POST 2020 ELECTION OPINIONS
Updated May 18 2021
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 I raised the matter on March 26 but my letter went unpublished.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 Especially as it being carried out solely to allow the already outdated light rail to proceed to Commonwealth Park and later, perhaps, to Woden.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.