Council fights back against light rail, not Auckland unfortunately

It looks like Perth seems to be throwing off the shackles of loons like Len Brown who are fans of light rail.

A plywood train is sitting in Perth’s CBD, part of a council protest against state government plans to run the real thing down the middle of the city’s shopping malls.

The $100,000, 42-metre-long scale model of the dual light-rail line popped up overnight.

And in an inflammatory move, Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi says the model will stay in place for a week to illustrate the inconvenience and potential danger of the plan.

“Once our malls are lost they are lost forever, and we want a city that is welcoming to people,” Ms Scaffidi said.

“We don’t want people to be be conscious of having to dodge trams, and we don’t want the city to lose the special unique elements that give it its character.”

The Max Light Rail scheme was one of the centrepieces of the state government’s election promises.

But funding problems have emerged, on top of the Lord Mayor’s opposition to the positioning of the CBD part of the plan.

She’d rather see it run down St Georges Terrace or William Street.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell has fiercely argued for light rail through the city’s shopping malls, saying the council is “strangling” the development of Perth.

All councils strangle development.


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • LabTested

    I Like Trams. I get one to work everyday in when in europe. I will not get a bus. Buses get stuck in traffic, trams do not. I perceive a big problem, in that these days it is popular to call Trams – ‘Light Rail’. As soon as people hear the word ‘rail’ they think of Trains. A tram is not a train. light rail is not a train.

    Auckland is not proposing light rail/trams, it is proposing Trains

    • FredFrog

      Absolutely. Trams are bloody awesome.

      Even better when they are dual purpose, like the Manchester trams – trams while at street level, but when they get out of the CBD, and are running on the old branch lines around Manchester, they operate at high speed.

      And it would be a far better solution to our woes than the shitty loop – run a tunnel under the harbour, and have dual-purpose trams run up that fucken useless mostly unused bus lane alongside the Northern motorway.

      • philbest

        They are also the world’s most expensive form of public transport by a wide margin. Local governments have far better things to spend the money on. Like roads, which cost in subsidies, around 2 cents per kilometer of personal travel on them.

        The most efficient public transport systems in the world are around 6 cents; most bus systems are around 15 cents, commuter rail around 20 cents, and light rail around 50 cents. In some cities, it is several dollars. You could hire Hummer limousines for the riders, for less.

        • FredFrog

          Interesting figures. Is there any analysis around tram/light rail hybrid systems?

          • philbest

            This site is a goldmine of analysis and links:


            This US paper is very thorough:


            Note that estimated operating and maintenance costs are relatively “accurate” in the first years of operation, but ridership is inevitably lower than forecast. And maintenance costs will rise in later years.
            My rough guesstimates in my original comment are based on analyses by others who have more time than me to crunch all the raw data. Nevertheless, even in Wellington NZ, it has been guesstimated that the cost per person kilometer on the commuter rail system is roughly equivalent to the cost of running and owning an average car, and of course the fares are only significantly lower than this cost because the subsidy is about 75%.
            It is sad that the voting public accepts without question, the notion that subsidies of this magnitude are justified to “level the playing field” with “subsidies and unpriced externalities to car driving”, when these are nowhere near 75% of the total cost of car driving. More like 25% at the most, under the most anti-car analyses. The public is of course completely mis-informed about all this.
            And there are positive externalities as well as negative ones; and those “inflicting” the negative externalities in the case of car driving, are a very good fit with the beneficiaries of automobility – unlike the “fit” between the bearers of the 75% cost subsidy of public transport, and the beneficiaries of this subsidy.
            Basically, if fiscal sustainability has any concern to us, the more public transport “investment”, the greater the disaster for government accounts. Fiscal sustainability is certainly going to be a lot higher in cities where as high a proportion as possible of the travel is by the most popular mode, that is subsidised at about 2 cents per person kilometer. Switching even 10% of this travel to a mode that is subsidised by 20 cents plus per person kilometer, is by definition going to be a disaster for fiscal sustainability.

  • Marcus

    Yes. Trams and rolling stock cost about $8-30m per km depending including rolling stock and depending on what the spec is.
    At Wynyard Quarter the tram loop cost about $6m and expanding it 1km to Britomart is about $8m. New rolling stock on top. So the tracks and lines are cheap. Tram cars depending on size. If one called it $30-40 million per km to be rediculously over the top you would get 100 km of cross crossing track across the city isthmus for the same price as the 3km rail tunnel.