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ARA, BIC at odds over Tasmanian light rail proposal

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> A proposed light rail network connecting Hobart’s northern suburbs with its city centre has prompted conflicting responses from the national industry bodies for buses and trains. </span> <p>The Northern Suburbs to Hobart CBD Light Rail proposal has been under review by Transport Tasmania since 2011, but picked up steam when a review was released in December 2012, and when federal Denison MP Andrew Wilkie spoke in parliament on February 6 to ask both the Liberal and Labor parties to commit $100m to the project.</p><p>Soon after the minister’s speech, the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) released a statement condemning the light rail proposal, questioning its value and saying supporters of the proposal “care more about transport modes than outcomes.”</p><p>“Some supporters of this project are calling it a matter of social justice,” Geoff Lewis, general manager of the Tasmanian Bus Association, was quoted. “What about social justice for the other 95% of Tasmanians who live in areas that won’t be serviced by the light rail?”</p><p>“The money for light rail would be much better spent on transport, health, welfare and education services across the whole of the state rather than on one short piece of rail,” he said.</p><p>“This is an ideologically driven project,” he said. “It is based on a national Greens philosophy where they see the only form of urban public transport as light rail when we know buses carry millions of passengers a day and get to areas rail can’t reach.”</p><p>But the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has more recently released a conflicting statement, saying a light rail network would put Tasmania’s capital city “back on track.”</p><p>“After replacing its tram system with buses in the 1960s, Hobart looks set for transformation as it explores reinvesting in light rail,” the ARA said.</p><p>“Global experience shows that light rail will improve the connectivity of the city, reduce road congestion and decrease travel times all in an environmentally friendly manner,” ARA CEO Bryan Nye said.</p><p>One tram line can move 10,000 people an hour, while the same space dedicated to road can move only 800 cars or 140 buses, the ARA said.</p><p>“Light rail ticks all the boxes and I urge the local community to show its support for the Northern Suburbs Light Rail System,” Nye concluded.</p>