Mode not viable

Light rail is not an option for Hobart, according to a recently commissioned independent report

The development of light rail on the old railway line in Hobart, Tasmania, should be ruled out in the foreseeable future following the completion a report which states it fares poorly in economic terms.

Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) executive director Michael Apps says a report prepared by the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney found a lack of customers and the circuitous nature of the route provides a strong case to shelve the project.

"The report also found that a bus rapid transit system along the same old railway line would face similar problems," he says.

"The report concluded that the most cost-effective way to upgrade public transport in Hobart, a very low density car dependent city, would be to improve bus operations along existing routes, providing bus priority at peak times."

Apps says the report identified some "low hanging fruit" which could reduce public transport travel times by 10 minutes if introduced without spending large amounts of money on either light rail or a bus rapid transit system.

"Clearways - cheap signage - and intersection treatments - queue jumps - were two options suggested to improve travel times for public transport customers," he says.

"Such an approach would be in line with using existing infrastructure before seeking to add to that infrastructure."

Apps says it is nonsensical to suggest a multi-million dollar infrastructure development on light rail or a bus rapid transit system at this time.

"We have said from day one that any money that could be spent on a light rail system, supporting just five per cent of the state’s population, would be far better allocated across a range of sectors that benefit the whole state," he says.

"Transport, health, welfare and education services are four that spring to mind immediately."

The report commissioned by BIC also looks at ways in which existing bus services in the southern and eastern corridors might be improved to increase public transport patronage.

"We have highlighted, in particular, the opportunity for a bus or high occupancy vehicle lane on the Tasman Bridge as a high profile initiative that would stand as a clear and highly visible statement of support for public transport," the report’s co-authors Professor John Stanley and Yale Wong write.

The report also states traffic management along Main Road in Moonah should be a state responsibility, not a local government matter.

"This seems an inappropriate allocation of responsibilities given that this corridor is the busiest public transport route in Hobart," it reads.

"Responsibility for public transport system planning should be accorded a higher priority within the state government.

"Public transport strategic planning should sit firmly in state government, arguably in a public transport authority."

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