ACT govt report says Canberra light rail delivering benefits

The Canberra light rail is delivering clear and lasting benefits, the ACT government says.

Chris Steel: light rail bringing benefits

Transport minister Chris Steel says a new five year analysis released by the government reveals the first stage of the light rail service between Canberra City and Gungahlin has made a positive contribution since it was introduced in April 2019, and stage 2 to expand it will go ahead.

It comes after a previous report criticised light rail as the wrong solution to Canberra’s public transport problems and called for work to extend the network to be stopped before the national capital got locked into a rigid, inflexible and expensive public transport system unsuited to its topography.

“Light rail has delivered billions in additional construction work along the alignment, thousands of new homes and thousands of local jobs,” Mr Steel said.

“Business growth along the corridor has also increased with the largest benefit occurring in Gungahlin and suburbs adjacent to the city centre.”

According to the Transport Canberra report, light rail stage 1 has resulted in reduced motor vehicle travel, potentially $2.3 billion worth of new construction, 6,100 new dwellings and 26 per cent increased business growth in Gungahlin.

It says passengers have made 16.5 million trips since the start of operations in 2019, with 95 per cent of them expressing satisfaction.

Stage 2 to proceed

The ACT Government has selected the City to Woden corridor as the next stage of its Light Rail network, creating a north-south public transport spine for Canberra, Mr Steel said.

He vowed the the government would continue to invest in what he said was “important city shaping infrastructure” that would benefit generations of Canberrans.

“Our first mass-transit system, through the delivery of Stage 1 of Light Rail, represented a vision for Canberra as a connected, sustainable and vibrant city,” he writes in a ministerial foreward to the report.

“Canberra has now experienced what it means to have a mass-transit system in Light Rail.

“The success of Stage 1 of Light Rail means that the ACT Government will continue to work on further stages of Light Rail to extend the benefits of mass-transit to other parts of the city.”

The report is in stark contrast with the earlier analysis, released in February by a team of independent experts with expertise in urban planning, transport logistics, and economics.

That report argues that there’s no justification for the ACT Government’s light rail spend and that the costs of ongoing work to extend the network are so excessive that they could affect the Territory’s future financial position.

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