Perth councils demand say on new tram routes

By Paul Hemsley

The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) has demanded the state government led by Premier Colin Barnett include councils in the planning process for the rollout of Perth’s inner city tram run, especially over the location of routes, stops and stations.

The Western councils’ peak body claims that street knowledge held by local governments is a “valuable asset which was not being fully utilised in current planning for light rail” as it agitates for greater influence over where the new trams will be deployed.

President of WALGA Troy Pickard said it was “critical” that local governments and communities were “strongly engaged” in the early stages of these strategic discussions and in the detail of proposed routes.

“Transport routes can have a profound impact upon the important role local governments and communities play in place-making,” Mr Pickard said.

Mr Pickard said local governments along the proposed light rail network routes were keen to work with the state to get the most out of this “significant investment”.

The latest lobbying effort by WALGA follows the state election in March 2013 that resulted in a landslide victory for the Barnett government following a campaign which prominently featured the promise to build new transport networks and ease traffic Perth’s congestion.

The local government peak body has used the state government’s campaign pledge as a pretext to try and influence the government to use community knowledge and local government expertise on key decisions concerning the rollout.

Increased congestion from the inner north of Perth to the central business district has been a source of daily frustration for commuters which the state government hopes to soothe through a light rail line into the heart of the city.

The Barnett government is betting that a light rail network for the City of Perth, dubbed the Metro Area Express (MAX) will take pressure off city roads in combination with heavy rail initiatives.

“We are urging the state to work collaboratively with the local governments along these routes, recognising their local expertise and knowledge of the local impacts transport opportunities will bring,” Mr Pickard said.

“When you add to this the complexity involved with business, retail and pedestrian malls in a major city centre such as Perth, the need for localised knowledge is intensified.”

The City of Perth already contributed to the discussion in March 2013 following the state election with ideas about the light rail as Mayor Lisa Scaffidi proposed four different options for where the light rail track should be laid so that is doesn’t upset the active retail strips of the Hay and Murray Street pedestrian malls.

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