Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2865 ..
The ACT government welcomes transparency about light rail to Woden. We understand that Canberrans are rightly interested in how our city’s largest-ever infrastructure project will be delivered. That is why we publicly released the stage 2A business case, it is why we are engaging actively with the Canberra community about the project’s delivery, and it is why we will respond in detail to the Auditor-General’s report in due course.
This project will have substantial benefits and we want to maximise those benefits by taking light rail to Woden, not just to Commonwealth Park but to Woden. Stage 2A is an important first step in that process but it is only the first step. The benefits of stage 2 are best assessed by looking at what the whole alignment will deliver for the city. Taking light rail to Woden is the next step in expanding Canberra’s light rail network, delivering a north–south spine all the way from Gungahlin to Woden. This will make Canberra a more connected, sustainable and vibrant city. It will support over 6,000 jobs, around 1,000 for stage 2A alone, plus many more indirect jobs during its construction. The project will be a tremendous boost to our economy, at exactly the right time that we need it, in the wake of COVID-19, as part of the ACT government’s $5 billion pipeline of projects to turbocharge the economy.
Building light rail to Woden will provide a more convenient and reliable transport option for people on the south side, helping to cut future traffic congestion emissions for a cleaner environment. It is one of the most sustainable and efficient forms of travel, especially since our government switched our energy to 100 per cent renewable electricity. Already 20 per cent of our public transport trips are made by our renewable energy-powered light rail system. That will increase when stage 2 comes online. One light rail vehicle can move 256 people, as many as five buses, with potential to expand that further in the future, making it well suited to meet the future needs of our growing city.
We know the benefits of light rail because we have delivered stage 1 of light rail and it has been incredibly successful. It has proven that light rail is an attractive, sustainable form of transport for many Canberrans. Pre-pandemic patronage comfortably exceeded our initial expectations that were presented in the 2014 business case for stage 1 of light rail.
Many people have started using public transport for the first time. Light rail is driving the rejuvenation and renewal along the entire corridor that it was built in, shaping new precincts and providing lively public places for Canberrans to live, work, shop, eat and socialise. These are the benefits that we are working hard to deliver for Canberra’s south side, as well, with stage 2.
Mr Parton does not have to take our word for it. He could just ask his federal Liberal colleagues who have supported stage 2A of light rail by making a direct contribution of $132.5 million to see it delivered. When the federal Liberals say they support light rail and the benefits it will deliver for Canberrans, you can tell that they actually mean it.
On the subject of the Auditor-General’s report, the ACT government takes this input seriously and we will publish a formal response in the coming months. Without