The people have spoken on new light rail routes

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MEEGAN Fitzharris and Mick Gentleman say more than 6,000 Canberrans have had their say on the future of public transport in the ACT, calling for a network that is quicker and more frequent and identifying their priorities for the next stages of light rail.

The two have released “Keeping Canberra Moving: What you have told us”, a report from new transport agency Transport Canberra that highlights key improvements that could be made to public transport.

“It’s clear that people want public transport to be quicker and more frequent, and that’s exactly what Transport Canberra’s integrated network of light rail and rapid buses will deliver,” Meegan said.

“The clear message from Canberrans is that an expanded light rail network integrated with more frequent buses and our walking and cycling network will make public transport a genuine alternative to driving.

“Whether they’re taking the bus, riding their bike or hopping on the light rail network, every Canberran on public transport takes one more car off the road. This eases congestion and means we don’t become gridlocked like Sydney.

“By the end of this year there will be 400,000 living in Canberra, and in the next 20 years our population is set to increase by a third, with almost 500,000 people to call Canberra home by 2035. We need to start planning now for that future growth, which is why now is the right time to start our light rail network, and look to where it can go next.

“Transport Canberra has now been established to integrate our public transport system. The agency will consider the findings from this report and work with the community to ensure our public transport system meets the needs of our growing city.”

Mick said the community had considered the light rail network and identified the four priority routes for the next stage of the network.

“Canberrans identified four routes – Woden to the City, Belconnen to the City, the Airport and the Parliamentary Zone as priority routes for the next stage of Canberra’s light rail network,” Mick said.

“All four routes would take advantage of key landmarks, cultural institutions, education and health services and increased tourism from international flights, which start in September.”

“The Woden corridor provides the opportunity to create a north-south ‘spine’ for the city’s transport, and plans released today will look at extending this corridor to the Mawson Group Centre.

“While community consultation examined the corridor to Woden, a short extension to Mawson would provide a great link for the Tuggeranong community to utilise the popular Mawson Park and Ride facility on their daily commute.

“Community consultation also looked at a potential network extension from the city to Kippax. At present the Government is investigating the City to the Belconnen Town Centre section of that corridor, in response to strong support for a route linking two universities, CIT and two hospitals. There is an opportunity to extend light rail to Kippax over the longer term, especially when demand in the area grows through developments in West Belconnen.

“The ACT Government will now move to undertake more detailed analysis of all four preferred routes, before making an announcement later this year on the next steps in developing a city-wide light rail network, with the community’s chosen routes at its core,” concluded Minister Gentleman.

The report combines consultation on the future light rail network and the recent public transport survey.

UPDATE: The Liberals are not happy:

It’s not good enough for the Barr government to release future plans for light rail without providing any details about costs, Shadow Minister for Transport Alistair Coe said today.

“Today, the government has released some lines on a map without any analysis or costings. You would have thought the government would have learned from the adhoc process by which it developed the first stage of light rail,” Mr Coe said.

“These proposals will cost billions of dollars, but just like the first stage, the government is more interested in its utopian ideals than dealing with the real costs that will be lumped on the Canberra community.

“Today’s announcement is an insult to the intelligence of Canberrans who have to deal with rising rates, fees and charges and deteriorating local services.

“The Canberra Liberals will stop light rail if elected in October and focus on what Canberrans need from their local government,” Mr Coe concluded.

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