Fremantle Council never stops surprising me, so the news report on Channel Nine this Sunday with Councillor Rachel Pemberton, who quite clearly is on the election campaign, announcing the City of Fremantle might implement a percentage for lightrail on parking fees as early as next year, was yet another indication of a lack of reality.
I love lightrail but there is something rather green-as in naive-about the idea. One also has to question why a junior Councillor would announce such a huge project on national televison when it has not even yet been to any of the Council committees. I suppose it is a case for Pemberton of just getting her face in the media, no matter the lack of substance, and people in City Ward might actually vote for her at the October 17 local government elections.
I quite like Rachel and she is a pretty good performer in Council chamber, but she has not explained why people parking in Fremantle, and hence Freo ratepayers, would want to fund lightrail to Cockburn and Fiona Stanley Hospital.
I suggested on Mayor Brad Pettitt’s blog a few weeks ago that if he believed there is so much support for lightrail he might want to start crowd funding, as least that would mean those Fremantle ratepayers who want to pay for it can elect to do so, and it might attract funding from far and wide and not only tiny Freo.
Lightrail and all public transport is a numbers game and the Fremantle area needs far more residents before any state government or private operator would invest in it. For Freo that is at least 15 to 20 years away still.
Public transport infrastructure is a state government responsibility and for a small council like Fremantle to want to do it on its own is naive to the extreme, even more so when there never appears to be enough money for basic maintenance of COF properties and important parks like the Esplanade.
ROEL FOR FREO! Truly Independent.
An interesting article in the Financial Review about the success of lightrail on the Gold Coast makes one wonder why it is not more widely supported, although Canberra and Sydney are now also planning lightrail.
The argument that Rapid Bus Transport is much cheaper than lightrail is often irrelevant when it has to go through older suburbs where roads are not wide enough to add additional RBT lanes.
The new lightrail on the Gold Coat has been a massive success with over 6 million passengers in the first year of operation, or 18,200 per day,
It is interesting to note that the Abbott government has refused to finance a planned extension that would benefit the 2018 Commonwealth Games because the Liberal government is a strong supporter of financing road building.
The Fin Review writes the Gold Coast example shows that if you build transport infrastructure developers will build near it, which is supported by Steve Harrison, the Queensland president of the Urban Development Institute of Australia who said that lightrail stimulates development.
On that note it is interesting to hear that high-density development at Burswood is not considered a good idea by the Department of Transport because of traffic and parking problems along the transit corridor there, as reported in the West Australian today.
Lightrail is all about numbers with some 600,000 people living at the Gold Coast, so for us in Fremantle to get anyone invest in that form of infrastructure we need to boost the number of people living, working and visiting here. That requires good development that offers apartments and office accommodation that is not too expensive, and most of that should be in proximity of the route lightrail would take around the southern suburbs, which will require local councils collaborating and planning together for a lightrail future.
Public transport is very costly for state governments and it does not help that Perth is so spread out.
One way of testing the waters and to see if the public really supports lightail as much as social media would like us to believe is to start a crowd funding campaign and se how much money can be raised.