Election Announcement: The Greens

The ACT Greens have launched a key election initiative that would see a light rail public transport system built in Canberra, with the first tracks laid in 2015. 

Greens Transport Spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, launched the plan which will see the first dollars and cents commitment to light rail in Canberra.

The full package can be found at: http://act.greens.org.au/content/light-rail-canberra

“Canberra is ready for light rail. It’s achievable, a sound investment, and the best available option for the long term liveability and sustainability of Canberra,” said Ms Bresnan.

“After more than a decade of Government talk, this ACT Greens initiative will ensure action, making the financial commitment to finally see a light rail system built.

“The Greens plan commits the initial $200 million of capital funding, which can join financing through private partnerships, land development opportunities and Federal Government funding.

“Light rail is experiencing a renaissance in cities around the world for good reasons. It has many advantages over buses, including speed, reliability and appeal to passengers.

“Light Rail may have higher upfront capital costs than bus options, but the higher investment will deliver greater returns for our city, as well as taking advantage of land development and value capture opportunities.

“The ongoing advantages of building light rail – such as reduced congestion, improved connectivity and economic opportunities – are literally worth billions of dollars.

“Study after study shows light rail would bring enormous benefits to Canberra and set us up as a connected, sustainable and liveable city for the future. But ACT Governments have been too short sighted to act.

“For a long time we’ve heard from the other parties about processes, investigations and submissions. The Greens today are outlining a plan that will actually build light rail, with a fund that the ACT can afford, to get the project moving.

“So now that there is a plan on the table, the lip-service can end; the other parties need to say if they support light rail, or if they don’t,” Ms Bresnan concluded.

Highly respected sustainability professor and light rail expert, Professor Peter Newman*, has commented on the Greens’ plan and light rail, saying:

“I have been supporting rail projects in Australian cities for over 30 years in academic and policy circles. Despite much opposition, most of these, especially the Perth projects, have been highly successful. There has never been a more opportune time for cities to reconsider their transport priorities and put their focus on rail.

“Continuous high fuel prices globally have led to the phenomenon of peak car use where for the first time in a hundred years cities in the developed world are reducing in car use per person – including Canberra. At the same time a rail revolution is underway, especially in the US and across the emerging cities of China and India. Bus use has not grown in a similar way and Canberra demonstrates this very clearly. Cities need rail options and smaller towns like Canberra must now see that light rail is a much more obvious option than has been the case before.

“I support the serious reconsideration of light rail in Canberra. Our report on light rail in 1992 made sense then but it is much more relevant now. And today we know there are new ways of financing light rail through land value capture. Across Australia these ideas are being examined as cities try to become less car dependent and more sustainable. Surely it’s time for Canberra.”

The ACT Greens initiative would:

  • commit the initial $200 million of Government funding  through the 2013-14 Budget to building light rail, with building commencing by 2015;
  • provide $4.6 million to establish an independent, expert body to manage and implement the light rail project;
  • raise additional funding through increased development opportunities, and potential private funding and Federal contributions; and
  • develop (through the independent body) a Canberra wide master plan for the staged development of light rail across Canberra ($1.4 million).

* Professor Peter Newman is available for media comment on request. Professor Newman is also on the Board of Infrastructure Australia, and is a Lead Author for Transport on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

 

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