Page 3180 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 22 August 2012

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Transport—light rail

MS BRESNAN: My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development and concerns the development of mass rapid transit in the ACT. Minister, the Canberra Times reported you as saying that the government has revised cost estimations for the development of light rail and bus rapid transit. It reported that the new costs are significantly lower than the government’s previous estimates. What are the reasons for these lower costs and why are they lower even than the minimum from the original cost estimation?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Bresnan for the question. It is the case that, as the government have always indicated, we have been refining and further particularising the various costs, the economic analysis and the engineering analysis around options to provide either bus rapid transit or light rail transit between Gungahlin and the city. This is an important project for the government and we are determined to deliver a well scoped and detailed assessment of options.

When previous cost estimates have been released we have made it clear that they are at the pre-feasibility stage, that they have significant contingency and that they are subject to further refinement as further work occurs. Further work has occurred. Revisions have been made. The government will provide details around those revisions when a project update on this important project is released in coming weeks.

MR SPEAKER: Before we proceed, members, I would ask that Ms Bresnan be heard when she is trying to ask the question. See if we can keep the noise down, particularly given that she is struggling with her voice.

MS BRESNAN: Minister, given the government used the initial over-estimated costs in a survey about Canberrans’ preferred transport mode, are the results of that survey valid?

MR CORBELL: I still believe they are valid because what we know is that bus rapid transit and light rail transit have different cost structures. What we also know is that light rail transit will be more expensive than bus rapid transit. That is the experience of any BRT versus LRT project anywhere in the world, and it comes down to the cost of the technology. So we need to understand that those differences continue to exist.

What we also know is that, despite the differences in costs, feedback through consultation indicates that a majority of Canberrans prefer to see LRT if the government can deliver it. Those are matters which the government has to give very serious consideration to. There are a range of assessments that must be made in terms of the economic cost-benefit of the different options. There are a range of assessments that have to be made around financing. There are a range of assessments that have to be made around uplift in land value, and a whole range of other issues around how either BRT or LRT would operate in the context of the broader Canberra public transport network.

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