On vacation, writer COLIN LYONS, of Weetangera, has benefited from excellent public transport throughout the world. The return to Canberra was a “brutal shock… only to find that the interval on all off-peak services, except intercity R links, was 60 minutes.
I have just returned from a long vacation in Europe and North America. In Europe, I visited 16 countries including 14 on the continent. The quality of public transport services offered ranged from good to excellent. It’s great for tourists.
Switzerland stands out, where buses and trains arrive and depart on time; moreover, they were regular and very reliable. These services were very busy, in a country where the standard of living and car ownership were high.
It was a rude shock to return home to Canberra and find that the interval on all off-peak services, except intercity R links, was 60 minutes! It’s no wonder so many residents use cars almost exclusively.
Of course, this high attendance has been aided by sound urban planning and future urban development policies designed to limit urban sprawl. Skyscrapers were conspicuous by their absence.
Cities in the Balkans, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary also had impressive public transport services that were very well received by the public.
In almost all cases, drivers accepted cash (unlike in Canberra) and inspectors were active and fines were high. Additionally, in many cities, passengers had to enter buses through the front door, next to the driver, to avoid fare evasion.
Given the ACT’s massive and growing debt, as highlighted by Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed in “CityNews” (“Debt downgrade: Barr is sleeping at the wheel”, CN August 14), one might think that Transport Canberra is reportedly keen to avoid policies that allow widespread fare evasion on buses.
But the debt is clearly not a concern for this government, otherwise it would not be wasting millions on this outdated and exorbitant tram fiasco which has caused so much disruption in the city centre.
Colin Lyons, Weetangera
Irony of the Greens who want a busway
I find it deeply ironic that in 2023 the Greens and the Public Transport Association are advocating for rapid bus transport to Belconnen.
The ACT Labor and Green government’s August 2012 submission to Infrastructure Australia concluded that a $249 million bus route to Gungahlin would replace 4,800 car journeys per day while light rail, although It costs more than twice as much and would only replace 200 additional car journeys.
The government kept this statement secret until nine months after the 2012 election. In the meantime, Labor and the Greens committed to building light rail.
The government now plans to spend billions of dollars to build a light rail extension that will add 10 minutes to the time it takes for public transport to travel between Civic and Woden.
If Labor had published its August 2012 proposal, we could now have had a rapid bus service from Gungahlin to Woden. A bus route to Belconnen would be nearing completion and we would discuss when to extend the bus route network to Tuggeranong, Molonglo, Fyshwick and Queanbeyan.
Leon Arundell, Downer
Canberra ‘Titanic’ Debt: Start Looking for a Lifeboat
JON Stanhope and Kalid Ahmed have drawn attention to ACT’s increasingly precarious financial situation. When drawing attention to ACT’s $13.2 billion debt in 2025, most people no doubt say “ho hum”. The tram itself is actually being financed “off balance sheet” through a PPP (public-private partnership) agreement with the contractor which, according to accounts, has now reached around $13 billion in liabilities.
What does that mean?
What matters is the relationship between interest payments and tax revenues. If interest payments exceed a critical amount that prevents other necessary government spending, like police, hospitals, schools, things quickly fall apart. This is what we call a revolutionary situation.
So, what is the interest to income ratio of ACT? Currently, it is about 14 percent, rising rapidly (about $4.24 billion in revenue and about $600 million in interest), not including interest on streetcar construction. How the latter is financed remains a mystery. Whether or not interest is accrued at the end, it must be paid.
When do these bad things happen? Looking at history, the French Revolution occurred when interest payments reached 60 percent of income. So we may be halfway there.
Will the federal government come to the rescue? Maybe, if he can do it. Will the Reserve Bank print the money needed? Based on experience overseas in Germany and Zimbabwe, there is a limit to the amount of money they can print. Don’t bet on a bailout.
To use a frequently used analogy, the decks of the “Titanic” may be level now, but people should seriously consider looking for a lifeboat.
Tim Walshaw, Watson
The failure of the ACT Government’s ‘local council’ mentality
THANK YOU to Mike Quirk for his wonderful article “Thank you, Canberra – the regions are thriving” (CN August 14), which highlighted the worrying state of cross-border cooperation between the ACT and NSW.
Another illustration of this is the new suburb of South Jerrabomberra (formerly Tralee or Environa). Due to the lack of cooperation and planning, there are no immediate plans to establish a direct road link between this and the adjacent ACT suburb of Hume.
It is 100 meters as the crow flies from the industrial district of Hume, but a drive of 10.2 kilometers. What currently prevents you from walking between the two is a 5 kilometer chain link fence which follows the old Cooma railway line.
When proponents of the future upgrade of the Hume section of the Monaro Highway made a public presentation to the Jerrabomberra Residents’ Association, they admitted there were no plans under consideration to link South Jerra to Hume in the purpose of connecting to a new Isabella Drive intersection or a new Mugga. Track bridge.
This is ridiculous and demonstrates the failure of the ACT Government’s ‘local council’ mentality.
Mike Quirk mentions the housing situation, but a cooperative approach not only in the northwest but also around Beard and Oaks Estate, near Queanbeyan, could result in sensitive residential infill and development of the Molonglo River precinct for the ACT/NSW public good.
Mike also mentions an upgrade of the heavy rail line from Kingston station. Many jurisdictions around the world have combined heavy and light rail on a single corridor. Alas, a future light rail linking Kingston to Fyshwick, Queanbeyan and Bungendore may be a project beyond the capabilities of this partisan and parochial territorial government.
Robert Curtis, by email
Double occupancy will not solve the housing crisis
IT’S amusing to see the Greater Canberra group now saying the ACT government’s new double-bunking policy, which was a response to that group’s fierce lobbying, is “ineffective and insufficient”.
This will be very expensive and is unlikely to create much additional housing. It is completely unrealistic to expect that the housing ‘crisis’ will be solved by the redevelopment of individual buildings into two dwellings, with the loss of open space and mature trees.
What is needed is more and better planning, rather than less, to facilitate redevelopments in suitable locations with smart controls enabling a substantial increase in the number of dwellings in mid-rise buildings with open space generous commons.
The recently approved housing scheme for 403 new homes at 1 Dairy Road, Fyshwick, is leading the way and is expected to be a model for the East Lake Urban Renewal Area as well as the completion of the Kingston Foreshore, which is expected together produce several thousand new homes. without affecting established residential areas.
Richard Johnston, president,
Kingston and Barton Residents Group
Thanks for the musical memories, Clive
A LOT of thanks to columnist Clive Williams for bringing back memories of the wonderful “Lili Marlene” (CN September 14).
I was just a schoolboy during the Second World War, but this beautifully haunting song captivated me at the time and has stayed with me ever since. I was equally delighted by Vera Lynn’s and Marlene Dietrich’s versions, with a slight edge on Marlene for her husky and very sexy (even at my prepubescent age) accent.
It also made the ordinary German soldier seem a little more human than the propaganda claimed. Unfortunately, Hitler and his megalomaniacal associates were not impressed either.
Eric Hunter, cook
Columnist Costigan’s praise resonates
SUE Dyer’s letter (CN September 14) sincerely thanking columnist Paul Costigan for his significant contributions to the Canberra community resonates.
There must be a legion of his supporters to whom we can confidently pass the baton to continue the conversations and give Paul the honor of promoting his achievements. We wish him good luck.
Ilona Crabb, by email
Who can we trust?
In a world of manipulation and confusion, there has never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.
If you trust our work online and want to strengthen the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.
Every dollar of support is reinvested in our journalism to help keep citynews.com.au strong and free.
Ian Meikle, editor