From the Hobart Mercury:
Bus traffic could be diverted to rail
Article from: News Limited newspapers
August 03, 2008 12:00am
NORTHERN suburbs commuters could be riding their buses along Hobart's train tracks if a groundbreaking public-transport proposal wins approval.
The Australian Institute of Architects and the Planning Institute of Australia have identified Hobart's rail corridor as an ideal route for an express O-Bahn-styled bus service.
The corridor will become available as a transport option after the rail-freight interchange is moved from Hobart's waterfront to a new transport hub at Brighton.
An O-Bahn allows specially fitted buses to drive on to a railway-like track and travel the route like a train.
When the bus arrives at the final interchange, it can disconnect and continue on the street.
Planning institute Tasmanian division president Emma Riley said using Hobart's railway for public transport had many benefits for people living in the northern suburbs.
"Light rail or retro-fitted buses could use state-of-the-art technology to ride on the rail corridor, which would create a new express route to the centre of Hobart."
She said pedestrians in the city centre would also benefit from a reduction in the number of cars.
There was also the potential for a tourist service.
Ms Riley said services could link attractions like the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, the transport museum, Moorilla winery and the emerging Museum of Old and New Art.
Hobart Lord Mayor Rob Valentine said some of the concepts raised by the planning institutes had merit.
"In developing a new transport system for Hobart, we need to be open to all options," he said.
"One of the problems with light rail would be that the railway line is so far east of where most people live, making it hard for them to travel to the stations.
"But having buses which could drive on to an O-Bahn-like system would help solve that problem.
"I think having a dedicated bus corridor would have logistical benefits and should be considered."
Glenorchy Mayor Adriana Taylor said using the rail corridor for public transport services was an "absolute necessity".
"It is vital to preserve that corridor," she said.
Re-zoning areas of industrial land alongside the corridor was also a possibility.
Ald Taylor said creating more residential space near the rail corridor would help create a sustainable and environmentally friendly transport system.
Rowland Atkinson, of the University of Tasmania Housing and Community Research Unit, said there was an urgent need to consider viable housing and transport options for Hobart.
"This means we need to emphasise reliable, affordable and accessible transport options and their connection with a mix of well-designed private and public housing," he said.