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West Australian Premier Colin Barnett is backing the introduction of light rail in "car-intensive" Perth and predicts increasing government investment in public transport.
He says light rail will figure in his government's Public Transport Network Plan for Perth to be released by Transport Minister Troy Buswell on Thursday.
"Certainly it has the capacity to move large numbers of people in inner city areas and the most likely area of need is in the northern suburbs of Perth," Mr Barnett told reporters on Wednesday.
"A light rail project I think has got a natural appeal, many modern cities are now introducing light rail and I hope Perth does as well."
Mr Barnett said Perth through most of its history had been one of "the most car-intensive cities in the world, probably along with Los Angeles".
He said that had been driven by people's preferences to own and drive cars but both government and the community were changing and people were seeing the attractions of public transport.
"So I think you'll see increasing investments in public transport by any government into the future."
The premier said any introduction of light rail would be a medium to longer term project because it would take years of planning and involve land acquisitions and other complications.
"It's not the sort of thing you can put in place in a couple of years."
The state opposition says the Public Transport Network Plan must include an expansion of the suburban rail network, a new inner urban light rail network and more feeder bus services.
Opposition Leader Eric Ripper said the plan needed a 20-year timeline to transform Perth's public transport system to allow people to move around without needing a private car.
He said a new circle rail line to allow commuters to divert around the city centre and connect with growing employment zones across the metropolitan area should be built in stages over the next 30 to 50 years.
© 2011 AAP
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