Old-fashioned light rail costs more to go slowly to fewer places

Dr Michael de Percy at the Canberra Metro light rail terminus

Burley Griffin’s 1911 award-winning design for Canberra envisaged mass transit in the form of electric trams. At the time, the major capital cities in Australia had electric trams to bring workers into the CBD from the suburbs. But in 1926, as the national capital prepared to host Parliament, the first public bus services began operating in Canberra. Buses provided cheap, reliable, flexible, and fast public transport that didn’t require the expensive and inflexible infrastructure needed to operate trams. The bus was a modern technological innovation that soon made the tram obsolete in most of the other capital cities.