Monday, July 30, 2012

Lower Cost Rapid Transit System for Canberra

Proposed Bicycle Path in Center of Media Strip of Northborne Avenue Canberra, see: ACT Government released details of a "City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor Study" for public transport between Canberra's city center and its northern satellite town. The two options considered were Light Rail Transit and Bus Rapid Transit. Both options would use the same route down Northborne Avenue (Canberra's main street). The proposals have been criticized for high cost estimates, much higher than other Australian transit system. I suggest this cost could be reduced with a simpler design.

All of the options envisaged by the ACT Government involve adding more lanes of traffic on Northborne Avenue. This will require the remove of the trees in the existing median strip to install the extra lanes for buses, or tram tracks.

I suggest an alternative approach, where the existing bicycle lane and traffic lane closest to the curb is replaced with the bus or tram transit lane. The bicycle lane can be then moved to the median strip.

The lowest cost options would be a buss-way. This would require the road lanes to be repainted, signs to be changed and traffic light reprogrammed, but no major roadworks.

A new bicycle lane would be built in the middle of the median strip. This would have the advantage of not requiring any trees to be removed, as a bus or tram-way would. The cost of lighting the bicycle path could be reduced by using a LED illuminated lane dividing strip down the middle of the path, with the electrical conductors built in. This would eliminate the need for lighting poles and underground power. The power for the bicycle lane lighting could be provided at each road intersection, from the existing circuit for the traffic lights.

Such a system could be possible to be installed in Northborne Avenue in months, rather than years and at half the cost of the ACT Government's proposed design.

The addition of the bus lane will more than make up for the capacity lost due to the removal of one car lane. This will also have the advantage of reducing the carbon emissions caused by the route, whereas the ACT Government's current plans would increase carbon emissions.

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