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Analysing the New ACTION Network – Part 1

By joingler - 18 August 2014 33

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So ACTION has released its long awaited Network 14. They are promising more buses that are more direct. This is being achieved by culling late night services with low patronage. This is the first ever network that has been designed using data from MyWay – an electronic ticketing system that tracks where you get on and off each bus. Theoretically, this means the new network will be the most effective yet. I’ve taken it upon myself to look at how the changes affect each area.

I rely on buses to transport me around Canberra. I live and work in the Gungahlin area but frequently travel to Belconnen, Civic, Woden and Weston for study and personal commitments. I umpire football on weekends at grounds right across Canberra meaning I have experienced the best and worst that Canberra public transport has to offer. This will be a series of 3 articles. Part 1 covers Northside services on weekdays. Part 2 will cover Southside on weekdays while Part 3 will look at weekend services.

Gungahlin

Winners: Gungahlin are big winners with the new network. Peak hour buses to/from the city have been drastically increased. Route 202 will undoubtedly be a popular addition – non stop from Gungahlin Marketplace to the city. Early morning buses are now frequent (currently there is stuff all before 7am). Palmerston, Ngunnawal and Nichols now have more direct buses to Belconnen while Route 54 will cover Crace much more effectively than Route 58 currently does. Travel between Gungahlin and Belconnen is now much easier with buses departing every 20 minutes. In a slight anomaly, Route 250 (designated as the main route between Gungahlin & Belconnen) is actually 4 minutes slower than route 54 (designated as a suburban route) that travels via Palmerston, Crace and McKellar. Route 58 has been enhanced to provide better coverage for residents at the southern end of Harrison while keeping travelling time steady for those at the northern end of the suburb. Buses now go directly to Russell/Barton which will undoubtedly be a plus for all in Gungahlin but especially for those who live in outer suburbs such as Bonner, Ngunnawal and Amaroo.

Losers: There aren’t too many losers in Gungahlin. Residents in Amaroo will no longer have a direct service to/from Belconnen while those in Franklin will have two services a day in each direction taking an 6-7 minute detour via Bimberi (not in peak hour). The only other downside I could notice in Gungahlin was a lack of wheelchair accessible buses for Palmerston and Crace. Presumably, they are not needed as much in these areas as much as other areas. Late night buses have also been cut but this is not limited to Gungahlin.

Inner North

Winners: Things in the inner north are staying pretty much at the status quo. A few extra buses in peak hours (especially for those in Hackett/Watson) while those living close to Northbourne Avenue will be able to gain much easier access to Russell & Barton in peak hours.

Losers: Not many negatives here. There is no longer direct access from Dickson to CIT Bruce (or to the AIS). Like the rest of Canberra, there are cuts to late night services but these are not as drastic in the Inner North than other areas of Canberra.

Belconnen

Winners: Residents in Dunlop and Macgregor will be rejoicing that they now have a direct bus to the Blue Rapid route (Belco-City-Woden-Tuggers). Charnwood residents wil be happy that their travel time will be slightly quicker as route 313 goes directly down Southern Cross Drive instead of seeing the sights of Scullin and Page. People living in Fern Hill now have better coverage to route 7 while anyone travelling to/from Gungahlin will find it much easier. Anyone living on route 44 (Holt, West Macgregor and Higgins) now have their own expresso route to the City, Russell and Barton. Nearly every route has increased frequency in peak hours

Losers: Northern Suburbs of Belconnen are the losers here. Evatt/Mckellar residents have lost their direct route to the city. As compensation though, their trip into Belconnen is much more direct (travelling via Aikman Drive). This means that travel to the city should be a similar time even with the inconvenience of changing buses. Spence and Melba have lost their expresso routes but do have extra services in peak hour. I suppose this is like copping a whack over the head instead of a kick in the groin. Passengers travelling on route 314 from Fraser and Flynn are now diverted to see the lovely? sights of Scullin and Page. Experience tells me, it is an extra 3-8 minutes, depending on the time of day.

What’s Your opinion?


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33 Responses to
Analysing the New ACTION Network – Part 1
1
Matt Watts 5:44 pm
18 Aug 14
#

Thanks for a great summary. I wonder how others see the routes.

I’m in the Belconnen town centre and I do a lot of walking, and even sometimes ride a bike, so I expect I’ll be fine no matter the route changes.

A lot of people who are less able will be displeased, especially the ageing population. This is going to be an increasing trend, so it will be interesting to see how Action use the current figures and map them against expected trends in the shifting population. That is, only using MyWay data causes an obvious statistical bias which is harmful to future planning.

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2
random 5:55 pm
18 Aug 14
#

As a regular user of the “late evening suburban services carrying few passengers” I’m pretty horrified that my last weekday bus has gone from 11:45pm a few years ago to 10:10pm under the new network.

ACTION buses are getting steadily less and less useful for anything other than getting to and from 9-5 jobs.

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3
miz 8:13 pm
18 Aug 14
#

What times do the Xpressos deliver people from the north into the City and Barton? The times for my new Xpresso 765 (Tuggers) are now way too early for me.

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4
Madam Cholet 8:30 pm
18 Aug 14
#

I heard on the radio this evening that the union has issues with the new timetables and it’s unlikely that the changes will come into effect on 1 September. Something to do with break times. I have a feeling that this happened the last time though. Apparently it is before the tribunal.

My bus the 111/11 from Tuggers to the City, which is in my opinion a pretty good service now goes via Brindabella Park. I will now have to catch the new 171, which leaves my stop five minutes earlier and doesn’t appear to go to City West in the morning where I have for the last two years been alighting from the bus. Right near my office. I now will have to walk from Northbourne.

Have no idea why they changed the number, re-routed the new bus through an area which seemed to be serviced by two different buses already and then changed the way it travels through the city. There would be about 30-50 passengers on my trip alone who would I’m sure be wondering what they have done to deserve these ‘tweaks’.

I thought also today that Action had stuffed up the info on their website. If you looked at the bus numbers and the summary of the trip, they did not seem to be reflecting the changes. On the new timetable pages the 111 which I catch was saying it went from Tuggers to City. If you clicked on it, you then found out it goes from Tuggers to Brindabella park via Mars. (I made that last bit up).

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5
GL700Wing 8:36 pm
18 Aug 14
#

For me the loss of the 757 service will turn a 15 minute trip to work into a 45 minute trip – not happy!

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6
damien haas 9:13 pm
18 Aug 14
#

I love the flexibility of buses

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7
gooterz 9:24 pm
18 Aug 14
#

8
Beau Locks 9:31 pm
18 Aug 14
#

Thanks for the great summary of the changes.

Overall I think the network look pretty good, and I’m glad to have the weekend services aligned with the weekday ones, tho it’d be nice to be able to go somewhere after 5pm on a Sunday!

I’m worse off, and girlfriend loses her Xpresso service, but I’m stoked for Gunghalin folks. Swings and roundabouts etc. Mainly roundabouts in C Town.

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9
miz 10:04 pm
18 Aug 14
#

Yet still, Damien, more flexible than light rail which would force people to go to a rigid route that serves few Canberrans. The problem is ACTION has no money because it’s all being sent to a useless invisible service called light rail. I hope Damien you have noticed the super fast Gunners buses that already make light rail obsolete!

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10
bigfeet 10:13 pm
18 Aug 14
#

damien haas said :

I love the flexibility of buses

Definitely. Their routes are certainly more flexible and can be adapted to go where they are needed, instead of just running backwards and forwards on some fixed tracks. And if the new routes are found to be lacking or inadequate, it is a simple stroke of a pen to change them, not two years of digging up lumps of steel and moving them.

But its not only the flexibility. It is the relatively low cost and ease of operation compared to something that just runs backwards and forwards over a set and inflexible route that cannot be changed.

I’m glad that you are coming around to see the folly of the great white elephant that is light rail Damien. It took you long enough.

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11
rommeldog56 10:42 pm
18 Aug 14
#

damien haas said :

I love the flexibility of buses

Does this mean that you have seen the light and abandoned your unwaivering support, as chair of the Canberra Light Rail support group (or what ever its called), and are now throwing your support behind busses instead of Light Rail.

Or by “flexibility”, do u mean capability to transport commuters to the nearest Light Rail station ?

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12
joingler 10:50 pm
18 Aug 14
#

GL700Wing said :

For me the loss of the 757 service will turn a 15 minute trip to work into a 45 minute trip – not happy!

This was one loss that I I’d write up but for an unknown reason i took it out whilst proof reading. Big error on my part

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13
GL700Wing 8:35 am
19 Aug 14
#

joingler said :

GL700Wing said :

For me the loss of the 757 service will turn a 15 minute trip to work into a 45 minute trip – not happy!

This was one loss that I I’d write up but for an unknown reason i took it out whilst proof reading. Big error on my part

This express service was great because it bypassed both the Belconnen and City Interchanges and while some passengers got off at Russell (many of whom took services to Parkes and Barton) many continued on to Brindabella Park and Fairbairn.

I was really hoping they would add one more morning service (15-20 minutes after the last service they currently offer) – with paid parking about to be introduced I didn’t expect it to get axed!

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14
Kalliste 8:57 am
19 Aug 14
#

random said :

As a regular user of the “late evening suburban services carrying few passengers” I’m pretty horrified that my last weekday bus has gone from 11:45pm a few years ago to 10:10pm under the new network.

ACTION buses are getting steadily less and less useful for anything other than getting to and from 9-5 jobs.

Yeah, my bus used to be the last out of the city to gungahlin at 11:17, now it is 9:43… fortunately for me, I don’t need night time buses as much as I used to anymore.

I’m happy with the addition of the 250, I had issues just a few days ago where a trip from gungahlin to kippax was going to take about an hr and a half each way because it went through the city instead of direct to belconnen..

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15
Madam Cholet 9:11 am
19 Aug 14
#

Just looking at the new posts here and started thinking back to when I was growing up in the suburbs in the UK. The borough had 174,000 people living there in 2012.

Back in the 1980s and 90s when I was taking the bus there were three different number buses I could catch into town, the 29, 29a & 29b – a 20 minute trip. I don’t recall the trips every changing – just growing in frequency.

I acknowledge that there are many differences between the borough where I lived in the UK and Canberra, size being one of them (Canberra is bigger), but the population in Canberra is twice the size nearly, and yet my old suburb apparently now has two major companies these days servicing the area.

Do Action and the Government actually do any research to see how others do it?

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