Megan Doherty August 18, 2012
New costings will show that both the light rail and rapid bus systems proposed for the Gungahlin to Civic corridor will be cheaper than originally estimated, the ACT government has revealed.
Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell told The Canberra Times yesterday he would publish a third update on the proposals within ''the next couple of weeks''.
''They are lower than the previous cost range and that is entirely consistent with what the government has always said, the figures will be refined over time as the work occurs,'' he said.
''The figures released before were the best estimate at that time. There's been another three to four months of work and we now have a new assessment.''
It's understood the new estimates will put light rail at under $700 million and the bus system at under $300 million.
Estimates previously issued by the government showing light rail would cost $700 million to $860 million and the bus system $300 million to $360 million were roundly criticised.
Light rail supporters claimed the estimates for light rail had been artificially inflated so people wouldn't want it. Mr Corbell said as the government drilled down to the detail of the projects it always expected costings would become more accurate.
He refused to say what the new estimates would be or if they were significantly cheaper.
The government has also been criticised for not releasing the full study behind its cost estimates to date.
''We'll be releasing a detailed assessment of the costings and the assumptions behind them. It won't just be the figures, we will be breaking them up,'' Mr Corbell said.
The government has applied to Infrastructure Australia for funding to undertake detailed design work on the corridor, with the ACT committing to $15 million as long as the Commonwealth matched the figure.
Mr Corbell also said the government would announce before the October 20 election whether it would go with buses or light rail. ''The government has said it will announce its preference for the vehicle type before the election,'' he said.
The development comes as the ACT Greens candidate for Molonglo and former high-profile president of the Gungahlin Community Council, Alan Kerlin, said the ACT needed a ''transport minister with vision'' and called on the government to commit to building light rail.
''They've got to stop pussy-footing around and making empty promises every four years right before an election,'' Mr Kerlin said.
Mr Corbell said Labor had committed to a rapid transport system for the Gungahlin to Civic corridor more than a year ago when Katy Gallagher became Chief Minister.
''The Greens always seek to promise everything tomorrow. But in the real world it falls to the Labor government to make the assessments and to have the long-term plan,'' he said.