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Australia's peak infrastructure body had major doubts about the stated benefits of Sydney's light rail following a plea by the state government for $500 million in federal funding for the project, a leaked assessment reveals.
The analysis of the project by Infrastructure Australia in 2013, obtained by Fairfax Media and the ABC, raised questions about the benefits to commuters and whether the proposed light rail line would lead to an “effective increase in the capacity of Sydney's transport system”.
It cited modelling that traffic congestion in Sydney’s central business district could worsen by 12 per cent due to a light rail line, and “be worse” along Anzac Parade in the south-east.
The assessment also warned that the light rail line would not cut travel times for commuters, and that many intersections along Anzac Parade would deteriorate from “free-flowing conditions” to congested.
“In relation to the value to transport users, the light rail system does not generate time saving for commuters,” it said. “Hence the merits of the project to users will rest on their preferring to travel via light rail instead of buses.”
At the time, the state government was seeking $500 million in funding from the Commonwealth for the 12-kilometre line from Circular Quay to Randwick and Kingsford.
The light rail project has caused major disruption to businesses and residents.
Photo: Jessica HromasOne of the challenges had been covering a shortfall in funding, which internal documents show led to authorities considering diverting money from a parking space levy to light rail.
Other options canvassed included special rates levies on businesses in the Sydney City and Randwick council areas, a development levy or raising ticket prices for trams.
The federal government did not stump up money for the project and the other options were not taken further, leaving the project to rely on the state and a $220 million contribution from the City of Sydney.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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