Light rail poor value: report

The Canberra Times, July 15, 2014, p1

The Productivity Commission's report into public infrastructure in Australia states: "The ACT government's decision to proceed with a light rail project appears to be an example of where the results of cost-benefit analysis have been ignored without a valid explanation."
The report concludes about the project: "In summary, a cost–benefit analysis showed BRT to be a greatly superior option than LRT. That a less reliable form of analysis based on less up-to-date information showed LRT to be slightly superior (the overall difference was one ‘star’), would not appear to provide a sound basis for overlooking this and deciding to proceed with light rail."

Rail benefits 'beyond economic'

The Canberra Times, July 16, 2014, p1

Improved bus rapid transport would not deliver thet economic, social and environmental benefits that Canberra can expect from a light rail tram network.
Simon Corbell said "I am disappointed that the commission did not ask the government what its broader rationale was beyond economics for determining support for this project ... broader social benefits, active transport, integration of public transport into the light rail corridor in a way that buses cannot deliver."
Mr Corbell said "We know that running buses down Northbourne Avenue means either taking away two lanes of traffic or building roadway down the middle of the median strip. Neither of these outcomes are acceptable for the city."
Canberra Urban and Regional Futures researcher David Flannery identified the increase in nearby land values and the money saved on greenfield infrastructure through higher density as key contributing factors to the tram line.

Sticking with the urban glue, Simon Corbell

The Canberra Times, Comment, July 16, 2014, Times2 p5

Politicians have debated for 100 years the cost of installing Griffin's railway and tramway system, always deciding it was an unjustifiable cost until Canberra grew.
The NSW government has signalled its strong support for rail projects ... with the north west rail link, south west rail link, $400 million for the Parramatta light rail, $1.6 billion for the CBD and south east light rail route and a further $2.8 billion for new state-of-the-art-intercity trains.
Without investment in light rail Canberra's transportation expenditure is heavily skewed to roads-only expenditure. With ... a car dependency rate of more than 80 percent the costs of congestion will continue only to increase.
The benefit cost ratio (BCR) along the City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor was estimated at 1.02 in 2011. If we increase residential and commercial density on the rapid transit corridors the BCR is 2.34.
The light rail project is not just a public transport project - it is the glue that holds together the city's urban renewal plans. Light rail has a proven ability to attract investment, businesses and people. The land around light rail stops increases in value due to the benefits associated with this mode of transport ... there was no evidence that buses have the same economic effect.
More investment and businesses in the city's core will be good for all of Canberra.
Light rail can integrate with the surrounding areas. A busway would need to have barriers and be segregated. This would act as a divisive structure within the important Northbourne Corridor.
Light rail is the only public transport mode that can attract 20 percent of its passengers directly out of cars. More buses are unlikely to tempt Canberrans out of their cars. An additional benefit [of light rail] is the potential to provide new and sustainable jobs. Future mapping across 30 years indicates that about 50,000 jobs will be supported.
Last but not least there are the environmental benefits of reducing car dependence. Twenty-three percent of ACT carbon emissions are from transport.