The Metro Area Express will help ease congestion by providing frequent, high-capacity public transport.

14 August 2013 — Light rail in central Perth and the northern suburbs is on track to start operating by 2018.

WA Government’s Department of Transport says the Metro Area Express, as Perth’s population grows to 2.2 million by 2031, MAX will help ease congestion by providing frequent, high-capacity public transport along some of the city’s busiest roads.

The service will:

  • run on tracks within existing streets, largely but not entirely segregated from general traffic
  • be powered by electricity
  • have sheltered stations with raised platforms for no-step-up boarding
  • use quiet, air-conditioned vehicles, each carrying a passenger load equivalent to three articulated buses
  • have vehicles operated by drivers
  • use the same Transperth integrated ticketing system as other public transport
  • be universally accessible
  • run regularly with services every five minutes at peak times.

“The State Government has undertaken an extensive review of its public transport network – Public Transport for Perth in 2031,” the department’s MAX website says.

“The main route for Perth’s new light rail – Alexander Drive – is a major north-south route which links major education, retail and leisure centres. It is one of Perth’s busiest public transport corridors but currently has no mass-capacity transport.”

Construction of the light rail is due to start in 2016 with a completion date for the end of 2018.

Benefits include:

  • Reduced traffic congestion: The estimated economic cost of traffic congestion in Perth was nearly $1 billion in 2009, with costs predicted to more than double by 2020 to $2.1 billion.
  • Cost-effective solutions: Light rail can be built within existing streets in developed areas unlike heavy rail, which needs significant vacant land or a high-cost tunnel-based design. For areas of medium and high demand, light rail is competitive on cost with buses.
  • Large capacity: One light rail vehicle carries the equivalent of three articulated buses, and a light rail system can cater for passenger numbers conventional bus routes can’t handle.
  • Environmental benefits: Transport contributes 14 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gases, of which 90 per cent is generated by private vehicles. Light rail will reduce Perth’s reliance on motor vehicles.
  • Sustainability: Light rail offers developers and planners the opportunity to reduce urban sprawl by increasing population densities near stations and along routes.
  • Infrastructure certainty: Light rail infrastructure provides a sense of permanence, encouraging developers to invest in new commercial, mixed use and residential projects.
  • Vibrancy: New development and greater population density can make areas near light rail more vibrant and active. Public transport supports community fitness by encouraging people to walk or cycle to stations or stops. Light rail vehicles will be quiet, both inside and outside.
  • Easy access: Navigating a light rail system will be simple, with routes marked by permanent infrastructure in the form of rails and stations.
  • Integration: MAX will integrate with the rest of the Transperth network.

The WA Government has committed $11.8 million while the Federal Government has committed $4 million. The total project cost has been estimated at $1.8 billion.

Meanwhile, the WA Property Council will offer an update on the light rail introduction at its October breakfast.

The council says the new system will change the face of transport in Perth and will have important implications for property development and investment.

The update will include details around the impact on adjoining land, land resumption, planning for station locations and details of route alignment through the CBD.

The event will also examine the opportunities for private sector involvement in the project under the State Government’s Public Private Partnership funding model.

WA Property Council of Australia event details:

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