Auditor-General concerned by light rail benefit promises

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THE ACT Auditor?General Maxine Cooper has presented a performance audit report on the Initiation of the Light Rail Project.

“The Capital Metro Light Rail Project’s governance, administrative and project management framework is sound and generally accords with better practice, which positions it to meet the challenges of implementing light rail,” Maxine said.

“However, benefits management needs to be given priority and a whole?of?government Benefits Realisation Plan, and associated documentation, developed and implemented to guide the management and realisation of the project’s benefits.

“Benefits management is an important project management practice that identifies, tracks and delivers the measurable improvements generated by projects.

“Benefits management is important given that, in considering only the project’s transport benefits the benefit?cost ratio is 0.49, with an estimated 49.3 cents in transport benefits gained for every $1 spent; and considering transport benefits and wider economic benefits (including land use benefits), the benefit?cost ratio is 1.20, with an estimated $1.20 in benefits for every $1 spent.

“The benefit?cost ratio of 1.20 needs to be used with caution as there is a lack of an agreed methodology and robust data in Australia for calculating wider economic benefits (including land use benefits). In the 1.20 benefit?cost ratio approximately 60 percent of theproject’s benefits are not transport?related. This is large compared with other transport infrastructure projects for which information was publicly available.

“Realising the project’s benefits will involve a wide range of activities related to land development decisions undertaken by ACT Government; ticketing and fare setting; bus and park & ride integration; parking charges; value capture activities; signalling priorities; the location of ACT Government staff in the corridor; and other undertakings to promote economic activity in the ACT.

“While some actions may have commenced to realise benefits, without a Benefits Realisation Plan there is a lack of transparency and accountability’ said Dr Cooper.

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