Submission to consultation on Light Rail Stage II – June 2017
The Deakin Residents’ Association (DRA) thanks Transport Canberra for the opportunity to consult on elements of Canberra Light Rail Stage 2.
The DRA has reservations about the adequacy of the consultation document. The DRA expresses the hope that this is only the first iteration of a process of consultation providing real input and allowing for realistic consideration of the Light Rail Stage 2.
Overall design issues
There are also local concerns about the project’s overall design. The DRA notes that expenditure on Stage 2 will be much higher than Stage I because of expensive bridge works across Parkes Way, wire-free transit through NCA zone, bridge reinforcement to cross the Lake, circumnavigating Parliament House or realigning National Circuit, lifts on Adelaide Avenue and many more high-cost pieces of infrastructure. These continuing concerns about overall design and the economics of the project are outlined in detail in the Attachment 1 and further issues raised at an ISCCC forum attended by DRA representatives and of relevance to Deakin are detailed in Attachment 2.
If, however, Light Rail Stage 2 is to progress as planned there are specific Deakin-related concerns in relation to its delivery as follows:
- Minimising the impact of light rail on environmental amenity;
- Maximising the transportation options and benefits for Deakin residents;
- Promoting active transport options from and through Deakin; and
- Leveraging the infrastructure investments made in relation light rail to build a more connected local community.
As an older inner suburb adjoining the Parliamentary Zone, Deakin is blessed with established trees and landscaping, purposefully designed vistas, and heritage streets and avenues.
The DRA maintains that any development in relation to light rail should be consistent with the heritage and environmental setting of Deakin.
This applies not only to the installation of light rail, and its ancillary infrastructure such as stations and alignment, but also any proposed development along the light rail corridor. The DRA opposes any development that would result in a loss of green park space for Deakin residents. This includes areas adjoining the Lodge, the Mint and the Mint Oval.
The vista from Yarra Glen to Parliament House is along a processional route of national significance. Any development along the Adelaide Avenue or Yarra Glen corridor, particularly resulting in densification of Deakin and surrounding suburbs, should be done in a way that does not compromise the vistas and complements the existing built environment.
The DRA urges Transport Canberra to respect the national processional status of Adelaide Avenue and to preserve the vistas. In particular, overhead powerlines for light rail should be avoided on Adelaide Avenue at least until the road continues on to Yarra Glen at Kent Street and ideally along the entire route.
As a suburb, Deakin comprises a higher proportion of older residents (over 65) than almost any other ACT suburb, and also has a higher proportion of children than the average suburb. These groups are more likely to rely on public transport for their transportation needs.
Deakin is currently well served by a number of buses whose routes transverse through Deakin – Routes one, two and three. These buses travel to the City, ANU, University of Canberra and in the other direction, Woden and Canberra Hospital. They stop within 10 metres of the Deakin shops and provide easy access to John James Hospital. In addition, as part of the Governments re-election commitment a further bus route through Deakin to Russell and Canberra Airport has also been promised.
If the current bus service passing the Deakin shops was to be removed, requiring passengers to a walk to Adelaide Ave, transport services for Deakin residents and visitors would be significantly eroded.
Neither route proposed as part of the consultation provides a complete alternative to these bus routes. The DRA strongly recommends that these buses be maintained even after the light rail is operational.
The demographics of this area also necessitate appropriate access facilities to any light rail stations. The DRA proposes that lifts be installed from Hopetoun Circuit underpass level to the Adelaide Avenue level.
The DRA recommends that Transport Canberra maintains current bus routes through Deakin and installs lifts to light rail stations on Adelaide Avenue.
Active Transport and Light Rail Axillary Infrastructure
A key aim of the DRA is the promotion of active transport options for residents and commuters travelling through Deakin. Investments in signage, pedestrian crossings, shared paths and cycle-ways, limiting traffic/speeds and pedestrian safety infrastructure all contribute to encouraging active transport for leisure or as a commuting alternative.
To this end, the DRA has continued to pursue lower speed limits along Hopetoun Circuit, more pedestrian crossings to the Deakin shops, and safety improvements in crossing the Adelaide Avenue underpass and off-ramps. The proposed station on Hopetoun Circuit would be within walking distance of the Deakin shops.
While it is unclear at this stage what the Deakin station would look like, it would be a timely opportunity to consider significant improvements in the Deakin shops to Adelaide Avenue zone to make pedestrian access to the proposed station easy and safe.
The DRA recommends that Transport Canberra considers improvements to pedestrian and cycle infrastructure along the Deakin shops to Adelaide Avenue zone in determining the position and location of the Deakin Light Rail Station.
We also note that stations at Kent St and Carruthers St are not close to the Deakin medical and office precincts. The proposed stops further down Adelaide Avenue and on Yarra Glen will require even longer walks to the medical and office precincts. We hoped the light rail would improve access to these important sites.
Further consideration could be given for the light rail to veer through Denison Street to service patients and visitors to Calvary John James Hospital, numerous other Medical Centres in West Deakin, the West Deakin Business Park, and Alfred Deakin High School. This option caters for some of the most vulnerable in our community and would help alleviate commuter overflow parking into Deakin. In addition, a connection between the West Deakin Medical precinct and Canberra Hospital in Garran would provide a logical transport link.
The DRA understands the benefits and limitations of alternative routes through the Parliament House or Barton precincts. Further detailed economic and social analysis is required before the route is selected, weighing up the increased patronage of clients accessing Barton, with the longer travel time that route would entail.
The DRA believes that the proposed route via Adelaide Avenue and Yarra Glen inadequately services the existing hospital/medical, business and community infrastructure in West Deakin and recommends the adoption of a new route via Denison Street. It also recommends a more detailed review of the proposed routes through either the Parliament House or Barton precincts
The alignment of the light rail should provide safe and quick access for passengers. Whether this is along the centre, verge or median is dependent on the station and access infrastructure proposed. As stated previously, the DRA is keen to be engaged in consultation about the development of station infrastructure to ensure it meets the local residents’ needs.
The DRA is keen to continue to engage with Transport Canberra on the siting and access to stations at Hopetoun Circuit and Kent St.
The DRA is grateful for the opportunity to express its views on Canberra Light Rail Stage 2. We are hopeful that all social and economic modelling constructed as part of the development of Stage 2 will be made public so the community can continue to have an informed discussion about the project, route, station locations and other aspects of light rail. We note the potential for light rail to bring benefits for residents living in south Canberra, and for Deakin residents in particular. We are confident that if the economic case is proven, and the Stage 2 Light Rail is designed appropriately and with community involvement, there will be benefit for residents into the future.
Continuing concerns about overall design
The following are a range of overall design concerns and questions about the planned Light Rail Stage 2.
- The consultation document says 90,000 people will live or study within 1 km of the Woden corridor by 2041. What, exactly, is the “Woden corridor” because that figure seems to imply high-rise buildings on Adelaide Avenue which is currently flanked by embassies and a school?
- Are the Curtin horse paddocks destined for high-rise accommodation?
- What are the expected destinations for the commuters in this zone and how will light rail help?
- What is the benefit for Civic to Woden passengers of light rail as their trip will be longer than existing express buses, and much longer if the Barton route or West Deakin option were to be adopted?
- DRA notes that “a business case will be developed in 2017” and that “‘the Government will consider the business case at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018”. When will the cost/benefit analysis and proposed final budget be made publicly available?
In view of likely very large cost of the project, the cost/benefit analysis should be thorough and realistic and the budget should be transparent. At the 10 May 2017 information day, when asked whether if there was a ceiling on costs, or an unacceptable cost/ benefit ratio that would preclude further work on light rail, presenters referred to ‘city building’ implying there was no limit to expenditure. It would be helpful to the community to quickly see detailed cost/benefit analysis and nomination of a planned ceiling for expenditure on this project.
- At what point do the costs become unacceptable or unjustifiable, especially in comparison to spending the same money on emerging opportunities such as ride sharing, driverless cars, electric minibuses?
The Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC) held a public forum on Tuesday 9th May at which included a presentation from Duncan Edghill, Deputy Director General Transport Canberra.
Further issues raised in the Q&A and of direct relevance to Deakin residents are:
- Are there plans for apartments on the strip of land between the Mint and Woden to increase the density, as on Northbourne Avenue?
- What about an option 3 route around the Parliamentary Triangle i.e. north shore of the lake to Russell then over a new bridge to Parliament House?
- Given that no-wires is a distinguishing feature of Canberra and the NCA has stated they won’t countenance overhead wires, has this issue been addressed?
- Has the Commonwealth government agreed to using Commonwealth Ave Bridge?
- Given that the planned stop near the Mint has no residential population nearby, what population is required to have a stop?
- Will express buses be cancelled?
- Will rates go up on either side of the light rail corridor like Northbourne Avenue?
- Will either side be rezoned to become CZ5
Will suburbs with heritage listings hold pre