THE Capital Metro website is filled with glossy pictures and motherhood statements that no right-thinking person could disagree with, but one comes away with the impression that it is all rather one-sided and glowy. Not surprisingly, this raises the question of whether one is being informed by an objective party or manipulated by a marketing exercise.
I genuinely do not know enough yet about the light rail proposal to make any confident statement as to the impacts, except to say that their strategic approach seems to ignore the basic fundamentals of strategic planning.
They don’t come to terms with the facts, and those facts include the inconvenient truth that plunging a great deal of public monies into a project that is extremely visible, that disrupts the city’s major traffic corridor for some indeterminate period and in the short to medium term involves cutting down a long slab of urban forest that people value and associate with the bush capital/garden city image, where cost blowouts are inevitable and political fallout unavoidable is a gigantic risk.
If they are to make it work, they need to get maximum buy-in, and to do that they need to prove their case – not just at the beginning, but all the way through when things go wrong and elections highlight the difficulties and faults that will arise.
Having said that, I would also say that I really do hope they can prove that this is a project that justifies going ahead despite our relatively small population and extremely high car dependence. I’ve lived in many cities in my life: London, Geneva, Vienna, Paris and Brussels, New York and Philadelphia, Sydney, Perth and Hobart, and while I believe that Canberra offers a quality of life that’s unparalleled I also believe that we need to be seriously planning for 50 years from now, demanding excellence in all our infrastructure, and building an ACT economy that can support the widest possible range of employment types and revenue streams by capitalising on our assets.
Jane Goffman, via email