Slim support for Canberra trams
A new study shows a majority of Canberrans support the territory’s proposed Light Rail project, but only just.
The new Government-commissioned survey of about 1,190 people confirms the findings of the previous two polls, which have put support for light rail at between 54 and 56 per cent.
Opposition to the project continues to waver between 32 and 34 per cent.
The Government's survey came to a markedly different outcome to a poll by in June by Unions ACT, which concluded that more Canberrans opposed the light rail plan than supported it.
Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell said the Government would work hard to win over those opposed.
“We need to continue to talk to Canberrans about the light rail project,” he told reporters on Monday.
“It's not surprising that a light rail project generates controversy, that's been the experience in other cities around Australia and overseas.
“But what we also know is that when light rail is in place, there is very strong support for it.”
He said the survey asked one particularly important question – whether or not local supported light rail as part of a broader plan to better connect the city.
On those grounds, just 24 per cent of respondents opposed it.
The survey suggested that 61 per cent of people would use more public transport if a light rail system was involved.
Younger residents appeared more likely than older residents to be keen the system, while women said they were more likely to use it than men.
Mr Corbell said the survey showed “the majority of Canberrans want investment in a modern, reliable public transport system”.
“Many Canberrans recognise that traffic is a problem now and many more believe that it will be in the future,” he said.
“One of the great things about light rail is that it helps get commuters out of their cars and on to public transport.
“This is great for the overall health of the community because it increases the amount of activity built into people's everyday routine, but it's also great for drivers because it helps get cars off the road and reduce congestion.”
ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson said mthe survey masked the true level of opposition.
“I think in general terms the town is divided,” he said.
“But when people start to look at the detail, when people are asked specific questions, that's when you start to see very strong opposition to light rail as it's being proposed, and that's because the Government's proposition simply isn't viable.”
Mr Hanson said 74 per cent of respondents said they would have light rail in mind when they voted in the ACT election next year.
“Take this to the election, let the people have their say,” he said.
“Given that there were many more respondents from the inner-north and Gungahlin than there were from places like Weston Creek and Woden, you'd expect that those numbers would actually be stronger in favour of the Government's proposal and they're not.
“It's a self-selecting survey, it doesn't attract a lot of voters who aren't online... so there are a lot of variables.”