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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 February 2015) . . Page.. 192 ..

the cost to the territory of over $100 million a year projected to increase to $200 million a year by 2020. Congestion will increasingly impact our community, and we know that without strategic interventions to improve transport infrastructure residents of Gungahlin will face peak travel times to the city centre of over 50 minutes by the year 2031.

We know we cannot continue to build more roads without balancing investments in public transport. With the population projected to reach over 600,000 over the next 40 years, the traditional approaches applied over the past simply will not meet the demands of the future. We need to refocus on our public transport infrastructure as well as on the benefits it brings. The capital metro light rail project is a major shift that we need in order to catalyse sustainable growth and increase the use of public transport. Buses on their own are not the response.

We are investing in a network where buses and light rail will be able to form part of an integrated public transport system that will support more sustainable patterns of development. The government’s infrastructure program over the next four years is budgeted at $2.5 billion out of a projected budget expenditure of more than $20 billion.

Over the past decade the territory’s economy has almost doubled in size. Now is the right time to make that long-term investment in a high quality, attractive and integrated public transport system. Light rail is an affordable and essential project for the territory in this context. It is the right choice for the new and growing suburbs of Gungahlin. We are learning from our lessons of the past and we need to plan for the future.

Capital metro will provide high quality public transport that will support the growth of this corridor from Gungahlin through to the city. When it reaches its full capacity, Gungahlin will be home to 90,000 residents. In addition, the city and the Northbourne Avenue corridor have the capacity for a range of higher density development, further absorbing predicted population growth while helping to revitalise inner urban areas.

The Gungahlin town centre itself has developed its own district character with a main-street style of development. This urban village atmosphere in Gungahlin makes it unique to other town centres, with recent mixed use development contributing to the emergence of a lively street-based town centre. The introduction of light rail into the Gungahlin town centre will add to this atmosphere because it will provide a fast, reliable transport option for the people using the terminus in Gungahlin every day.

The government recognises that the decisions are significant and we want to work with the Gungahlin community to understand all the issues at play. Last year the government supported the Gungahlin Community Council to hold its own inquiry by design workshop to explore the opportunities and challenges of introducing light rail into the town centre. The outcomes of that workshop demonstrate that discussion on light rail quickly leads to consideration of broader transport issues such as road access, park and ride placement, bus integration and cycling facilities. This whole-of-government approach to the future development of the Gungahlin town centre highlights our commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes for it.

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