to bleat to the federal government for more money for our hospitals when he cannot spend what he has budgeted for over some years? On Monday we learned that a dearth of earth, 60,000 cubic metres of it, might be difficult to procure for the destruction of City Hill. Meanwhile, back at the tram depot, there may be some cracks in the rolling stock.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2021 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
London Circuit and Vernon Circle are two iconic concentric Canberra carriageways, at City Hill, each meant to be level, but on different planes. The proposal to tilt one sector of London Circuit upwards, especially facing Capital Hill, creates a harsh, alien urban form, in one of the most important precincts in the national capital.
The proposed arrangement will involve outlandish retaining walls, which will blind prospects to and from key sites in the precinct.
The reports in the NCA Works Approval application papers for this work, acknowledge the important heritage values of the existing "cloverleaf" road arrangements etc, but invoke a formative 1950's layout in a sort of defence of removing them.
That ignores the later introduction of Parkes Way, a critical east-west traffic element in the evolution of the city (difficult to imagine in Griffin's time), of which the City Hill cloverleafs are natural and essential components. The parkway and the cloverleafs enhance the vital open space character of the Central National Area, and coexist superbly.
That arrangement must not be destroyed, and certainly not to facilitate (highly intrusive) property development - the obvious underlying raison d'être for the outlandish subject road re-arrangements etc, together with the associated proposed tram line route (London Circuit - Commonwealth Avenue).
If light rail stage 2 is to proceed, then it clearly must not travel via Commonwealth Avenue.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2021 from Jenny Nairn, Hawker
I cannot let another day go by and not write about the disaster facing us in Canberra with the proposed second stage of the light rail to Woden still going ahead, when it has been shown to be uneconomic, outdated and as far as trip time goes, longer than is currently the case.
Apart from the horrors that await us trying to drive through the city when the city interchange is levelled, what chaos will there be for everyday traffic trying to manoeuvre around the construction?
Is this just a case of the Barr government not wanting to lose face? It is still not too late to go for the electric trackless buses as proposed by many alternatives but is this government too stubborn to change?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 10 2021 from Kim Hanna, Canberra
Just back in town and read the ACT government wants to spend tens of millions on raising London Circuit, then reading the ACT has nearly 30,000 people near the poverty line and that we have the highest hospital waiting time in the country. Have I missed something?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 9 2021 from John Smith, Farrer
What better opportunity than now to bite the bullet and abandon light rail in Canberra, while the CAF trams may have a couple of years life left in them?
Decide whether an expanded electric bus fleet, or the Brisbane high-capacity HESS electric vehicle, or even the ART trackless tram is best for the revised Gungahlin-to-Woden route.
Abandon the destruction of the London Circuit-Commonwealth Avenue interchange, and find out what can be achieved in the upgrade of the Commonwealth Avenue bridge.
Then, in one decade, you will be able to complete a mass transit network that was going to take at least 30 years using light rail, and save the Canberra ratepayer several billion dollars.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 9 2021 from Renée Goossens, Turner
As if there were not already many practical reasons to prevent this 19th-century equipment from crossing the lake - involving 6000 tonnes of Earth for backfilling, creating traffic chaos and gross environmental damage - here's the latest.
The Spanish-built trams are being removed from service in NSW for 18 months, costing millions of dollars to repair their dangerous cracks. Our trams came from the same source. We need up-to-date electric buses instead. Of course, efficient public transport is great, specially when it's affordable. Stage two will cost even more billions. Buses are faster, ecologically make more sense, are more flexible, and nowhere near as costly. Maybe they could even be Australian-built. When will governments begin to listen to the people?
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 7 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
The Age reported this week that Melbourne is to have a trackless tram system from Caulfield Station to Chadstone Shopping Centre; 19 kilometres, 13 stations, twice the speed of an average Melbourne tram, $1.4 billion and running by 2025.
Come on, Canberra! We used to be an advanced jurisdiction. Dump the "iron horse" from Civic to Woden and get on board with 21st century technology.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 6 2021 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
The ACT government has finally revealed that 60,000 tons of fill will be needed to raise London Circuit to build Stage 2A of the tram route ("Plans for light rail extension submitted" October 30, p3). To visualise this vast amount, think of 24 Olympic swimming pools, and the 6,000 diesel-spewing dump-truck loads needed to transport the fill. A line of 6000 dump trucks parked bumper-to-bumper would extend from Parliament House, across the lake, along Northbourne Ave and the entire length of the Barton Highway, past the Yass Post Office.
Expressing righteous concern over the ocean of greenhouse gases produced by this counter-productive effort, the ACT government, taking their lead from Messers Morrison and Taylor, will no doubt promise vague "carbon offset" arrangements that never appear as a cost to the project. They will ignore the inconvenient fact that the accelerating transition of transport to electricity means that the greenhouse gases produced by Stage 1's construction will never be balanced by reductions in transport emissions. As well as reducing the utility of Canberra's public transport network at huge expense, Stage 2 is an environmental disaster. Electric buses or trackless trams on a Woden-Civic transit lane could provide cheap, fast, efficient and emissions-free transport now.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 6 2021 from Graham Anderson, Garran
There have been many letters in this and other publications arguing against Stage 2 of the tram, and exhorting the ACT government to embrace common sense and change to the alternative of electric buses. That argument was given added substance when the Auditor-General demonstrated the inadequacies of the business case for Stage 2.
Yet there has been no defence by the government of its persistence with Stage 2.
Now we are confronted with an invitation to comment on the looming debacle of raising London Circuit by six metres to accommodate the tram line. History shows that any participation in this part of the exercise will be pointless. We will be told that it is a case of short-term pain for long-term gain. There will certainly be the pain of major traffic disruption in the short term. But there will also be long term financial and environmental pain, coupled with the failure of the government to achieve its target of increasing public transport patronage.
The government's failure to explain why it insists on going ahead with Stage 2 can only be put down to the fact that a credible case for it cannot be made apart from its concession to a misplaced Greens ideology. The government's development agenda could be accommodated with electric buses anyway.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 27 2021 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Jenny Goldie is enamoured with "trackless trams" that may save money (Letters, October 18). In that regard, she quotes Professor Peter Newman, the "father" of light rail in Canberra.
He and his academic colleague Jeff Kenworthy are from Perth, a city that had major traffic congestion as a result of, unlike Canberra, having a single CBD.
Their tram system ameliorated that. Newman and Kenworthy produced Towards a More Sustainable Canberra in 1991, suggesting a Canberra tram system, while pushing "land value capture" near the tram stops as a revenue earner for government; and not so much the relief of traffic congestion.
The new trackless system is reportedly still very expensive because the road base has to be exceptionally strong to prevent road deformities associated with the constant pressure of the heavy-tyred vehicles continuously following one "track" on the carriageway.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 18 2021 from Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW
As one who believes we have to "electrify everything" if we are to prevent dangerous climate change, I am a supporter of light rail ("the tram"). Thus, I have been disturbed by various correspondents including Ken Keeling (Letters, October 7) opposing light rail, despite my understanding their arguments about costs.
So it was a great relief to be part of a webinar with Peter Newman, professor of sustainability at Curtin University in Perth, who said the costs of light rail could be cut from $18 million to $4 million a kilometre by installing special markings on the road - rather than rails - to allow for "trackless trams".
Indeed, he has written an article in The Conversation explaining all ("Why trackless trams are ready to replace light rail", September 26). The cost per kilometre even includes a station and the markings can be done over two days to minimise disruption.
This is ground-breaking. We must install trackless trams on the main corridors between Canberra's town centres and not necessarily through Civic, for instance, along Drakeford Drive and Tuggeranong Parkway connecting Tuggeranong and Belconnen directly.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 13 2021 from Liz Walter, Duffy
Thank you T J Warner-Budd (Letters, October 12) for giving a voice to forward thinking Canberrans who are also heartily sick of the light-rail whingers who can't seem to understand that high density housing and an alternative and viable means of transport across Canberra on those housing and workplace corridors is the way of the future for a rapidly growing population.
Like climate change, sustainable transport infrastructure, planning and building have to be addressed before they become insurmountable problems in the near future with too many cars, too few parking spaces and roads, and no viable alternative means of transport.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 13 2021 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
Give us $1 billion and we will give Canberra a gold-plated bus service a transport official said in 2013.
But the $1 billion was spent on a tramway from Gungahlin to Civic, leaving much of Canberra with fragmented and inadequate public transport. That project was not supported by any independent economic or transport study.
With the same disregard for a sound business case, at probably $2 billion, the ACT government will build the tramway to Woden, almost doubling travel times between those centres.
In 2006, the ACT government set a target of increasing public transport patronage from eight per cent to 12 per cent. Patronage scarcely moved, then, with the pandemic, it pranged and will take years (if ever) to recover.
But the tramway will be extended, largely to assuage the Greens, though the project fails any objective environmental analysis.
The project is going ahead, based on what the ACT auditor-general has shown to be an inadequate business case, approved by cabinet in September last year.
This reflects poorly on the business acumen of our city's rulers while marking the opposition of Canberra Liberals as at best insipid.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 13 2021 from Danny Corvini, Deakin
While some delays might be appropriate due to the pandemic, to not build the second stage of the light rail, to Woden would be a massive vote of no-confidence in Canberra. Future generations of southsiders would be the ones to lose out if it doesn't go ahead.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 12 2021 from T J Warner-Bubb, Ainslie
I am tired of the same 10 or so people recycling their letters whining about the ACT government building light rail and the changing nature of transport in our city.
The endless "but we could build hospitals and school", "but buses do it better" or the "but you can't put density next to a light rail line, I think its ugly" and "what about the children and their backyards?" arguments are so trite.
Canberra is changing, transport is changing and how we live in our city is changing. I for one am glad that, unlike those few who are writing (and often recycling) their letters, we have a government that can walk, catch the light rail and chew gum all at the same time.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 10 2021 from Angela Walker, Lyneham
I am in total agreement with Mr John Madelly snr of Melba ("Money wasted", Letters, October 6).
According to our latest budget, hospitals in the ACT will receive $556.9 million in additional funding over four years.
The cost of the second stage of Canberra's light rail network from City to Woden was expected to blow out from $1.3 to $1.6 billion. Figures in the latest economic update reveal the bill for the project could balloon out to almost $2 billion, possibly more.
Do the people of Canberra truly want this tram?
If so, why, given the destruction and money involved? What is wrong with our already efficient City to Woden bus service and, in time, upgrading to electric buses at a fraction of the light rail cost?
If only this plan had been adapted for the Gungahlin route. But no, the damage has been well and truly done already.
And with this latest budget, ratepayers will be slugged another 3.5 per cent.
If Stage 2 of the light rail goes ahead as planned, particularly given the financial state of affairs brought about by COVID-19, I will eat my hat.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 9 2021 from Peter Toscan, Amaroo
The Auditor-General's scathing report on the business case for stage 2A of the ACT government's light rail extension to Woden showed exactly what this project has been based on; huff and puff and no substance.
Why are we relying on "transformational projects" which have not been substantiated and not subjected to "quality assurance of the cost benefit analysis"?
The ACT, and indeed the country, is still in the grips of COVID-19, with businesses on their knees and many unlikely to survive.
The last thing they need is the massive disruption that is predicted to occur during the construction of stage 2A, let alone the construction to Woden and ongoing hikes in rates and taxes to pay for this farce.
I suspect that if this report had been issued in respect of a publicly listed company's financial accounts the Australian Securities and Investments Commission would be asking some serious questions of the board of directors.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 7 2021 from Ken Keeling, Bruce
The Canberra Times reported Chief Minister Barr calling for "hundreds of millions" in federal funds to avoid a looming crisis in the ACT's hospitals (October 3, p5).
Has it occurred to him that by cancelling further waste on the tram he could save billions, meaning we would have all the money needed for a world-class health system in Canberra?
And, after fixing the hospitals, that saving would still leave enough left over to have more battery-powered buses than would be needed in the foreseeable future.
Also, rather than service a narrow corridor along a fixed rail system, electric buses in a range of sizes could be diverted anywhere at any time as commuter demand emerges.
Unfortunately the real reason for ACT trams has nothing to do with transport efficiency or economics. It is the price the Greens demand to keep Labor in government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 7 2021 from Maria Greene, Curtin
M. Flint ("Buses make more sense", Letters, October 3) appears to think our public transport is for efficient transport. Everyone knows the absolute priority is to give Shane Rattenbury his tram, whatever the inconvenience or cost.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 6 2021 from Christopher Ryan, Watson
Mr Barr is moaning about the need for federal funds to assist the ACT with its health expenditure. Dropping billions on light rail destroyed any credibility the ACT Labor/Greens government may have had as good economic managers.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 6 2021 from John Madelly snr, Melba
If Mr Barr had kept his promise to put more money into hospitals instead of indulging the Greens by saddling us with old fashioned transport he would not need to start bleating about needing money from the Commonwealth. Suspend all activity on the light rail now and divert the money to more urgent causes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 5 2021 from M. Flint, co-ordinator, Smart Canberra Transport, Canberra
What a hide Andrew Barr has ("ACT hospital crises looms without more funding: Barr", canberratimes.com.au, October 3) expecting the Commonwealth to cough up '"millions of dollars" for Canberra's hospitals, when he and Mr Rattenbury are willing to waste billions on a useless tramline to Woden.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 2 2021 from Fred Pilcher, Kaleen
Having just joined the illustrious ranks of my many fellow Ken Behrens who've copped a voluntary $300 fine and one demerit point for furious driving along Barry Drive out of Civic, I take some comfort in the knowledge that I'll be contributing to paying off our 19th century transport solution.
Meanwhile I note that Brisbane has just ordered a new fleet of 60 all-electric, high-capacity buses. Canberra, it seems, is to Brisbane as Australia is to Scandinavia - about 50 years behind the times.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 2 2021 from John Madelly snr, Melba.
The headline "Doubts on case for stage 2a" says it all (canberratimes.com.au, September 25).
Will the government once more ignore its own watchdog? The poll reported on Sunday, September 19, by the Australia Institute of 1057 is hardly a ringing endorsement of the headline "Most Canberrans support light rail".
We need some answers. How much fill is required at the intersection of Edinburgh Avenue and London Circuit to achieve the required level for the track of light rail?
I have been seeking this information for about three months and the "team" cannot, or will not, tell me.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 26 2021 from Geoff Harding, Mawson
I am coming to believe the media at the Chief Minister's press conferences are paid by the government, and that the questions are supplied by Mr Barr's office.
Most of the questions are repeats of those asked on previous days, or are repeats of what the Chief Minister has just said.
One question which has been ignored is "Where is all the disaster money coming from?" I agree it is needed, and that 50 per cent is from the Commonwealth. But what about the other 50 per cent? What about the overtime for healthcare workers and the security personnel at testing sites?
Is this why my rates have increased 20 per cent this year? Or am I paying for the tram?
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 30 2021 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Following the recent Auditor-General's report, and taking into account the many and well-documented problems with the current proposal, the government must adopt an alternative route for the Civic to Capital Hill section of Light Rail Stage 2.
My suggested alternative route travels via Edinburgh Avenue's northern-edge reserve, Liversidge Street with its existing land bridge over Parkes Way, Lower Lawson Crescent along Acton Peninsula's southern edge, an elegant new arching tram/bike/foot bridge (redolent of Griffin's missing crossing there) to the narrow point of Lennox Gardens, Flynn Drive, State Circle, and on as currently planned.
This marginally longer but less disruptive, faster and more economic alternative offers more and potentially new national capital experiences, good connections to the ANU, Acton Foreshore and beyond, and some appropriate development opportunities.
Normal overhead wires (which can and should continue to Woden) would be fine.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 29 2021 from Murray May, Cook
M Flint's analysis of the Stage 2A light rail debacle and its wanton waste of taxpayer funds (Letters, September 28) is in stark contrast with Michael White's letter on the same day.
The latter justifies the large rates increases in the ACT on the basis of the increasing value of his home.
If Michael White is not already a member of the local ALP he should definitely consider it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 28 2021 from M. Flint, coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport, Canberra
The Auditor-General's Report on Light Rail Stage Two and its business case highlights the absurdity of proceeding with Stage 2A.
However, as was pointed out in your editorial ("Mobility matters, but not a new tramline", canberratimes.com.au, September 26) it will be simply ignored by this ideologically driven government (as was the Auditor-General's report on Stage 1 in 2016).
The report cites a figure of $23 million for development costs, for which the government has recently let a contract for $98 million.
For the 1.7 kilometre line the report cites $162 million, for construction, $82 million over 14 years for operations and maintenance, plus the $23 million for development, for a total through-life cost of $268 million in 2019 dollars.
The business case estimates cited exclude several very large costs, outside construction and operations, such as those for raising London Circuit. Nor do the estimates include the cost of extra trams, wire-free operations, and certain infrastructure.
My estimates for Stage 2A (excluding London Circuit and so on), made in and discounted to 2019, assuming 20 years of operations and maintenance, were $290 million for construction and interest and $150 million for operations and maintenance for a through-life cost of $440 million.
Adding $98 million already committed for planning gives a cost of $538 million. This is much more than the $268 million cited in the Auditor-General's report. What a bargain for 1.7 kilometres of line.
The business case said the expected benefit to cost ratio would be only 0.4 to 0.6. This government should be ashamed of itself for its wanton waste of our taxes.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 28 2022 from Richard Keys, Ainslie
The Auditor-General has wisely drawn attention to the risks and costs involved with Stage 2 of the light rail project.
This tram will not go to the airport, the railway station, the hospital, or Parliament House. Zed Seselja has said it won't go through the Parliamentary Triangle. Unless and until it reaches Woden, it will just be in a paddock.
There seem to be no plans or possibilities to build housing along the track. It is absurd to spend millions on an ugly train bridge across the lake. It has been admitted that it will be slower than the frequent buses between Civic and Woden.
If the buses continue to run it may become Australia's greatest white elephant. The existing light rail has skimpy use, except maybe in peak hours, even out of lockdown.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 26 2021 from David Roberts, Belconnen
Canberra has developed a lot in 15 years, and yet we are still stuck with one major public hospital. By now we should have built another public hospital to serve the north, but all the money seems to have disappeared into the black hole called a tram.
If we had a decent public hospital system then there would have been enough wards to handle COVID-19 and we might not have been subjected to prolonged lockdowns.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 17 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
In these stressful and uncertain times, an appropriate government press release might read:
"In line with a policy of value for taxpayer's dollars, the ACT government has decided to defer Stage 2 light rail and instead run new electric buses on the Civic-Woden route.
Recent re-evaluation has shown that construction of Stage 2 light rail would be disruptive and not in the community's current best interest.
Savings realised will be put towards other more pressing community priorities".
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 7 2021 from Mike Quirk, Garran
The response of the ACT government to the pandemic has been exemplary. However, to ensure the health system is adequately resourced if the number of COVID-19 cases grows exponentially it should mothball discretionary projects such as the light rail extension.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 7 2021 from Gina Pinkas, Aranda
Angela Walker (Letters, September 3) requests Canberra Metro to remove the grasslands along the tram route. Please don't remove them Canberra Metro. They are the only thing about our last-century-technology, uber expensive tramway that I enjoy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, September 3 2021 from Angela Walker, Lyneham
When will Canberra Metro get rid of the light rail corridor's unsightly weeds (aka native grass)?
A solution to this eyesore is for the whole lot to be pulled up and mulched. Then start over with "green" low shrubs peppered with bluebells, daises and other native flowers.
That is what we expected as one of the sweeteners to the people of Canberra ("Light rail corridor's great debate: are they weeds or natives?", canberratimes.com.au, March 29).
It was reported that "as part of its 20-year project agreement Canberra Metro is required to deliver and maintain a fully landscaped light rail corridor along stage one. It is responsible for 'a successful landscape outcome' and the cost of maintenance is included in their contract".
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 20 2021 from G Gillespie, Scullin
Andrew Barr and Tara Cheyne are defending their cash-cow 40km/h city speed limits with weasel words. They should have given Canberrans one year to adjust to the change of traffic signage but their hunger for money and the second stage of light rail is stuck in their grey matter.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 20 2021 from John Madelly snr, Melba
It is reported we have 400 front-line health people in quarantine. The call is out for those with appropriate training to come to the aid of the government.
Yes, we can spend $25 million on a "surge centre" but we do not have the frontline people to keep our citizens safe.
Suspend all activity on the light rail now. Our society needs government to admit that there are greater needs than a 19th century mode of transport.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 17 2021 from Phil Perkins Gordon
Most trams worldwide, including in Melbourne, travel at up to 70 km/h on the flat and 50 km/h or more up steep hills. Instead of raising roads perhaps the ACT government should consider buying better performing trams.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 12 2021 from Jane Malcolm, Kambah
Kym MacMillan, when I read Leon Arundell's letter on August 7, I took it as the tongue-in-cheek piece it was obviously meant as.
To me it pointed out yet again, the ridiculousness of the slow tram to Woden as opposed to the current much quicker bus.
In other words, if they're going to make it a so much slower trip at such expense to us all, why not throw in a scenic tour of the lake to go with the rest of the scenic tour to Woden.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 11 2021 from Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
I note that Leon Arundell lives in Downer and I'm guessing he's retired. Together, they are the only possible reason for the obvious lack of any concern for southside commuters shown with his rather silly suggestion (Letters, August 7) that the Woden tram journey be broken with a detour via a Lake Burley Griffin boat ride.
The so-called planners have already proposed replacing a 15-minute express bus service from Woden to Civic with a 30-minute meandering tram ride. Mr Arundell's scenic boat trip would add at least 15 minutes to the average journey. What on Earth makes him think that this will do anything but force even more people into their cars?
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 10 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Stage 2 of the tram is disruptive, expensive, slow, locks us into outmoded technology and the construction causes more pollution than is ever saved. Since it is some time since the last round of election promises, can the government please remind us again as to why we are doing it?
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 9 2021 from Michael Duffy, Curtin
The ACT government says we voted for light rail to Woden and now drivers are complaining about steep fines for driving at speeds such as 47 km/h. We have to pay for the tram somehow. Some people are never happy.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 9 2021 from Dhris O'Keeffe, Gilmore
I recently travelled from Tuggeranong to Gungahlin to meet friends for lunch. I caught the R4 bus from the Wanniassa park and ride at 11.07am and 24 minutes and 16.37km later I was efficiently at the Civic Interchange.
I then caught the 11.40 am tram from Civic to Gungahlin Marketplace. Another 24 minutes only 11.93km later I arrived at my destination. It was the same time but less kilometres. Is four years of traffic disruption and a huge cost worth a tram to Woden?
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 7 from Leon Arundell, Downer
Commuters in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane (and soon Hobart) can travel by ferry.
Canberra's commuters could do the same, if light rail stage 2B were rerouted to go from Woden to Yarralumla Bay.
They could catch a ferry from there to connect with stage 2A at Acton.
This would avoid the cost of converting trams to battery operation.
It would also avoid the cost and traffic disruptions of building a new heavy-duty bridge on Commonwealth Avenue.
A small portion of the money saved could be used to produce genuine reductions in traffic congestion and transport emissions, by extending our "network" of two T2 and no T3 transit lanes.
We might even generate enough savings to cover the cost of building an opera house by the lake.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 5 2021 from Alastair Bridges, Wanniassa
What is this? Rates again. Up just on $500 from last year. What bad thing did we oldies do to deserve this?
We helped fund a tram to a suburb we have never been to, we are looking forward to years of traffic chaos trying to get to the city. We have signs over two years old on our local roads saying things like "making it faster for you" and "duplicating the road".
The only duplication I can see is the dangerous pot holes we swerve to avoid, making it slower and risky.
These are the reasons we voted against self-government. I agree we have had some good Labor governments but the latest lot are simply selfish and incompetent. We will remember them.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 4 2021 from Judy Dillon, Garran
The contentious light rail project was a main issue of the 2016 election campaign. The Liberals announced that they would cancel any light rail contracts if they won. Labor got back into power and announced that they had a mandate to go ahead with light rail construction for the whole of Canberra.
However, in the two southern electorates, the Liberals easily outpolled Labor, suggesting a majority of southside residents wanted the cancellation of light rail contracts. The electorate of Brindabella, covering Woden Valley and Weston Creek, returned 19,606 votes for the Liberals but only 15,774 votes for Labor. In Murrumbidgee, covering Tuggeranong, the Liberals got 21,425 votes easily surpassing the 17,265 votes for Labor.
There is strong anti-tram feeling on the southside and for good reason, given the traffic chaos that would be caused during construction as well as in its ongoing operation, the huge expense of building this outdated transport system and the fact that electric buses would be a far more efficient and cost-effective alternative.
The recent suggestion of a referendum is an excellent idea.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 3 2021 from Tom Cooke, Pearce
Is it worth continuing with the Light Rail Stage 2? We know the direct costs are going to exceed two billion dollars. Canberrans will have to live with severe traffic congestion on major arterial roads for some four years.
We also know the proposed tram services will take some 10 minutes longer than existing bus services.
Presumably the existing rapid transport corridor between the Hyatt Hotel and the roundabout at the junction of Adelaide Avenue, Yamba Drive and Melrose Drive will be reduced to a disjointed trip of speed zones which will have a permanent impact on emergency services, taxi services and the motoring public.
The main aim of introducing trams in Canberra was to reduce carbon emissions. This can now be achieved with battery-operated buses and without unnecessary inflexible and expensive infrastructure.
So, South Canberrans, is a tram worth the total cost, prolonged chaos, lasting anger and a final increased travel time? With extra buses our government could maintain a faster public transport corridor and avoid unnecessary disruptions, while directing huge saving toward more urgent needs such as community housing.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 3 2021 from Geoff Nickols, Griffith ACT
Bill Shorten's colourful description of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout could easily be applied to Light Rail Stage 2. What a disaster. If you add the huge economic costs of the government's planned four-year traffic chaos onto their original estimates then perhaps it's time to investigate solving all the headaches by tunnelling under the lake.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 3 2021 from Garth Setchell, Mawson
Mr Barr must be looking for early retirement. North Canberra voters won't be happy at the loss of Dickson parking space. The thousands who have been fined for "speeding" in the absurd 40 km/h zone that now blankets Civic won't be happy either. Nor will the inhabitants of most of southern Canberra when they suffer the effects of four years of traffic chaos.
The government remains deaf to the concerns raised about their proposed route for the light rail extension. The alternative route, spelt out in Jack Kershaw's letter (Letters, July 28), has been proposed many times before by Jack and others. I advocated it myself in letters to the editor published as long ago as December 2017 and June 2018.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 1 2021 from Dick Roe, Cook
Paul O'Connor ("Referendum Now", Letters, July 26) is quite right. The government can't claim a mandate for Stage 2 of light rail on the basis of a win in an election in which there were many issues. Andrew Barr is hostage to Shane Rattenbury to retain government. Hold a referendum, Andrew, and if the people say they don't want Stage 2 of light rail you can drop this uneconomic and environmentally wasteful project, which will result in years of disruption during construction. Tell Shane it is the peoples' will.
Letter, The Canberra Times, August 1 2021 from Peter Fuller, Chifley
No doubt Jack Kershaw is right ("There is a far better alternative route to take the tram south", Letters, July 28): it would be easier and much less disruptive to take the projected Woden tramline from the Acton peninsula and over a new bridge to Lennox Gardens. But there is an even better alternative, and that is to scrap this absurd project and its monstrous $2 billion cost.
Who is going to pay for it? Coincidentally, the same issue of The Canberra Times reports "City speed cameras make $1.6 million a week". No doubt the Barr government will identify other little revenue-raising zones as the cost of the tram goes up, up, up.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 30 2021 from Michael Duffy, Curtin
Among recent letters and articles, Minister Chris Steel has been the only voice in favour of Stage 2a of the fabled tram to Woden. The Greens were supposed to be the reason tram proposals were introduced but they now seem to be silent. Perhaps they are concerned at the enormous boost to greenhouse gases which will arise from three to four years of gargantuan fill and construction work just for 2a, and the zillions of hours of extra exhaust gases as cars queue to traverse Commonwealth Avenue.
Who benefits? It is hard to avoid the conclusion that it is the CFMEU and the construction industry now telling the government what it can do, while government embarrassment at pulling the plug on the nonsense is probably another factor.
Could I suggest a face-saving alternative? Take 2a around as far as Edinburgh Avenue to serve New Acton, then stop and think. By then the idea of a cost/effective tram south of the lake will so obviously be nonsense that we won't have to face the anguish and cost of arranging a new bridge over the lake, followed by another five years of southside disruption.
Maybe we could instead use some of the money for less-exciting things like improving health care.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 28 2021 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Rather sheepishly, the ACT Minister for Transport and the project director have come out in the media to tell us something many have known for ages ("Light rail an 'Olympic moment' to transform city's commuter habits", canberratimes.com.au, July 22).
That is that the current Civic to Capital Hill section of the Woden light rail, will involve years of major traffic and parking problems, and massive associated financial cost to the community.
That's not to mention the destruction of the cultural landscape of Commonwealth Avenue, the open-space character of City Hill, and the fine engineering heritage there and at State Circle, all set against the still unresolved, super critical problem of how to cross the lake.
Then there's the blight of tawdry "land-value-capture" property development at City Hill south, as well as along Commonwealth Avenue, and the requirement for an underground power system.
An alternative route has been staring decision makers in their faces for ages. It solves all of the above problems, with other community, commercial, and national capital advantages.
It involves the open road reserve along the north edge of Edinburgh Avenue (close to the footbridge over Parkes Way to Acton Foreshore), part of McCoy Circuit and Liversidge Street in the ANU, the south shore of Acton Peninsula, an easier-to-construct new arching curving tram/pedestrian/bike bridge (redolent of Griffin's missing crossing there) over to the narrowest point of Lennox Gardens, and up Flynn Drive to State Circle.
On a related matter, Floriade could or should move south to the potentially better, sunnier, lakeside Flynn Place precinct (on the tram line).
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 26 2021 from Wayne Arthur, Narrabundah
It seems that the territory government has belatedly recognised the planning disaster it might be undertaking by the crazy decision to raise London Circuit so that trams can proceed on to Commonwealth Avenue.
The current London Circuit overpass and clover leaf is a very useful arrangement. It allows vehicles to travel between the east and west sides of the City. Importantly, it allows buses from the south to travel into the city without having to stop on Commonwealth Avenue.
The government says there will be disruptions during construction. I expect delays will continue long after construction. In the mornings and afternoons many of the vehicles planning to exit Commonwealth Avenue on to Parkes Way are banked back as far as Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. If there were to be new traffic lights at an intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and London Circuit then the banked-up traffic at those lights will extend back further so as to block vehicles wishing to exit on to Parkes Way. Commonwealth Avenue will be gridlocked in the morning and afternoons.
It doesn't have to be like this. If the government has to run a tram line to Commonwealth Avenue then the easiest way would be to simply extend the line to City Hill and run it on the grassy verges at the base of City Hill and then on bridges over London Circuit and Parkes Way. Prefabricated bridges could be constructed off site for the tram and dropped into place.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 26 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Ever get the feeling that the ACT government has painted itself into a corner with the tram? Having given one to the north it now seems stuck on having to provide a tram for everyone. After the enthusiasm and novelty value of stage 1 wore off, when was the last time anyone from government spoke enthusiastically about subsequent stages?
The best Transport Minister Chris Steel could manage was that "light rail will make our city more vibrant, sustainable and better connected" ("Taskforce to ease traffic pain", July 21, p2). Just how it would achieve this was not explained.
And where is the opposition party? Why don't the Liberals offer an alternative public transport system? For example, modern electric buses for the rest of Canberra at one third the cost of light rail, with the massive savings going to health, free public transport and proper planning of our urban environment. Or, are the Liberals now too afraid of not rolling out trams for everyone?
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 26 2021 from Paul O'Connor, Hawker
The ACT government is pushing ahead with a tram line to Woden, stating that the Labor/Green victory gives them carte blanche to subject Canberrans to traffic chaos for years.
The election was won on many ideas, not the tram alone. We need a referendum on the road closures to decide the future of the tram.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 26 2021 from John Madelly snr., Melba
The release of more flummery from the government still does not identify the depth of fill required at the intersection of Edinburgh Avenue and London Circuit. More information, Mr. Steele, not more inconclusive flummery.
This 2a scheme is literally a blot on the landscape. Where is the business case for such lavish expenditure ?
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 25 2021 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
It may well "Create a commuter headache" for Canberra commuters ("Commuter pain ahead as light rail recasts city", July 21, p1), but more importantly, if the second light rail stage goes ahead as the ACT government currently plans, it will assuredly bring down the government.
That the ACT government, without any clear business case, still persists in causing some five to six years of utter chaos is unbelievable. It is being done when an express electric bus service could be introduced almost immediately, at half the cost, and without causing any traffic chaos whatsoever.
What is the opposition doing to prevent this catastrophe? The National Capital Authority must not avoid their responsibility in this matter; considering the enormity of this problem for the city of Canberra they must take action to prevent this project going ahead.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 15 2021 from Michael Doyle, Fraser
B.M. Bodart-Baily (Letters, July 15) is right to observe that tram costs are hidden from view; and comments in the letter deserve support. Such was basically the case with the Gungahlin red elephant. Had there been a viable business case, then I contend it would have been appeared in every letterbox and inbox in Canberra. Don't strain your eyes looking for it.
It's beginning to look like the approach taken to the recent "maintenance" of Kingsford Smith Drive; the top few kilometres or so of which look like a one-lane dog track (which is pretty in satellite photos), now that a "cycle lane" has been painted into it. Kingsford Smith Drive is a major arterial leading to the Barton Highway and used by all manner of vehicles; and the top section in particular has been made dangerous for all road users by the inane decision to put apply more paint to it than features in Blue Poles. I'm thinking the Kingsford Smith Drive maintenance decision making logic may very well be "hidden from view", along with the tram costs.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 15 2021 from Paul Magarey, O'Connor
I feel I experience a bit of PTSD in reading about the heatwaves, bushfires, floods and related deaths and destruction that have recently occurred in the northern hemisphere. And there were the schoolboys in Pakistan who fainted in the heat and were rushed to hospital. Canberra has experienced similar climate change-enhanced fires and floods in recent years.
So I looked up what the ACT government has committed to doing on climate change. I am left wondering if the government is taking the climate emergency that was declared in 2019 seriously. On transport, which is now responsible for over 60 per cent of our CO2 emissions, the ACT Climate Change Strategy is full of weasel words like "investigate [or consider or explore] options." There is barely a single target that can be used to hold the public service to account. I've been told only $20 million has been allocated to implement the strategy.
The light rail is not going to stop all those transport emissions and neither are EVs with their large embodied energy. Currently, if I wanted to visit my former neighbour, now in a nursing home in Gordon, catching the bus would be just about as fast as riding my bike all the way. There are, however, many actions that could be taken immediately to make a rich but low-density city like Canberra one in which walking, cycling or public transport were the most attractive ways to get around. We should be able to live in Canberra without owning a car. With six Greens MLAs in the assembly, I'm wondering why they haven't demanded this strategy is revised and given some real teeth.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 15 2021 from B. M. Bodart-Bailey, Narrabundah
John Madelly snr (Letter, July 13) is right; there is no transparency with regard to the tram. This does not only apply to the amount of fill to raise London Circuit, but also to the cost. The Canberra Times, in September last year, suggested "the project could balloon out to almost $2 billion", a figure neither confirmed nor denied by the government.
Nor has the public been informed of the massive amount of greenhouse gases produced by the construction of the infrastructure and importing the required 16 additional trams from Spain for the extension to Woden. One calculation concludes that it will take 19 years for this pollution to be offset by the private cars the tram extension hopes to take off the road. Halving or abolishing fares on pollution-free electric buses would take private cars off the road right now at a fraction of the cost.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 13 2021 from John Madelly snr, Melba
During the last three weeks or so I have emailed the "light-rail team" seeking an answer to my question - "what depth of fill is required at the intersection of Edinburgh Ave and London Circuit to such level as is required for the tram rails?".
All that I have been told is that "60,000m3 is required to raise LC to the level of Commonwealth Ave at which location the fill will be 6m." I have been told that twice. Lately I have been informed that this info is subject to final design. Transparency, what transparency?
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 8 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Planning of the light rail stages 2a and 2b proceeds despite the chosen route being most unsuited to a fixed-track public transport system. The difficult topography, terrain levelling, lake and culvert bridging to carry these 40-tonne vehicles, overhead wire-free NCA stipulation for the parliamentary zone, removal of historic Himalayan and Atlas cedars near Albert Hall, unpopulated stretches near the prime ministerial lodge and elsewhere along the route and the central bridge pylon at the Novar-Kent street overpass make the route a logistical nightmare.
And don't ask how passengers will access stops located in the middle of a six-lane highway without disrupting vehicle traffic flow.
Remarkable to think that buses already cruise this Woden-Civic route every day without fuss. Just because we have a tram from Gungahlin to Civic does not mean a tram system needs to be delivered to every part of Canberra. Canberra's public transport system should be a mix of systems most suited to the conditions. It does not have to be trams everywhere.
It would save a lot of money, urban disruption and heartache if the ACT government used common sense and adopted modern electric buses for stage 2.
Letter, The Canberra Times, July 3 2021 from Bill Blair, McKellar
B. M. Bodart-Bailey "Buses outstrip pluses of trams" 26 Jun, you hit on the fundamental reason that the Barr government is committed to the tram: bus routes are flexible. The government needs the route to be fixed in concrete to create increased land values (hence rates) in order to achieve their value capture. Given the ACT can't extract rates from the federal government in the parliamentary triangle, my prediction is the remainder of the route will be developed with high density housing akin to what you see with Flemington Road. As for buses taking 15 minutes Woden to Civic versus the tram's 30 minutes, this is already experienced by the citizens of Gungahlin with the milk-run tram. Other citizens similarly suffer with Transport Canberra eliminating express buses between the major interchanges.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 26 2021 from Kent Fitch, Nicholls
Many of us have received, by letter or email, ActewAGL's euphemistic "Energy prices are changing". If you haven't yet, spoiler alert: they're not going down. As explained by ActewAGL, falling wholesale electricity prices are outweighed by dramatic rises attributable to a second euphemism, "ACT government schemes", used to coyly frame the consequences of our local representatives predictably failing gamble on electricity prices that also perfectly transferred risk from producers (predominantly owned by venture capital and multinationals) to the Canberra population.
The off-national-electricity-market (and market distorting) "contracts for difference" at the heart of this arrangement guarantees those supplying our electricity are isolated from market prices, competition and any general inclination to give a toss for the 10-to 20-year life of the contracts. As the cost of renewable-backed electricity continues to fall, the very large and increasing gap between the contract "strike" price and the market price is billed to residents as yet another regressive tax falling disproportionately on the less well-off. Encouraging renewal generation didn't have to be like this.
Well, we'd better get used to it. No doubt the canny commercial carpet-baggers behind the "public private partnership" of tram stage 1 who took the lazy ACT government (sorry, us) for a ride by selling finance at several times the government bond rate have a new bridge over the lake to sell - zero down, easy terms.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 26 2021 from B. M. Bodart-Bailey, Narrabundah
In 1881 the world's first electric trams rolled through the streets of Berlin, causing a sensation as they replaced horse-drawn transportation. Now, 140 years later, technology has advanced to give us electric buses.
Both provide CO2-free transport, but the latter have undeniable advantages. Electric buses eliminate the enormous cost of the infrastructure the trams require. The cost of the light rail's extension to Woden is not available but estimated to be pushing $2 billion.
The vast amount of greenhouse gasses produced as this infrastructure is constructed has neither been made public. Bus routes are flexible and can respond to the projected increase in Canberra's population. Buses are also faster: they take 15 minutes (16 in rush hour) for the stretch Woden to Civic while the rail extension is projected to take 30. And they can do what trams cannot, namely effectively link north and south Canberra. So please, Transport Canberra, save us the cost, the pollution, and many years of traffic congestion as roads are raised and bridges built. Why not use a fraction of the money saved reducing or eliminating bus fares, to entice more commuters to leave their cars at home?
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 24 2021 from Russ Morison, Theodore
Re: "It's not too late to change plans as the tram pushes south" (Letters, June 22). There is no doubt there needs to be a cure for this fixation with the tram. Parkes Way with fewer cars works, and more buses is ideal, but our commuting public have lost faith in public transport over the past 30 years. A flexible electric bus will yield better results if it matches commuters' needs, where current routes fail the pub test. The solution is not Covid-driven, but catchment-direct, with minimal stops between A and Z.
It is not hard to do, but requires a commonsense jab in the collective arm of this tram-fixated government.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 22 2021 from Warwick Davis, Isaacs
If we must have a tram/light rail it is not too late to adopt an airport to everywhere route along Parkes Way and Tuggeranong Parkway. This route has a much easier water crossing, over the Molonglo, doesn't disrupt Commonwealth Avenue Bridge or derogate from the ambience of the Barton area. There is plenty of space for tracks, and for lines off to Belconnen, and Woden.
This route is better able to accommodate some speed: slowness and low capacity being one of the detrimental elements of the tram obsession disorder which Mr Barr services to keep himself in power.
It would be so much cheaper to run battery powered buses which could start in service within a few months. We could also spend some money on psychiatric treatment for whoever it is inside the ACT government who suffers from an obsession with trains and with a Commonwealth Avenue route.
The Commonwealth Avenue-Adelaide Avenue route is stubbornly preferred because it is hoped to make car driving alongside the tram so unpleasant that cars will be abandoned. This will not work. Too many people need more route and timetable flexibility than slow track transport provides.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 21 2021 from Michael Lucas, Conder
The light rail has been running for a while now but I will never need to take a ride, even if it miraculously crossed the lake, continued on its merry way to Woden and finally meandered to Tuggeranong, sometime in the next century. So why am I paying through my taxes for this white elephant?
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 17 2021 from Jack Palmer, Watson
In reply to Penleigh Boyd (Letters, June 15), rather than a tram along Northbourne Avenue, the original plan had the railway, already in existence from Kingston to Reid, continuing along a corridor parallel to Northbourne Avenue, then towards Yass. This was discontinued with the collapse of the bridge over the Molonglo in 1926. In the depression of the 1930s there was no revival, although, importantly, planning preserved the all-important corridor parallel to Northbourne Avenue for eventual realisation of the scheme. By 1964 there was still a line down Alinga Street ending at a platform in Reid. The Alinga Street corridor still exists. A possible tree-lined tram route to Parkes, Duntroon?
The enthusiasm for private car ownership spelt the death knell of the City Railway Station, and now the resurgence of the tram, a city rail network, is hindered by the loss of the earlier corridors. Let's rediscover an extensive tram/light rail system.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 15 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
If, as claimed, Griffin, and later the NCDC, always intended a tram to travel down the wide central median strip of Northbourne Avenue, how did they intend the tram to get across the lake? Or, did their 1960s "future provision" thinking stop at Civic?
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 4 2021 from John Madelly snr, Melba
Mr Franz (Letters, June 2) general manager Metro operations "....... needs longer to brake because it has steel wheels on a steel track ......" Very dangerous. Outmoded form of transport? Try rubber tyres on bitumen - that could be safer!
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 3 2021 from Bruce Paine, Red Hill
The article "Emissions from car offset with one click", May 31, p3) is yet more evidence the ACT Labor/Green light rail is not justified on environmental or financial grounds.
Assuming that Go Neutral is roughly correct that it costs $90 annually to offset a car's emissions, then even if the light rail to Woden totally removed 150,000 cars (perhaps one third of the cars in Canberra) from Canberra's roads that still only justifies an expenditure of around $15 million annually on light rail on environmental grounds.
It is very unlikely $15 million would even pay the interest on the $2 billion the ACT government will presumably borrow to build the extension to Woden.
Light rail is more about ideology, a political deal, and helping property developers and the construction industry than about providing a financially and environmentally justified transport system.
Letter, The Canberra Times, June 2 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
When will the ACT government realise modern technology ("Free rego scheme starts for electric cars" May 24, p3) and ("Offer tabled to fast-track ACT's electric bus fleet" May 26, p2) has overtaken their outmoded "iron horse" tram technology, and do a rethink of light rail Stage 2?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 28 2021 from Christopher Ryan, Watson
I congratulate the young couple who became engaged at the tram station. Life's precious moments are often comprised of romantic lighting.
But they could not have had elderly guests or young children attending the engagement event. No loos would have marred the happy event.
Our Labor/Greens government can extend to occasional mood lighting, but not to permanent essentials.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 24 2021 from Murray May, Cook
Murray Upton (Letters, May 18) is right about the unnecessary chaos and destruction coming to Civic to implement the outdated light rail plans to Commonwealth Park.
This is to be expected. Only the Greens who back Barr can stick so doggedly with zealotry till the end, in spite of the many reasoned arguments about more appropriate technology and sensible financial management.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 18 2021 from Roger Bacon, Cook
Two years ago last Sunday the ACT declared a climate emergency. In the Assembly debate Shane Rattenbury quoted Greta Thunberg: "We must start today. We have no more excuses."
We have reached 100 per cent renewable electricity. So far so good. The next biggest challenge - transport - is far more difficult. It means most people will soon have to change how they get around.
The government is pushing ahead with light rail. That will not be enough, or happen soon enough. We will also need a bus network offering fast, direct services so often that we don't need a timetable. Yet public transport demand has plummeted because of infection fears and working from home.
The government is then pinning its hopes on zero-emission cars - the line of least political resistance in Australia's car capital. But it will take too long and not solve the many problems of car dependency.
Which brings us to the humble bicycle; the cheapest, most efficient vehicle ever devised. About 40 per cent of car commutes are under 10 kilometres. Many more people would ride right now if it were safe, direct and convenient. It would also help solve road congestion and the health crisis. Little has been said about this option. Meanwhile governments continue to fund futile efforts to make driving quicker and more convenient.
Dealing with emergencies needs urgent action, major change, and courage. The ACT Budget on August 31 will show if the government is up to the task.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 20 2021 from James Mahoney, McKellar
If Wayne Harris has been in Canberra since 1968 (Letters, May 18), he forgets that in the 1970s the eucalypts removed for the tram replaced those that were dying out. It was an equally ugly time as the saplings grew. Give the new lot, more suited to that environment, time to grow.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 18 2021 from Wayne Harris, Hawker
In May 1968, I came to see this new planned city.
Driving in from Sydney the wide tree-lined highway, with neat new houses set back on a service road impressed from the start.
When I got to Dickson, Northbourne Avenue opened before me like a jewel. Large healthy eucalypts set in green manicured lawns lined the dual carriageway and median. It was a city entrance like no other.
Modern, award winning, two and three storey public housing units, graced with well-placed trees, shrubs and lawn, showed the vibrance and hope of a new age for urban living.
Later, when I moved here as a graduate engineer, I often sat in meetings in the NCDC building over-awed by the quality of the planners, architects, landscape designers and engineers. These leading professionals were building a national capital that would make the nation proud and put Australia at the forefront of urban planning.
Sadly, all that began to crumble with self-government. Today when you arrive, the trees are gone, the median strip is concrete, and ugly tram wires have replaced the soft dappled leaves of the eucalypts.
Those award-winning public housing units were bull-dozed and sold off to developers by a local government more interested in money than people and urban design.
Instead of a modern, world-leading example of urban design, Canberra now has the same chaos of concrete, clutter and confusion that can be found along Sydney Road in Melbourne or Parramatta Road in Sydney.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 18 2021 from Murray Upton, Belconnen
I can assure John Madelly snr the proposed destruction of the London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue intersection has raised more than a murmur within the ranks of The Canberra Times readers. I raised the matter on March 26 but my letter went unpublished.
The damage to the city's road infrastructure that this unnecessary project will cause should be of serious concern to everyone. Especially as it being carried out solely to allow the already outdated light rail to proceed to Commonwealth Park and later, perhaps, to Woden.
The use of flexible electric buses for Woden commuters would be a win/win situation for all and prevent the chaos the destruction of this intersection will cause.
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 18 2021 from Leon Arundell, Downer
The ACT's chief planner "will turn to nationally recognised "thought leaders" to help inform future design decisions for Canberra, while also considering lessons the territory can learn from cities overseas" ("Planners look to thought leaders' input," May 9, p4).
Eight years ago, without informing the Minister for Planning, Ponton "simplified" the ACT's planning system by adding more than a hundred new elements to the Territory Plan, giving them the innocuous title of "suburb precinct map", authorising them to permit land uses that would otherwise be prohibited, and authorising them to prohibit land uses that would otherwise be permitted. He also created 19 district precinct maps that cover the entire Territory. Provisions in those can conflict with provisions in the suburb precinct maps. He did not provide a way to resolve such conflicts.
Ponton does not seem to be proud of those changes. Since 2014 he has insisted that he "merely relocated provisions".
Will the "thought leaders" consider lessons the territory can learn from the chief planner's efforts to "simplify" planning laws?
Letter, The Canberra Times, May 2 2021 from Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Reading the report "Light rail design contract to cost $90 million" (April 29, p3) drove home to me the unnecessary complexity and breathtaking expense of the Rattenbury-Barr government's light rail project. The London Circuit overpass alone will cost many millions and cause major traffic disruption in the busiest part of the city.
The next huge outlay will be the crossing of Lake Burley Griffin, followed by the mutilation of Commonwealth Avenue and the re-engineering of the State Circle-Adelaide Avenue intersection. All for the Canberra Greens' pipe dream of a 19th century - or, to be generous, early 20th century - transport system.
The ACT government could have a 21st-century mass transport system and save money by following the lead of Paris, Mexico City, Montreal, Santiago, Tokyo and 22 other world cities and invest in rubber-tyred urban trains. These can use existing roads and bridges, and are fully flexible rather than being confined to steel rails.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 28 2021 from John Madelly snr, Melba
D. Shirley (Letters, April 25) misses the point in saying: "This means planning for all Canberrans and investing in public transport infrastructure". I'm all in favour but perhaps that investment should be in 21st century transport. Don't confine our rolling stock to the inflexibility of rails.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 10 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
All the fuss about native grasses adorning the tram lines on Northbourne Avenue would be unnecessary if the tram had simply run on the road, as they do in Melbourne.
The mature gumtree central median could have stayed. Furthermore, with the tram running in the left hand lane, commuters could have simply boarded from the kerb without all the complexities now involved in getting them to and from the middle of a six-lane highway.
A note to motorists: following the tram in Melbourne is often faster than staying in the congested traffic lanes.
Was the "on the road" option rejected as being too sensible for Canberra?
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 5 2021 from Judy Dillon, Garran
I am in full agreement with Bruce Wright (Letters, March 30) about the now sterile approach to Canberra along Northbourne Avenue, where previously the green and leafy median strip was the ideal approach for a garden city.
Another approach to Canberra which gives an even worse impression is the one people travelling along the Monaro Highway are treated to behind the Southside Motor Village. For many years the embankment there has been a total eyesore, with dead and dying plants scattered among a retaining wall of broken and tumbledown sleepers.
If the Barr-Rattenbury government were to abandon its hugely expensive light rail plans there would be funds for repairing and improving this embankment and the many other similarly neglected locations around town, even after essential services like the hospital were given the extra funding they sorely needed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 1 2021 from Alan Shroot, Forrest
I sympathise with Peter Forster (letters 30th March) concerning the lack of a second MRI machine at The Canberra Hospital resulting in a long wait for his wife to have a diagnostic test. This is but one of many stories about the lack of facilities, long surgical waiting lists and other deficiencies at the hospital.
Peter is right the reason for such lack of facilities and, indeed, the failure to build a new hospital, is vast sums of money being spent on the tram which, while popular, has been a waste of resources when environmentally friendly electric buses could have served all the suburbs at a fraction of the cost. If the government takes the irresponsible step of extending the tram to Woden expect a further five-year delay on the new hospital with all the usual excuses.
Letter, The Canberra Times, April 1 2021 from Warwick Davis, Isaacs
A brilliant letter from Gillian Bella "Isn't it wonderful that the tram will be coming to Woden?" (March 22) prompts Ian Pearson to ask "why is the ACT Government persisting in giving funding to its pet project the tram while neglecting the Canberra Hospital?" (Letters, March 26).
Andrew Barr prioritises the tram to get the support of the Greens leader who insists on the slow, inflexible, small-capacity rail system which was inferior to buses in the only published business case. The Greens leader is hung up about "choof choof trains" because he did not get one as a Christmas present.
We are getting a tram as an incentive for Green support to keep Andrew Barr in power. Nothing to do with transport.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 29 2021 from John Milne, Chapman
Gillian Bellas was spot on (Letters, March 24) when she said the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be spent bringing the tram to Woden would be better spent on The Canberra Hospital.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 29 2021 from Patricia Watson, Red Hill
Apropos the article "Light Rail drives Uni's 'aspirational' vision" (March 25, p1), Stage 2 of the Canberra Light Rail project should always have been Belconnen Town Centre to the airport, not Civic to Woden. The former is a much more viable proposition.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 27 2021 from James Gralton, Garran
Congratulations to Gillian Bellas for so eloquently drawing attention to the relationship between "the tram" and our hospital problems (Letters, March 24).
The tram will go nowhere near Canberra Hospital or any of the other private hospitals, schools or professional service areas in the Woden Valley, whereas a modern electric bus service could do so by variable routes in a much more useful way and at a fraction of the cost.
Who knows, could there even be some money left over to improve our hospitals?
By all means extend the tram out to Tuggeranong, but via Weston Creek as advocated by the good Mr Kershaw. Woden does not need an expensive, inflexible and slower service than buses could provide.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 24 2021 from Ian Pearson, Barton
I suspect that, like me, most readers will have found Gillian Bellas's heartfelt letter "Isn't it just wonderful that the tram will be coming to Woden?" (March 22) confronting.
The letter highlighted how the hospital's ability to provide care is compromised by the constraints arising from prioritising the initial construction, and now extension, of a tram service that only benefits a relatively small number of people.
We all know the limitations inherent with trams on fixed lines, unable to divert to such locations as Canberra Hospital, and taking longer to make the journey from Woden to Civic.
How can the ACT continue to prioritise expenditure on the tram extension when the bus fleet is already able to provide the required service, and soon electrified buses will be able to offer an emissions-free, flexible service at a much lower cost?
Why is the ACT government persisting in giving funding priority to its pet project, the tram, while neglecting the Canberra Hospital?
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 24 2021 from Gillian Bellas, Weston
My husband just spent a month in Canberra Hospital. The nurses and assistants, doctors, and allied health workers did their very best to provide him with the care that he needed but they were so understaffed and under resourced.
But isn't it great the tram is coming to Woden?
The door to the toilet did not shut, the safety rail on his bed was broken (he was a falls risk), and the brakes on the wheelchair faulty; it all required maintenance.
My husband, because of his recent strokes, needed help to open food and drink packets. But there was often no one to help him. On a few occasions he did not eat or drink for most of the day. This left him significantly dehydrated with very low blood sugar levels.
But isn't it great the tram is coming to Woden?
My husband needed help to get to the toilet and to access his dinner tray (when it was placed outside of his reach). In some instances, when there was no one to help him do so, he fell out of bed trying.
On discharge, Canberra Hospital was unable to provide him his medications which included some prescribed by the hospital doctors.
But isn't it great the tram is coming to Woden.
The hospital is desperately in need of significant funding to support good medical care. The hospital is at breaking point. But not to worry; the tram is coming to Woden. Just make sure you don't get run over by it.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 22 2021 from Steve Thomas, Yarralumla
I recently met four nice people at the Yarralumla shops. They were tasked with explaining (soft selling) the light rail to Woden project. Given its seemingly inevitable construction based presumably on "a sound cost-benefit analysis" I wonder why the government sees the need to do this. Mike Quirk (Letters, March 14) summed it up succinctly. Before the soft sell perhaps a re-evaluation of the rapidly developing bus technology would be a better use of public funds.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 17 2021 from Mike Dallwitz, Giralang
Mike Quirk (Letters, March 14) thinks that electric buses could provide similar benefits to light rail. I doubt that they would provide the most important benefit: the improvement of property values along the route.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 15 2021 from Mike Quirk, Garran
Given rapidly-improving bus technology and a competitive industry ("The ACT's multi-million-dollar electric bus tender has attracted 100 expressions of interest", canberratimes.com.au, March 9) surely it is time to reconsider whether light rail is the best option for the inter-town public transport network.
Electric buses on their own right of way could provide similar benefits to light rail at substantially lower cost. The government should do the analysis to reassure the community it is effectively using limited infrastructure.
Savings could be used to improve the health system and social housing.
Letter, The Canberra Times, March 1 2021 from Angela Walker, Lyneham
It seems no one gives a damn about how the main thoroughfare of our capital of Australia, which was once a beautiful part of Canberra, has become an eyesore. It's hard enough as a rate payer to stomach the tram when so many Canberrans didn't want the tram in the first place. Now we are being visually assaulted daily when travelling down Northbourne Avenue and beyond with the sight of overgrown dry grass weed all the way along, apart from a very small section adjacent to Haig Park and the small area of the Civic terminus. And the same will be happening to our south side! Seriously? Will our beautiful Commonwealth Avenue bridge and beyond be dug up in the process to be inflicted with the same eyesore? Maybe a lobby group needs to be formed to tackle this important issue.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 26 2021 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
The ACT government hopes Stage 2 (Civic-Woden) of its light rail network will fit with the extremely sensitive Commonwealth Avenue section, including its iconic bridge.
Meanwhile the ACT is apparently pushing on with the only approved section - Civic to Commonwealth Park, which has its own major cost, time, infrastructure, heritage, safety, and traffic problems.
Many believe that the National Capital Authority cannot approve the Commonwealth Park to Capital Hill section, out of respect for the integrity of the National Triangle.
Politically, it seems that the federal government wouldn't mind if the ACT was left with "a tram to nowhere" ("Feds bring light rail boost", February 24, p1, and "Light rail cash injection welcomed", February 25, p13).
Both sets of politicians appear to have scant understanding of the sensitivity of Commonwealth Avenue and the bridge. Double brinkmanship seems to be going on, when there's a much better route available.
This route offers wider national capital coverage (with maybe one or two stations closed at peak hours) via Edinburgh Avenue or Gordon Street, Liversidge Street, Griffin's missing elegant lake crossing (for trams, bikes, and pedestrians only, and made yacht-friendly) between Acton Peninsula South and Flynn Drive (via the narrowest section of Lennox Gardens), and around State Circle as currently planned.
This would eliminate the very expensive requirement for underground power cables.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 23 2021 from Tony Dyson, O'Connor
As we watch the infill of LBG's west basin move gradually towards the museum it occurred to me that the government could save all the angst and expense of modifying Commonwealth Avenue Bridge for Stage 2 of light rail by continuing the infill another 100 metres round the corner to beneath the bridge.
We could replace the bridge with a causeway enabling us to build as many lanes and rails as we like without major expense. It would also allow more apartment buildings with great access to light rail.
The icing on the cake would be that we could open the east and central basins to powerboats with sailors and rowers safely confined to the western end of the lake.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 18 2021 from Phil Nicolls, Monash
This ACT government just cannot get their priorities right. First we have Andrew Barr saying his best decision has been installing lights at Manuka Oval. If this is so he should pack his bags and leave town. His worst decision is light rail that he will not admit to.
A driver who hits a cyclist is fined $393. Who comes up with the figure of $393, not $395 or $400? This is out of proportion when you consider parking in a disabled car space carries a fine of $600.
I believe the ACT government is to spend $10 million on mobile phone use detection. While drivers using mobile phones is a pet hate of mine, the ACT road toll for 2020 was just seven.
How many of these fatalities were caused by motorists using mobile phones? The money could be well spent elsewhere.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 15 2021 from John Smith, Farrer
While I share Herman van de Bruyg's admiration for Jack Kershaw's "imaginative and sensible" planning proposals for this city (Letters, February 6) Jack seems to have accepted the unimaginative and destructive big picture that the light rail represents.
Jack Kershaw's proposal does not improve the travel time implicit in the current light rail plan, nor does it improve access for tourists and workers to Parliament House and Barton, so bus routes will have to be maintained and Canberra will remain the car city.
How will the Woden tramline negotiate the traffic circle at the Woden end of Yarra Glen and access Callam Street? Will this become another traffic light-ridden slog through one of the busiest interchanges in Canberra? Why, in the light of new technology, the light rail network plan is still on the table amazes me. A city-wide light rail hub in Civic is a ridiculous concept.
While the chief minister and the prime minister may see the revival of Civic coffee shops as integral to the restoration of the post-COVID-19 economy, new technology is certain to prevail. The move to working from home is unstoppable and the vision of the previous National Capital Development Commission planners in establishing the distributed towns is sure be vindicated.
We need people like Jack Kershaw to halt the transformation of this unique city into avenues of high-rise ghettos while the demand for houses grows and inevitably overflows into villages and towns spreading outside the ACT.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 11 2021 from Mike Quirk, Garran
Your editorial ("When playing politics is a bridge to far", canberratimes.com.au, February 5) claims the light rail extension would link city to the Canberra Hospital. It does not. It is an example of the disinformation surrounding the project. The project could well be a "dud" as Senator Seselja suggested as no assessment of it, compared to alternatives such as a dedicated busway, has been undertaken.
While the government can claim a mandate for the project, the conservatism of the Liberal party, not light rail, was the reason it was re-elected. Given the need for additional health services and social housing, the government should consider deferring the project and commissioning an independent assessment to be evaluated by Infrastructure Australia as to whether the project is a good use of public funds.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 8 2021 from Gail Tregear, Civic
I must have come from another planet as I cannot see how 2A can work when there is no hope of getting approval for 2B under its current mission of going over Commonwealth Bridge. We have been informed that there are major works about to happen that will "future proof" Commonwealth Bridge although not incorporating the 2B extension.
But all that is irrelevant as is the whole idea of light rail. It is already outdated technology and the costs are being hidden from us. We could use that money to buy a fleet of electric buses and the change could build a new hospital, road improvements, a new convention centre and possibly a new stadium.
Raising London Circuit is going to be a totally unnecessary operation causing major disruption for some time to come. We risk having another hideous scar on the landscape to go with the desecration of Northbourne Avenue.
There used to be an excellent bus that went round much of Civic, including London Circuit, and it was free. That got axed when the tram came in. That bus could cover the proposed route of 2A light rail without any road works.
Perhaps I need to return to the planet I have come from as none of this planned light rail extension would seem to serve a purpose that could not be covered by buses.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 8 2021 from Mike Quirk, Garran
The government's obsession with the extension of light rail persists despite cost blow outs, the high level of territory debt, lower population growth, the need to greatly increase funding of health services and social housing, and the reduction in public transport patronage stemming from concerns about COVID-19 and increased working from home.
Why has it refused to evaluate alternatives such as high capacity electric buses operating on a dedicated busway which may provide a more than adequate service and similar city development benefits at a far lower cost?
A prudent government would defer any decision until data from the 2021 Census is considered, an assessment of the electric bus-based Brisbane metro, (to be operational in 2023) undertaken; and the potential of rapidly improving electric bus technology reviewed.
Why the rush to deliver an item of infrastructure no matter what the cost and which may not be needed? Has an undisclosed commitment been made?
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 8 2021 from P R Temple, Macquarie
I note that the conditions imposed on stage 2A of light rail include protecting the critically-endangered golden sun moth. Green MLAs please tell us how you are proposing to do this - and please don't tell us by creating "environmental offsets", which are too numerous in ACT (thanks to Ginninderry) and are shown to be ineffective.
Letter, The Canberra Times, February 6 2021 from Herman van de Brug, Belconnen
Retired architect Jack Kershaw has from time-to-time in these columns put forward a very well thought out proposal for an alternative light rail route from Civic to Woden over a new, elegant curving bridge across West Basin.
I make a last minute plea to the relevant authorities to seriously consider Mr Kershaw's proposal. He has said it will result in less disruption during construction, reduced cost and potentially increased operational revenue from the additional patronage his route would attract.
It is more inclusive for commuters, students and visitors, services the attractions along Flynn Drive and still services the important Parkes/Barton precinct.
Please consider Mr Kershaw's truly imaginative yet totally sensible proposal, which will end up being a wonderful tourist attraction in itself and could even incorporate the immigration bridge proposal of some years ago.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 25 2021 from Patricia Watson, Red Hill
Why are Jack Kershaw's urban planning talents confined to the letters column of The Canberra Times? (Letters, January 18 et al).
How sensible is his comment about the relocation of the Canberra Racing Club into brand new, and presumably more spacious, surroundings at Majura thereby making use of the current location for the Lyneham urban village?
Seems like a win/win situation for all concerned - punters have a brand new "Ascot" facility and the tram usage will presumably benefit from the urban village in the long run.
Jack has also come up with several other well-thought out alternatives to the current urban infill and tram-route aberrations. If Mr Barr had any sense, he would have made use of Jack's talents long ago and put him on his urban planning advisory staff.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 4 2021 from Alan Parkinson, Weetangera
I must correct Russ Morison (Letters, January 1). Canberrans did not vote "overwhelmingly for light rail" at the last election, nor for any other individual item of the mixed bag. They voted for a Labor party victory, perhaps persuaded by one issue or another, but more likely because they did not like the insipid offer by the other major party.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 16 2021 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
When, if ever, will all the carbon pollution caused by construction of light rail stage 2 be recouped by people using the rail system instead of their private cars?
I raised this question in November 2020 with the ACT Minister for the Environment who, some four weeks later, passed it to the Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions reduction.
I have heard no more. I'm beginning to think the government doesn't know or, if they do know, they don't like the answer. If they don't know, or if they don't like the answer, they shouldn't be doing it.
Now is the time, before embarking on years of environmentally polluting construction activities, to share a full and honest analysis of light rail with the community. Responsible action against climate change is needed, not wishful thinking. Tell us the facts.
Letter, The Canberra Times, January 1 2021 from Russ Morison, Theodore
Leon Arundell (Letters, December 31) questions the viability of the next stages of light rail which will cost the community billions. A bigger question - regardless of what is offered, Canberrans voted overwhelmingly for light rail and by implication public transport and then have walked away from it, preferring to use their cars instead. You are paying for it, so why not use it?
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 31 2020 from Leon Arundell, Downer
Has the ACT government increased its estimates of the economic benefits of stage 2 of light rail?
The business case for stage 2A estimated that stage 2A would return just 40 cents for every dollar spent on the project, and that the whole of stage 2 would provide only 60 cents return on every dollar spent.
Your December 29 article ("Canberra light rail: Decision in hands of Environment Minister") says, "The government says light rail stage 2A is estimated to return just 60 cents for every dollar spent on the project.
However, it says once all of stage 2 is completed to Woden, "the return for the whole stage will increase to $1.20 return on every dollar spent."
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 20 2020 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
What is the point of the tram? If it is to save carbon emissions, let's see the data.
It is quite possible that the construction activities of stage 2 light rail will generate more carbon emissions than are eventually saved by motorists using rail instead of their private car.
The exercise of calculating the date when carbon generated by construction activities is recouped by lesser car use is a crucial factor in determining the environmental benefits (or not) of light rail stage 2.
It is surprising that this exercise has not already been carried out. The government should no longer delay providing this crucial information enabling an informed decision on stage 2 light rail.
Without this research, continuing construction of light rail could well turn out to be government sanctioned pollution at a time when more responsible action against climate change is needed.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 19 2020 from John Madelly Snr, Melba
Andrew Barr is reported to have said, "The economy remains fragile and pulling the rug out would send the wrong signals". Will Mr Rattenbury allow the ACT treasurer to heed the economic caution presented by the ACT treasury?
The economy must move on but with judicious spending. The recent merry-go-round of ambulances shows that the health system continues to cry out for funds promised a decade ago - ask Jon Stanhope.
Funding for affordable housing is a must, and the completion of John Gorton Drive must be carried out soonest in order to serve the booming population of Molonglo, Whitlam and goodness knows what other raping of the countryside lies ahead. Put the light rail on hold until other more pressing needs are met and avoid the topographic disaster of a mangled London Circuit.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 17 2020 from Peter Sherman, Aranda
Before Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Chris Steel devote any more time and money on their Civic-Woden light rail proposal I urge them to be guided by a previous chief minister's compelling sage advice "... that a fixed 'iron rail in road' initiative would be financial suicide. It is arguable that the money spent on the light rail would be better invested more heavily in the technology of the next (ie. 21st) century rather than the last" ("Driverless cars: just a fad, or our future", Design Matters with Tony Trobe, December 13).
Randwick to Circular Quay light rail takes much longer than a bus on the same route, and whenever a tram breaks down it creates long-lasting chaos. Please do not inflict a slow, inflexible light rail "service" on those who live in Woden and beyond.
Trackless trams between Liverpool and Sydney's second airport are being considered as existing roads and bridges can be used - much cheaper and less disruptive than constructing a dedicated light-rail track.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 8 2020 from Garth Setchell, Mawson
Whilst I am decidedly supportive of Jack Kershaw's arguments in favour of an Acton Peninsula/Lennox Crossing/Flynn Drive route for Light Rail 2 to Woden (Letters, November 27), and supported by John Gray (Letters, December 4), I would like readers to be aware that I first advocated the supremacy of this route in articles in The Canberra Times on December 20, 2017, and June 25, 2018.
The cost and inconvenience of tampering with the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge to support light rail, and the devastation to the visual integrity and traffic flow of Commonwealth Avenue and State Circle to accommodate the transfer station needed for bus or light rail connections to Kingston, Manuka, etc, is mindboggling. The Lennox Crossing route would cost no more, serve facilities such as the National Museum, Shine Dome, ANU. Llewellyn Hall and south west Civic and conserve the numerous vital heritage features between City Hill and Parliament House.
Thanks to Jack and John for continuing to press the ACT government to recognise the folly of its present proposal.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 5 2020 from Barrie Shepherd, Garran
The ACT government has distributed a brochure describing proposals for the Woden Public Transport Interchange. How could they get it so wrong? They propose closing Callam Street at the interchange for all except buses and trams. Callam Street is an important dual carriageway thoroughfare, providing access throughout to parking areas and local roads. It also gives direct access from Launceston St to Tuggeranong, via Athlon Drive. It must not be closed.
The current bus interchange is adjacent to the shopping precinct. The proposal is further away, in Callam Street, and pedestrians have to cross bus and tram lanes to reach southbound buses. The bus interchange should be enclosed and compact, with direct access to shops, etc.
This proposal is an attempt to provide for expensive and immovable tramlines. Cater for the future, not the past, with a versatile trackless solution such as electric buses.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 3 2020 from Dr John Gray, landscape architect, Mawson
Jack Kershaw's proposed Acton Peninsula revision to the ACT Government's "impractical and destructive" Commonwealth Avenue preference for the Woden light rail (Letters, November 27) is very appealing from a design and public use perspective. His proposal would have the additional heritage benefit of restoring the Lennox Crossing linkage which once existed commemorating an early Australian bridge builder.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Green's leader Shane Rattenbury need to jointly review, in consultation with the community, their current preference for Commonwealth Avenue. Jack Kershaw's visionary proposal is sound and worth serious consideration.
Letter, The Canberra Times, December 1 2020 from Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Jack Kershaw (Letters, November 27), trots out his idea of a light rail route through east Acton, part of the ANU campus, along the Acton peninsula (what about the museum?), a breathtakingly expensive new bridge to Flynn Drive, then along the Flynn Drive median to State Circle. Apart from its time-consuming circuitous configuration, a route with so many corners, including right angles, is impractical, if not impossible.
My suggestion is to drop Light Rail Stage 2 altogether, and make Civic a changeover station to a rubber-tyred electric tram route using the existing Commonwealth Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, State Circle and Adelaide Avenue, widened where necessary. This has the considerable advantage of being entirely flexible and avoiding the disfigurement suffered by Northbourne Avenue.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 27 2020 from Leon Arundell, Downer
It makes sense to build light rail stops early, and to make them bus-compatible ("Woden light rail station to be used for buses first," November 23, p3).
Government modelling for Stage 1 of light rail showed that 90 per cent of the benefits of light rail can be achieved through improvements to bus services.
Making light rail stops compatible with buses will avoid the need to force public transport patrons to wait at pedestrian signals, and to cross busy roads, merely to transfer from a tram to a bus so that they can complete their journeys.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 27 2020 from Jack Kershaw FRAIA (retired), Kambah
Starting Light Rail 2 (Civic-Woden) with the installation of the Woden terminus ("Light rail station to be used for buses", November 23, p3), will give government time to recast the current expensive, impractical, and destructive Civic to State Circle section.
To that end, the government needs to scrap the foolish "orthodoxy" of using Commonwealth Avenue, and relocate the subject section to take in say, Edinburgh Avenue, the ANU campus, Acton Peninsula, an elegant new lake crossing for trams, bikes, and pedestrians (echoing Griffin's missing one), and Flynn Drive connecting to State Circle.
That route could offer some appropriate "land value capture" development sites; and would cater for wider patronage, match currently planned inter-town travel times at peak hours (by having some partially express services then), and precipitate a sunny public lakeside precinct (much better than south facing, apartments-dominated West Basin) at an expanded Lennox Gardens North/Flynn Place - a great site for Floriade.
Most importantly, it would save the vital heritage of the City Hill precinct, Parkes Way, Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, Commonwealth Avenue's cultural landscape, and the National Triangle's symmetry, and prevent Commonwealth Avenue's desecration from inappropriate and view-blocking property development; while avoiding extensive complicated civil engineering works, ridiculous underground power lines, dangerously located stations, and massive temporary and permanent traffic disruption/congestion.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 21 2020 from Penleigh Boyd, Reid
It is to be hoped that when the long-awaited business case for Light Rail Stage 2 is released the document addresses the issue of anticipated carbon expenditure versus anticipated carbon savings, over time.
Light Rail Stage 2, with its vast quantities of earthworks, terrain levelling, concrete trackways, steel rails and poles, bridges, tree felling, manufacture and transport (presumably again from Spain) of the vehicles themselves, etc, will generate huge levels of carbon pollution during construction.
The carbon generated during construction can be calculated by the Stage 2 design team, or an independent body, now. To offset the carbon generated one then needs to calculate the carbon savings by those commuters using the light rail instead of their personal vehicles. Keeping in mind that commuters are already transitioning to electric forms of transport and that all new vehicles in the ACT will be electric by 2035 ("Zero-interest charge boost coming for ACT's electric cars", p7. November 16), it should be essential for the business case to highlight at what date the carbon expenditure will be recouped. Such data should be an essential factor in the final decision on Stage 2 Light Rail feasibility.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 20 2020 from Barry Maher, Richardson
Boom gates at tram crossings might be the answer to prevent these illegal U turns in path of these trams.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 19 2020 from Mike Quirk, Garran
The Barr-Rattenbury government's commitment to "build the tram" is reminiscent of Trump's to "build the wall". Both are simplistic answers to complex problems. Only an arrogant and irresponsible government would not review the project given changing economic and financial parameters.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 13 2020 from Mike Quirk, Garran
Mr Barr sees delivery of infrastructure as his greatest challenge given infrastructure capacity constraints. A suggestion: defer the extension to Woden.
A deferral would enable the government to demonstrate it is superior to alternatives in meeting transport, planning and climate adaptation objectives but has not answered several key questions.
It would enable, (a) the assessment of rapidly improving bus-based alternatives including bus rapid transit and high capacity electric buses which could generate similar levels of patronage, urban renewal and environmental benefits at lower cost.
(b) the government to demonstrate why light rail a priority, with the cost of the extension to Woden alone estimated to cost at least $1.9 billion, when there are major unmet needs in health, housing, city maintenance and an inadequate bus network and when the territory's debt is rapidly increasing and population and employment growth slowing.
(c) Whether emissions could be reduced more effectively by other strategies including increasing the coverage and frequency of the bus network.
(d) Whether the trends to increased working from home reduces it and increased use of electric cars reduce the need for light rail.
A government committed to evidence-based policy would defer the project and assess whether it should remain a key element of the response to the environmental, social and economic challenges facing Canberra.
Letter, The Canberra Times, November 12 2020 from Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Er, Douglas Mackenzie, (Letters, Nov.10), West Basin ("Acton Foreshore") is south facing, and will mostly be shaded, cold, windswept, and overlooked by new apartment buildings; while (your referenced) Brisbane's South Bank park and beach are, of course, extensive, north facing and mostly sunny and warm, even in winter. The best arrangement for our "City to the Lake" experience involves a re-routed (so as not to wreck City Hill, Commonwealth Avenue, its bridge, and the National Triangle) Civic to Capital Hill section of the Woden tram line - re-routed from Civic, via Edinburgh Avenue, Acton Peninsula, and a yacht-friendly, tram/bike/pedestrian third lake crossing (Griffin's missing one), to a new sunny expanded Lennox Gardens/Flynn Place lakeside precinct.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 30 2020 from Alastair Bridges, Wanniassa
While there has been much talk of trams I never seen any mention of trolley buses.
We had them in Australia 60 or 70 years ago.
I remember them in Hobart. Overhead wires allowed them to manoeuvre and they were quiet. Were they ever given any thought for Canberra?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 29 2020 from M. Flint, coordinator, Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale Centre
Now we have a majority of women in the Assembly maybe we will see some financial sanity return to budget priorities, instead of wasting another $3 billion (over 25 years) on Stage 2 of the tram, let alone beyond.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 30 2020 from Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra
Methinks Ray Edmondson (Letters, October 21) takes too literally the "creation myth" that Canberra was designed by Walter Burley Griffin.
I've come to think of Griffin as the Canberra equivalent of Chairman Mao. We extol his plan for the world we inhabit, ignoring the vast disconnect between what he envisaged and what we ended up with after the Federal Territory bureaucrats (our Deng Xiaoping) wove their magic. This feat of doublethink allowed the latter's product to bask in the glow of its purported author.
It also allows him to be invoked, when it suits, to Griffin-wash piecemeal pseudo-elements of the original plan. Did Griffin really envisage satellite towns connected by trams?
I agree with Ray's argument a tram is nicer to travel on than a bus, but I also agree with Ian Pearson (Letters October 21) that the $142,000 Audi E-Tron would be nice to have. Of course, no-one wants to be the bunny that pays for everyone else to have a tram but misses out themselves, so every part of Canberra now wants one. I fear this will be a heavy first claim on the ACT budget for years to come, with implications for hospital care in the region and the ability of opposition parties to offer you a real alternative.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 25 2020 from Stan Marks, Hawker
Chris Aulich (Letters, October 22) says the election win means that "we can say with confidence that most ACT voters want light rail". Wrong. There are any number of reasons why people voted ALP and as many reasons why they didn't vote Liberal. You voted ALP and you got the tram.
Let us not forget that we got the tram only because Katy Gallagher couldn't form government in 2012 without the support of the Greens.
Mr Aulich would remember letter after letter to this paper in the immediate aftermath of the tram's opening in which people complained that changes to public transport in Gungahlin forced on people in order to funnel them onto the tram resulted in inconvenience and longer trip times.
Today's under 40s, the only people Andrew Barr cares about, will still be paying for the tram when they are over 60s.
It would have been sensible to solve the transport problem in Gungahlin using the most practical solution.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 24 2020 from Graham Downie, O'Connor
ACT Liberal president John Cziesla is probably correct in saying his party's poor result will further entrench the government's arrogance, cronyism, and contempt for Canberrans ("Labor, Greens will see win as endorsement of 'arrogance, cronyism', Lib president says", canberratimes.com.au, October 21) but he should acknowledge his party's ineptness in opposition and no credible plan to govern.
The arrogance and so forth of the government was identified at least two elections ago, yet with no realistic alternative, the Liberal vote has declined. This is despite rate increases over that period of up to fourfold, poorly maintained paths and roads, the worst weekend public transport for at least 50 years to pay for a light rail, and a public hospital record among the worst in Australia.
Add to this questionable land deals and numerous planning debacles, and there was a strong case for a change of government. That the ACT Liberals failed to capitalise on any of these issues should not be blamed on voters but on the lack of a realistic alternative government.
Canberra deserves an alternative government, but based on ACT Liberals' performance, this might have to come from an entirely new party, more in touch with Canberra and its citizens.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 23 2020 from Lee Welling, Nicholls
Chris Aulich's claim (Letters, October 22) that the ACT election was a vote for the tram begs the question.
If it was such a vote winner why didn't the Liberal's do better at the polls given they endorsed Stage 2? Another way of looking at it is that if the Liberals had opposed the tram and explained to the public how the cost of its introduction is, in large part, responsible for Canberra being the most expensive city in Australia to live, with the most unaffordable housing and the longest hospital waiting times, their vote may have improved.
Is it a coincidence that there was a nearly five per cent swing to the Liberals and 9.5 swing against Labor in Yerrabi where the tram is centred? Was this a vote from disaffected citizens who have had their once useful bus routes that ran to all parts of Canberra turned into "loops" such that, no matter where they catch the bus, they end up back at the tram terminus?
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 23 2020 from Eric Hunter, Cook
Ray Edmonson (Letters, October 21) says the tram is popular and will realise its full potential when the Woden extension is completed. He then, however, pulls the pin on the economic hand grenade by stating: "Whether it might have been built for a lower cost, of course is certainly open to discussion".
The latter, of course, is what disturbs many Canberrans as they see their rates rising dramatically, year by year, in order to pay for a project that, at best, will benefit only a minority. Indeed, there has not been a fully independent cost-benefit analysis that shows the tram is an economically viable proposition, so it's potential is already severely limited.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 22 2020 from Chris Aulich, Giralang
The ACT elections have made at least three matters very clear; matters which have been trotted out gratuitously for years by a number of your correspondents.
First, we can say with confidence most ACT voters want light rail. While the return on investment calculation may be marginal, voters at three successive elections have indicated they are willing to pay for the system. Let's hear no more barbs about the decision unless it it is to make the network more cost effective and efficient.
Second, it is demonstrable that Andrew Barr is the most popular local politician. Let's accept that, at least for the present, and moderate the sniping.
Third, the Canberra Liberals are unable or unwilling to understand ACT voters are more sophisticated and educated than they believe. They need to realise that this population can see through slogans and stunts and unveil the menu of limited policies funded by magic pudding economics that were offered at this election.
Perhaps they could spend the next four years developing costed, evidence-based, policies which reflect this sophistication and education. If they did then come 2024 territorians will have genuine choices about who will govern them.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 21 2020 from Ray Edmondson, Kambah
In his article "Will the Liberals learn a lesson?" (October 20, p16) Tim Colebatch claims that Canberra was designed for cars, not trams.
Actually it was designed for both. Walter Burley Griffin laid out central rights of way in Canberra's main arteries for the tramlines that were envisioned but never built.
The present line traverses the centre of Northbourne Avenue, exactly where Burley Griffin intended it to be. The southward extension will go down the middle of Adelaide Avenue and Yarra Glen.
It has taken nearly a century to fulfill Burley Griffin's vision so it was hardly a rushed job. Whether it might have been built for a lower cost, of course is certainly open to discussion.
The tram has proved popular and is a far more comfortable ride than a Canberra bus. Its fuller potential as a trunk route won't be realised until the Woden extension is a reality.
Letter, The Canberra Times, October 20 2020 from Sandy Paine, Griffith
The victorious Labor and the Greens will now redouble their claim that they have secured a mandate for light rail, blinding them to the realities of logistics and economics.
Surely the best answer for Canberra is a flexible fleet of battery-electric buses, which can be taken in and out of service, and re-routed, as required. The expensive laying of tram tracks, forever determining a route, is clearly misguided and a massive waste of precious taxpayers' money.