Light rail not on track

East Metropolitan Region MLC Alana Clohessy with Opposition transportspokesman Ken Travers at the corner of Roe and Fitzgerald streets. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d419982
East Metropolitan Region MLC Alana Clohessy with Opposition transportspokesman Ken Travers at the corner of Roe and Fitzgerald streets. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d419982

The State Budget last week revealed $10million had been spent in the last year on planning and design work for MAX Light Rail, but no money has been allocated for the project this financial year.

The budget indicated $5 million would be spent in 2016-17 on further planning and $17million in 2017-18 for new works.

But Mr Travers said this funding was not guaranteed and the work done previously would be out of date if the project did restart.

‘I think it is reasonable to think that for the foreseeable future MAX Light Rail is dead,’ he said.

Questions put by Mr Travers to the estimates committee revealed the State Government had entered into contracts totalling $20 million for the project.

But Transport Minister Dean Nalder said the State Government was still committed to the project, as highlighted by the additional funding earmarked for future budgets.

He said the money already spent was used to develop a project definition plan (PDP), including travel times, network operations, land requirements, cost estimates and staging options, and would remain relevant.

‘This work is crucial to determining and understanding the future requirements of the project and will allow an easier transition for the project to be restarted in three years’ time,’ he said.

WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the longer the project was delayed, the more work would need to be redone.

‘The project needs to get back on the rails immediately,’ he said.

‘This is a very serious priority for us. The Federal Government has effectively stopped all public transport spending in WA and the country.

‘So we are going to go back to where this project started with the local governments and communities to re-create that political movement.’

Curtin University sustainability policy institute research fellow Jemma Green said alleviating congestion through public transport projects should be a priority, to reduce congestion.

‘You can’t have a city growing at the rate seen in Perth, with 900 people per week moving here, and moving the population around in an efficient manner using just roads,’ she said.

‘No city in the world has been able to do it and Perth is no exception.’