Keep light rail on track, say mayors

Premier Colin Barnett last week said some infrastructure projects, including light rail, could be delayed because of the State’s AAA credit-rating downgrade.

The first stage of the light rail project is planned to connect Mirrabooka to Perth, with lines running down Alexander Drive and Fitzgerald Street.

It was scheduled to start operating by 2019, but Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the project timing would be reviewed.

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said light rail was desperately needed to serve current and future population growth.

‘Perth’s population and density in the City is continuing to grow at a steady rate, so it is imperative the light-rail project goes ahead,’ she said. ‘The City of Perth will do everything in our power to make sure the light-rail project goes ahead.’

Stirling Mayor David Boothman said a potential two-year delay would see roads becoming ‘more blocked, clogged and congested’.

‘The arterial roads in the City are already facing problems in relation to commuter congestion in order to get around commercial centres and the ability to adequately service its population,’ he said.

Cr Boothman said the City acknowledged funding problems could delay infrastructure, but said better transport would help business.

‘At the end of the day, spending money on infrastructure will improve the ability for the commercial sector to grow and our populous to commute more easily,’ he said.

‘Perhaps they might consider developing a shorter-term initiative like a rapid bus transit system instead to the address the issues of traffic congestion along Alexander Drive.’

Former Vincent Mayor and newly-elected Perth MHR Alannah MacTiernan said it would be bad planning to delay public transport plans in inner city suburbs.

‘You cannot have the planning minister saying you have got to have higher and higher densities, which we as a council have supported, but without the concomitant investment in public transport ” you can’t do one without the other,’ she said.