Light rail is experiencing a global resurgence with more than 100 cities introducing light rail over the past decade, including in Adelaide, Sydney, the Gold Coast and now Perth. This is largely due to the many benefits beyond moving people from A to B that makes light rail a better long term investment given the right circumstances.

Light rail is more than just transport, it is also transformative.


Unlike bus routes, which can be moved or cancelled, light rail is a catalyst for urban renewal. In Portland Oregon for example, a $100 million investment in light rail through the city's decaying Pearl District sparked approximately $3 billion in private investment and economic activity within two blocks of the route. In addition to creating local jobs and a sustainable, vibrant community, light rail offers an opportunity for private investment in public transport infrastructure through 'land value capture' and developers buying rights to build TODs on the route (as advocated by Peter Newman).


Light rail could be a catalyst and key to the success and viability of our TRANSFORMING PERTH [PR(SL1] study, which proposes to turn out main roads into vibrant liveable high streets.



Electrified light rail can also make transport clean.


If run on renewable energy, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, air pollution and our carbon emissions. Light rail has a much higher capacity than busses, with one light rail vehicle taking up to 177 cars off the road. Unlike Dave, we don't think the death of the car is imminent; however we do think providing fast affordable alternatives will reduce private vehicle use.


A cost benefit analysis of the Gold Coast light rail project found light rail to be more cost effective than a rapid bus over 30 years, therefore a better long term investment largely due to the higher capacity, longevity of the vehicles and popularity of light rail.


Indeed it has become widely recognised that light rail is more effective in attracting patronage and enticing people out of their private vehicles. The US Transport Research Board found that rail attracts 34% to 43% more riders than an equivalent bus service and that light rail regularly exceeds patronage expectations, while bus rapid transit often fails to meet its targets. The public interest in light rail is also indicative of its popularity.

One of the beauties of light rail is that it works alongside, not in opposition to, other modes of transport.  The Greens have a detailed proposal for integrating light rail into Perth's public transport network.


Authorised by Chris Dickinson & Adam Duncan, the Greens (WA), Ground Floor 445 Hay St Perth