Welcome to Future Transport Tasmania

We are here to lobby for better public transport and rail infrastructure in Tasmania. We aim to find solutions to allow all Tasmanians to have environmentally responsible and affordable commuting options to get around our state and towns. A more detailed mission statement can be found in the left column or <here>.

Find our articles below, starting with the most recent ones first:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Questions for Upper House Candidates

Today we have published the responses we have received from some of the candidates for the Legislative Council seat of Hobart.  The election is this Saturday.

The responses are published below, not in any particular order.

Please consider their comments and vote accordingly.
We have not received a response from John Forster.

The questions were as follows:

1. How would you ensure rail freight services continue to grow in Tasmania?

2. Do you believe that the Tasmanian Railway should remain in public hands?

3. Do you believe the railway line into Hobart should be retained?

4. How would you improve public transport services across Tasmania?

5. What would you like to see happen to the Northern Suburbs Railway line?

6. A number of proposals have been made for other public transport developments in and around Hobart. Are you aware of them, and if so, which ones do you support, if any?

7. How would you increase public transport patronage in Tasmania and Hobart?

8. Do you support bus priority lanes on congested key arterial roads and intersections?

9. Do you support extensive additional bicycle lanes and paths in our cities and suburbs?

10. What other ideas do you have that could improve public transport and rail services in Tasmania?

The Responses: Paul Hiscutt

Of course, train freight should be state-owned. Our governments have sold off too many State-owned assets already, which has in many circumstances, ended up with private monopolies of some of our utilities. This is not fair trade or good choice for Tasmanians.

As I am an avid cyclist, getting cars out of the CBD is great. I would support a Venice or Amsterdam model of no cars in the CBD. Transport to be provided by light rail or tram - make it a real selling point of Hobart, and Tasmania.
We could look at making Bass Strait duty-free and seriously look at a VFT from Devonport to Hobart in the future. Pigs may fly, but we can only hope and dream!
Definitely, definitely a cable car up Mt. Wellington.

The Responses: Dean Winter

1.   Since 2009 when the state government created Tasrail as a state owned company after our rail network had seen years of  neglect the Labor party has been committed to rebuilding a competitive and reliable rail freight network and we have seen much success to this end.
If elected, I will wholeheartedly support the investment in excess of $400m that is being made by the Labor party, both state and federally to continue to revitalise the state’s rail network. This investment, which Includes new locomotives, new wagons and replacing/refurbishing the below rail asset (ballast, drainage, sleepers, rail, bridges and culverts), is fundamental to the future of rail and I will stand up to ensure this continues.
To see this investment continue into the future and to build on the important work Tasrail has already done, I will support Tasrail’s application to Infrastructure Australia for a further $240M of Federal funds under the Nation Building 2 Program and the future movement of bulk freight by rail.

2.   The Tasmanian Labor government created this model because it saw the opportunity to move freight off road and onto rail to support greater freight efficiency across the state and to help make our roads even safer.
Given the amount of investment going into the network, I believe it makes sense that rail stays in public hands.

3.   The construction of the $77m freight hub at Brighton by the State Government is a generational opportunity to provide capacity and efficiencies for Tasmanian freight.  It will reduce transit times between the south and Northern ports and reduce traffic and congestion on the southern reaches of the Brooker Highway by removing bulk freight travelling by road to the waterfront. It will therefore have a major benefit not only to the freight task in Tasmania but will help everyday commuter traffic to move quicker and more safely.
While this will remove the need for the rail line from Brighton into Hobart, I have sought and been given assurance from Tasrail that the rail corridor to Hobart will be retained as a non-operational line and therefore open for future use.

4.   The secret to public transport in any city is to ensure it is safe, clean and reliable.
While Tasmania and Hobart do not have the population to sustain full scale multi-platform public transport networks like we see in Melbourne and Sydney, this should not be seen as a disadvantage but rather an opportunity to develop smarter transport ideas.
 A quality public transport network is one that is connected to bike and walking paths, city fringe car parks and runs regularly and frequently.
Fundamentally we must invest in improving the infrastructure we have and ensuring it is easy to use, functional, consistent and inviting for the whole community.

5.   While the creation of a large scale passenger railway would be welcomed by any small community, the analysis committed to, and undertaken by the State Government through the Light Rail Business Case for Hobart’s northern suburbs however shows such an investment would be costly and therefore not provide community benefit for the significant funds it would cost.
While we must, as a priority, address issues of social exclusion caused by a lack of suitable transport connections into places like the Northern suburbs we have a responsibility to invest in solutions that show real positive outcomes for local communities.
At a time when we must be considering ways to support our elderly and disabled communities better and keep cost of living to a sustainable level in the context of rising power prices nationally, the expenditure of over $80 million dollars for inflexible transport infrastructure that will require an ongoing subsidy of up to $10 million every year does not seem to be the right approach for Tasmanians.

6.   There have been a whole range of transport proposals put forward of both a functional public transport nature and of a tourist nature. With proposals of varying degrees of merit from cable cars up the mountain to city trams, monorails, underground tunnels and city bypasses, the discussion of transport proposals is broad and diverse. I believe it is vitally important that the community has these discussions and with unlimited funds all of these things could be achieved - but that of course is not the reality.
The most important thing is that governments of all levels, private investors and community start having these discussion not in isolations but through a proper process and under the right regulatory framework that supports sensible and visionary transport proposals.
Over the last few months I have established the Summit Action Group and held community meetings to bring people together to discuss future tourist developments on Mount Wellington. Through sensible regulatory change which promotes develop we will see government and the private sector be able to work together to invest in both tourist and public transport.
Through governments working together with the community and the private sector, not operating in isolation, we can test ideas such as Trams to North Hobart and creating a water ferry network connecting our communities and see real steps taken in developing Hobart and Tasmania.
I will continue to support people who have real and visionary proposals that will help our community be more connected.

7.   Fundamentally the best approach to increasing public transport usage exists in increasing service frequency, especially on priority routes, refurbishing and enlivening public transport stops, providing enclosed safe bus waiting areas, building bicycle storage facilities and develop ticketing systems and pricing scales that support an easy, efficient and reliable transport network.
If public transport is safe, clean and reliable - people will use it.

8.  Bus priority lanes and clearways are an important component of successful on-road public transport networks. They support reliability of public transport services and reduce travel times of buses on key routes and we must consider these solutions in making public transport more appealing.
Systems that give buses priority ahead of other traffic; including bus lanes, traffic light priority and restricted parking, that can also support car-pooling and bicycle use need to be a part of our solution to congestion on key traffic routes into the CBD.
By trialling these systems during peak travel times and allowing general traffic and parking to return during other times we can support public transport while also not frustrating other road users.

9.  Cars and buses will continue to be a major form of transport for people in Hobart so we must work to integrate cycling into this mix. We must work to create a generation that embraces cycling as a part of the transport landscape which means working with the community and helping to bring safe cycling onto our transport links in harmony.
I strongly recognise the importance of cycling infrastructure in Tasmania, as a healthy, non-emission transport option and the role it will play in counteracting congestion in our city.  
The Labor party has for a long time been committed to cycling and cycling infrastructure and I will push for this to continue and to be extended.
We have seen the labor party support the Trails and Bikeways Program as a 2008-09 Budget commitment, worth over $4 million. Through this investment and through breeding strong relationships with local government, community clubs and the private sector we actually saw over $10 million invested in in trail and bikeway development across Tasmania.
The Cycleway Development Fund, created in 2010-11 is also continuing to provide funds to a number of projects around the State. Through the development of the Walking and Cycling for Active Transport Strategy by the State Government my commitment as a member of the Labor party to cycling infrastructure is very clear.

10.   While Hobart’s urban congestion rates are by far the lowest of any major city across the nation, we must work smart to make sure getting around Hobart remains congestion free.
The ease at which we can get around our beautiful city is one of the reasons why people love living in Hobart so much and if elected as the member for Hobart I will stand up for smart, connected and diverse transport options to ensure this way of life continues.

The Responses: Penelope Ann

1.   I will argue, lobby  and vote for including a rail crossing as part of any new bridge over the Derwent at Bridgewater because I believe it is essential that we keep a  working rail link from Hobart to Launceston.

2.   Yes I believe that the Tasmanian Railway should remain in public hands. Private companies need to make a profit.      A railway is the most sustainable form of goods and public transport. It is also an invaluable transport alternative should oil become scarce. We should not require a state railway might to make a profit, it is an essential service much as our roads are....and we do not expect a profit from our roads.

3.   Yes the railway line into Hobart should be retained and kept in use so that it does not fall into disrepair for the reasons listed above, but also because we have a growing population that will encrease the strain on our roads and parking facilities. 
4.   I would like to see the Northern Suburbs Railway line operational as soon as possible. I would like it to run from Brighton (to service the new transport hub) into Hobart so that the low cost, comfortable public transport is also available to the residents of Brighton, Bridgewater and Gagebrook (with car parks and bus links to each station).

5.   I would like to have an application for funding for the introduction of the Northern Suburbs Rail put to the Federal Government at the next opportunity. I would like it to be for the best option (solar and hydro electric) and I would like to see it travel right to Elizabeth Street. 

6.   I am in favour of ferries services on the River Derwent.
I am opposed to a Monorail in Elizabeth Street, it would be an eyesore that would detract from Hobarts heritage buildings.
I oppose a cable car up Mt. Wellington. It would campromise the authenticity of the natural, wild beauty and experience of the mountain. Inevitably it would lead to the need for cafes, staff facilities, storage facilities, waste disposal, emergency accommodation etc and soon become just another tourist stop.

7.   I would like to see free transport for students, during school travel times, and also for those on centrelink payments.
I would like to see more Mini buses - maybe linked to a text service - that could pick up passengers at their door and drop them at  the main bus depot, railway station or at their destination. The inconvenience of public transport makes private car travel so appealing.

8.   Yes. In Melbourne cars with passengers can also share the priority lanes and I think this is good.

9.   Yes, I support additional bicycle lanes and paths on main roads and in suburbs.

10.   Waiting for public transportcan be very unpleasant - cold, hot, noisy, smelly and uncomfortable. The Newtown Station Nursery makes a great example of how a  railway station could be. It has a business and a cheerful restaurant - a place to meat, to wait and while waiting, to eat or get a hot drink...with clean toilets. If these sorts of facilities were built at all stations and bus hubs (maybe leased to the operators who could get a cut of the ticket sales) they would make waiting for  public transport a very pleasant experience.

Thank you for providing me with an opportunity to express my views to your members.

The Responses: James Sugden

Thank you for your email regarding Tasmania's public transport and rail services. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but I took some time to answer as this is an area in which I am particularly passionate and I too believe that Tasmania is now far too dependent on road transport and has been funding roads to the neglect of mass transit and other modes of transport. So let me answer your questions as follows:

1.   Rail freight is a significant issue for Tasmania because our infrastructure is appalling in comparison to the rest of the western world. One example of our poor rail infrastructure is the Ryndaston Tunnel. It was my understanding that due to the age of the engines and the design of the tunnel, Pacific National were restricted on the length of their trains because the ventilation in the tunnel was such that the engines would choke and stall before they could climb the hill and get out the other end of the tunnel. Additionally the track alignment and condition is so poor it takes the best part of a day to get from Hobart to Burnie. When I learnt of these issues, I was absolutely appalled and it made me realise why there was so little rail freight in the State.

I believe that rail in our State has no future unless we invest significantly in our infrastructure so that we can increase train velocities and reduce maintenance costs so that we can compete with road transport. Until then, trucks will continue to dominate the roads.

2.   In reference to the infrastructure (rail and below) yes. I think we need to learn from the past. Look at what happened with Pacific National, they bought the rail, reduced expenditure on maintenance to maximise profits until the rail network became unviable due to its dilapidated state. Once that occurred, they presented us with an ultimatum. Either we repaired the infrastructure for them or they would pull out. This is an impossible situation and they had the Tasmanian Government over the barrel. We either bailed them out or lost our rail network. So we bought them out.

I do not want this to happen again, we must maintain control of our rail so that we do not get held to ransom again.

3.   Yes. The railway line to Hobart provides us a corridor through the northern suburbs of Hobart that we can use for rail or other possible transport solutions. Many growing cities need to look to alternative transport options and must spend millions of dollars just to determine a new corridor in an already built environment, they would be extremely grateful to posses the corridor we do in Hobart.

The Northern Suburbs Light Rail is one way of using this new corridor and I find it difficult to believe that it would not be economically viable given that the track is already there. I read the business case report submitted to DIER by ACIL Tasman on the light rail and I believe there non quantifiable benefits detailed in the report significantly increase the feasibility of the project. The conclusions of the report only considered economic benefits of the rail and only briefly touched on the environmental and social benefits giving them no quantifiable economic value. The railway corridor in to Hobart should be retained because I think we will find a good use for it to solve our mass transit woes in Hobart.

4.   I believe mass transit in Tasmania is underutilised because we have never really sat down and seriously considered it. I used to live in Brighton and it took an hour and a half to get to town by bus and half an hour by car, no wonder people drive. My priority for public transport would be to determine a way of providing it that was actually more convenient to the user than a private vehicle.

I would do several things:

·         Engage an expert on mass transit to help us develop a mass transit plan on a state and local level and then implement recommendations
·         Change our urban planning techniques so that development of our cities is planned around our mass transit rather than the other way around
·         Improve the public transport infrastructure so that we can reduce congestion and road maintenance.
·         In Hobart I think some ideas need to be studied for feasibility including, ferry's, light rail and an improved bus network.

5.   I think I have answered this earlier. I don't believe the ACIL Tasman report went in to the intangible benefits well enough. I find it difficult to believe that the benefit from a NSLRS would not warrant the cost of running it. We need to look at the business case again. I think if the bus service were examined in the same way we would find that it is unfeasible as well.

6.   I know of the cable car up Mount Wellington, a funicular railway up Mount Wellington, high speed ferries on the Derwent, there was talk of restoring trams to North Hobart, and more recently the mono rail from Sydney. In determining where my support would lie, it is on the basis of the ability of the proposal to improve our access to public transport, its speed and efficiency. Cost benefit is the best way to evaluate these things in terms of public funding and I think the most benefit in terms of cost at this stage of all these proposals is the light rail to the northern suburbs.

This doesn't mean I would rule out all the other projects and I would encourage a private developer who was interested in any of these options as well. With any proposal I would give it due scrutiny and determine if it was in Hobart's best interest.

7.   This is an interesting question. I have often wondered why people use public transport so little here in Tasmania. I think people don't really like buses or the systems we have in place to use them. The best way I believe we can improve patronage is through the planning techniques outlined in my previous answers. We need to start making our transport hubs in to retail and park hubs. They need to be focussed on accommodating people rather than the buses. In Hobart for instance, I would look at ways of changing the layout so that we increased the pedestrian areas and incorporated more trees and shelters along with shops. I would try to use a model similar to that of Mexico City or Curitiba as they have been successful.

Also, I think we really need to look at going to light rail. People prefer trains and this needs more investigation.

8.   Yes. I think we need to make it a priority to reduce our reliance on private vehicles and this would help.

9.   Absolutely. This is something I am very passionate about. I believe the government has not taken cyclist's seriously yet. The lanes in Hobart for instance go nowhere and are still very dangerous to use. We need to separate bikes from traffic and pedestrians as much as possible and commit to it. Bicycles are just SO good, they have no pollution AND they improve health. We are crazy not to be using them more.

10.   I really think we have to address our planning, that is the key. Until we begin to plan our suburbs and cities around public transport, we will remain stuck in our current situation.

Planning also needs to incorporate inter agency communication and collaboration. For instance, buses use roads and service public from residential housing to commercial and industrial zones. Governance of these things is preformed in Tasmania by DIER for roads, Metro for buses in Hobart, and Councils/State Government for the planning of our cities. These agencies need to be communicating with each other to come up with good plans that provide for good access to public transport.

I advocate for collaboration of agencies and better inter agency communication for these reasons and also to identify opportunities that are so often missed to upgrade infrastructure during the course of a related project from a different agency.

The Responses: Rob Valentine

    1.   I believe rail services have the capacity to underpin the economy of Tasmania well into the future, but it would require good, strategic investment, not only in rail, but in associated transport networks.  I believe trains move high freight volumes with lower infrastructure cost and depreciation rates, however I would like this confirmed through financial analysis. I would be happy to support an expansion of services with such confirmation.

    2.   As a major asset to my mind it is important that we retain the base rail infrastructure in public hands so we can develop it to our strategic advantage.

    3.   Yes, absolutely.

    4.   I believe people will only use public transport if it is convenient to do so.  I have long held the view that trains and ferries will only be used if there are appropriate services that are made available at the nodes (i.e. where cars are parked and then people use trains, ferries or buses for the final leg of their journey).  Child care services would be a prime example. This would encourage people out of their cars.

    5.   I think the NS rail is a real asset, however a proper strategic plan is required in order for a service to be viable, given the population level.  Nodal services once again need to be developed first and then buses could be used to satisfy initial demand, followed by rail services once the demand for public transport has been lifted.  A clear strategy is needed.  The rail line could be used for tourism through the use of restored trams, from Hobart to MONA and return, stopping off at the botanical gardens.  People could go up by ferry and back by tram, or vice versa – a real experience for tourists.

    6.   No to a monorail. I would need to see further detail re the “pods” so I could appreciate how they may operate.  I support a tram to North Hobart as it would act as a great little tourism asset from the waterfront, connecting two major lifestyle assets.  I would support a funicular railway to the top of Mount Wellington, but no road closure to make it happen.  I do not support a cable car as it would dominate the summit and take away from the natural aspect of our great mountain.

    7.   See #4.

    8.   Yes.

    9.   Yes.  However they need to be properly negotiated and well thought through.

    10.   I feel we need to have a bicycle path that follows the rail line wherever it goes.  It is the flattest route between two points.  Small towns would benefit from increased patronage (Parattah, Tunbridge, etc. etc.) and could provide services to bicycle tourists, including accommodation or camping areas.  Tourists could then hop on and off trains at various points as they desired, providing a very pleasant experience and one that would most definitely bring others in their wake.
Bicycle escalators could be provided on certain steep hills, similar to one in NZ I believe (Nelson?). Mount Stuart residents could benefit from one on Mellifont Street perhaps.
Also, looking into the future we find a monorail of a different kind, shown here. I’m not sure it’s the best outcome from a streetscape perspective but may lower the health bills!
Tasmania could also be home to one of the greatest little train trips in the world.  Imagine travelling from the docks in Hunter Street to Zeehan, or wherever the rail line reaches. It could stop at Ross and other locations on the way.  Private endeavour would soon find a way of utilising our present heritage assets to advantage, without degrading them.

Contacting Future Transport Tasmania

For further information:
Toby Rowallan (secretary) 0418 997 069

Mailing address:
Future Transport Tasmania
Bathurst St. Post Office
PO Box 4515
Hobart 7000