Media release: ACTCOSS calls for low-income and vulnerable Canberrans to be considered in light rail decision

13 January 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) yesterday made a submission to the Light Rail: City to Woden consultation calling on the ACT Government to build a flexible and responsive transport system that addresses the needs of Canberrans who face disadvantage or vulnerability.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell, said: “Good public transport is vital to allowing people to access community amenities, social activities, health and community services, education and employment. Access to transport is one of the social determinants of health.

“Canberra’s overall transport strategy must ensure that all Canberrans, including older people, people with disability, shift workers, people on low incomes and people with other complex needs can access a flexible, appropriate and safe transport system.

“For some time now, ACTCOSS has advocated for a transport needs analysis to better understand the issues facing Canberrans in using public transport, including issues of accessibility, routes and cost.

“ACTCOSS’s recent ACT Cost of Living Report highlighted that the ACT’s public transport costs have increased faster than the national average. The ACT Government must ensure that concessions are targeted at those who need them most.

“On-demand transport alongside mass transit options must also be included in any transport strategy so that people remain connected with the community – especially older people and people with disabilities,” Dr Campbell said.

ACTCOSS’s submission notes that the light rail expansion will come at a significant cost to the ACT Budget and calls for greater transparency on the cost of the project and greater transparency on the opportunity cost of the project.

Dr Campbell said: “If investment in light rail is done at the expense of further investment in public housing, health or community services, broader consultation with the Canberra community must be undertaken.

“Connectivity and the choice of stops must maximise the ability of people to connect with health services. Furthermore, an appropriate assessment of the physical and sensory access features of the light rail should be undertaken to ensure it exceeds minimum access requirements under the Disability Standards for Accessible Transport.

“Local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities must also be consulted on areas of cultural significance that might be impacted by route construction work,” Dr Campbell said.

Find ACTCOSS’s submission to the consultation here.

Make a submission to the Light Rail: City to Woden consultation here.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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