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10 (viable) ways to improve ACTION

By 28 February 2014 44

Action Bus - courtesy of wikipedia

So after living in Canberra for 5 years without owning a car I have experienced the best and the worst that our public transport network – ACTION has to offer. Generally ACTION provides a good network but there are things about it that are lacking. I have come up with a list of 10 things that I think ACTION can do to improve their service. I reckon all things on this list are financially viable although perhaps not all straight away. I live and work Northside so there is a bias as I am unaware of many issues that Southsiders face. Perhaps someone from Tuggeranong could chip in a few ideas to help improve services down south. As unlikely as it is to happen, I hope someone in government reads this and some of these changes start happening.

  • Have some sort of service on Sunday nights. Currently there is no bus after 8pm on Sunday/Public Holidays. Now I understand that services on Sunday nights will be costly as drivers and security have to be paid Sunday rates. But having the route 900 run half hourly with connecting shuttles (hourly) to/from Gungahlin via Dickson, Manuka/Kingston and Weston would not cost a huge amount and provide a usable service for shift workers, people travelling home from church as well as travellers arriving back in Canberra after a weekend away

 

  • Introduce a trial Belconnen – Woden Express bus. Yes I am aware that there is route 749. But this route runs 4 times per day in each direction. My proposal would be a trial bus running half hourly directly between Belconnen and Woden (via the parkway) in each direction between 8am and 5pm. Such a trial should last 6 months to gauge its viability. If successful, this should be introduced permanently.

 

  • Buses to/from Gungahlin on weekends are pathetic. 3 buses an hour, 2 of them taking the longest possible route. Buses to/from Manuka are also pathetic. I propose a half hourly route from Gungahlin to Kingston via Dickson, City and Manuka. This route should be half hourly all day. If this is added, route 951 from Belconnen should terminate at Gungahlin as it uses the route I am proposing.

 

  • Market themselves better. Although that generally the system is good, it can be hard to get your head around the network. While the Google Maps app addresses this (slightly), I still think that having a message on their website advising people that a slightly longer walk to the main road instead of the suburban route will make a trip significantly quicker, will help people realise that the ACTION bus network is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

 

  • NXTBUS. This real time information system has so much potential but so far has left much to be desired. Before I go on, it should be noted that the system is in trial mode and that it is not expected to be fully operational until later this year. But I have still noticed so many faults with the system that means NXTBUS deserves its own sublist:a) Times on board the bus are often completely wrong. I was on a bus going past University of Canberra heading into Belconnen. This takes no more than 6 minutes. The onscreen board was saying it would be a 17 minute ride. This was because the bus was running (very) early and the system was basing its figures off the timetable, not where we actually were at that point in time. This is happening consistently. Will hopefully be fixed before the full rollout is complete.b) On board screen display – If I am on route 56 heading out of Belconnen, why do I need to know that it will arrive in civic in 58 minutes time? If I was going to civic, I wouldn’t go via Gungahlin. Similarly if I am heading on any 300 southbound out of Belconnen, why do I need to know that the bus will terminate at Lanyon in 64 minutes time? Wouldn’t an ETA for Civic, Woden or Tuggers be more helpful? A much better system would be to state the next three stops (as is currently done) and then state the next major destination (Belconnen, City, Gungahlin, Woden, Tuggeranong or End of the route if none of these are applicable)

    c) Volume – A voiceover telling me that the next bus stop is Albert Hall is fine. Having it blasted throughout the bus is not. I complained to a driver who advised me that he couldn’t control the volume. He sounded quite displeased as he was forced to have it on all day and it was sending him deaf. I have since heard rumours about ACTION trying to find a way to stop drivers turning the NXTBUS system off. Perhaps if ACTION installed a system that was WHS compliant in the first place, drivers wouldn’t turn it off?

    d) Screens at civic. The screens at civic are meant to show where the next buses are heading to and how long until they arrive at the interchange. The screens are two sided. Some routes appear on one side and other routes on the other side. While this idea is a good one, there is no logical reason behind what route is on what side. Is it really that hard to put northbound services on one side and southbound services on the other?

    e) Stop lookup – With NXTBUS, you are able to text in your stop number and you get an automatic reply with when the next buses are due. This is a fantastic service I use multiple times each day. The only catch is, you need to know your stop number. The stop number is listed at every bus stop across the city but there is no way to look up the stop number if you aren’t at your stop. An online database where you can look up your stop number or an app which tells you would make this a much more practical task. I carry around a piece of paper in my bag a list of the 10 stops I use most and their numbers. I use it as depending what bus is coming when depends where I decide to get off to transfer to my next bus. If I was able to access stop numbers from an online database and/or app, things would be much more practical

 

  • Security at Civic interchange – I never feel unsafe anywhere on public transport. But I don’t appreciate being abused by people in civic because I won’t donate to their “charity” (many of which are actually questionable) or because I won’t give them $2 “for the bus” when it is obvious they are scabbing money off people for smokes. This only ever happens in daylight. I suppose security can only patrol the interchange which means such people would just shift on over to Garema Place. But at least then they are easier to avoid. This issue may be more related to ACT Government. But given how much ACTION and ACT Government are interlinked, ACTION could help with this issue if they want.

 

  • Increase bus fares by zone ticketing. Right now public transport fares in Canberra are reasonable but those that travel across town regularly (like myself) should be made to pay more. Why should a pensioner getting bread and milk from the local store in Dickson pay the same bus fare as someone like me who travels halfway across the city for work/leisure? Some sort of zoned ticketing should be easily integrated into the fare structure – Say a Northside zone and a Southside zone. Travel within your zone is cheaper. If you cross into the opposite zone, you pay more. ANU, Barton, Russell and Civic should be a part of both zones so all people travelling to these areas (which are the main employment hubs) pay the same amount.

 

  • Queanbeyan. Now as Queanbeyan is across the NSW/ACT border, ACTION are unable to provide a service to Queanbeyan. But for some reason, ACTION do not offer a service to Oaks Estate. Placing a bus route through Oaks Estate would give residents of Oaks Estate (a poorer suburb) affordable transport to the city and everyone else cheap access to Queanbeyan. A route to Oaks Estate could be a loop service going Civic – Barton – Fyshwick – Oaks Estate – Fairbairn/Brindabella Parks – Airport – Russell – Civic. It’d create a regular service to/from the airport as well. It may well mean Deanes lose some of their power but that’s not such a bad thing.

 

  • Give the nice lady bus driver a raise and promotion. She is the best bus driver one could possibly ask for. I don’t know her name but she works as a fill in, as I only ever see her when my regular bus driver(s) are away. If anyone from ACTION is actually reading this post, she has long, dark blonde hair and is in her 50s. Here is why she deserves such a raise/promotion:- She always smiles and greets/farewells passengers
    - She goes out of her way (to the point of carrying timetables with her) to help passengers with their travelling
    - Communicates brilliantly to those passengers who struggle with English
    - Deals flawlessly with cranky passengers who abuse her for no apparent reason
    - Laughs off idiot drivers who abuse her after cutting her off
    - Will always offer comfort if she sees you having a bad day
    - Works casual shifts doing lots of different routes and different times of the day/week. No consistency in her job but she does it with a smile on her face every time.
    - Is the only person in Canberra who can drive their vehicle for 10 km without succumbing to road rage

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44 Responses to 10 (viable) ways to improve ACTION
#1
enrique1:57 pm, 28 Feb 14

Hmm, so it appears not much has changed in, say, about 20 years or so since I was last a regular ACTION bus user.

Most of the things you describe above (other than NXTBUS) were the types of reasons I stopped using ACTION services back then. Mate, don’t hold your breath for an improvement anytime soon.

My solution was to buy a good bike and associated equipment for the not-so-far-away commutes and to have a car as a backup for the slightly-too-far-to-ride and above distances. Note – be sure to roughen/ugly-up the paint job on your good bike and invest in a strong lock to minimise the chances of it being nicked.

Sadly, you can’t really get the most out of living in Canberra without a car unfortunately. Without a car you really are limited in your ability to get several things done in a day.

If you’ve got kids – forget about free time if you rely on the buses. You’ll have zero time for yourself between working, grocery shopping, and getting them to/from their various schooling/sporting/social/development activities.

#2
M0les2:47 pm, 28 Feb 14

Thanks for the post. Here’s my 2c:

* Your route suggestions sound like they have merit – I don’t go to Belco often and never on the bus, so I can’t really comment with authority.

* Just about everything else (QBN access/marketing/IX safety/NXTBUS) I pretty much agree with more-or-less.

…but…

* Zoned ticketing. Last point first: Pensioners travel free on the buses anyway (If they have their MyWay card), so that part is a bit of a moot issue.
But for zoning proper: A billion years ago, Action used to charge you per bus ride. Then they introduced the concept of the transfer ticket and there were 3 zones (Roughly speaking, “Middle”, “Top” and “Bottom”) and a single ticket could get you between any two adjacent zones. I personally find this needlessly complicated and was relieved when they abandoned this in favour of a zone-less system.
The actual cost of carrying a body over these distances is marginal compared to running the bus empty over the same distance. However it’s true that if passengers are economically discouraged from taking the inter-zone trip, then the far-flung routes can be culled to save money.
But that’s the crux of the problem: It’s a “lose – lose” proposal doubly discouraging bus use. I think it’s much better for general urban passenger transport to be encouraged to use public transport. That’s not to say that if you have a car you love to drive to work, you should be shunned for doing so.

#3
dks00k4:40 pm, 28 Feb 14

I’m curious to know why ACTION are unable to provide a cross border service to Qbyn. Why is it OK for Deanes (QCity) to have services to Canberra but not the other way around??

#4
JC5:32 pm, 28 Feb 14

OP your headline says 10 viable ways, just curious as to how you think your suggestions are viable. Oaks estate for example, or a half hourly Belconnen-Woden express off peak or Sunday evening services.

#5
magiccar98:38 pm, 28 Feb 14

I assume you live somewhere in the Gungahlin area?

Buses to/from Gungahlin on weekends are pathetic. 3 buses an hour, 2 of them taking the longest possible route.

Try taking a bus from Kambah to Woden or Tuggeranong on a weekend. They get ONE bus per HOUR. So I think if you were talking to a Kambah resident they’d envy you.

Also, what about friendly male drivers? Do they not also deserve a raise and/or promotion?

#6
gooterz9:24 pm, 28 Feb 14

magiccar9 said :

I assume you live somewhere in the Gungahlin area?

Buses to/from Gungahlin on weekends are pathetic. 3 buses an hour, 2 of them taking the longest possible route.

Try taking a bus from Kambah to Woden or Tuggeranong on a weekend. They get ONE bus per HOUR. So I think if you were talking to a Kambah resident they’d envy you.

Also, what about friendly male drivers? Do they not also deserve a raise and/or promotion?

Some of the stops in Kambah don’t even get a weekend service!!!

Three buses an hour!!!!

#7
gungsuperstar9:42 pm, 28 Feb 14

I appreciate that some thought has gone into this.

But the heading is pertinent – 10 (viable) ways to improve ACTION… you didn’t say “for Canberra”, and that’s not what you’re proposing. You’re proposing ways to improve it for you.

I recognise that you note the bias – but if everyone who lives and works in their own areas has this many ideas/complaints, how viable are they?

It’s a funny thing public transport. Everyone thinks they become an expert on it as soon as they use it. Like I can make a car cos I’ve driven one… like I can run a country because I live in one… like I know the 11 secret herbs and spices because I’ve eaten them.

I couldn’t imagine what tiny fraction of information you or most other people who comment on public transport have – but I’m tipping it’s pretty small. Like it or not, ACTION runs as sustainably as the government makes it, providing the service that it can. It’s not meant to be a rolls royce service – in a place like Canberra that is clearly designed for cars anyway (and is full of hypocrites who don’t care about climate change quite enough to not drive), it’s only really supposed to be a functional service for people who need it.

That’s the service they operate, and I guess we take it on faith that routes and times are based on research and trial.

#8
joingler10:25 pm, 28 Feb 14

I should have made it clearer that I think that ACTION on a whole provides a fantastic service. I just wanted to list a few things that could make the service better.

dks00k said :

I’m curious to know why ACTION are unable to provide a cross border service to Qbyn. Why is it OK for Deanes (QCity) to have services to Canberra but not the other way around??

Probably something to do with the NSW government unwilling to chip in any money. Mind you, I’m pretty sure that the ACT government doesn’t pay any money to NSW for the train service that links into Canberra.

magiccar9 said :

I assume you live somewhere in the Gungahlin area?

Buses to/from Gungahlin on weekends are pathetic. 3 buses an hour, 2 of them taking the longest possible route.

Try taking a bus from Kambah to Woden or Tuggeranong on a weekend. They get ONE bus per HOUR. So I think if you were talking to a Kambah resident they’d envy you.

Also, what about friendly male drivers? Do they not also deserve a raise and/or promotion?

I live in Kippax and regularly travel to all places northside. I did live in Gungahlin about 3 years ago.

I said initially that I only know northside issues as I rarely travel south. When I do travel south it is only to the Woden or Tuggeranong town centres which are fairly well serviced from civic. While you rightly point out that Kambah struggles for buses on a weekend, Gungahlin is significantly bigger than Kambah. Imagine having three services an hour from the Tuggeranong town centre to civic with only one of those routes going directly.

And I’m unsure what your second comment is trying to say. The bus driver I described is head and shoulders above the rest of ACTION drivers. Most do their job well – are courteous and friendly. But this woman goes completely out of her way to help passengers. Her gender is irrelevant to my argument – I was simply describing her on the off chance someone recognised who she is. I never claimed that she was more deserving because of her gender, something you seem to be trying to infer

#9
joingler10:30 pm, 28 Feb 14

JC said :

OP your headline says 10 viable ways, just curious as to how you think your suggestions are viable. Oaks estate for example, or a half hourly Belconnen-Woden express off peak or Sunday evening services.

I believe that all my suggestions would be able to be integrated into ACTION without blowing the budget. Obviously not all at once but I don’t see why all these suggestion can’t be implemented within the next decade (light rail may mean some of them don’t need to happen)

Apologies for double post.

#10
Totally1:39 am, 01 Mar 14

Clean the bus stop at Corinna St in Woden. The same vomit has been there for over 6 months.

Clean Woden Interchange.

Buses that start before 9am on weekends.

Buses after 8pm on weekends.

Make the SMS service work properly. Over the Xmas period it was giving non-Xmas period timetable information, and the other day it was telling me every bus stop number didn’t exist and I should check the spelling.

Stop playing that ridiculous announcement at Woden Interchange that runs for 5 mintues.

Have better maps and signage at Civic.

Encourage some bus drivers to smile every once in a while. Some of them are great though!

#11
Totally1:51 am, 01 Mar 14

Wait, there’s more…

The blue lights at night are unneccessary and only make buses look scarier than they are. Seriously, people do have better places to shoot up, and they can find a vein under a blue light anyway.

Clean the Woden Interchange toilets! Replace them! They are so disgusting!

Put timetables on all poles at bus stops. Why has our local bus stop never had a timetable, but the ones nearby do?

Services that run more than once an hour wouldn’t be too bad either.

Canberra has too many cars on the road, too many emissions, and needs to get serious about its public transport system, LIKE THE MAJOR CITY IT WANTS TO BE.

#12
Madam Cholet7:44 am, 01 Mar 14

joingler said :

JC said :

OP your headline says 10 viable ways, just curious as to how you think your suggestions are viable. Oaks estate for example, or a half hourly Belconnen-Woden express off peak or Sunday evening services.

I believe that all my suggestions would be able to be integrated into ACTION without blowing the budget. Obviously not all at once but I don’t see why all these suggestion can’t be implemented within the next decade (light rail may mean some of them don’t need to happen)

Apologies for double post.

I believe they regularly blow their budget with their existing services.

I’m a bus ‘rider’ (as Action like to call them), and in the last weeks have found their services to be woeful. An enormous number of cancellations due to the heat. I was an hour and a half late for work one day because a number of buses failed to show. Points to a crap fleet that needs some serious attention.

My regular bus driver is always late to my stop (bus is strangely on time when he is replaced), drives too fast, does idiotic manoeuvres, from time to time forgets his route and goes another way, has his crap commercial radio station blaring so loud you can hear it over your own earphones. His bus is not that nice to be on. I consider the fact that we have not had an accident just pure luck. And that’s just on one bus.

They have bigger problems than needing to run more buses between points.

#13
Queen_of_the_Bun8:45 am, 01 Mar 14

I am a recent convert to ACTION buses, thanks to a recalcitrant Polo that even CVWC Belco can’t fix. I am lucky enough to live and work in the inner south, meaning I have a 20 minute bus ride to work (or a 45 min walk). It would be a six minute drive, but parking in Barton is a nightmare after 8.10am and I enjoy the discipline that catching the bus has imposed on me.

It would suit me better if the 5 picked me up, turned left onto Jerrabomberra, went straight to Wentworth and turned up Brisbane – and if there was another bus stop between the AFP college and National Circuit, that would be great. But that would inconvenience the IT shift worker at Canberra Hospital who gets off at Kootara and Matina, and the annoying loud phone conversation woman who gets on at the Narrabundah shops, and the two St Clare’s girls who are on the bus every day.

Public transport is just that – public. It’s about getting the most value for the most people. I have yet to get on a bus and not be able to get a seat. That may change next week when I start working in Civic. But I doubt that it would be financially viable to run buses before 9am on Sunday. I caught the 938 home from work last Sunday at 10am, and it was surprisingly full – but emptied at the Old Bus Depot Markets.

#14
Queen_of_the_Bun8:52 am, 01 Mar 14

joingler said :

I should have made it clearer that I think that ACTION on a whole provides a fantastic service. I just wanted to list a few things that could make the service better.

dks00k said :

I’m curious to know why ACTION are unable to provide a cross border service to Qbyn. Why is it OK for Deanes (QCity) to have services to Canberra but not the other way around??

Probably something to do with the NSW government unwilling to chip in any money. Mind you, I’m pretty sure that the ACT government doesn’t pay any money to NSW for the train service that links into Canberra.

magiccar9 said :

I assume you live somewhere in the Gungahlin area?

Buses to/from Gungahlin on weekends are pathetic. 3 buses an hour, 2 of them taking the longest possible route.

Try taking a bus from Kambah to Woden or Tuggeranong on a weekend. They get ONE bus per HOUR. So I think if you were talking to a Kambah resident they’d envy you.

Also, what about friendly male drivers? Do they not also deserve a raise and/or promotion?

I live in Kippax and regularly travel to all places northside. I did live in Gungahlin about 3 years ago.

I said initially that I only know northside issues as I rarely travel south. When I do travel south it is only to the Woden or Tuggeranong town centres which are fairly well serviced from civic. While you rightly point out that Kambah struggles for buses on a weekend, Gungahlin is significantly bigger than Kambah. Imagine having three services an hour from the Tuggeranong town centre to civic with only one of those routes going directly.

Gungahlin is significantly bigger than Kambah – but that’s because Gungahlin is a district, whereas Kambah is a suburb. Kambah is probably the biggest suburb in Canberra with a population of 15,000 and a size of 1130 ha. Tuggeranong overall had a population of 86,900 in the 2011 Census; Gungahlin total was 46,971.

Should people in Kambah have to trek 1km or more to Drakeford Drive to catch a bus?

Your comparison between one suburb and an entire district is meaningless.

#15
miz10:15 am, 01 Mar 14

My biggest improvement suggestion is to expand Expresso routes. They are wonderful and nearly always full, because they are quick and quite direct. Unfortunately they only run for a limited peak period. They are no good for part timers, people who can’t predict when they may have to finish work a bit ‘late’ (i.e. after 530pm!), people with irregular hours, and people with school age children (who invariably are fearful of being stranded at work ‘in case something happens’). This is a quite a LOT of people who cannot use Expressos.
However if Exoressos ran a few times during the day and had a final run slightly later in the evenings, that would offer a genuine travel option. I’m sorry but the the regular routes truly suck during the day. Eg, Expresso from Chisholm to my place of work is 25 mins. Whereas, taking regular routes home during the day (as I have found out when I have had to go home sick) is a miserable 1 and a half to 2 hours via Woden interchange – sometimes also via Tugg interchange rather than wait for a connection in the cold – plus a more lengthy walk from the bus stop.
Expresso routes work particularly well for suburbs quite a distance from the interchange. Which in the case of Tuggers, is practically all suburbs because of the location of the interchange. You shouldn’t have to go ‘the wrong way’ back to an interchange before heading to your destination.

BTW Joingler, zones don’t work in Canberra. It was tried in the past and failed because it was so expensive to go anywhere at all that wasn’t your adjacent suburb, and was very confusing. The current fare system is excellent and should not be tweaked – they just need to drum up more patronage by making the service a real option for a wider proportion of the population (see above about Expressos).

#16
Antagonist10:38 am, 01 Mar 14

Want to increase patronage? Make the busses free. Fares only account for ~20% (or less) of ACTION revenue anyway.

M0les said :

* Zoned ticketing. Last point first: Pensioners travel free on the buses anyway (If they have their MyWay card), so that part is a bit of a moot issue.

Incorrect. Pensioners get concessional travel rates, not free travel. Free travel is only available to over 75′s.

#17
Innovation1:03 pm, 01 Mar 14

Nothing has changed my opinion that the problem is that ACTION buses have very long, slow and circuitous routes through the suburbs.

Direct buses running only on main roads (and allowing people to change at main intersections) would meet the needs of most, improve the service and reduce cost. I’m guessing (ie no source) over 70% of residents could walk to their nearest main road in 20 minutes or less and over 95% could get to their nearest main road by cycling, park and ride or kiss and ride, with obvious health benefits – especially the antioxidants from kissing.

Designated suburban multi occupant taxis could zip in and out of suburbs (perhaps even providing door to door service) ferrying anyone unable or unwilling to get to their nearest main road bus stop for part of the MyWay fare or, perhaps, a $2 contribution for what, on average probably is less than a five minute trip. (These taxis could even provide extra services such as local shop, takeaway or even postal home deliveries). Internet app providers such as Imagine could even get in on the act by providing a (non ACT Government controlled) web based booking service that showed where a suburb(s)’ designated taxi is at all times and the location of passengers waiting to be picked up.

I’m guessing these taxis could gross around $10 every ten minutes and probably have much lower overheads than a normal taxi. The Government would have nothing to lose by trialling the idea in a handful of suburbs and it might even take off.

#18
Antagonist1:56 pm, 01 Mar 14

Innovation said :

Direct buses running only on main roads (and allowing people to change at main intersections) would meet the needs of most, improve the service and reduce cost. I’m guessing (ie no source) over 70% of residents could walk to their nearest main road in 20 minutes or less and over 95% could get to their nearest main road by cycling, park and ride or kiss and ride, with obvious health benefits – especially the antioxidants from kissing.

+1. Are you listening, ACTION?

#19
Very Busy4:04 pm, 01 Mar 14

Totally said :

The blue lights at night are unneccessary and only make buses look scarier than they are. Seriously, people do have better places to shoot up, and they can find a vein under a blue light anyway.

Haha, that is the biggest myth in the history of ACTION. It is such a big myth that even half of the ACTION staff think it’s true.

The lights in the front half of the bus are blue because the blue colour reduces the glare/reflection on the inside of the drivers windows at night time. They make it much easier for the driver to see out of the bus through the windscreen and front doors at night. The design of the newer style buses that have low floors and bigger glass areas at the front of the bus resulted in increased glare for the driver. The blue lights counteract this problem.

Shooting up on ACTION buses is an almost nonexistent occurrence and if someone did want to shoot up on a bus they would go to the back of the bus anyway. The blue lights are only in the front half of the bus.

#20
JC6:29 pm, 01 Mar 14

Totally said :

Wait, there’s more…

The blue lights at night are unneccessary and only make buses look scarier than they are. Seriously, people do have better places to shoot up, and they can find a vein under a blue light anyway.

Clean the Woden Interchange toilets! Replace them! They are so disgusting!

Put timetables on all poles at bus stops. Why has our local bus stop never had a timetable, but the ones nearby do?

Services that run more than once an hour wouldn’t be too bad either.

Canberra has too many cars on the road, too many emissions, and needs to get serious about its public transport system, LIKE THE MAJOR CITY IT WANTS TO BE.

Ever notice the blue lights are ONLY at the FRONT of the bus? Now do you think a junkie would want, even if the lights were white want to shoot up so close to the driver? No. So that means the blue lights are there for another reason, like umm reducing light glare in the drivers cabin.

#21
TP 30007:15 pm, 01 Mar 14

Let me add my 2 cents to things.

Firstly in relation to the Gungahlin weekend services. Would running the 200 on weekends do? It could run at a 15 minute frequency. While you may have a walk to Manuka that could be a trade off.

Once John Gorton Drive is complete, maybe ACTION could run a Belconnen to Woden via Molonglo & Cooleman Court.

In relation to NXTBUS, phone apps such as Transittimes can help you search for your nearest stop. Alternatively, if you SMS the street name you are on you should get a bus time most of the time. In coming months, each finger of City Bus Station will receive its own NXTBUS screen. So only the times for each “finger” will been shown on separate screens.

Now on Kambah services, as a whole we have 2 services running each hour 30 minutes apart. While selected South Kambah residents can walk to Wanniassa shops & catch the 4 900 services an hour. While most Gungahlin services leave the City within 20 minutes of each other. Our biggest problem has to be why doesn’t Kambah have a peak hour express service to the City? You could drive from Kambah to City in under 30 minutes. While the bus goes via which is no wonder the 160/162 are being scrapped. If anything Kambah/Wanniassa residents should be on the top of the list for Xpresso services. Back in the days of the ACTION Authority & before the non public transport using public servants took over & cut services drastically. The 162 services would be 50-75% full of Kambah residents when the bus left Woden. Last time I caught one, only a handful were left on, because apparently if you cut services you cut the passenger count.

Then how about a Tuggeranong to City Xpresso service, but that’s a whole nother story.

#22
gungsuperstar1:17 am, 02 Mar 14

Innovation said :

Nothing has changed my opinion that the problem is that ACTION buses have very long, slow and circuitous routes through the suburbs.

Direct buses running only on main roads (and allowing people to change at main intersections) would meet the needs of most, improve the service and reduce cost. I’m guessing (ie no source) over 70% of residents could walk to their nearest main road in 20 minutes or less and over 95% could get to their nearest main road by cycling, park and ride or kiss and ride, with obvious health benefits – especially the antioxidants from kissing.

Designated suburban multi occupant taxis could zip in and out of suburbs (perhaps even providing door to door service) ferrying anyone unable or unwilling to get to their nearest main road bus stop for part of the MyWay fare or, perhaps, a $2 contribution for what, on average probably is less than a five minute trip. (These taxis could even provide extra services such as local shop, takeaway or even postal home deliveries). Internet app providers such as Imagine could even get in on the act by providing a (non ACT Government controlled) web based booking service that showed where a suburb(s)’ designated taxi is at all times and the location of passengers waiting to be picked up.

I’m guessing these taxis could gross around $10 every ten minutes and probably have much lower overheads than a normal taxi. The Government would have nothing to lose by trialling the idea in a handful of suburbs and it might even take off.

This is the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

$10 for 10 minutes equals a maximum $60/hour. Assuming that everyone needing the service doesn’t live next door to each other, you’re driving between jobs. So lets make it $40/hour. We also assume that Canberra isn’t full of people standing on the side of the road waiting for your tight-arse taxi, so there’s going to be some downtime too. So lets make it $30/hour.

A sole driver can’t just write an EOI for a tender – they have to work for the company that does that. So by the time the drivers employer takes their cut, it’s down to $20/hour.

The driver needs to buy a car, he needs to maintain it, and he needs to buy fuel.

Weighing all this up, I estimate that it would cost the driver about $10-20/hour, about $100/day, about $500/week to operate your crap idea.

On top of that…

Is it safe for me to assume that you live in an apartment 5 minutes away from a town centre? The suggestion that everyone lives within a 20 minute walk of a main road in Canberra is absolutely ridiculous. I’d start identifying places. But when you consider that it’s most of Gunghalin, most of Belconnen, pockets of inner north, pretty much all of Weston Valley, a couple of pockets of Woden, and most of Tuggeranong? Well… there doesn’t seem much point in naming suburbs, because more than half of them would not be within 20 minutes of a main road.

Maybe we have wildly different views on what’s a main road – because by most standards, there are about 8 “main roads” in Canberra. And most of them (Majura Road, Barton Highway, Adelaide Ave) don’t actually have anyone living on them.

This line of response also ignores the fact that expecting old people to walk that far is ridiculous; and it completely ignores that ACTION do a lot of school buses – so you’re asking people to put their kids in a car with some random driver, hope that he drops them close enough to a bus stop so that they know what they need to go, and then hope that they get on the right bus.

This is without wondering what happens to the bus fleet if you’re only using 20-30, what you’re going to do on pension day when you don’t have enough tight-arse taxis, and what you’re going to do with your bus drivers and other ACTION staff that need jobs.

ACTION could and should investigate a shuttle service to operate in from the town centres to the odd “pocket” suburbs such as Palmerston/Crace, Kaleen/Giralang etc – but you couldn’t even use these across the board. When you look out in West Belconnen, it would cost you more to have a shuttle to every suburb than it costs to have a bus go through 4 of them. So even in using this idea, you’re providing different levels of service depending on where you live – which the ACT Govt (of both persuasions) have typically tried to avoid.

#23
Madam Cholet8:36 am, 02 Mar 14

I’m not sure of the expresso services being useful. The bus I get from Calwell to the city, the 111 gets me from Calwell to City West in roughly 30 mins. The expresso takes 50 mins. That’s not express.

Late last year Action proposed changing the 111 which is currently well patronised, to a slightly longer trip going through Wanniassa (which it doesn’t do now), which is already serviced by two buses. The area it would be going through is populated by a zillion mini roundabouts – which would slow it down enormously. Obviously Action backed away from their proposals thank god.

Apart from the bus I used to take 10 years ago when we first arrived in Canberra, the 111 is everything a bus service should be. Change the driver so it runs on time (see previous post), and it would be pretty perfect.

I don’t want to swap a 30 minute trip for a 50 minute trip.

#24
Bussie1:35 pm, 02 Mar 14

Madam Cholet said :

Apart from the bus I used to take 10 years ago when we first arrived in Canberra, the 111 is everything a bus service should be. Change the driver so it runs on time (see previous post), and it would be pretty perfect.

I don’t drive or catch the 111 but the reason it replaced the 312 and 315 which used to run through to Theodore terminus is because of some NIMBY sook who ran a long successful campaign against buses idling 100m from his house.

#25
ausbradr3:07 pm, 02 Mar 14

“Security at Civic interchange – I never feel unsafe anywhere on public transport. But I don’t appreciate being abused by people in civic because I won’t donate to their “charity” (many of which are actually questionable) or because I won’t give them $2 “for the bus” when it is obvious they are scabbing money off people for smokes. This only ever happens in daylight. I suppose security can only patrol the interchange which means such people would just shift on over to Garema Place. But at least then they are easier to avoid. This issue may be more related to ACT Government. But given how much ACTION and ACT Government are interlinked, ACTION could help with this issue if they want.”

This, x1000000. For the good of that area in general, not just for bus passengers. :)

#26
Antagonist4:09 pm, 02 Mar 14

gungsuperstar said :

… On top of that…

Is it safe for me to assume that you live in an apartment 5 minutes away from a town centre? The suggestion that everyone lives within a 20 minute walk of a main road in Canberra is absolutely ridiculous. I’d start identifying places. But when you consider that it’s most of Gunghalin, most of Belconnen, pockets of inner north, pretty much all of Weston Valley, a couple of pockets of Woden, and most of Tuggeranong? Well… there doesn’t seem much point in naming suburbs, because more than half of them would not be within 20 minutes of a main road.

It is very clear that you did not read and comprehend the original post. I have italicised the part that you clearly did not grasp, because it is an important qualifier.

Innovation said :

Direct buses running only on main roads (and allowing people to change at main intersections) would meet the needs of most, improve the service and reduce cost. I’m guessing (ie no source) over 70% of residents could walk to their nearest main road in 20 minutes or less and over 95% could get to their nearest main road by cycling, park and ride or kiss and ride, with obvious health benefits – especially the antioxidants from kissing.

Did you see what I did there? I highlighted the part of the post which specifically says 70% and 95% of residents respectively, and that those numbers are estimates. At no point does it say that ALL residents in all suburbs live within 20 minutes of a main road. There is even an allowance (95%) made for those people who cannot walk the longer distances such as the elderly, disabled, lazy and others.

#27
Innovation7:49 pm, 02 Mar 14

gungsuperstar @ #22 – Re your questions; the answer is no. Many might speculate as to why you personally are so vehemently opposed to explore ideas but I won’t bother here.

By “main road” I meant most roads that generally run past the edges of suburbs and operated a bit more like a chessboard. (I often think that the argument, by many (but not all), for light rail is simply because a passenger would know what direction their service is going and how often it will go past.)

As for the “taxi” concept. The problem with existing taxis are the large flag falls and the reduced rate per km for multi occupants and the need for long trips to make it viable for taxi owners/drivers. My earnings estimate already was conservative. (There are suburbs in Sydney (even low density) where take away delivery services operate for around $2.) As well, the needs of the elderly and disabled might be better met if they could have door to main bus stop service (and vice versa) especially if there is the possibility of extra delivery services from shops such as groceries, scripts and meals.

If you look at passenger numbers of most suburban bus routes it would be easy for a multi occupant vehicle to provide the same service if it is turning over passengers perhaps every five to ten minutes.

As for income, the ACT Government currently spends a lot of money subsidising large and slow buses through the suburbs (and repairing consequent road damage) and it is clearly the service where they are losing the most money – I’m guessing because it’s where they don’t do so well. If $60 per hour is not enough for some driver/owners (as a trial would demonstrate), the ACT Government could subsidise with a greater portion of MyWay revenue or subsidies – especially if the bus routes along neighbouring main roads start picking up and dropping off more passengers from increased patronage.

The counter argument, as presented by various Governments, is that they are never able to justify the economic viability of small suburban buses; but I think that is more of a reflection of their ability to run a bus service. The Government also indicates that many passengers prefer not to have to change buses once en-route. The latter might be true for existing passengers who don’t have time constraints but who knows what the behaviour would be of current and potential passengers until this or other ideas are tested.

Your school bus route is a good point. The ACT Government could continue to subsidise these routes if they wished or, perhaps they could develop an amalgam of other ideas.

As for excess buses and bus drivers, I hardly think that trialling the idea in one or two suburbs would cause any problems. How many people here complain regularly that their bus didn’t turn up (presumably because there are not enough bus drivers/buses for routes)? But, if the idea was a roaring success, are you suggesting that it shouldn’t then be extended to other suburbs because bus drivers might lose their jobs or that there might be excess buses?

#28
miz8:38 pm, 02 Mar 14

re Bussie’s post: that NIMBY sook in Theodore should have been ignored on the basis that s/he would have known there was a terminus when s/he bought the house. ACTION should therefore resume the use of that terminus at the next timetable amendment.

#29
gungsuperstar9:35 pm, 02 Mar 14

Antagonist said :

gungsuperstar said :

… On top of that…

Is it safe for me to assume that you live in an apartment 5 minutes away from a town centre? The suggestion that everyone lives within a 20 minute walk of a main road in Canberra is absolutely ridiculous. I’d start identifying places. But when you consider that it’s most of Gunghalin, most of Belconnen, pockets of inner north, pretty much all of Weston Valley, a couple of pockets of Woden, and most of Tuggeranong? Well… there doesn’t seem much point in naming suburbs, because more than half of them would not be within 20 minutes of a main road.

It is very clear that you did not read and comprehend the original post. I have italicised the part that you clearly did not grasp, because it is an important qualifier.

Innovation said :

Direct buses running only on main roads (and allowing people to change at main intersections) would meet the needs of most, improve the service and reduce cost. I’m guessing (ie no source) over 70% of residents could walk to their nearest main road in 20 minutes or less and over 95% could get to their nearest main road by cycling, park and ride or kiss and ride, with obvious health benefits – especially the antioxidants from kissing.

Did you see what I did there? I highlighted the part of the post which specifically says 70% and 95% of residents respectively, and that those numbers are estimates. At no point does it say that ALL residents in all suburbs live within 20 minutes of a main road. There is even an allowance (95%) made for those people who cannot walk the longer distances such as the elderly, disabled, lazy and others.

So… you think only 5% of Canberra’s population can’t walk, ride a bike or hitch-hike 20 minutes? You ever caught a bus between 9.30 and 2.30? There’d be more people who CAN’T walk or ride for 20 minutes than people who can.

I’d strongly suggest that it is you who doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

You’re now trying to defend completely made up numbers, when simply looking at a map of Canberra would tell you that you’ve grossly overestimated those numbers.

So much self interest in this thread… how about we discuss what would improve ACTION for Canberra, rather than what would improve it for vocal, self interested individuals who don’t care about children, old people, or people with disabilities.

#30
Felix the Cat12:36 pm, 03 Mar 14

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

I am a recent convert to ACTION buses, thanks to a recalcitrant Polo that even CVWC Belco can’t fix. I am lucky enough to live and work in the inner south, meaning I have a 20 minute bus ride to work (or a 45 min walk). It would be a six minute drive, but parking in Barton is a nightmare after 8.10am and I enjoy the discipline that catching the bus has imposed on me.

It would suit me better if the 5 picked me up, turned left onto Jerrabomberra, went straight to Wentworth and turned up Brisbane – and if there was another bus stop between the AFP college and National Circuit, that would be great. But that would inconvenience the IT shift worker at Canberra Hospital who gets off at Kootara and Matina, and the annoying loud phone conversation woman who gets on at the Narrabundah shops, and the two St Clare’s girls who are on the bus every day.

Public transport is just that – public. It’s about getting the most value for the most people. I have yet to get on a bus and not be able to get a seat. That may change next week when I start working in Civic. But I doubt that it would be financially viable to run buses before 9am on Sunday. I caught the 938 home from work last Sunday at 10am, and it was surprisingly full – but emptied at the Old Bus Depot Markets.

ACTION bus network is already financially unviable, losing tens of millions of dollars a year, so why not put another few buses on earlier.

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