Sunday, February 21, 2016

Rod Harding announces light rail plans, sort of...

Trams in the Valley? 
After announcing an over-60s vote grabbing un-costed policy of bringing back trams to Brisbane a few weeks back, ALP mayoral candidate Rod Harding has announced more detail. However, more detail is still required.

  • $1.22b light rail from UQ to Newstead. A second phase will connect Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) and RBWH, and there may be extensions to Northshore Hamilton - more on the light rail plans further on in this blog post. 
  • $20m - more frequent bus services for the suburbs - not clear if this is a true bus network reform, but it is a step in the right direction.
  • Circa $300m on building "bus lanes" instead of the previously proposed Northern and Eastern busway extensions and some level crossing replacements - a sensible policy. 
  • $28.5m on Free Fare Friday - this utterly stupid idea has been discussed previously in this blog post. 
So what does BrizCommuter think of the light rail plan?
  • The $1.22b light rail only has $140m of planned funding from Brisbane City Council (BCC). It seems that Rod Harding thus wants the "cash strapped" state and federal governments to cough up the dough for his idea. Given that this idea isn't on either government's agenda, BrizCommuter would think it would be better if BCC coughed up some funding for the urgently required Cross River Rail (CRR) instead. 
  • It is concerning that CRR only has one mention in Rod Harding's policy paper. In another of his election policy files, he mentions working in partnership with the state government. Have you have discussed the Free Fare Friday and light rail with the state government yet Rod? 
  • Is spending on $1.22b for light rail to replace parts of two existing bus routes (Blue CityGlider and 66) a good use of money? Probably not value for money, though as with the Gold Coast's Light Rail (G:link) it would likely increase patronage on the same routes. Enough to make a business case, probably not?
  • It is unknown if the Victoria Bridge can support light rail. If not, the costs will shoot up!
  • There may be issues with trams sharing streets with cars and buses along the route. 
  • The 2nd phase, appears to use the Story Bridge and possibly Inner Northern Busway. There are quite a few obvious problems with this! 
  • The mooted extension to Northshore Hamilton would not be required if the Doomben Line was quite simply extended at relatively low cost. 
Whilst it is good that public transport has finally become a major election issue, it is shame that the ALP and LNP mayoral candidates just don't quite get it. There needs to be more support behind CRR, proper bus network reform, and fares need to left to TransLink. Most importantly, vote grabbing infrastructure ideas need to be put on ice unless there is state government approval.  

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