Perth to build new city tramways

By Paul Hemsley

Perth has become the latest Australian city to jump aboard the light rail bandwagon in an ambitious bid to iron out bottlenecks and speed up travel times for commuters travelling to and from the city.

The Western Australian Government has promised to build a $15.8 million light rail network in the state capital, a move it claims will help reduce traffic congestion around the Perth’s inner north.

The move underscores the growing popularity of light rail among state governments as a cost-effective way of increasing public transport patronage and speeding-up journey times in metropolitan areas.

A key advantage of trams is that they can convey significantly larger numbers of passengers than buses, but do not demand the high levels of investment required by the construction of heavy rail which requires dedicated lines and stations.

Congestion in Perth has been an increasing frustration for commuters travelling in and out of the city as merging lanes and difficult intersections cause delays for increased numbers of travellers.

The federal Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics report has previously estimated that the term costs of congestion in Perth will increase from $900 million in 2007 to $2.1 billion by 2020.

To ease the city’s growing pains, the WA Government will build a light rail system called the Metro Area Express (MAX) that travels from the inner north to the central business district (CBD).

The state government will pour $11.8 million into the project, while the Commonwealth will contribute $4 million.

The state government’s contribution will cover the planning phase including extensive community consultation and feasibility, engineering and design studies.

Construction is slated to commence in 2016 with the first phase leading from Mirrabooka to the CBD, QEII Medical Centre and the Causeway scheduled to be operational by 2018.

Premier Colin Barnett said MAX will help manage population growth as the city expands to as many as 2.7 million people by 2031.

“The launch of this project is a major milestone for Perth and will be an important part of this city’s transformation during a period of strong economic and population growth,” Mr Barnett said.

Minister for Transport, Troy Buswell, said light rail has been assessed as the most suitable option in these areas.

“It can move many more people in one lane than any number of buses and cars,” Mr Buswell said.

Mr Buswell said there was the potential for private investment into the light rail system in the future as well as further federal or state government funding.

“This funding will be channelled into public transport corridors that are unable to meet current and future demand,” Mr Buswell said.

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0 thoughts on “Perth to build new city tramways

  1. Is ‘light rail’ an actual ‘TRAM’ that will travel via middle of the road like we had in Perth back in the 50’s? Many thanks in anticipation of your reply.

  2. I think Mr Buswell is being disingenuous stating that there is some dramatic difference between trams and buses. A typical Melbourne tram has about twice the capacity of a bus, but for the most part runs part full and is still subject to the same traffic congestion bus is, so there is little advantage over buses. The same could be achieved with dedicated bus lanes.

    It really depends on the application. We can be assured that a retrofit such as being considered in Perth will leave the trams exposed to the worst of the city traffic. There simply isn’t enough road width to provide a route that is independent of traffic.

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