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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.