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Cross border busses 16 October 2009 37

Having grown up in that jewel of public transport, Melbourne, where you quite literally do not need a car, and where a car can be less convenient than public transport in the inner suburbs, I find the public transport in Canberra a bit lacking. But I find the public transport between Canberra and Queanbeyan to be appalling. 🙁
Yes, there are busses. And yes, they are generally clean, the staff are generally polite, and they generally run on time. I have no complaints about that. However, the fares on these busses are extremely expensive compared to the ACT. I recall a friend of mine complaining that her one hour transfer ticket was going to go up to $2.90 soon. I sat there and told her that a one way non transfer ticket from the Queanbeyan interchange to Manuka cost me $5.90, (or $10.40 return) and that I had been twice charged $6.10 by drivers who insisted that the fare to manuka was the same as the fare to Civic (which it is not supposed to be)

Okay, I understand that the company running the busses is a private company, and that they have to make ends meet. But why are they running big 52 seat busses that most of the time are more than half empty? Why not go for 20 seat Coaster style busses? And for that matter, why is it that the ACT busses stop at the border? Big deal that there’s a border there, who cares? The journey out to Queanbeyan is shorter than the journey out to Mitchell, Gunghalin and Tuggers. Why do Action Busses only go as far as DFO?

I asked a driver on an Action bus this and his reply was that Action had an agreement not to run busses to Quenabyean. An agreement with who? And how can such an agreement benefit people from Queanbeyan. Another driver said it was because Action drivers would require NSW Driver Authority cards, which makes more sense. If running a service where your passengers pay a fare in NSW, that is the case.

But big deal, they’re not hard to get. Why not run the busses out further than DFO and have them terminate in Queanbeyan? You don’t need every driver to have a driver authority card. Just the ones on that run.

Even the existing services could be improved. Why does the Woden and Civic busses have to depart the same time? It makes for delays as two busses try to pull into one bus stop at the same time. It delays traffic. It can confuse passengers. Why not run them at separate times. EG, instead of on every hour. Run the Civic one every hour on the hour, and the Woden one every hour on the half hour. Also, why run two busses along the same route for considerable distance? Why not run one via Crawford street / Uriarra Rd, and the other via Canberra Avenue and Gilmore Road so the industrial estate has a regular bus service?

I am more than frustrated that I pay the same taxes as people across the border, but they get a better bus service. There’s over 33 thousand people in Queanbeyan / Jerra. Almost every morning probably half of them pile into cars and head across the border, most of that on just two roads. If the bus service was more affordable, then more would use it.

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37 Responses to Cross border busses
Wanon Wanon 8:43 pm 16 Oct 09

It frustrates me too!

Let’s just get over it and make Queanbeyan another suburb of Canberra! There’s no other cities in the NSW region even close to Queanbeyan! Sometimes I think it gets forgotten by the NSW government.

bd84 bd84 8:59 pm 16 Oct 09

Ask the NSW Government, they are the ones who should be subsidising the Deanes services. The cost of the services and lack of funds from the NSW Government to subsidise the NSW part of the service would be the number 1 reason why ACTION does not operate over the border, plus costs of having the applicable licences for the entity and drivers.

In the current situation if ACTION did decide to run services over the border, you would likely find that the prices of the tickets would be similar to what Deanes charge, to cover the costs of running the service. The ACT Government would not and should not subsidise the travel of those living in NSW.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 9:16 pm 16 Oct 09

Ended up a topic in a chatroom I was in earlier. It’s a silly situation I agree the bus relations between borders are woeful.

cleo cleo 10:10 pm 16 Oct 09

Totally agree, it’s frustrating

MrPC MrPC 10:19 pm 16 Oct 09

Why run full size buses? That one’s easy. The economics of running a bus are as follows. Your main cost is the driver. He gets paid about twenty bucks an hour. You then have the cost of employing him/her (superannuation, payroll tax, training etc), so the driver ends up costing something like $30-35 an hour all up. Fuel is less than a tenth of that. The cost of the bus is a sunken cost. As such, it costs the same to run a large bus as it does a small bus, plus or minus a buck an hour in diesel. In reality, it actually costs more to run smaller buses, because you have to buy two fleets of buses instead of just one, and you need to buy more land to keep both fleets locked up overnight, and pay more land tax on the extra depot space.

If you need the full 50 seats at least once a day, you may as well run that bus the entire day instead of buying one fleet of buses for peak hour and school runs and a second fleet of coasters or rosas to run off peak.

What irks me about the bus service in Queanbeyan is that the same company runs the airport buses but doesn’t run a service from Queanbeyan to the Airport. IMHO they need to merge the two routes, so that buses from Civic go to Queanbeyan down the current route, maybe do a quick figure 8 through the CBD (Crawford, Isabella, Old Cooma, Lowe, Morisset, Addison, Bungendore), then straight up Yass Road to Brindabella Business Park, the Airport, then straight back to Civic.

That change would let people from Queanbeyan get to jobs at BBP, flights at the airport, Civic via either route (thus doubling the frequency if you get the times right), thus turning a half hourly service into something resembling a quarter hourly service.

Right now if you live in Queanbeyan East, getting the bus to Civic is a joke. Ditto anyone that lives in Karabar or down Old Cooma Road, having to walk to Morriset Street to get the bus. This change wouldn’t be perfect but it’d go a long way to making the buses potentially useful.

Oh, and it’d make crew change easier for the company too, since their depot is not far from Yass Road. If a driver needs to go on a break or end their shift, they just get off at the take away and take their cash box with them, walk to the depot, while a replacement driver was waiting there with their own cash box.

On the weekends they could put both buses on a single unidirectional loop at twice the current frequency, or maintain the current frequency and provide the extra service (maybe ditching the Brindabella Business Park section) letting Queanbeyan residents get a bus to and from the Airport for weekend flights.

MrPC MrPC 10:23 pm 16 Oct 09

As for the idea of ACTION running across the border, the fares could be justifiably kept the same as those charged to Canberra residents because the ACT government gets a share of GST revenue from the grants commission from NSW as it is deemed to have provided services to NSW residents (Health for example. Just get the Grants Commission to rejig the payment rate to include transportation, and ACTION could then be able (or even required) to run buses to and from Queanbeyan,

damien haas damien haas 11:07 pm 16 Oct 09

I made a submission to the Senate Subcomittee on Rural and Regional Transport for the Canberra Region (phew) pointing out that this regulatory problem impacted upon both Queanbeyan and Canberra negatively. I recommended that regulations be removed or altered so that both ACTION and Deanes could run revenue services on both sides of the border, and even offer proper routes integrated into a Capital Region transport network (integrated with light rail of course).

You can read the submission here:

I am aware that Stanhope and the Mayor of Queanbeyan have met to discuss public transport recently,and in the latest Sustainable Transport Action Plan, Queanbeyan is seen as another town centre to be integrated into a Canberra public transport solution.

GregW GregW 11:20 pm 16 Oct 09

Why is the cost of bus services to/from Queanbeyan the fault of ACTION / the ACT government?

They used to say that for every dollar a passenger of ACTION pays, the government, and therefore ACT citizens pay $3. If you live in NSW you do not pay anywhere near as much in state government taxation as ACT residents, and even if you did the NSW government doesn’t reimburse the ACT government for the cost of providing such public service so you are asking others to pay your way.

You’re barking up the wrong tree.

… What’s more the ACT government provides much of the infrastructure and services you rely on every day, and yet by living in Queanbeyan you are depriving them of much of the taxation revenue they require to provide those services, in a way it is surprising that there aren’t tolls for traveling to the ACT from Queanbeyan to account for this. Thus, it is the governments interests to discourage you from even entering the ACT.

Joshua Joshua 2:06 am 17 Oct 09

As someone who grew up in country NSW there’s a very simple reason why the NSW government doesn’t subsidise transport in places like Queanbeyan. It’s because NSW is an abbreviation for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.

On a more serious note, I imagine the businesses in Queanbeyan (through their chamber of commerce) apply a lot of pressure to prevent cheap public transport options into Canberra. They don’t want locals shopping in Canberra if they can prevent it.

JC JC 4:33 am 17 Oct 09

Why would ACTION want to run buses to QBN? They are not going to make a profit (or break even with ACT fares) so why should the ACT pay to support public transport in another state. It is bad enough those who CHOOSE to live in QBN use medical and school services in the ACT at the expense of the ACT rate payer without us having to pay for their transport requirements.

If the NSW government payed a subsidy to ACTION to operate it then it would makes sense, but not at present.

davo101 davo101 7:57 am 17 Oct 09

Why Action buses don’t go to Queanbeyan: The ACT taxpayer covers 80% of the cost of running the bus, bus fares the other 20%. Residents of Queanbeyan don’t pay ACT taxes.

Why Deanes runs those big buses: Like most bus companies in country towns they probably make all of their money by transporting kids to and from schools so they need the capacity. The rest of the day it’s cheaper to run the big bus empty than buying and operating an extra small bus.

Why I bought a car when moving to Canberra: It’s cheaper to buy, maintain and operate a private vehicle than travelling on the bus to QBN.

Trunking symbols Trunking symbols 10:14 am 17 Oct 09

Buses, not busses.

Tooks Tooks 10:29 am 17 Oct 09

Trunking symbols said :

Buses, not busses.

I am shocked it took that long for someone to point out!

RayP RayP 12:43 pm 17 Oct 09

People in other places have sorted out public transport systems that run across state borders. Washington D.C. has a public transport system (including a commuter rail) that runs across borders into the states of Maryland and Virginia. New York has a public transport system that runs across borders into the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Developing these systems would have involved considerable negotiating talent. But, if people in other places can develop large public transport systems that run across state borders, then it should be possible for people with reasonable negotiating talent to sort out the issues involved in having an integrated public transport system that links Canberra and Queanbeyan.

kincuri kincuri 3:25 pm 17 Oct 09

The whole system is horrendous! I’ve recent returned from an overseas trip to Tokyo, London and Paris and can’t believe the massive gap in quality of public transport in those three cities and what we have in Canberra.

Sure, Canberra’s population is much smaller, and more spread-out, but having caught an ACTION bus since returning, the setup in the ACT is terrible.

Why do we have so many different routes running to the same parts of town? Why are there 20 different routes between Civic and Tuggeranong? Shouldn’t 2-3 routes between major city centres (Tuggers, Woden, Civic, Belco etc.), along with feeder services into suburbs be for efficient? Why is it so hard to determine what routes service which bus stops, once you move away from an interchange, its nigh impossible.

I feel sorry for any tourists that attempt to use our system.

I say they should bring on the light rail, but shudder to think what the ACT might do to it!

bd84 bd84 4:11 pm 17 Oct 09

RayP said :

People in other places have sorted out public transport systems that run across state borders. Washington D.C. has a public transport system (including a commuter rail) that runs across borders into the states of Maryland and Virginia. New York has a public transport system that runs across borders into the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Developing these systems would have involved considerable negotiating talent. But, if people in other places can develop large public transport systems that run across state borders, then it should be possible for people with reasonable negotiating talent to sort out the issues involved in having an integrated public transport system that links Canberra and Queanbeyan.

Why use the Americans as an example? Decent services with mostly reasonable prices operate between NSW and QLD (Tweed Heads and the Gold Coast) and NSW and VIC (Albury and Wodonga). The major hurdle here would be getting the NSW Government to fund the services.

MrPC MrPC 5:31 pm 17 Oct 09

In this day and age you shouldn’t need the ACT (or NSW) government to seek funding from the other for running cross-border services. Since the GST the source of state (and territory) revenue now mostly comes from the same place anyway. Funding of cross-border services can be co-ordinated via the (Federal) Grants Commission, which divvies up GST revenue and assigns it all to the various states and territories via a complicated but adjustable formula.

Just adjust the formula and the problem goes away.

toriness toriness 5:35 pm 17 Oct 09

moving from melbourne to queanbeyan was your first mistake, your second is expecting, as has been pointed out by many here, ACT taxpayers to subsidise your transport. i suspect you chose queanbeyan as a place to live because it was cheaper than canberra. well now you have discovered one of the many reasons that that is the case.

anonymous gungahlian anonymous gungahlian 7:29 pm 17 Oct 09

JC and toriness, -could’nt agree more. 7:37 pm 17 Oct 09

toriness said :

moving from melbourne to queanbeyan was your first mistake,.

I’m glad you agree. Yep, Melbourne sure is a lot better than Canberra. 😉 /humour

I actually chose to live in Queanbeyan because after driving around Canberra for some time, I realised that it did not seem to have much of a soul. It seemed very fake. I found the main street of Queanbeyan to be a lot more real and like a town should be than Canberra. Though I do grant that Dickson does strike me as being real and having a soul.

To be honest, I don’t really catch the transborder bus much. I have 2 cars, I don’t *need* the bus. But I do volunteer work for people who have either physical and/or intellectual disabilities, and they *do* need the bus. The only time I catch the bus is when I’m taking them where they need to go. To see a disabled person who can not drive be slugged with higher fares simply because they live one side of an imaginary line is a bit frustrating. As a driver I have a choice, they on the other hand do not.

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