Page 1716 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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All that is made clear with these arguments is that the Canberra Liberals hate public transport, they do not understand it or value it, and they are unable to think of long-term prosperity for our growing city.

In any case, light rail is an investment that will save the government from extra costs in the future. I have talked plenty before about the costs of sprawl, pollution, congestion and accidents, which all result from a car-dependent city.

I want to note as well that last week I talked about the capital metro business case and the benefits it listed. I pointed out that the benefit to cost ratio was 1.2, meaning that $1.20 was returned in benefits for every dollar spent on the project. I noted that Mr Coe responded to this by suggesting that the BCR made “a lot of bogus assumptions”. I do want to note this point, because if Mr Coe is questioning the validity of the BCR, which was undertaken by highly reputable professionals in the area of transport economics, using best practice methods, this debate has taken a particularly strange and conspiratorial turn. I have previously heard people question the surveys undertaken by professional surveying companies on behalf of capital metro, as if they have been deliberately distorted to be biased. I find this questioning of reputable professionals quite troubling and it is one that will come back to haunt those that take that position.

Mr Coe interjecting—

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Rattenbury, resume your seat, please, for a minute. Stop the clock, please. Mr Coe, I believe you have already had an opportunity to talk to this motion, so I would ask you to be quiet for the rest of Mr Rattenbury’s presentation. Mr Rattenbury, you can resume.

MR RATTENBURY: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is as if people refuse to believe that people can support light rail, or that it is a beneficial project, so they start to invent conspiracies and corruption. The facts are, though, that light rail is a beneficial project and it is supported by the majority of the Canberra community.

Mr Coe also responds to any talk of benefit-cost ratios by saying, “Bus rapid transit has a BCR of 4.78, so why don’t you build that?” There are two problems with this. Firstly, the 4.78 figure comes from an older, higher level analysis. That analysis also found that light rail had a BCR of 2.34, almost double the BCR found by the more up-to-date, detailed and conservative analysis later undertaken in the full capital metro business case. We could assume that such an analysis on bus rapid transit would also reduce its BCR.

Secondly, and more importantly, the BCR is one factor only. The government should consider the whole project in context and decide what is the best solution for our city. In this case light rail does cost more but it also brings more benefits to the city, and a different type of benefit that bus rapid transit simply cannot bring. Essentially, the government is paying a higher initial cost but getting more benefits for the city and delivering benefits that buses would simply never deliver.

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