Commuters climb on board petitions to vent against new bus network

Ian Bushnell 2 May 2019 175

The new bus network is generating a lot of angst, particularly in the south. Photo: George Tsotsos.

Two petitions against the new bus network have sprung up only days after launching on Monday, with main complaints related to the loss of routes, longer commutes and axing of some dedicated school buses.

But Transport Canberra says record numbers took public transport on Tuesday 30 April as Canberrans threw their support behind the new network, with MyWay data showing 90,854 boardings across bus and light rail, the first time boardings have exceeded 90,000 on a single day since the system was introduced.

It says the number of school student boardings has also increased since the corresponding time last year and the number using high-frequency rapid buses has almost doubled.

While one petition , not surprisingly, has been started by a Liberal MLA, the main one originated with an angry 18-year-old Imchan Raman from Tuggeranong who says bus routes near her home, her friends’ homes and near schools have been scrapped, and ‘I cannot help to feel a surge of rage and injustice for those who live on the southside’.

“It makes commuting indescribable – simple commutes become complex and I fear my grandmother who likes to catch a bus to go shopping may become lost trying to do so with this new complex system,” she says, calling on the Government to go back to the previous timetable.

The petition has garnered more than 1700 signatures and counting already with many comments posted about the inadequacies of the new network.

Imchan says the new system is structured around light rail too much, resulting in inconvenient commutes taking up to more than half an hour longer and involving many more transfers.

She says the scrapping of some school bus services has made commutes for children increasingly precarious as they must cross busy roads during peak traffic, and longer walks to stops are a problem for the elderly and those with mobility issues.

Comments range from the scrapping of services to concerns about child safety.

“Removing the Expresso services from West Belconnen has added considerably to my commute time (now over 2 hours each day) and I am sure for many others. No gain, only pain, for West Belconnen! We still only have 1 bus every hour on the weekends on the new network and have lost the Expressos, so what use is the new network?” says Anya.

Connor says: “Why move the express stops to/from Belconnen to the other side of Northbourne? Doesn’t make any sense. All the buses are full at peak times now and forced to leave people at stops because of this whereas before this would be rare.”

The loss of the No 3 route has also upset some petitioners.

“The number three bus route has gone completely. I live in O’Connor and spend weeks at a time in Calvary Private Hospital Bruce and used the number three bus regularly while on day leave to travel between my home and the hospital,” says Caroline.

For some, it’s the longer commuting times and comes with a message the Government, bent on driving up usage, would not want to hear.

“My commute time doubled – I am now back to driving to work as it takes half the time,” says Rebecca.

And Grace: “Not happy with the new timetable as it takes me an additional hour to travel to and from work. Like many others, I’ve been driving instead since [the 29th of April] which results in more cars on the roads and more pollution in the air.”

“Disgraceful. Can’t get from Nicholls to Belconnen without going backwards to Gungahlin, and adding 30 mins to a trip which now takes 50,” says Lisa.

The changes to dedicated school services are also hitting hard.

“My young children now have to get three buses to get to school each day. A 15-minute journey by car takes over an hour and three buses. Buses also arrive late or leave early meaning they miss connecting buses. It’s just not good enough!” says Rebecca.

“Child safety matters. You are putting children at risk by cancelling dedicated school bus services, it is unacceptable.”

Older commuters are also upset.

“I live in Theodore and for 35 years could take a bus straight to where I needed to go. Now I retire and you take away my bus. Shame on you,” says Elizabeth.

Alicia says: “As a 70-year-old I find it almost impossible to have to walk almost 3 km to the Chisholm shops to catch a bus to take me 6 kms!!!! Just because there is a light rail in the city doesn’t mean that Tuggeranong should lose its public transport. Go back to the drawing board city planners.”

Liberal MLA Elizabeth Kikkert’s petition calls on the Government to restore Belconnen Xpresso services and dedicated services to a number of non-Government schools.

Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said passengers were voting with their feet and using the new network in record numbers, and it was being closely monitored.

“Transport Canberra is keeping a close eye on the network, recognising that this has been a change for a number of existing users. There may be isolated issues, and if so, Transport Canberra is working with customers to resolve those. Transport Canberra will look at putting on larger buses and increasing light rail frequency to cater for demand,” she said.

“Transport Canberra also has additional transport officers, customer service assistants and Transport Canberra representatives at major bus interchanges to help customers with the changes and provide timetable information. Our TC staff, drivers and customer service officers are also actively looking out for students and offering assistance as they navigate the new network.”

Public transport is free for passengers using a MyWay card until 26 May.

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175 Responses to Commuters climb on board petitions to vent against new bus network
bigred bigred 9:50 pm 04 May 19

I live in between 2 local routes so I can walk 350 metres in one direction and around 500 metres in the other and catch a service that will connect with a rapid service at Woden, Coolamen Court, Duffy, Coombs or Denman Prospect. I think I have won big time here. I still see a need for some fine tuning, but can also see that the extra volume generated by the Fred travel has distorted things a bit.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:58 am 05 May 19

    At least you have choices which is something this government is trying to eliminate.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 1:38 pm 04 May 19

Canberra Transport said we had 90,000 boardings in one day, and then clarified that those numbers related to 65,000 passenger trips.

Does that mean that approximately half the passengers that day had to transfer vehicles to get to their destination?

If that’s the case, I’m guessing that means a worse experience for commuters who used to only have to take one bus to get to their destination.

I’m still not convinced the government have designed a suitably designed network for people who don’t live near a Rapid route or created a network that fits the Canberra Spatial layout.

Lisa Dean Lisa Dean 11:55 pm 03 May 19

I would like to know how you aquire your record number does this take into consideration how many times people are changing buses or are you tallying them all.

Sam Slater Sam Slater 9:08 pm 03 May 19

Robin Slater this is exactly what you need to get on to

Kelly Tranent Kelly Tranent 8:40 pm 03 May 19

The same as they did when the network changed in 2014? People really don’t like change do they!?

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 11:36 am 03 May 19

I wrote to my local member Carolyn Le Couter ( about how my Kambah bus travel time had doubled since the network change. She responded (with a fair argument) that I was the only resident from Kambah to complain to her about the Bus network and she noted that patronage had set a new record. My fellow Kambah residents and commuters have been strongly complaining to me in person, but obviously not through Ministerial channels. If you live in Kambah and have a worse commute, you may wish to put complaints through the proper channels. It's no good just complaining to your neighbour. Ta from Jeff.😖

    Nick Savino Nick Savino 12:53 pm 03 May 19

    Jeff they know there is a problem you just got the standard brush off as if they haven't read Facebook etc

Bernie Ryan Bernie Ryan 11:09 am 03 May 19

The government says boarding numbers have increased but this is because of the free month trial and all the transfers. Try getting those kinds of numbers after May 26.

Bronwyn Rebecca Parsons Bronwyn Rebecca Parsons 10:56 am 03 May 19

The statistics are higher because the system has been structured to boost them. Similarly, removing school buses to funnel a change over (for some) to increase light rail frequency also boosts statistics to justify expenditure.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 5:03 pm 03 May 19

    Your spot on Bronwyn great post. The design of the new Transport system is to give a third of Canberrans a fast and effective transport system, that will definitely boost transport numbers for those lucky enough to be within a quick walk of a reliable R Rapid service.

    The issue is that Minister Fitzharris and Canberra Transport have ripped the Bus network out of the hard to service pockets of Canberra, which are often on the fringes of the city and lower socioeconomically.

    It’s like the Canberra hospital only targeting people who are easy to heal, but leaving the difficult and very sick patients to sort themselves out. Whoops I better not give Health Minister Fitzharris any ideas.

Jess Louise Hayward Jess Louise Hayward 8:25 am 03 May 19

The number of buses is great the issue is I now need to do more changeovers and some of the areas I work in are now much harder to have access to.

Rachel Bilton-simek Rachel Bilton-simek 7:10 am 03 May 19

No bus to Calvary hospital or the hospice means people who can't drive aren't able to access care or visit loved ones

maxblues maxblues 1:37 am 03 May 19

The ACT public transport system is now so dysfunctional we’ll soon see people clinging to the back of busses.

Susanne Scott Susanne Scott 10:44 pm 02 May 19

The number of boardings has increased because people now have to catch 2 or 3 busses instead of 1!

Alex Satrapa Alex Satrapa 10:18 pm 02 May 19


    Malcolmd Davies Malcolmd Davies 1:57 pm 10 May 19

    Ok ... so the new network issues don’t concern you. Better to keep silent and have people think you are an idiot, than open your mouth and confirm it 🤪

Marcos Cruz Garcia Marcos Cruz Garcia 9:31 pm 02 May 19

I love my new timetable. And I walk to catch a bus. It's not a door to door service. I love my new light rail too.

Justin Ross Searle Justin Ross Searle 8:52 pm 02 May 19

I'm loving the new network

Kylie Kolbe Kylie Kolbe 8:10 pm 02 May 19

Here u go Jessica Kolbe highly doubt it will get anywhere tho.

    Jessica Kolbe Jessica Kolbe 9:25 pm 02 May 19

    Kylie Kolbe lol have you signed? Where do I sign?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:14 pm 02 May 19

Given the fondness of the ACT Government for using social media to bypass the “biased, right-wing” (blah blah) “traditional media”, perhaps we could have clips of each Minister’s daily commute – just to show how wonderful the new system is (for other people….).

    Kent Street Kent Street 4:08 pm 03 May 19

    Well, in fairness, I have seen Carolyn Le Couter regularly take the old 300 series to the assembly in the mornings.
    But, I haven’t yet seen her among the sardines on the new R4 routes.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 7:28 pm 03 May 19

    Doesn’t sound like she’s helped Jeff from Kambah with his problems. Maybe she’s stuck on the bus and can’t address her constituents concerns to the Transport Minister.

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 6:12 pm 02 May 19

“But Transport Canberra says record numbers took public transport on Tuesday 30 April as Canberrans threw their support behind the new network, with MyWay data showing 90,854 boardings across bus and light rail, the first time boardings have exceeded 90,000 on a single day since the system was introduced.”

The system was introduced on 29 April. What they are saying is that more people used the system on Tuesday than Monday. I don’t think that this represents a sufficient sample size to draw long term conclusions.

Furthermore, travel is free this month. Surely that's going to spike patronage?

    Graham Jones Graham Jones 8:49 pm 02 May 19

    Peter Mackay that would be becouse it's free for a month. Let's see what happens after when you have to pau

    Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 9:05 pm 02 May 19

    Geez, I wish I’d said that!

    Tammy Gerrard Tammy Gerrard 8:03 pm 03 May 19

    Also if you need to now take multiple buses where you had a direct before- doubles so called ‘patrons ‘

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 5:02 pm 02 May 19

I would be interested to see a survey of people who are complaining about school routes being cut. Where do they live and which school the children go to. Is there a local school they are not sending their children to, which, all except the youngest, they could walk or ride a bike to. I walked to school from age four, as fortunately the school was very close to home (or my mother would have walked to school with me). Later though (I went to five schools), I was further away, but still walked, or rode a bike. Very few parents consider this option now. If parents are choosing private over the local government school, I don't feel they have a right to expect a door to door bus service for their choices.

    Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 5:50 pm 02 May 19

    A lot of schools in older suburbs built in the 70s and 80s no longer have schools, because of the changing demographics. Parents living in these suburbs no longer have the option of walking their children to school.

    Even just getting to a school in the next suburb may be problematic, if there are major roads to be crossed.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 6:34 pm 02 May 19

    Peter Mackay These are the school catchment areas. I am particularly looking at the primary schools, for the youngest students, and there seems a lot of areas. You are saying some no longer exist? The zones for the older children are much bigger, but the children are older and most should be capable of cycling (invest in an old bike), at least to a convenient bus stop, which doesn't have to be the closest, if another is more suitable. Then chain the bike up there and catch the bus. Where I live (older suburb) there are three schools in walking distance and another in cycling distance (only a little over 3 kms), but I do realise not everyone lives this close.

    Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 7:47 pm 02 May 19

    There are fewer primary schools than suburbs and that goes double for high schools and triple for colleges. Obviously some children are going to find getting to school problematic, especially where both parents work.

    I’m not going to say that those parents complaining about changes to the bus system are just making noise.

    I was lucky to live near a primary school, but once my children went to high school and then college, I spent a lot of time driving them around.

    The immediate result of the timetable changes seems to be that there are *more* cars on the road at peak hour, because people are finding their previous buses no longer work.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 8:45 pm 02 May 19

    Peter Mackay Many places could be cycled to, as my generation did. At least for older children. The nearest high school is just over 3 kms from me, two suburbs away, but a very easy distance to cycle. It might be further for some, but even for only 3 km I would imagine some parents would resist, because they never cycled and so have lost the concept that earlier generations would have thought it wasn't a problem. Luckily there are more primary schools for the younger children.

    Tammy Gerrard Tammy Gerrard 8:05 pm 03 May 19

    Actually our feeder college is more than double time to a out of area due to having to go to interchange first

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:13 pm 03 May 19

    Tammy Gerrard How many kms is it from your home?

    Rasheeda Naima Rasheeda Naima 9:43 pm 03 May 19

    So these schools can accomodate every student currently attending a school not in their area? Are the schools big enough and do they have enough teachers? Just because there is a school in your catchment does it make it suitable for your child?

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:49 pm 03 May 19

    Tammy Gerrard nothing new there. Colleges have always been hard to provide bus services to from all suburbs within the feeder zone because the feeder zones are so large.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:06 pm 03 May 19

    Trina Munemo So, every child must have a bus service to take them from whatever suburb they live in, to whatever school the parent chooses for them? I thought that living in a catchment area gave preference to that child.You didn't answer my question. How far is the school you have chosen from your house? Without knowing the distance, it's hard to get where you are coming from. Is the school you are talking about in your catchment area?

tim_c tim_c 4:58 pm 02 May 19

To use buses now I have to leave home 110 minutes before I have to be at work. Walking would take me 120 minutes. The car takes 20 minutes.

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