feeonar 24 November 2010 20

OK, so we all know that Action buses are a poor quality public service, that they can’t fix their own operating timetable, nor can they get their buses to run to the new schedule.

However to add insult to injury – they do not have a complaints department!

After three days in a row of not getting my normal bus and being late for work, I thought it was worth a call to find out if I was possibly reading the timetable wrong, or they had printed it incorrectly. These things happen with a new system and I would have been completely ok should this have been the case.

When I called the 13 number they supply on the website I was informed with no sympathy or apology that “Yeah, there have been a lot of breakdowns this week.”

… and was the next bus coming customer service representative? “I dont know, it should be, I can tell you what time it should be there. I’m in a call centre, that’s all I can do.”

And when I asked to put in a formal complaint – “No, we dont have a complaints area, I can take down your comments.” Somehow methinks the customer service representative I am complaining about probably wont pass on my concerns.

And before anyone starts up that I should just drive – I dont have a car and cant afford one. Public transport is my only option and after living in every other capital city in Australia at one time or another I can guarantee you there is NO worse system than this.

Thank you for listening … seeing as Action won’t.

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whitelaughter whitelaughter 4:45 pm 21 Aug 11

email is good – I’ve recieved polite replies every time I’ve contacted Action.

That said, Action is shocking, and has been for some time. 20 years ago it was the best bus service in the world; now it’s awful.

damien haas damien haas 3:52 pm 21 Aug 11

Complaining to ACTION….

Forget email, forget a phone call. The only way is to write to the CEO, using paper and an evelope.

His adress is:
James Roncon
Director of ACTION Buses
GPO Box 158
Canberra City
ACT 2601

It might be helpful to list in point form your problem, concern or issue.

You could perhaps refer to one of the following (from ACTIONS website):

ACTION’s Key Performance Objectives are to be:

* Reliable
* Safe
* Accessible
* Responsive
* Efficient and Effective
* Improve staff capability

In your letter you could tell the CEO how you feel ACTIONS KPI’s may not have been satisfied in your experience. You could ask for a reply to your points and reasons why something occurred/didnt occur – bus not turning up for example, or whizzing past your bus stop while you were waiting).

List the bus, the bus stop, the time, the route, the bus number. The more information that you provide to the Mr Roncon, the easier it will be for him to respond to you in a timely manner.

I also note there is a facebook page for ACTION issues called ‘Canberrans Demanding Action on Action’ which i think is trying to organise themselves as a public transport lobby group focussing on improving ACTION buses.

gentoopenguin gentoopenguin 12:20 pm 21 Aug 11

If you email, you get the “we apologise for any inconvienence caused” copy+paste job. There’s no point complaining, more money won’t go into the system and the ageing fleet will continue to breakdown and causes delays and non-buses.

kambahkrawler kambahkrawler 11:31 am 25 Nov 10

That’s a good idea about running buses on the major roads only. What about a tag on shuttle bus service from the main stops around the back streets?

Much like a light railway would do but without the cost and political holdups…

kambahkrawler kambahkrawler 11:30 am 25 Nov 10

dundle said :

I put in a complaint years ago about a crazy abusive person on a bus – I asked at an interchange and they gave me a form. A few days later they followed up with a call about what was being done about the matter etc. This was about 9 years ago though,

Have they fixed the problem yet?

astrojax astrojax 11:16 am 25 Nov 10

ask to speak to the ceo – or go and stand in his/her doorway and demand a response.

or buy a bicycle..?

dundle dundle 9:55 am 25 Nov 10

I put in a complaint years ago about a crazy abusive person on a bus – I asked at an interchange and they gave me a form. A few days later they followed up with a call about what was being done about the matter etc. This was about 9 years ago though, maybe they’ve become worse?

I like to complain about them being late and having inconvenient timetables but honestly almost all of the time my buses show up on time and it’s not too bad. I suppose it depends on the route.

schmeah schmeah 11:48 pm 24 Nov 10

Ha, this is so funny – it’s identical to an issue I had last year.

My bike was being repaired so I was forced to engage in this system called ‘public transport’. I checked the time table, went to the stop 5 minutes before the bus was likely to come and after 45 minutes of waiting .. not one single bus came by. And this happened 3 times in a row at peak hour during the week in Ainslie.

SO, I went through the complaints system .. found some long forgotten email address (it was ACT Gov based) sent an email saying .. where was my bus? Perhaps you should modify the timetable because it’s inappropriate for people to be waiting this long .. blah blah.

Finally, I got a response saying ..’we’re sorry to inconvenience you, the bus driver told us that traffic is very bad at 8:30 in the morning’ (I wish I was joking). What? Traffic bad .. at 8:30am in Dickson / Ainslie. no, it can’t be!?

I sent another email to the Greens who basically said (in a nutshell, but this pretty much captures all of it): ‘what do you want us to do about it’ – I think I still have it, I could certainly dig it up, if in my anger I didn’t delete it.

What do I want the Greens to do? I don’t know, but seeing as you have considerably more civic ability than little ol’ me waiting for a bus, why don’t you put the need to improve public transport back on the agenda?

Public transport in Canberra is a F**n 5 star joke. It’s totally unreliable during peak hours and on weekends, it’s inaccessible for the disabled and those with prams (most of the time) and it covers the bare bones of the city when it needs to .. and poorly. All this rhetoric about Canberra being so environmentally friendly and accessible and equitable .. it doesn’t mean crap when those without a car, or those who can’t drive, are unable to get anywhere because the bus system won’t take them.

On those mornings where I was waiting for a bus .. I found myself watching countless cars travel past me with 1 occupant – no doubt travelling from Dickson or Watson, and for the first time I didn’t actually blame them .. because why bother trying to catch a bus, when it’s so poorly delivered. Why not just get in you 4X4 to travel all of 5 kms to civic?

urchin urchin 10:28 pm 24 Nov 10

why would they pay people to listen to things they don’t want to hear and don’t plan to change? its a monopoly, you don’t have to like it, you have to use it.

Carl Carl 9:21 pm 24 Nov 10

Action isn’t that bad. Canberra is a very intresting and spread out city. Action is doing well to service all areas and are continually bettering there timetables. Buses often break done, but so do cars. The bus is being used almost everyday and for extended periods. Be nice to the poor bus. And yes a hot day can throw a network into a meltdone, for real.

Buses can be tracked through radio and sometimes GPS. Action is soon to interduce a real-time display system at bus stations and may include GPS Tracking of buses.

housebound housebound 6:00 pm 24 Nov 10

Actually, i have had a good run. I can’t remember whether I emailed or phoned Canberra Connect and been put through, but the issue was dealth with immediately.

(The issue was a bit on the serious side, though – so maybe that was the reason.)

pete74au pete74au 5:51 pm 24 Nov 10

Just think it would be cheaper to subsidise taxi fares than run Action buses :-). Try Canberra Connect for complaints.

I find getting to work quicker when the buses are on strike, unfortunately they don’t strike often enough.

feeonar feeonar 4:23 pm 24 Nov 10

Thanks everyone for suggesting I complain through the email – unfortuantely I have gone down that path befor after a bus drove past me whilst it was pouring down with rain and I was at an unsheltered stop waving my hands vigorously at the driver, which ended in another hour for the next bus. When I complained I got EXACTLY the same reply as intaba… automated reply much?
For this reason, I attempted to do the complaint verbally this time, but to no avail!

Security companies, taxi companies, and a million other public and private enterprises manage to now have the ability to track their transport … its not that hard, and not that expensive in the great grand scheme of government funding.

intaba intaba 4:02 pm 24 Nov 10

I had a similar situation about a month ago. I rang the 13 number about 5-10 mins after the bus was meant to have been there. The only thing they could do was parrot the timetable at me, not whether it was running at all or early/late etc. I sent an email through the Canberra Connect system (convoluted but thats a whole other story). I got a response within 3 business days to say

“Thank you for your email correspondence dated 22 October 2010 regarding ACTION buses.

I have forwarded your correspondence through to ACTION’s Customer Service Manager for investigation.

Thank you for taking the time to alert us to this issue.”

Heard nothing since then, replied today and got a response within about 5 mins to say I should have had an answer at the time of the original email and that the bus didn’t run that day due to driver shortage. Even if the call centre can’t tell you where the bus is they should at least know whether it was running.

las las 3:58 pm 24 Nov 10

Action are one of the worst organisations I’ve ever seen. Buses frequently don’t show up, if they do show up they might be free or not, might breakdown and will definitely take you on an hour long journey that doesn’t go anywhere near where you want to go.

After a recent trip to europe I figured out what the issue is – get buses only on main roads. If you have to walk 10 minutes to a main road that’s fine, but don’t try and cover every piece of every little street in every suburb. If Action did this they’d be more direct and would save thousands in costs.

The new red, gold, blue express services are also a good idea, because a once an hour service is a joke.

beejay76 beejay76 3:57 pm 24 Nov 10

I’ve lodged a complaint with Action via their website contact form before. I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but you’ve obviously got internet access, so get on there and let them know!

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on buses and trains in Sydney, as well as Canberra. I don’t think ACT buses are any worse than Sydney’s. It’s just there’s fewer people here to support a massive network, so when things go awry there’s less room for error.

ConanOfCooma ConanOfCooma 3:34 pm 24 Nov 10

No ACTION in Cooma at all…

Only CountryLink, and that leaves at 10:20.

rabblerouser rabblerouser 3:17 pm 24 Nov 10

I agree that it’s poor form, the way Action buses are managed. But we are forced to choose them (thanks to the lack of light rail or other public transport system) so it’s easy for them to be rude or just not show up without it affecting them.
I now drive every day to work because I couldn’t rely on Action to get to work on time (or to show up on time while I was waiting in the rain etc).
Once a bus didn’t show up at all and I called the Action 13… number. There was a pretty nice woman who answered and told me to hold. She was trying to contact the driver but to no avail. “I’m not sure where he is… Hopefully he’s okay,” she told me. She said if the next scheduled bus didn’t arrive I could walk down to the bus interchange office to get a lift with her. Very kind but also a bit odd and unprofessional.

If you ask me with lovely people like her on the phone, it’s clear that the problem is management. If they don’t have a complaints line etc they should at least have procedures in place to deal with him.

I don’t envy your dependence on the buses! I hated it before I had access to a car.

ML-585 ML-585 3:09 pm 24 Nov 10

Try emailing ACTION: or use the ACT Government contact site:

sezzle sezzle 2:53 pm 24 Nov 10

I regularly catch ACTION Buses as well and have found that if you email them, this concern gets looked at and things normally improve (although only for a couple of months). I always get a polite response – sometimes even on the same day.

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