Can a special levy save the ACT Light Rail?

Click link to original version of this comment at Macrobusiness  (link may be locked – but there is a free trial available)

“…They had also better double-check that the rail is genuinely needed: no benefit, no uplift….”

That is a very important point.

A LVT is an excellent way to harvest a vase of Daffodils but a white elephant remains a white elephant.

A bus lane with articulated buses (when demand requires) with preferential lights at intersections would provide the transport benefits at a fraction of the $600M cost of light rail.

And that is assuming that the control freak mess of zonings restrictive the most productive use of land along the route are relaxed.

and this

Yes, it is not just tramways that are opportunities for gouging down under.

Heavy rail projects are also nose bleed expensive.

But that tends to support the argument against light rail / trams in many situations in Australia. If they are more easily packaged as gouge fests then the bus approach may be preferrable.

For me the big clanking warning bell is that the LNP government is suddenly hot to trot for light rail after years working hard to demonise all forms of public transportation.

My hunch? – There are a some big fat juicy construction, operation and most juicy of all financing contracts to be negotiated with a light rail system.

As to whether the cost of light rail / tram systems v dedicated bus lanes v the benefits of either in particular situations are comparable I am happy to go with whatever is clearly superior.

Unfortunately, as a tram fan, I have a lot of doubts that in most cases the benefits of tram over bus exceed a dedicated bus land when the costs are taken into account.

and this


Well I suppose a good start would be to publish any cost benefit or other analysis so the assumptions can be poked with long sticks on forums like macrobusiness.

But that “commercial in confidence” stamp seems to get slapped on anything that would permit real scrutiny of the decision and the assumptions relied on.

When I went poking around the website for the Gold Coast light rail there was lots of talk about how all options had been evaluated but the actual evaluation was not available – “commercial in confidence”.

As for Canberra, the zoning maps reflect planner obsessions and the routes of the proposed light rail remain highly prescriptive.

Thus why I say they should go for a dedicated bus lane and relax the land use restrictions so that medium/high density mixed use can sprout up along the route.

When the bus lane reaches its capacity they can either lay track and wiring for high capacity light rail (3-4 carriages) or a heavy rail subway.

All funded by the growing LVT revenue along the route as development increases.

and this

Yes, the price tag is hard to believe but then 11 km of new rail line in NSW – all above ground – recently cost $2B. So as gouging goes it appears consistent.

In Spain $4B euro bought over 140km of high speed rail.

Categories: Macrobusiness

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