23 January 2020

Call for extra public transport services in wake of hail storm

| Ian Bushnell
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Cars with shattered windscreens

Cars with shattered windscreens at NewActon. Photo: Region Media.

The ACT Government is being urged to boost public transport services and staffing to meet extra demand caused by thousands of hail-damaged vehicles being off the road.

Monday’s short but fierce storm wreaked havoc on vehicles caught in the barrage of hail stones and there is likely to be a long wait for many to get back on the road with repairers and insurers inundated.

The Australian Motor Body Repairers Association says panel beaters could be fixing hail-damaged cars for the rest of the year, and the Insurance Council of Australia declared the ACT a catastrophe zone, with more than 15,000 insurance claims already in train.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra says the Government should provide practical public transport assistance for people whose vehicles can’t be driven.

PTCBR chair Ryan Hemsley said about 10,000 people may be impacted.

“Some will be adequately insured, including having access to a replacement rental car. Many others may need to make greater use of public transport, including buses and light rail,” he said.

Mr Hemsley said the ACT Government should significantly increase weekend services on routes to under-served areas such as the Molonglo Valley to enable affected Canberrans to reliably access employment, shopping, medical and social activities.

He said the people of Molonglo only had access to limited services operating every two hours and with a circuitous route to their closest major supermarkets.

The Government should also require additional Transport Canberra employees to work on weekends and public holidays if necessary, even if this requires changes to the long-standing composite pay and weekend staffing arrangements.

He added that the government should also provide targeted information to new and infrequent public transport users about how to best get to the major commercial and community centres and events.

But Transport Minister Chris Steel said the network was coping with a 3 per cent increase in demand.

“Monday’s hailstorms were devastating for so many Canberrans and I know this is a hard time for people who experienced damage to their homes and vehicles,” he said.

“Since the storm, we have been monitoring public transport patronage, and while there has been a small increase in passengers, the network has been able to manage the additional load with no need for more services.”

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Capital Retro5:32 pm 27 Jan 20

I’m waiting for the next survey on public transport use in Canberra. I expect that it will be the same outcome as it was on the Gold Coast after their tram service was introduced to replace busses.

That outcome was an aggregate reduction in patronage of public transport and they will further reduce the figure if the Woden – City “tram to replace bus” stage 2 light rail goes ahead.

There was a time when the ACTION busses could have been sold (or gifted) to a private operator. No chance of that now which means Canberrans are left with a multi-million dollar stranded “bus network asset” which must be now needing a $200 million a year subsidy to keep going. Converting the fleet to electric or hydrogen power won’t make any difference to passenger numbers.

What a mess.

Action buses used to be sold at between 15-20 years old. Since then NSW which is where most of the second hand buses went has changed how they operate buses including lower fleet and average fleet age calculations which in turn has dropped the bottom out of the second hand bus market. Action now keeps buses for up to 25 years (with some slightly older). Anyway not sure your point keeping them longer means you get more out of that asset.

As for patronage you still don’t get it that the Gold Coast tram is a success and this far the Canberra one is too. Only need to ride it to see the amount of people using it and people getting on a places where you never saw people waiting for a bus. Northborne Ave for example.

Please do provide examples of where a public transport system has been ‘sold’ to private operators….

As always, plenty of whining on here, but few positive alternative ideas.

You might need to have a closer read of that article you have linked to.

They are proposing to privatise the operation of the trains and trams, just like they have done with their buses for the best part of 20 years.

That’s not exactly an example of selling off a system And is contracting out the operation, and one would think a Liberal supporter like you would welcome government outsourcing.

I personally cannot think of too many systems in Australia that were government and sold off. The vast majority are government owned but privately operated.

Capital Retro1:59 pm 30 Jan 20

I meant “sell the whole operation” JC, not just random old busses.

If the busses were still running in Northbourne Avenue they would still be using the bus stops which have been replaced by tram stops.

Yeah I worked that out after I hit submit.

As for northborne Ave the passengers using the tram were not using the buses that went along that road before. Very few people used those stops wheras now you will see a good 10 passengers a tram at Swindon Street stop, before never saw anyone get on there. I’ll ignore Dickson as people are forced to change there (one thing I do think is silly the buses from Kaleen/Giralang not going into the city) the McAuthur Ave always half dozen people every peak hour tram, before none and even the ones closer in have people getting on and off and on the buses hardly anyone. And it’s not like the suburban buses in that area have changed significantly to say bus cuts are forcing them on the tram. These are very much new passengers and that’s before new housing has been finished along Northborne.

And that new article you have linked to again the use of the word privatise is referring to the contracting out the operation which is fairly common not selling the whole lot as you suggested above.

And might surprise you I think the operation of action should be privatised.

Capital Retro1:34 pm 31 Jan 20

Correct, it’s about population density with trams. More sardines mean bigger cans. Transit engineering at its best.

Capital Retro10:36 pm 01 Feb 20

When drivers don’t turn up for work unless it suits them as is the current system it is time for the taxpayers who pay their wages to demand something better (without the unions being involved).

Capital Retro11:39 am 26 Jan 20

John Moulis suggests there is an opportunity to now build the VFT. In fact, one of the benefits of another railway would be the corridor acting as a firebreak as used to be the case in the days before existing railway networks were closed down. In fact, there were strict rules imposed by the rail authorities regarding the width of the easement where the track was laid and the regular requirement to reduce grass and other flammable material in the area bordered by the easement. While the main purpose of this was to minimise fire risk from steam engine cinders (embers) the secondary purpose was to provide a physical firebreak through many of the private properties the track crossed. I can recall several large grass/wheat fires being contained in this way around Parkes and Forbes about 60 years ago.
Most Riotact readers won’t have a clue what I am talking about of course.

Hence the term…’Hail a bus’…

I am not sure Chris Steel fully understood the issue. For example, if some poor sod who lost their car lives at Coombs wants to go shopping at Coolo or Woden they are a prisoner of his reluctance to take on the TWU’s featherbedding weekend deal, that sees people living off the main drags subject to relative transport poverty.

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