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Tram planning as part of a bigger public transport picture

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The next year will be pivotal in determining the future of Adelaide’s public transport system as the State Government continues its drive to significantly increase patronage.

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Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan says the State Government has invested $1.4 billion in public transport infrastructure in the past five years, and double that amount since 2003/04.

He points to the importance of the $160 million O-Bahn extension and the electrification and extension of existing train routes, in particular the $152.4 million Gawler line electrification and the $85 million project to take the Tonsley line through to Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre.

A $4 million study into the new AdeLINK tram network across the CBD and inner suburbs is well underway with community consultation on a range of route operations.

A key element of the Government’s Integrated Transport and Land Use Plan (ITLUP), a range of route options for the AdeLINK network has been part of the community consultation and soon the State Government will refine the options and prepare a proposal and detailed business case.

That will determine the route of the expanded tram network.

“The release of ITLUP in 2013 was an important first stage and this study is articulating in more detail where we are going with the public transport system and the importance of taking an integrated approach,” said DPTI’s Manager Infrastructure and Services Planning, Phil Lawes.

Two other initiatives are also key elements of this integration. The first is the draft update of the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, which was released for public comment in August and is being finalised. It has a clear focus on urban “uplift” and development in inner rather than outer Adelaide, and seeks to have 60% of all new housing built along quality public transport corridors by 2045.

The second is the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Action Plan released by the Government and the Adelaide City Council in early November. Among the strategies for achieving “zero emissions transport” is to complete two suburban links for AdeLINK by 2020.

The Government is enthusiastic about the potential of trams to help bring all this together, and be a game changer. Minister Mullighan has said “we know light rail is a fantastic public transport option which customers love to use”. He says light rail encourages people to start using public transport and that trams would “support and contribute to the growing market demand for residential development in the CBD, inner and middle metropolitan Adelaide”.

An integrated system of electrified rail lines, the AdeLINK network, and the associated improvements to the bus network will underpin The 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, achieve the target in South Australia’s Strategic Plan to increase the use of public transport to 10% of weekday passenger kilometres, and contribute to the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Action Plan to move towards a zero emissions transport system.

“Yes, we have a good bus network and we can continue to modify it, and a tram network that is located close to higher-density development and supports future development will be important,” Mr Lawes said.

The AdeLINK network is considered a priority initiative by Infrastructure Australia. As proposed in ITLUP, it would comprise six lines: a CityLINK loop around the CBD; WestLINK to Adelaide Airport and Henley Beach; EastLINK to Norwood and UniSA’s Magill Campus; UnleyLINK to the south; ProspectLINK heading north; and PortLINK to Outer Harbor, Port Adelaide, Semaphore, Grange and West Lakes. The current study, including community consultation, will help the Government identify the final preferred routes.

Work on a city loop will begin later this year On 3 December, the Government sought tenders for the $50 million extension of the current line along North Terrace from King William Street to East Terrace, with a further $5 million from the Adelaide City Council. An additional $20 million investment to purchase three additional trams and construct an additional stop at the Festival Plaza has been announced as part of the 2016-17 Mid-Year Budget Review. Construction of the extension to the East End is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Solstice Media has partnered with the South Australian Government to provide information about the transition to a low-carbon economy. Read more stories like this here.

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