Friday, 8 March 2013

Liberal Party transport plans

Having already done the Labor transport plan (Metronet), I'm going to present the Liberals public transport plan.
They plan to -

MAX Light Rail map
- Build the MAX light rail project, with lines going to Balga Polytechnic via Alexander Dr and Mirrabooka (the first line to be built), Victoria Park via Hay St, and QEII Medical Centre, for $1.8 billion
- Build an Airport Rail Link with stations at the Domestic and International Terminals, and Forrestfield, for $1.9 billion
- Provide free off-peak public transport to carers at a cost of $1.2million (an extension of the free seniors public transport)
- Build a 560-bay multi-storey carpark at Edgewater Train station, for $47 million
Airport Rail Link

I also think the light rail is a good idea. The Alexander Dr corridor is far from heavy rail lines, and Mirrabooka is a major regional centre. The route to Victoria Park currently is the busiest bus corridor in Perth (albeit via St Georges Tce), and QEII is also an important centre.
Light rail is much cheaper than heavy rail in those corridor (since there is no reserved right-of-way, heavy rail would almost certainly be in tunnel, as elevated rail would be very unpopular), and can be a good selling point. It can bring people to Perth, and like Metronet, improve property values in areas such as Mirrabooka.
Most big cities have airport rail. Airport rail will help bring Perth into the big-city league, and make transport easier for residents of Perth taking a plane, tourists, business travellers and residents of Forrestfield and the general Foothills area. It will increase Perth's profile.
A multi-storey parking garage at Edgewater will help relieve parking pressures, while not taking up too much space. Edgewater is a good spot as it lacks feeder buses, increasing the need for parking.
Since the Victoria Park route is busiest, it should go ahead before Mirrabooka.
On the other hand, airport rail links are expensive, and some people believe they should not take funding from other, more useful public transport, just to join an abstract 'big-city league'.
As I've said before, excessive station parking is a problem. It is expensive to provide (especially in multi-storey form), takes up space (although to a lesser degree in multi-storey form), and makes walking to stations difficult and undesirable. If the problem is that Edgewater has no feeder buses, they can be provided for less than extra parking.
The total cost of these promises will be about $3.75 billion. Let's see what costing we will come up with ourselves.

Light rail - 22km
Surface heavy rail - 4 km
Underground heavy rail 4km

Using figures explained in the previous, Metronet, post, as well as $20 million per km for  light rail, this will come to -
$20 (22) + $25 (3) + $250 (5) + $47 +1.2   million
$440 + $75 + 1250 + 47 +1.2
= $1814.2 million or $1.8 billion

This is less than half the official costing! You could nearly build both this and Metronet for the $4.4 billion or so Treasury said just Metronet would cost. While contingencies are necessary, this needs to be within reason, and I think that the total cost of Liberal public transport should not exceed $2 billion.


  1. It's been good to see public transport as such a focus of the election campaign - though I personally have by doubts that Metronet was particularly well planned from the perspective of all those trains between Perth and Bayswater (and the PTA were wary about the Yanchep/North Circle combo from 2025 as well). Some bits of it I liked though, particularly the new stations on the Mandurah Line.

    I generally support the MAX light rail plan, as long as it's done properly - unlike in Melbourne where the tram network, despite it's size and frequency, has a major handicap in it's lack of traffic priority and segregation. Could also trigger a rethink of the bus network - I'd say at least the 885 and 888 would no longer be needed which would free up resources for other routes. Would like to see the Curtin and UWA expansions though... wait, Victoria Park's a safe Labor seat...

    Big question now is whether all this will actually happen, especially with the federal funding debate.

    Though something that will happen: trial route 451 cancelled next month, but quite a lot of general improvements from this Sunday and more from mid-next month)

  2. Public transport has certainly become a major issue in Perth. A few years ago, the Mandurah Line, seen as a massive project, received complaints about its cost, and overruns. The $1.4 billion or so spent on the Mandurah Line was a pittance compared to the $3 to $5 billions promised by the major parties this election.

    An exclusive right-of-way is a very important part of light rail. Otherwise, why invest in tracks when they don't deliver on the speed they promise - you may as well run buses. I think Alexander Dr was chosen for MAX partly because it contains a large median, from about Bradford St onwards. The public's first impression of light rail is important, so a fast Alexander Dr line will increase support for more lines.
    St Georgest Tce is rather busy, so it should get light rail soon, to the Victoria Park Transfer Station at least (although my heart wants a subway)
    The improvements due soon look good. Pity about 451, but it was infrequent, and probably had too loose a schedule. I should post about the changes later.