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WA in for ‘congestion election’: details emerge on Metronet transport plan

Posted by on 18/07/2018

Congestion in PErth will outstrip that of Sydney within 15 years, according to Infrastructure Australia. Metronet priorities

Ms Saffioti runs through Metronet’s Stage 1 priorities.

The head of RAC WA has called “crunch time” for the state’s transport systems, as Labor outlines an overall timeframe for its priority projects, which include light rail.

“As a state we simply can’t afford to be complacent. Without change WA will buckle under the congestion,” Terry Agnew said at a panel event on Thursday held by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

“It’s four years on since the 2013 state election was dubbed by many as the “congestion election” and congestion is still one of the top issues that needs to be addressed by our state.

“Now more than ever, the political parties seeking to reform WA need to set a clear agenda by outlining the timing and confirming the funding.”

The event was intended as a debate between Labor transport spokeswoman Rita Saffioti and Transport Minister Bill Marmion, though Mr Marmion declined the opportunity citing prior engagements.

Ms Saffioti announced that Labor could deliver the stage 1 projects of METRONET in six to eight years if it won government, outlined its delivery method and revealed some details of a suburban light rail vision.

Following the 2013 election, Ms Saffioti said she had reworked the costings of the plan, held 16 community forums across Perth and sought industry feedback.

At an August relaunch, Labor announced the stage 1 projects:

Ms Saffioti said on Thursday the exact timetable would be released next year during the election campaign, to allow consideration of the finances from the mid-year review and pre-election financial statement yet to come.

But she said the six to eight-year estimate was “entirely achievable, if not conservative.”

“As a former Treasury officer, I analysed the costings I received under Freedom of Information from Treasury and at the time of the relaunch,” she said.

“The stage 1 METRONET projects, excluding the Forrestfield rail line, were costed at $2.5 billion in 2015 dollars.

“To put some context to this spending, over the past 10 years over $60 billion was spent on infrastructure by the state government.”

She said the party intended METRONET to incorporate land-use and liveability concerns from the early stages and would establish a dedicated delivery team with key staff from the relevant government agencies and the private sector.

They would probably operate within a revamped Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, which would be refocused upon urban redevelopment and precinct planning.

Funding for the program would be kept in a dedicated special purpose account formalised through legislation.

She said Labor was committed to undertake detailed planning and financial modelling for light rail in its first term.

“Prospective routes of course include the ‘Knowledge Arc’ connecting UWA to Curtin, with significant precincts at the soon-to-be former PMH site and along Kent Street,” she said.

“We are also keen to connect the Inner North-East to this line – for the ‘Knowledge Wishbone’ – this will connect our inner northern suburbs to light rail and on to major education institutions.”

She repeated Labor did not support Roe 8 and would opt instead for an Outer Harbour development at Kwinana.

Peter Newman, Curtin University sustainability expert, said Perth was headed for “another public transport election.”

“Our system is as good as anyone’s – it’s just not big enough,” he said.

“It is a great pity we weren’t able to get the light rail through from the last election, that after eight years we have had very little activity here.

“It is a huge thing to hear that Labor would deliver a light rail system for Perth.

He said this century was experiencing a second rail revolution, with light rail growing 115 per cent over the past 15 years in the US, and more than 80 Chinese cities and 51 Indian cities now building metros.

“We prefer the cocktail party approach where if politicians come to town we lobby them and get some money,” he said.

“That’s not how to plan a state. We need the proper planning and economic studies so that we don’t get the Perth Freight Link, which just dropped out of the sky … as a gift from Tony Abbott.”

The state government’s recent Perth Transport Plan at 3.5 Million put forward a future transport and infrastructure for WA and Perth with tunnels, improved public transport and cycleways, but since July little detail has been revealed surrounding the timelines and funding of the plan.

Attention has mainly focused on the increasingly contentious Perth Freight Link, with the government standing by the beleaguered plan.  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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