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Festival Centre tram service won't operate on weekdays

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The tram service to and from the Adelaide Festival Centre will only operate on weekends – and infrequently – despite the multimillion-dollar cost of building the tramline and the stop outside the major attraction.

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The tram service promised by the Weatherill Government in 2016 is due to start shuttling commuters along North Terrace to the East End, and down King William Street to the Festival Centre before the end of the month.

The former Government had announced it would spend $20 million funding the extension to the Festival Centre and buying three new trams.

A timetable for the service, released on the Adelaide Metro website, shows it will only reach the Festival Centre on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, once every 20 minutes, with no service to the stop on weekdays.

The Adelaide Festival Centre hosts performances seven days a week.

University of Adelaide urban mobility expert and senior lecturer in geography Dr Jennifer Bonham told InDaily an argument could be made that the tram service should take commuters to the Festival Centre when it runs performances during the week.

“The Festival Centre does have shows at other times (than the weekend),” Bonham said.

“An argument can be made for running it in the evenings (on weekdays).”

However, she said it was likely public transport planners had resolved that there would not be enough people wanting to go to and from the Festival Centre during the week to justify the expense of running the service there – despite the cost of building the spur, which takes up several lanes of traffic on the busy road.

She said the main function the small stretch to the Festival Centre was to demonstrate the intention for the tramline to be extended through to North Adelaide.

The Liberal Party’s transport policy includes a potential extension of the tramline down King William Road to North Adelaide – however, it will send the proposal to its signature advisory body, Infrastructure South Australia, before making any commitment to it.

A Transport Department spokesperson told InDaily it had declined to run trams to the Festival Centre on weekdays allowed because it had to fulfil higher priorities elsewhere in the tram network.

“The department manages its resources – both staff and fleet of 24 trams – to provide the best services possible across the CBD,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Additional capacity, particularly on weekdays, is required for both users of the carpark at the Entertainment Centre, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, and the East End, as well as maintaining sufficient capacity and frequency between the CBD and Glenelg.

“The Festival Plaza stop is to be activated for major events and on weekends,” the spokesperson said, adding that the Festival Plaza stop will be served more frequently during major events including football at Adelaide Oval.

Labor transport spokesperson Tom Koutsantonis told InDaily that while the former Government had also only planned to run trams to the Festival Centre on weekends and public holidays, the purpose of the spur was as a precursor to delivering tram services to North Adelaide.

“Under the Liberals’ anti-tram policy, the North Adelaide extension is no longer happening,” he said.

“Labor was planning to extend the tram line to North Adelaide with additional rolling stock.

“The tram line was extended to the Festival Centre to avoid having to dig up the King William Street/North Terrace intersection again.”

The Government would have to redevelop that intersection if it fulfils its election commitment to install a right-hand turn from King William Street into North Terrace, heading east.

Acting Liberal Transport Minister David Spiers told Seven News, in a story broadcast yesterday evening, that it may not be possible to build the right-hand turn.

Transport Department emails leaked to the TV news program had shown there were significant design problems and safety concerns associated with its construction.

“We have to have a very clear discussion about a way forward – can that election promise be fulfilled?” Speirs said.

InDaily has contacted the Adelaide Festival Centre for comment.

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