Occasionally someone asks me why Gungahlin-Civic was chosen as the Stage 1 route for light rail. Like a lot of us in Belconnen, I don’t often have a reason to be driving along Northbourne during peak hour. Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend exactly how busy it really is.
But last night I found myself turning from London Circuit onto Northbourne at 5.15pm. A bus which had turned from the left lane was wanting to get into the middle lane but couldn’t because it was bumper to bumper. I watched the lights turn green ahead of us while we stayed stationary. Once we began moving, in my rearview mirror I saw cars bank up across a busy intersection. In front of me cars at the next intersection were having to judge whether they could make it across while the lights were still green – given traffic was going so slowly, they just weren’t sure it was worth the risk of ending up stuck in the middle of the intersection.f This continued for the 500m (just 500m!) I travelled until I turned off at Barry Drive: a pattern of looong stops, stop-starts, split-second judgements. It was nerve-wracking, frustrating and dangerous.
While it wasn’t gridlock of Sydney’s proportions, there was no doubting that we were congested. But quite frankly, Sydney’s traffic woes aren’t something I ever want to compete with. I don’t want to wait until we’re as bad as Sydney to try to solve our congestion problem. As a city, we need to anticipate the future. As a city, we need to put in the infrastructure now. More buses along the route won’t solve the problem. But light rail down the middle of Northbourne will – and it’s just the beginning: the first stage for a plan for the whole city.
To illustrate just how much light rail alleviates congestion, see below.