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.
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.
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.
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.