Some detractors are of the opinion that the ACT can’t afford light rail. Understandably, the $617 million dollar price tag for light rail would make anyone pause to think. But, despite the price, this is an excellent investment for our city, and one we can afford.
To put the project in perspective, the ACT Government regularly spends large sums on capital infrastructure. The Gungahlin Drive extension cost $200M. Majura Parkway will cost almost $300M. The investment stacks up. Benefits include a high quality travel option, congestion mitigation, tourism and economic opportunities, and an unparalleled ability to attract quality development.
Light rail will stimulate Canberra’s economy, stimulate job creation and stimulate development in our city. Now, in the face of a difficult Abbott budget, is the time to invest in Canberra’s economy. For example, recent analysis shows that light rail along the city to Gungahlin corridor will support 50,000 jobs through to 2047.
Finally, the Gungahlin-Civic light rail is a one-off capital project. The potential funding cannot simply be transferred into other services that require ongoing recurrent funding, such as hospital beds, education or even the ACTION bus network.