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Analysing the New ACTION Network – Part 2

By 22 August 2014 11

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This is the second of my three part series looking at the ACTION network 14. My first post focused on changes north of the lake. This write up focuses on changes Southside. Part three will hopefully be published early next week and will look at the changes to the weekend timetables.

INNER SOUTH

Winners: Tourists will have easier access as route 81 has been upgraded. This route used to only run in school holidays but is now a daily service. It has also been extended to include the national arboretum meaning tourists now have a dedicated bus route to take them to the zoo, botanic gardens, Telstra Tower and the Arboretum. Griffith and Narrabundah residents have more peak hour buses. Pretty much anyone travelling to Barton/Russell now have extra buses in peak hours. Residents in Forrest now have a bus they can access via National Circuit (but have lost the access they had via Canberra Avenue). Yarralumla have a more direct service to Woden while Deakin passengers have improved frequency throughout the entire day to the city.

Losers: The tourist route mentioned above (route 81) has been cut from once an hour to once every 90 minutes. This loss would only affect people who used route 81 in school holidays. Having used it myself a couple of times, the drop in frequency is unsurprising as it was rarely used. Red Hill is now only serviced by route 4 as route 6 has been discontinued. This loss will be felt by all Red Hill residents as route 4 has been redesigned to cover what route 6 used to i.e. longer travelling times for all residents.

WODEN

Winners: Anyone visiting loved ones at the jail now has a more frequent service with 13 buses there and 9 returning each day (up from the previous 3 in each direction). This is partially because this bus route (88) has been extended south to Hume and down to Chisholm.

Curtin residents no longer have the Yarralumla detour on their way to the Parliamentary Triangle/City. Routes 21, 22, 23 and 24 have been redesigned to provide simpler access to Woden’s Southern suburbs – Routes 21 and 22 will service suburbs west of Athllon Drive (Pearce, Chifley & Lyons) while routes 23 and 24 will service suburbs east of Athllon Drive (Mawson, Isaacs & O’Malley). This will reduce travel times to Woden and create a timetable and network that is much easier to read and makes much more geographical sense. Anyone travelling from Woden to Barton, Russell or the Brindabella, Majura, Campbell and Fairbairn Business Parks now have Expresso routes (791 & 792) in peak hours.

Losers: It’s hard to find any major losers in Woden. The loop service community route (routes 76/77 servicing Curtin, Hughes, Garran & Lyons) has been cut (admittedly between these two routes there were only 5 services a day). As with the rest of Canberra, late night services have been severely cut but due to their proximity to the city, the effects are not as bad as in some outer areas such as Tuggeranong and West Belconnen. Curtin have lost their direct bus to Parliament House.

WESTON CREEK/MOLONGLO

Winners: Residents in Wright now have a new route (83) to connect them with Weston (via Duffy) and Woden (via Lyons). The Belconnen – Tuggeranong Xpresso Route (705) now travels via the new Weston Park & Ride as well as Cooleman Court meaning direct peak hour buses from Weston to Tuggeranong or Woden. Passengers travelling from Waramanga/Fisher to Weston have a slight decrease in journey time.

Losers: The new suburb of Coombs did not get a bus service with this network. Presumably due to the low population there at this stage. Residents must walk to John Gorton Drive to get a bus. Route 75 has been cut but like route 76/77 in Woden this only ran 5 services per day. Expresso routes to the city have been reduced. Weston Creek is one of the hardest hit areas with late night service cuts.

TUGGERANONG

Firstly, I must declare that my trips to Tuggeranong are rare and when they do occur, they only are to the town centre. The rare times I travel to the actual suburbs of Tuggeranong are on weekends. Consequently, the comments below are from someone who does not understand the strengths/weaknesses of the current network in Tuggeranong.

Winners: Chisholm is the biggest winner in Tuggeranong with Expressos combining every 15 minutes to provide a service to the city. This is an overall increase of 1 trip per direction per day but the better timetabling means the buses are evenly spaced. Chisholm also gets route 88 providing a direct service to Hume and a quicker trip into Woden (and the jail). It should be noted that this service doesn’t run between 7:30am and 3:30pm each day. Kambah residents who are able to walk to/from Drakeford Drive now have more Xpresso routes to choose from likewise with Gordon, Conder and Banks residents. Calwell, Richardson, Gilmore, Macarthur, now have Xpresso routes to the city via Monaro Highway.

Losers: Residents in the far south of Theodore no longer have a bus route The downside of the Xpresso route for Calwell, Richardson, Gilmore and Macarthur residents is that the buses into Woden will be less frequent in peak hour. Route 786 from Tuggeranong to Fairbairn Park via Isabella Drive has been completely cut (ACTION website says it is due to low patronage). Late night service cuts which have affected the entire city are felt fairly hard in Tuggeranong.

SUMMARY

Overall the biggest winners are those travelling to the City, Russell and Barton for their 9-5 jobs. The biggest losers were easily late night travellers. Inner North & Inner South residents remain status quo. Gungahlin and Woden were the big winners, Weston Creek the biggest losers with Tuggeranong and Belconnen wenched somewhere in between. Changes in Belconnen are interesting as there are individual suburbs that are big winner (Macgregor & Dunlop) and others that a big losers (Spence & Fraser).

I had the opportunity earlier this year to meet with some ACTION honchos in charge of route development, timetabling etc. It was not a formal meeting, just an opportunity for me to learn more about the network that is responsible for getting me to work, study and play 7 days a week. The biggest challenge they find is getting the balance between a sustainable business and ensuring there is a transport network for the general public to use. I must say, I do not envy them. It would be a ridiculously tough job to get this right with limited funds from ACT Government.

This network is the first with MyWay data. Supposedly this data has been used to develop route directions & timetables. Based on the new network presented to us, it is safe to say late night buses are rarely used (especially those to outlying suburbs such as Charnwood, Banks and Chapman) while travel to the parliamentary triangle is booming. Time will tell if these changes suit Canberrans overall but as someone who travels frequently between Gungahlin, Woden, Belconnen and Weston Creek, this new network is one I will find easier to use.

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11 Responses to
Analysing the New ACTION Network – Part 2
yellowsnow 10:53 am
22 Aug 14
#1

You’re quite right in your assessment that Weston Creek appears to be the biggest loser. From my perspective the biggest problems are:

- Five xpressos leave Weston Creek and Molonglo for the City in the morning – but all within a short time of each other, and all before approx. 7.20am!! Beyond this time there are no direct bus options to the City and bus travel involves a circuitous journey involving backtracking to and interchanging at Woden. Currently there is a 7.48am Xpresso which is very popular, but even this bus is being moved to the ungodly hour of 7.11am!! Unbelievable stuff. During the Network14 consultation, at a public forum ACTION representatives undertook  to ensure that the Xpressos would be evenly spaced and available between 7am and 9am. The Weston Creek Community Council in its submission also emphasised the importance of this. yet the very opposite has happened. It seems almost perverse that Weston Creek will now have better bus connections with Belconnen and Tuggeranong than the City or Parliamentary Triangle, even though the latter are closer and that’s where more commuters want to go.

-  Loss of route 28, which was replaced with route 83 for Molonglo. Holder and Duffy residents will now have to wait one hour instead of 30 minutes between buses off-peak.

- Loss of routes 225, 226 and 227, which are direct peak hour services between Weston Creek suburbs, the Parliamentary Triangle/Barton and Russell. It seems strange that, just as paid parking is being introduced and the Govt wants more people to catch a bus into the area, direct buses are being cut and residents will now have to interchange.

Weston Creek already has some of the poorest bus services in Canberra (e.g there is no direct bus service with the city outside a narrow xpresso period which is about to become even more narrow), and unsurprisingly the lowest rates of public transport usage. It seems strange to penalise the area even further with bus cuts. Perhaps the reliance on MyWay data instead of independent, strategic thinking is to blame. You can think of it as a self-perpetuating loop. Poorly designed, unattractive routes translate into poor patronage in MyWay data – ACTION assesses this as lack of demand for bus travel in that location and time, and cuts ACTION services even further. This in turn translates into even worse patronage, and at the next opportunity ACTION makes even further cuts, which result in even worse patronage. And on it goes until a suburb effectively has no bus service left! Conversely, well designed, direct routes are popular routes, translating into good patronage in MyWay data, which in turn translates into more and more services. At no point do ACTION appear to stop and think ‘Hold on, maybe patronage on some routes is poor because the route is poorly designed and doesn’t take people where t’hey want to go when they want to go?’

Seems weird that Shane Rattenbury, supposedly so into public transport, is the Minister responsible for this mess. Perhaps he’s too distracted fantasising about light rail for his inner north neighbourhood, geothermal heating of Lake Burley Griffin and other ‘visionary projects’ to keep his eye on the ball, and keep ACTION in check to ensure it delivers for all of Canberra, not just a select few enclaves.

magiccar9 1:31 pm
22 Aug 14
#2

Anyone visiting loved ones at the jail now has a more frequent service with 13 buses there and 9 returning each day (up from the previous 3 in each direction).

Really? I want to see the figures that required an increase in services to our prison. What a waste of tax payers money and ACTION resources servicing a small percentage of negative influences on society.

msgrumpy 2:07 pm
22 Aug 14
#3

As a resident of Gordon who commutes daily to Barton (supposedly an area the govt wanted to improve bus services to to encourage public servants to leave their cars at home especially in the face of the soon to be introduced pay-parking), I am not on the winning or even ‘neutral’ side in Network 14. I now have to catch two buses to work (18 & 775) instead of one (788 – may you RIP) leading to an increas in travelling time.

I did write to Minister Rattenbury to express my concerns about what i saw as the downgrading of the bus service but his reply basically told me to stop being selfish and that everyone had to make sacrifices (my words but that was the gist of his response). I wonder what sacrifices Minister Rattenbury is making? Perhaps he would like to give up his probably subsidised or free parking in Civic and either use the buses or pay for parking to show how in touch he is with the ‘comman man’.

Rant over!

yellowsnow 2:32 pm
22 Aug 14
#4

magiccar9 said :

Anyone visiting loved ones at the jail now has a more frequent service with 13 buses there and 9 returning each day (up from the previous 3 in each direction).

Really? I want to see the figures that required an increase in services to our prison. What a waste of tax payers money and ACTION resources servicing a small percentage of negative influences on society.

I guess if you’re locked up and looking to break out, this gives you more options for a quick getaway. Just don’t forget to swipe at your destination.

joingler 10:39 pm
22 Aug 14
#5

magiccar9 said :

Anyone visiting loved ones at the jail now has a more frequent service with 13 buses there and 9 returning each day (up from the previous 3 in each direction).

Really? I want to see the figures that required an increase in services to our prison. What a waste of tax payers money and ACTION resources servicing a small percentage of negative influences on society.

As stated in the article, the reason the prison gets more services is that there is now a bus service from Woden to Chisholm via Hume. The prison is a winner as it sits on this route. ACTION didn’t decide the prison deserved more services. ACTION decided that a service to Hume was needed and the prison is one of the beneficiaries.

magiccar9 10:14 am
23 Aug 14
#6

joingler said :

magiccar9 said :

Anyone visiting loved ones at the jail now has a more frequent service with 13 buses there and 9 returning each day (up from the previous 3 in each direction).

Really? I want to see the figures that required an increase in services to our prison. What a waste of tax payers money and ACTION resources servicing a small percentage of negative influences on society.

As stated in the article, the reason the prison gets more services is that there is now a bus service from Woden to Chisholm via Hume. The prison is a winner as it sits on this route. ACTION didn’t decide the prison deserved more services. ACTION decided that a service to Hume was needed and the prison is one of the beneficiaries.

Fair point, I’ll then be curious to see patronage of this new route. Considering it would leave Woden, travel to the Monaro Highway using Hindmarsh Drive (no bus stops), then along the Monaro (1, maybe 2 stops), collect/deposit in Hume, then carry on along the Monaro (again, probably no stops). Surely that isn’t an effective route considering Athllon Drive currently carries the same passengers with more efficiency as it services a greater number of people between Chisholm and Woden.

Perhaps ACTION is hedging their bets on a magical increase of visitors to Hume or the AMC – both places I wouldn’t think are high with visitors (or are they planning to implement pay parking in these places soon?).

joingler 10:57 am
23 Aug 14
#7

magiccar9 said :

joingler said :

magiccar9 said :

Anyone visiting loved ones at the jail now has a more frequent service with 13 buses there and 9 returning each day (up from the previous 3 in each direction).

Really? I want to see the figures that required an increase in services to our prison. What a waste of tax payers money and ACTION resources servicing a small percentage of negative influences on society.

As stated in the article, the reason the prison gets more services is that there is now a bus service from Woden to Chisholm via Hume. The prison is a winner as it sits on this route. ACTION didn’t decide the prison deserved more services. ACTION decided that a service to Hume was needed and the prison is one of the beneficiaries.

Fair point, I’ll then be curious to see patronage of this new route. Considering it would leave Woden, travel to the Monaro Highway using Hindmarsh Drive (no bus stops), then along the Monaro (1, maybe 2 stops), collect/deposit in Hume, then carry on along the Monaro (again, probably no stops). Surely that isn’t an effective route considering Athllon Drive currently carries the same passengers with more efficiency as it services a greater number of people between Chisholm and Woden.

Perhaps ACTION is hedging their bets on a magical increase of visitors to Hume or the AMC – both places I wouldn’t think are high with visitors (or are they planning to implement pay parking in these places soon?).

It also travels via Geoscience Australia at Symonston. It does seem a rather strange route with low patronage but I’m prepared to give ACTION the benefit of the doubt for the time being….

miz 8:13 am
24 Aug 14
#8

Those Chishom Xpressos are wasted on me as i don’t need to get to Barton at the crack of dawn. Something is very wrong with this timetabling aspect of the new network. Also why would anyone in Chisholm want to go to Woden via Hume. when there is the far more convenient 66 route to Woden, though Hume workers might find it helpful? Or perhaps it’s for the cemetery that doesn’t exist yet? Will there be a stop near Rose Cottage?

lonefighter 6:48 pm
30 Aug 14
#9

I’m not happy about the “new” system, I live in Weston Creek half the time and down near Theodore the other half.
The main problem as I see it is the loss of the 26 in my area, the 75 is now non existent- and who are the losers the poor elderly population who catch the bus in Weston Creek. As for Tuggeranong losing out us here in the south are pretty use to it.

Rumour has it that Action are trying to make a profit as they are currently at a loss.

cairncairn 8:40 am
01 Sep 14
#10

Another set of losers for Tuggeranong (Gilmore): we have lost the 769, which had three reasonable departure times in the morning (my regular was the 8am) and arrives 40 minutes later in the city. I actually don’t have an option now that doesn’t take more than an hour. The latest bus I can catch in the morning from the stop near my house (on Heagney crescent) comes past at 7am. As someone else on the bus said the other day, that rules out my ability to catch it. So my only other option is waiting for the old 67, and that’s the route that put me off commuting in the first place due to it taking an hour to get to work and needing to transfer in Woden. I’m sorry but unless you live right at the Chisholm shops you can’t call the commuters of Gilmore winners. I haven’t had any response from Action on the fact that I no longer have a bus and will be forced to drive and pay Parking fees in the city (I have already supported the ACT revenue office in this regard, to the tune of several thousand dollars). Thanks for the heads up about Shane Rattenbury, I won’t waste my time contacting him. Why put my thoughts out there when there is noone listening?

Antagonist 11:18 am
01 Sep 14
#11

In Isabella Plains we are not really any better or worse off. For me, this means I still will not be using ACTION. I stopped using them 2 years ago at a time when I was still catching 20+ buses per week.

Currently, I commute to Belco between 3 and 5 times every week. I do not catch buses at the crack of dawn because I have no need to travel that early, so express type services are of no use to me. The result is that it takes me, on average, between 70 and 90 minutes to travel from Isabella Plains to Belconnen using regular weekday services. This is the reason I refuse to use ACTION, and would choose to drive my 5.4 litre fossil-fuel guzzler V8 instead. I don’t care that it costs more to run. It saves me between 90 and 140 minutes in travel time daily, and my car is available exactly when I want it to be available. Don’t lecture me on what my car is doing to the environment – I am (among other things) an environmental scientist. I know EXACTLY what my car is doing to the environment. And quite frankly, I place a much higher value on the 4-6 hours per week I save, which can spend with my family instead.

To the surprise of some on these boards with whom I have enjoyed some healthy debate over the years, I purchased a second-hand bike from Revolve. I was hoping to use it in conjunction with ACTION buses to reduce my carbon footprint. Not under the current arrangements. The bike can sit there for another 2 years for all I care.

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