Friday Happy-Hour. How Much for a Tram?

by The Editor


Trams. They sounded like a good idea, didn’t they? Melbourne has trams, and Melbourne is cool; ergo, get trams in Canberra and watch the pop-up bars and an alleyway culture materialise before your very eyes.



The shame is that the reality is a lot less attractive than one might think… and a lot more expensive. Even based on the Government’s numbers (and the ACT Opposition certainly has a version of their own) it’s looking like a terrifying prospect for a city that is deeply in love with its cars.

Let’s face it. Trams are slow. Having recently caught a tram from Swanston Street to Preston, we could only remark on the number of people who celebrated birthdays during the journey. Sure, it kept the mood festive, but plenty of passengers missed their family and friends on such significant occasions. We can’t imagine the journey to Gungahlin would take any less time.

Today, The Canberra Times reports that the Red Rapid Bus takes just 28 minutes during peak time. So, how much time is an ‘old ratter’ going to shave off this trip? Capital Metro  – responsible for implementing the light rail plan – has previously stated the aim is to get the trip to under 25 minutes. We wonder how this is to happen given trams need to negotiate the same number of traffic lights on Northbourne Avenue.

Our Chief Minister considers trams to be more visually appealing than buses (surely that must be blamed on the fact a large contingent of ACTION’s fleet is painted bright orange). That’s an easy fix, isn’t it? Importantly, this could be a public safety initiative given how well the buggers blend in with autumnal leaves of the Inner Suburbs.


On that point, the idea of trams cruising along the centre of Northbourne Avenue may seem idyllic, but this will only be the case until they are inevitably covered in misspelled graffiti and wrap-around advertising. Imagine it – just like the horrendous new bus shelters, except more mobile  – and capable of causing harm should you stand in the wrong spot in order to read the amusing by-line of whatever happens to be the current campaign.

Can we afford all this? Well, Canberra is in the middle of a retail slump. Could the expected $600 million cost for the first phase of the project be used to inject some sugar into the central malls and local shops across Canberra?

We’ve crunched the numbers, and here’s what you could do with all that dough with possibly the same net-effect on Canberra traffic.

  • ‘Suspend’ a coffee from Lonsdale Street Roasters for every adult in the United States. Imagine the export potential!
  • Treat the entire population of Australia of EightySix’s Popcorn Sundaes, sending our National Happiness Index through the roof!
  • Place an Academy Nightclub and a Me & Mrs Jones is every single suburb in Canberra – extra bonus for the City and Kingston
  • Bring the entire population of Sydney here for the FashFest VIP experience. Instantly we’d be Australia’s fashion mecca!
  • A new Skywhale every year for the next 2,000 years (or have 2,000 next year, just for the spectacle?)

Why can’t we all just catch buses and learn to get along? That sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Free love for everyone.

Now, what happened to that election promise? How do we just get on with it and make marriage equality a reality?


Have you got any other fun ideas as to how to spend half a billion? Throw them in the comments below.