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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.


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33 Responses to
Analysing the New ACTION Network – Part 1
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Maya123 11:14 am 21 Aug 14

My bus route hasn’t changed. But I’m retired now so it isn’t as important. Or maybe it is, as one day I won’t be able to walk as far. So far I still can walk, and do walk many kms, so not a problem yet.
My last commute to work involved a 1.4km walk from where I got off the bus to my work (and 1.4km back after work), and the job before that, a two km walk each way. Usually I cycled to avoid that, but the walk was not too far on the days I did it, such as when it was raining.

Kalliste 10:44 am 21 Aug 14

magiccar9 said :

On a side note, I think kids take ACTION school routes for granted these days. Having seen some of the absolute trash that happens on school runs, I’m all for taking the services to boost public routes. Give the service to members of the public who actually appreciate them.

Plus they get the newer/more reliable buses. School buses also take priority over regularly scheduled buses so that if a bus is required it’ll go to a school bus and the regular bus will be cancelled.

This annoys me no end.. I pay more for the buses and I won’t trash it like some kids do, personally I think the kids should be stuck with good ol orange buses at least they can’t make them much worse than they already are.

miz 7:40 am 21 Aug 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

I wonder what we could do for Action Buses if we spent all the money earmarked for the light rail project on improvements to bus services? Imagine the difference across all of Canberra.

Yes, it’s the obvious solution, but ‘there is none so blind as those who WILL not see.’

magiccar9 9:22 am 20 Aug 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

I wonder what we could do for Action Buses if we spent all the money earmarked for the light rail project on improvements to bus services? Imagine the difference across all of Canberra.

The unions would tie it all up to “improve working conditions for drivers” – thus we wouldn’t see service improvements.

Personally I’d like to see the $600m spent on training ACTION drivers how to obey road rules correctly. I’m thinking every driver should re-sit their licence and training once a year, every year. Image the benefits of spending $600m in this area!

Genie said :

On the negative side – My sister has commented about Scullin being a loser, she can no longer catch a bus to Kippax (where the kids go to school) without having to walk to the main roads that surround the suburb. KSS only offer an afternoon school bus service – which after looking at the new route it seems questionable. Therefore the kids no longer have a way to get to school without walking quite a distance to get a bus.

How far is “quite a distance”? I remember having to walk 4km every morning/afternoonfor a school bus a few years back. It’s just one of those things we need to accept if we’re going to stick our kiddies on busses to get to school.

On a side note, I think kids take ACTION school routes for granted these days. Having seen some of the absolute trash that happens on school runs, I’m all for taking the services to boost public routes. Give the service to members of the public who actually appreciate them.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 8:30 am 20 Aug 14

I wonder what we could do for Action Buses if we spent all the money earmarked for the light rail project on improvements to bus services? Imagine the difference across all of Canberra.

gooterz 12:42 am 20 Aug 14

Damien if the issue is that buses can move why not just formulate contracts for buses with a clause that if the bus moves / changes then the act gov will be liable.

A bus itself is the same as light rail, it’s a device to move people. What your suggesting is that we should use hard iron to formulate contracts, even though it might not be the best solution to move people per cost.

For 600million + isn’t it more effective to formulate a contract on paper?

You can drive around a broken down bus, its substantially harder in a tram.

Soirtemed 7:51 pm 19 Aug 14

Yes the Gungahlin city bus stop is getting more frequent services but who actually lives there ? What about the existing neighbourhood services that got cancelled alltogether (not just the late services). Route 59 has been switched to a direct route to Belconnen. Now residents on the south bank of Yerrabi Pond that had a direct service to the city with route 59 have to walk to Gundaroo drive to catch the single available route 55/255 from Forde and then connect from there. This is an extra 10 minutes just for the walk (if your fit) & a lot of soaking in wet weather. Can I at least buy the now “obsolete” bus shelter on Nellie Hamilton & place it in my garden as a memorial for what used to be an excellent bus sevice? From Sept 1st I will go back to my 35 minute bicyce ride to the city. I feel sad for the elderly living in the area.

miz 7:19 pm 19 Aug 14

Yellowsnow, there seems to be a common theme of the last morning Xpresso (765) being far too early, and well patronised, direct Xpresso routes being dumped for no apparent reason (e.g. 788) and forcing people to change (which is a well known deterrent to public transport use). The only way they will know is to put in a contact form to ACTION and encourage others to do so, or they will be none the wiser.

https://www.canberraconnect.act.gov.au/app/forms/action_feedback

bigred 7:00 pm 19 Aug 14

Further on the Weston Creek to Civic proposed timetable. I was talking to ACTION today about another issue concerning the current 729 service which was somewhat academic seeing it will be extinct shortly. I mentioned the new timetable and they indicated I wasn’t the first to call about the early departures. By the way, the 7.48 edition was full this morning!

Genie 4:55 pm 19 Aug 14

Being a Gungahlin resident I’m extremely happy with these changes. More frequent buses will mean less cramming onto a bus, and hopefully less driving past all the people waiting along Flemington road as the bus filled up at the very first stop.

Plus they have included all the suburban routes that extend to the city on the 200 timetable. I was always baffled watching everyone fill up the 200 bus while 51, 52 and 59 buses left empty. This was great when I worked in the city, but when I needed to start catching the 200 to go through to Barton it was quite frustrating. Good to also know ALL buses will extend to Barton/Russell during peak hour too.

On the negative side – My sister has commented about Scullin being a loser, she can no longer catch a bus to Kippax (where the kids go to school) without having to walk to the main roads that surround the suburb. KSS only offer an afternoon school bus service – which after looking at the new route it seems questionable. Therefore the kids no longer have a way to get to school without walking quite a distance to get a bus.

housebound 3:51 pm 19 Aug 14

I wonder if they’ve thought through the impact on school bus routes.

For example, friends tell me that, just by changing the 314 to take another 8-10 minutes to Belconnen, which will now make it a half-hour bus trip for 6 km, the connections to colleges and high schools at the Belconnen interchange will have to change. The morning 314 routes are packed anyway, so it’s hard to see where they got this idea of demand for travel from Fraser/Charnwood/Flynn to Scullin.

And before anyone gets uppity about Fraser/Charnwood/Flynn kids going to schools other than Melba, Andrew Barr’s school closures were based on the death of the concept of neighbourhood schools. As education minister, he heavily promoted travel to out-of-area schools as a good thing, so the fact it happens is to be expected.

On the other hand, a better service between Gungahlin and Belconnen town centres is to be applauded. If only ACTION could do more applause-worthy things.

pink little birdie 1:50 pm 19 Aug 14

I finally worked out that the roadworks near my house are new bus stops. it about halves the time to the nearest bus stop which is excellent on Tuesdays.

I think the Myway cards are too easy to lose. 🙁 and the bus rides without a myway card are really expensive.

yellowsnow 1:30 pm 19 Aug 14

Following on from my previous post re Weston Crk – I just don’t get Action’s thinking. At the last election we were promised extra expresso services. There was a press release from Katy Gallagher, a media conference, sine money got set aside for it. Two years on what do we get: yes there are a few extra expressos to the city but they’re all before 7.20am! And even the existing ones got pushed back to an ungodly hour

So basically you have no way of catching a bus from Weston Crk to the city or parl triangle after 7.20am. How is that going to encourage people from cars onto buses I’. Not quite sure. Surely the early bird market isn’t that big.

yellowsnow 1:20 pm 19 Aug 14

For Weston Creek Network14, despite the promises, is in many ways a step backwards compared to the current timetable – for residents of Duffy and Holder in particular

Key issues include:

– Holder and Duffy lose route 28, to be replaced by 83 for Molonglo, which follows too circuitous a route to be useful to Holder and Duffy residents

– Holder and Duffy bus users now have to wait 1hr instead of 30mins between buses off peak (previously they had option of catching 25 or 28, now 25 only).

– Loss of 225, 226 and 227 direct services to Parliamentary Triangle and Barton. Travel to and from these destinations will now involve interchanging at Woden

– All of the xpressos to the city leave too early in the morning – much earlier than currently. The 725 xpresso is set to leave Holder shops at 6.53am and 7.11am compared to 7.18am and 7.48am for the 729 route that the 725 replaces. Yup that’s right, you read correctly: the last morning bus people can catch into the city leaves at 7.11am!! The main problem with the current xpresso was that they were too limited and finished to early – the new timetable only makes the problem worse! Most people don’t want to travel to work that early.

– New xpresso route 726 also leaves for the city way too early: 7.02am and 7.16am from Cooleman Court. New xpresso route 783, leaves CoolemanCrt at 7.13am then goes via Molonglo to city – a long and circuitous journey. These routes simply depart too early to be useful to most potential commuters, and will do little to attract additional patronage. If anything, patronage will decrease because many current users of the 729 departing at 7.48am will opt for the car instead of the new 725 7.11am service that requires them to get to the bus stop 30 mins earlier. What is the logic in scheduling Xpressos so early? It’s like these routes were designed to be unpopular and fail from the outset.

– No sign of what the community has been requesting for years: a direct all-day (i.e. not just xpresso) bus service between Weston Creek and the city. The;local bus network remains reliant on interchanging at Woden to get into the City, which limits public transport uptake as this option is too indirect and inconvenient for most commuters

Paul0075 12:30 pm 19 Aug 14

I’m upset by the loss of the 702 Expresso from Fraser to Dickson. I use this regularly, but the new 714 that I’d have to use means I must leave even earlier than before. When I use 702, I leave home 50 minutes earlier than using the car, and to use the new 714, it’d mean leaving quite a bit earlier again. Looks like I will just drive to work in Mitchell all the time now.

thefionahamer 12:16 pm 19 Aug 14

All these changes to the bus network are exactly why a light rail network is better. Even if you’re lost if you find the tracks you can follow them to a stop. They can’t change the route to somewhere else.

damien haas 9:51 am 19 Aug 14

rommeldog56 said :

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 ?

ACT Light Rail has always been pro-bus. We want the ACTION network to carry more passengers.

The advantage of buses is that they are flexible. The routes can be configured to satisfy new and growing needs. The disadvantage of that flexibility is the bus can just go away.

The advantage of light rail is that it is not. When the rails are in, employers and employers know with some certainty that if they live or work near the rails, that the route cant be changed and moved away at the next network upgrade.

The latest change to my bus route means i can no longer travel directly to the George Harcourt, but now have to go through Crace. My other bus, the 312 now no longer travels into Civic, except for 4 or 5 peak hour services. I don’t even know what the weekend route number is, so we continue with different numbering for weekend and weekday services, which wont confuse many people.

Mess 9:15 am 19 Aug 14

So according to Action the buses I catch now leave ten minutes earlier in the morning and 15 mins later in the evening. That’s 25 extra minutes per day I have lost, or 2 hours per week. Driving to and from work is now really looking like a viable alternative taking into account how much time you can save every week.

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?

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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