TCCS Path Priority List shows which paths will be fixed or built next. Before the ACT Legislative Assembly PTCS Committee, TCCS said that the list is worth little as it changes all the time. Our analysis found the rankings were remarkably stable. We compared two lists release via FOI on 2 March 2021 and 10 December 2021 (283 days later), and discovered almost NO CHANGE in 100 highest ranked projects. This makes TCCS statements seem disingenuous.
This list should be public
In the 10 December 2021 only two items were different in the top 100 most important projects – projects ranked 92 and 99. The order of the other projects did not change. The “Tharwa” project moved down from rank 72 to rank 99 – it was still in the top hundred, just in another position.
Information box: International tennis rankings
Many watch tennis and young players move into the sport all the time, as the older players also tire from the game. In anything as big as tennis we have a natural churn, every player making their own choices or not. Ranking change and players come and go but the top ten ranked players seems to change little. In a volatile list, we have stability in the ranking of the top players because of the myriad of hurdles required to be overcome in the first place. The same applies with TCCS Community Path Priority List, it takes some many good reasons for a path to fight its way to the top of the list that it is likely to stay there, into you build. We say, let us build it!
The TCCS Community Path Priority List is much more informative than TCCS would suggest and by casting uncertainty on its value as the list, TCCS fail to acknowledge that the top 100 most important projects change little. Their message should be the opposite of what they are saying to ACT Legislative Assembly PTCS Committee.
The whole point of ranking the projects is to prioritise the projects so that should be done first. The paradox is that top 100 most essential projects are not finished quicker. Changes in the list would be a good indicator we are making progress with that which is most important. We must ask ourselves why the ranking is ignored.
Other factors affect the importance of paths particularly safety, but then the repairs are usually patching paths (maintenance). More strategic activities for cycling include widening the path, building new paths and particularly new bike paths. The decision-making process warrants further investigation which projects are taken from the list for construction.
The table below shows the top 10 projects in the TCCS Path Priority List. The first column is the rank from the list released by FOI on the 10 December 2021. The second last column is the rank from the list released by FOI on the 2 March 2021. The final column was intended to note changes but there were none amongst the top 10 projects. The ranking is determined by the SCORE. It is noticeable that the score drops off quickly, which would indicate some projects are much more important than others. Lengths of paths and widths are in metres (m). The projects are typically designate by the road they lie along.
Transcript from the Annual and Financial Reports 2020-2021
Inquiry into Annual and Financial Reports 2020-2021, Act Legislative Assembly Planning, Transport, and City Services Committee Hearing, 2022-03-04. (See the video is here.)
THE CHAIR: Minister, I have a couple of questions about footpath and shared path repairs. They are fairly short questions. What is the gap between somebody reporting a need through Fix My Street and it being repaired? We often get a request that the forward proactive maintenance list be published, because then people know what is
coming up and they do not need to constantly report it. Can the list for what is coming up for 12 months be published?
Mr Steel: I will hand over to Shelly Fraser, from Roads ACT, to talk further about the process. There is a range of different factors. Obviously, safety is a key feature. That often results in some paths being repaired sooner. That means sometimes those paths are prioritised above those that may be on the list currently and have been previously identified. So the list does move around, and it needs to. I guess there is a risk in terms of publishing a list, in that it may set expectations for the community about paths being repaired or new paths being delivered, when in fact things change around
because of safety issues that have arisen.
Another factor is that, in order to ensure the efficient delivery of some of the construction work, the paths are often packaged up. We do not necessarily go out and seek a contract for one specific path upgrade; we might package together five or 10 of them in one, in order to get better value for money for government, and do them all at once. It might take a little bit longer, in order to wait to deliver those projects as a package. I will hand over to Shelly to provide some further detail about the process.
Ms Fraser: Yes, as Minister Steel mentioned, in relation to the path infill priority list, it is a continually moving and updated list that we work through as we receive requests from the community for new paths or for upgrades to paths. The path infill list is developed and assessed as we get requests from the public. As Minister Steel
mentioned, we take into consideration a range of factors, including demand, proximity to community facilities like schools and shops, public transport, and the strategic cycling network plans or connectivity active travel plans that we are working on.
In regard to making it publicly available, it would almost be changing every day, so I am not sure whether it would be beneficial to the public to have a continually changing list published on our website.
THE CHAIR: Would it really be changing on a daily basis, though? If we are packaging the jobs up and contracting them out in batches, surely, once you have done that, you have a bit of certainty that those ones will go ahead?
Ms Fraser: There is a point in time at which we package up the priority list, which, subject to capital funding, is normally around 20 sites—20 to 50; sometimes 100, depending on the scope of the works. At that point in time they are packaged, assessed, put forward and delivered through our capital works team. Those paths are then taken off the list at that point in time, and the list continues on for that next round of investment, usually within a year.
Mr Steel: One of the things we could look at is perhaps publishing on a website which paths we are going to do the work on, so that people understand which ones are going to be funded through those packages ahead of time, so that they know that we are moving on them.
THE CHAIR: That might be quite helpful. It would be great if you could have a look at whether that is feasible.
Ms Fraser: Yes, we can look into that.Inquiry into Annual and Financial Reports 2020-2021, Act Legislative Assembly Planning, Transport, and City Services Committee Hearing, 2022-03-04, 113-114.
28 Jan 2021 community path priority list
FOI 21-008 (28 Jan 2021) released the community path priority list, stand 16 February 2021.
Community paths are vital for active travel, but there is a lack of transparency in how the construction of new paths and the maintenance of older ones is managed. The budget for this work is also not known. The lack of adequate reporting, makes it difficult to assess what progress has been made. This FOI requests relevant internal data for community path works. The internal database is updated from Fix My Street but again is not clear which entries came from Fix My Street and which are from other origins. In short, this data is a step forward in providing some information but the process is still not clear.
The data does not distinguish between paths that are designed for bikes and those designed for pedestrians. Both fall under the category community paths. If our goal is to create cycling networks, then we must note that there are different standards for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
The Estimates 2020-21 question TCCS about how path works are prioritised and while the answers were vague (common for speech) but consistent with what one reads here.
How does the ACT Government prioritise paths?
As the list of community path requests is linked directly to requests made through Fix My Street, the list is altered daily. Requests are prioritised based on the following 5 factors:
2 Strategic (how the request completes routes identified as part of the Active Travel Infrastructure strategic path network);
3 Community (proximity to community attractions and trip generators, shops, schools, residential areas);
4 Public transport– proximity to relevant public Transport facilities such as bus stops; and
Available funding is also considered in the management of these requests. While a request may be listed in the database, the fulfilment of a request depends on the above listed factors and in some instances the request may not be fulfilled.FOI 21-008 community path priority list 28 Jan 2021