Bus route complaints on to-do list for new Transport Minister

Ian Bushnell 27 June 2019 50

New Transport Minister Chris Steel: “I will be working to ensure we have the best possible integrated public transport network that our growing city needs.” Photos: George Tsotsos.

New Transport Minister Chris Steel says he will be briefed next week on each individual route of the new bus network to ensure that it is working as well as possible for commuters across the city.

Mr Steel gave little away at his first media conference as minister, repeatedly stressing that more people were now using public transport than before, but said the directorate had received a significant amount of feedback on the new network, which has been under fire from commuters, particularly in the south, whose routes have disappeared or journeys lengthened or made more complex.

“With any new network, we know it has changes for some people that benefit them and other changes that aren’t as beneficial. Transport Canberra and City Services will be considering all of that feedback and working out how to improve the network going forward but what we’ve seen is a significant number of people that were not using public transport before now using our integrated public transport network since the new system got under way.”

“That’s a very good outcome but we need to make sure that we continue to deliver a network that works for all Canberrans.”

He said the Government wanted to grow the network and encourage more people to use it, and Transport Canberra would continue to monitor its operations so that it met everybody’s needs.

“I will be working to ensure we have the best possible integrated public transport network that our growing city needs,” he said.

His predecessor Meegan Fitzharris had said there would be adjustments to the network where needed.

With an election next year, fixing the bus network will be a must for Mr Steel, who also recommitted the Government to extending light rail to Woden, noting that the Government had successfully delivered Stage 1.

“As a life-long southsider I am committed to bringing light rail across the lake to extend the benefits of jobs and of an even better transport network and regeneration to other parts of the city,” he said.

While the new Major Projects agency will be a key partner in delivering Stage 2, Mr Steel said he was looking forward to working constructively with the Commonwealth and making Commonwealth ministers aware of the benefits the project would provide, particularly to the south side of Canberra.

New Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith stressed the importance of a culture of transparency.

He expected to be making significant announcements in the next few months about the next steps of the approvals process relating to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity ACT.

“It’s a much more complex project than Stage 1. It’s incredibly important to deliver the north-south spine that we need in our public transport network, and to make sure that everyone in our city can benefit,” he said.

“I will be applying all my effort into making sure that this happens as quickly as it can and in the best way possible. We know there are significant challenges through this project and we’ve just got to continue to work through each of those challenges.”

Responding to feelings that the south may have been neglected in recent times, Mr Steel said that with light rail Stage 2 and the proposed SPIRE project at Canberra Hospital there had been a significant shift in where infrastructure has to be directed.

It will be a big learning curve for Mr Steel, who was only promoted to Cabinet last year, and is also responsible for City Services, Roads, Community Services and Facilities, and Multicultural Affairs.

Joining him was the other beneficiary of Ms Fitzharris’s imminent departure, new Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith who will take on the challenges of chairing the workplace cultural review oversight committee, ongoing issues around waiting times at emergency departments and elective surgery and working with Major Projects on the SPIRE project.

She said her priorities were to continue the culture of transparency that she encouraged in her other portfolios of Youth and Families, Workplace Safety, Government Services and Procurement and Urban Renewal, and that all staff and clinicians were engaged in the reforms and developments across the health system.

Acknowledging that Health was a portfolio that would draw heavy fire from the Opposition, Ms Stephen-Smith said she had already come under intense scrutiny in her other portfolios.

“Politics is a tough game. It’s not personal it’s actually about the policy, and for me it’s about how we deliver the best service to Canberrans across our health system,” she said.


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50 Responses to Bus route complaints on to-do list for new Transport Minister
Mark Bantilan Mark Bantilan 7:33 pm 03 Jul 19

Shouldn’t have changed what was not broken. Adding more buses/routes would have been better.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:29 pm 03 Jul 19

    Mark Bantilan didn’t you just say it wasn’t broken? In which case why add more buses and routes? Or maybe it was broken and needed a change.

    Mark Bantilan Mark Bantilan 10:10 pm 03 Jul 19

    Ashley Wright Add more buses/routes make it even better and would not mess it up.

astro2 astro2 7:26 pm 28 Jun 19

Having used R2, R3 and R6 appreciate these very frequent services and much improved evening and weekend services. Understand that, overall, there are more buses on the road than before so wouldn’t like to simply return to the old services. Don’t think that will work. Transport Canberra seems to be trying to maintain a good southside service with a lot of R4s. Although loss of expresso to those who used to travel to work on them is understandably annoying.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 9:40 pm 28 Jun 19

    Not sure I can agree with you there. R4 is really just the old Blue Rapid rebadged and the Southside (Tuggeranong in particular) lost a lot of bus stops, Bus routes and direct peak hour services.

    Bit rich to claim Transport Canberra has maintained a good Southside Service.

    astro2 astro2 11:33 am 29 Jun 19

    i didn’t say they had maintained it, just that they appeared to be addressing some of the problems of the south side. in peak hour there appears to be a lot of R4s. They also added some additional services, e.g. to Woden to and from Narrabundah on the AMC shuttle service. I guess there’s a lot of “south side” to cover and Calwell and Kingston are both ‘southside’ but very differently serviced. We can still acknowledge the problems of the removal of xpressos to tuggeranong whilst still appreciating the additional services generally. And there has been a net gain in the number of services. It’s difficult to deny that providing an efficient and effective transport system in a city like Canberra can be challenging.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 5:27 pm 29 Jun 19

    I’m afraid I’ll have to continue to disagree. Been a lot of Southside issues (particularly Tuggeranong) that have been raised by commuters, Transport experts and the media for many months.

    These issues haven’t been acted on and according to many people, the former minister and Transport Canberra haven’t even properly acknowledged their issues and have actually chosen to ignore them.

    Only been the last week that senior government officials have started to publicly state they will need to address some of the Southside Transport issues in the future review.

    JC JC 3:17 pm 04 Jul 19

    You sound like a broken record.

    This is not a north vs south issue nor is it rich vs poor.

    We get it you think Kambah has been screwed. In some ways it has (let’s say you going to Woden) but in other ways it hasn’t. But that’s no different to what you will see all over town. Some people in one suburb who go one place win some loose. But that is all over town.

    Me personally I wouldn’t want to be designing or writing a timetable for Canberra because no matter what you do someone looses and they whinge.

    What I’ve seen using the new network at peak hour though is full buses. That says something to me. Though I only use the rapids as I park and ride because I fully accept there is no reasonable way to provide a fast, regular bus service from my place to where I work. (Old network was no different ). So I drive to the nearest rapid park and ride. Time wise for me is about the same but costs me a bit over $5 for the bus each day compared to $14+ to park at work.

Bekah Glaz Bekah Glaz 6:50 pm 28 Jun 19

How about ensuring traffic can actually make it across? 10-15 minutes (or more!) to get through lights on Barton/Federal Hwy (Northbourne) in peak hour. Wakefield to northbourne in the arvo is as bad, too.

Leanne Browning Leanne Browning 5:52 pm 28 Jun 19

It now takes my special needs son over an hour to go into the city and another hour to return. Before it was a direct route 25 mins to and return the same.And a bus will not take us there, we don't have any direct route to access the city to get to the hospital. After life saving kidney transplant. 6 Buses and 2 trams. We are forced to use or catch a taxi bus transport told me.

Kay Millican Kay Millican 11:52 am 28 Jun 19

Dedicated school buses that keep our kids safe the whole way home! And making it work for elderly and people with disability. U cant monitor what u took away.

Richard Perry Richard Perry 8:40 am 28 Jun 19

Living in Wanniassa, the new bus network works better for me overall (except for the silly time-wasting dogleg through Forrest on Rt 5).

However, Kambah needs to be looked at. Several friends in different parts of Kambah have no viable bus option - very long (15-20 minute) walks are required.

Moreover, the ACT Government needs to rethink its contemptuous attitude towards Tuggeranong generally. Between the bus route changes, and the most recent budget that delivered - what, walking trails in Tidbinbilla and some planning to maybe later duplicate Athllon Drive?! - we're feeling a little unloved and getting restless.

    Andrew Newnham Andrew Newnham 8:46 am 28 Jun 19

    Richard Perry

    "Moreover, the ACT Government needs to rethink its contemptuous attitude towards Tuggeranong generally."

    Agree 100%.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 9:46 am 28 Jun 19

    Those Kambah Bus changes were probably the stupidest public transport design I've seen in history. Sending Kambah residents via Cooleman Court to Woden and/or Civic was crazy stupid (and it failed miserably back in the late 90s when one Kambah Bus route tried it before ACTION reverted to the more logical route). It's like sending someone to Perth via Auckland. Hey 15,000 residents of Kambah, we don't like you, so let's double your Bus journey times and also take away an entire Bus service and remove 16 stops as well while we are at it.

    Antoinette Buchanan Antoinette Buchanan 5:52 pm 28 Jun 19

    Richard Perry 35 minute walk for those of us in the far west of Kambah. A friend in Dunlop reports that her kid’s primary school has had to change its teaching time to accommodate the new bus timetable.

Meg Joy Meg Joy 7:05 am 28 Jun 19

Bring back Xpressos - they were innovative, well patronised and efficient and it was daft to scrap them

Julie Murkins Julie Murkins 11:15 pm 27 Jun 19

Chris - please look at Kambah - please. Kids can’t get to school, people can’t get to doctors or appointments. Please reconsider the cuts in Tuggeranong.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 9:53 am 28 Jun 19

    100% the Bus impacts have been terrible on Tuggeranong residents who don't live near its two Rapid Routes, it is completely shocking and so unfair on southside strugglers without cars. Also worth noting that Belco gets 4 Rapids, inner north and south Canberra get 6 Rapids. Kambah bus changes take the cake for worst design under the network however.

    Doris Andrews Doris Andrews 2:08 pm 28 Jun 19

    Jeff Smith Yes, I walk to the Rapid Route to get to work. on time

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:24 pm 28 Jun 19

    Jeff Smith number if rapids is totally meaningless and ignores geography.

    Like or not Tuggeranong is at the end of Canberra. Belconnen sits between North Canberra and Gungahlin so the rapid “count” is because of that. And north and south Canberra get so many because that’s where all bar two rapids converge. But don’t let that get in the way of a Southside rant.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 10:06 pm 28 Jun 19

    You've been on the Riotact for months, consistently telling us all how excellent the new Bus network is and what an amazing job Transport Canberra are doing with the new transport services. This isn't about a Southside rant, its about all those Kambah people who have had an extra 6 hours a week added to their commute, its about all those Tuggeranong kids who lost their school services and it's about people right across the outer suburbs of Canberra who were promised better bus services under the new network and were actually delivered worse services when it was rolled out. I'm glad it's a much better service for you and a bunch of other people, but I'm afraid to tell you there is a huge percentage of Canberrans who are much worse off after all the changes Even the chief minister and the new transport minister are now starting to admit that there are too many losers under the new network and they made some mistakes. You can fool yourself that everything for Canberra public transport is better, but you can't fool the people who are so much worse off travelling in the real world. Are you sure you don't have any Canberra Transport, ACT Government, Union or Labor connections?

Shane Westmore Shane Westmore 11:13 pm 27 Jun 19

why is it now that a trip planner from airport to Dickson suggests i wait 15 to 20 minutes in Civic for the next bus or light rail for a 1 hour to 1h15min trip when previously it took maybe 45 minutes? are they trying to get us to use Uber? because it's looking like the better option!

gooterz gooterz 10:31 pm 27 Jun 19

Bring back the 333.

    JC JC 7:28 pm 28 Jun 19

    That would never work. People would whinge they need to change buses.

    That aside the rapids of course are the modern version of the 333! Just that they go to more places.

Geniene Webster Geniene Webster 9:45 pm 27 Jun 19

Maybe read what the complaints actually were....

Jonno Hasselhoff Jonno Hasselhoff 9:38 pm 27 Jun 19

I like the new bus timetables.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 10:15 pm 28 Jun 19

    Are you within walking distance of a Rapid Route by any chance? These are the real winners under the new network and they should like the new bus timetables. People who lost their local buses or had their routes re-directed well out of the way, are the real losers. The new network was always about delivering really great services for about 33% of Canberrans but unfortunately at the expense of the rest.

    Heather Whittle Heather Whittle 6:59 am 29 Jun 19

    Jonno Hasselhoff mine is totally stuffed! Nothing comes to my bus stop any more

Michael Ahern Michael Ahern 8:56 pm 27 Jun 19

Start with the school buses and abandoning a model that is only designed to force people to use the tram

Kerry Jackson Kerry Jackson 7:16 pm 27 Jun 19

Can my suburban bus route, the 32, link to a rapid? Which is what we are told is supposed to happen? Rather than the hit and miss we suffer now. And the standing room only on the way home.

    Doris Andrews Doris Andrews 7:34 pm 27 Jun 19

    Yes, standing room, on so many peak services now

Harry Sotiropoulos Harry Sotiropoulos 6:57 pm 27 Jun 19

Bring back the 200 rapids.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:30 pm 28 Jun 19

    Harry Sotiropoulos and the 40-45 minute peak hour journey time and bus full signs? Those 200’s?

Lyn Kemp Lyn Kemp 6:49 pm 27 Jun 19

Fix the school bus routes. Can't work out why they have been left in such a ridiculous manner. Kids need to be safe!!

Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 6:44 pm 27 Jun 19

Would be nice if a few of the school services returned. Especially those servicing the people most in need of government services

Sharon Dikmans Sharon Dikmans 6:43 pm 27 Jun 19

Put back all school busses!!!

Kristie Ward Kristie Ward 6:37 pm 27 Jun 19

Hopefully they accomodate the most vulnerable in the community, our kids.

Irene Crockford Irene Crockford 6:35 pm 27 Jun 19

Stop monitoring and fix the system!

    Maria Greene Maria Greene 11:03 pm 27 Jun 19

    What an excellent idea. Bring back the number 3, restore all our lost express buses, please. Where are the more buses more often? Certainly not in Curtin. Only an idiot designed a system where journeys require frequent changes and take much longer than previously

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