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‘Get real’: Weston Creek fails to get on board radical overhaul of bus network

By Ian Bushnell 11 August 2018 22

The Cooleman Court bus stop in Parkinson Street. A lack of infrastructure is a major concern. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

Transport Canberra’s radical revamp of the ACT Bus Network has run into a speed bump with the Weston Creek Community Council rejecting most of the changes, saying they had not been thought through, were not based on reality and more likely to drive current users back to their cars.

In its submission to Transport Canberra as part of the current consultation, the Council says it will mean many commuters, including schoolchildren, will have further to walk to a bus stop and have to change buses more often, as well as pointing to a lack of infrastructure and parking at Cooleman Court and calling for a Traffic Impact Assessment.

“There is a real risk that, if the new network is implemented as currently proposed, it will actually translate to more people abandoning public transport and driving instead,” it says.

The Council says that the new Rapid bus routes come at the expense of local/suburban bus routes, school buses and Expresso services, and that it cannot understand why all Expresso services are to be cancelled, despite their popularity, and despite so many commuters relying on them during the morning and afternoon peaks.

It says that without significant infrastructure investment, particularly at Cooleman Court which is set to become a busy interchange, it cannot support the implementation of the Rapid Network to Weston Creek

Council chair Tom Anderson told The RiotACT that people in Weston Creek were very unhappy with the proposals and in disbelief at some of the decisions that were being made, and this was also being reflected in other areas of Canberra such as Tuggeranong and Belconnen where the one-bus Expressos were very popular.

The Council calculates that with the loss of the bus stop in Brierly Street, Parkinson Street will see a total 28 movements an hour or one bus arriving or leaving almost every two minutes or every four minutes from each side of the street.

It says the Woden/City lines account for 600+ trips out of Duffy and Holder each day and a similar number returning, and the proposed new Network will force 1200 journeys to interchange at Cooleman Court. The Council expects that the same figures will apply to Route 26 through Chapman and Rivett.

“Clearly, what is in place currently at Cooleman Court in Parkinson Street is not ‘fit for purpose’ nor a viable Interchange to cope with such a number of buses and passengers,” the submission says.

Transport Canberra’s message to commuters in Parkinson Street, Weston.

The Council says the many school children who will use the interchange need a safe environment and it wants to know if Transport Canberra plans to provide CCTV and safety officers on an on-going basis.

“Transport Canberra may well argue that this will not be an ‘interchange’ but Council can tell Transport Canberra that the Weston Creek and Molonglo communities will regard it as an Interchange with the proposed Network,” the submission says.

The Council also says that if Cooleman Court is to be a Park and Ride facility then parking is already stretched, particularly since the Molonglo developments, and there would have to be a major increase in dedicated spaces.

“It cannot be taken from the current parking and Council would not want to see the All-Day parking places being taken by commuters as this is likely to have a very negative impact on the local businesses and employees at the Weston Group Centre as well as those who are using the centre for shopping and services based here,” the submission says.

“In summary, starting Rapid Services at Cooleman Court without the infrastructure has the potential to have a large negative economic impact on the Centre and the businesses located here.”

Calling the proposed situation in Parkinson Street unacceptable, the Council has called for a Traffic Impact Assessment to be conducted before any new Network is introduced.

It also says there should be a much longer bus bay on either side of Parkinson Street to allow for at least two buses to park one behind the other, and a pedestrian crossing wherever the bus stop is located, particularly if many primary school children will be travelling through this Interchange, as well as a safe set down and pick-up area.

Mr Anderson said Transport Canberra had appeared not to have thought through the ramifications of the changes for the Weston Group Centre.

“If they don’t think about the impact I shudder to think about it, there could be parking in the streets or whatever else,” he said.

Seven out of eight trips are heading to and from Woden/City. Source: WCCC

With the new Network proposing that three of the four Suburban services terminating at Cooleman Court and not continuing as they do now to Woden, the Council says the majority of residents in Weston Creek will need to catch two buses to get to the Woden Town Centre.

“Approximately 10 per cent of workers from Weston Creek travel to Woden by car for work according to the 2016 Census. Stopping the suburban buses at Cooleman Court will only likely increase this number as the need to catch two buses to travel five kilometres or so would likely lead to a change of travel,” the submission says.

The changes also mean some areas, such as south Weston will lose services.

But on the positive side, the Council backs Molonglo gaining its own Rapid Network Line, saying that providing a service early in the settling of new suburbs enables travel patterns to set.

Mr Anderson said it all depended on how people will utilise the Rapid services to Civic and Woden and back, with a big question mark over what will happen when passengers miss their suburban connection home.

“Are people going to stay around Cooleman Court for 50 minutes, or is someone going to pick them up?” he said.

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22 Responses to
‘Get real’: Weston Creek fails to get on board radical overhaul of bus network
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HiddenDragon 6:18 pm 13 Aug 18

I recently found a little book with the title ‘Australian Almanac 1974-75’. The section on the ACT includes this fascinating detail:-

“The emphasis in Canberra on wide, expensive freeways and major roads was changed, and this sort of planning for the motor car was downgraded in favour of public transport. The Minister for the Capital Territory, Mr Gordon Bryant, approved in April an experimental ‘Dial-a-bus’ service in Canberra. It was intended to provide a door-to-door, on-demand bus service between people’s homes and the Woden bus interchange. People were to be able to telephone a bus depot to request a bus and would be told when the bus would arrive and what the fare would be.

The plebeian arrangement was not for politicians, however. Ministers of State, Members of Parliament and the Public Service had between them 141 Commonwealth cars at their disposal, nearly 50 per cent more than the 98 Canberra taxis available for the lower classes.”

Perhaps the moral of this snippet of history is that nothing much will be done to improve public transport in practice, rather than in theory, while ever MLAs and senior officials continue to be provided with rate-payer funded vehicles and rate-payer funded parking. Take that privilege away, and reality might sink in for those making the decisions.

longlunch 4:48 pm 13 Aug 18

If only we hadn’t wasted the public transport budget on 1800’s style transport that is stuck on immovable iron routes and cannot be adjusted or re-routed as necessary.

    JC 8:56 pm 13 Aug 18

    It’s on a trunk route that doesn’t need to be rerouted. And buses are from much the same era too or doesn’t that count?

    And of course the buses it frees and the 40 news ones being added now (to replace 10) are being added to the new network. So there is actually investment in increasing buses too.

    Maya123 10:08 am 14 Aug 18

    You have just written a statement in favour of trams. That’s their advantage; their inflexibility and that they are unlikely to be taken away and the route go elsewhere at someone’s whim as has happened with buses. Buy a house where their is a good bus route; government housing placed along said bus route too; but then the bus it taken away. That’s why housing along tram routes is so popular. It’s damn unlikely to be taken away, as can be done with buses and as HAS been done with buses.

    chewy14 11:26 am 15 Aug 18

    Well, that’s a new one.

    We should build the tram due to its inflexibility? Interesting.

Mary Kingsford 10:56 pm 12 Aug 18

It will put me on the road to get children to school, on already congested roads.

Because otherwise it will mean half a suburb walk and three buses, well over an hour travel.

bigred 8:19 am 12 Aug 18

Any moves to use Parkinson Street as as a major bus station for Weston Creek are fatally flawed for a multitude of reasons. A few include the disconnection from the Cooleman Court entry, poor lighting, narrow footpaths, lack of space for more than one bus, the expectation that passengers will be required to cross a quite busy road to transfer between services and exposure to the worst winter weather.

I do not understand why Brearly St is not being considered. I also do not understand why Brearly St was not put forward as an alternative in the WCCC submission. The advantages of using Brearly St would include ready access to the shopping centre, better lighting and the potential to have all buses using the one side of the street and eliminating the need for passengers to cross the road. This could be achieved by converting the existing underutilised taxi rank and maybe 3 parking spaces. The taxis could be moved to the existing Parkinson St bus stop or the other side of Brearly St.

Warwick Penn Bradly 8:11 am 12 Aug 18

Canberra you're doing it wrong. In an effort to improve public transport, spend a billion on 13km of tram and screw over bus users across the rest of the city.

    Lindy Turnbull 9:05 am 12 Aug 18

    The new supposing plan for our work bus stop is to remove it all together and encourage a 1km plus hike across dirt terrain or compete on the road with cars... hmmm 🧐

Trace Hawker 1:32 pm 11 Aug 18

It's a revenue ploy in disguise. People will be pissed off and end up driving their cars. Need to park, more money from car parking. Need more fuel, more income from fuel excise. Do the sums and you'll find Government will make more money this way than run buses. 😉

Paul Tawagi 1:24 pm 11 Aug 18

This A.C.T. government is a joke!

Mike Long 1:02 pm 11 Aug 18

Why is it that everyone seems to know more about the buses and the time tables than the people who actually use the buses ???

bj_ACT 9:56 am 11 Aug 18

Yep bad service for Weston Creek. Even worse for Kambah residents who will be inexplicably routed through Weston Creek to get to Woden or Civic.

    JC 12:33 pm 11 Aug 18

    The route through Weston Creek will be about 5-10 minutes slower to get to Woden, but going to the City faster! Why because you would change to the Rapid at Weston Creek rather than at Woden.

    And this is what many fail to realise. Forget about the traditional interchanges. You might have to interchange at somewhere new like Weston Creek, or Kippax, or Erindale.

    To me the biggest failing is the lack of peak hour expresses. They should be able to have this new network plus expresses from the deep suburbs. And I had thought the dropping of some school services was bad until I saw the article in the paper the other day where the average passenger load on the dropped services was 8. Yes that is 8 kids that now need to find another way to school but really, 8 passengers.

    bj_ACT 10:33 pm 12 Aug 18

    Are you joking JC????? Have a look at the map. There are now 13 stops between Kambah shops and Cooleman Court on the new bus map. 13 Stops!!! Then it’s change buses into Woden and then through to Civic. How can this new route from Kambah to Civic not be far far slower than the already bad route.

    Currently the 62 Bus goes from the Kambah shops 1 stop up the Parkway to Woden and change direct to Civic. Good bus driving to you if you think you can make 12 extra stops, a change of buses and twice the travel distance in just 5 minutes.

    Please explain how this isn’t an issue for Commuters in this suburb.

    I know you want stand up for the ACT Labor Party, but these new bus route proposals are a stinker for some commuters.

    When I first lived in Kambah 20 odd years ago you could catch a peak hour bus all the way up the parkway to work in Belconnen or Civic and it was mostly full everyday and took a few minutes longer than driving.

    JC 11:57 am 13 Aug 18

    Have a look at the map yourself. I count 8 stops along Sullwood Drive. And you do not need to change to a bus to Woden to then change to get to the city. You can change for the R7 at Weston screen which will then take you direct to the city.

    Again I shall state yet again for people need to forget the traditional interchange points and think of other locations.

    That’s the whole idea. Cross suburban routes with high frequency trunk routes to minimise suburban meandering.

    Of course places like Kambah which were near a main traditional interchange I can see why it might not be ideal but for the most part of people think outside the square there are positives.

    Like light rail doing nothing with the buses will not work either.

    Put in peak hour expresses and this new network looks like a winner for MOST people.

    JC 12:03 pm 13 Aug 18

    And it is not about standing up for ACT labor either. I’ve had an interest in public transport buses in particular for a number of years like about 40 years.

    I’ve seen some dumb things done over time by both persuasions of government, but as I said above the time to do nothing is over.

    Something radical needs to change and except for lake of peak hour expresses I can very much see the value in this.

    And now I will defend the government on one thing because what is being missed is the new network plus buses saved by light rail is adding an extra 40 buses to the streets of Canberra. 40 new buses are being delivered now to replace 10, so a net gain of 30 plus about 15 freed by light rail coming on line. That is a lot of services. But hey winge along.

    bj_ACT 3:55 pm 14 Aug 18

    Are you really sure about your claims JC? You say there are only 8 stops from Kambah village to Coleman Court. Here is an image of the old and new Bus routes from the Action Site and I have circled the 13 stops on the new route. https://imgur.com/gallery/IczzQec Am I missing something obvious????

    You say the Bus proposal is to minimise Suburban meandering, but then you support a route that does exactly what you says the new routes won’t. Also, I didn’t say you had to change buses at Woden, I said change at Cooleman Court, to go through to Woden then Civic.

    I don’t know what it will take for you to admit that Kambah residents are being absolutely dudded in the new Bus route proposal and that it will take these residents (often from poorer socio economic backgrounds) much longer than just the 5 minutes extra that you claim it will.

    gooterz 1:29 pm 13 Aug 18

    20 years ago more people used to catch the bus.. (And not just on percentages of population).

    Its like the magical bus way from Belconnen to Civic. Saved about 15 minutes off the trip. The trip was only 14 minutes.. so it went back in time for 1 minute.

    There is also a stop in Kambah that gets removed. The nearest bus stop to that one is about a km away.

    JC 8:51 pm 13 Aug 18

    Speaking of the Belco to City I remember that busway plan.

    I also remember when the express was changed to go via college street and Heydon drive. It added 5 minutes to take the travel time to 20 (now closer to 25 due to increased congestion) but useage went through the roof because it went from a to b via somewhere people wanted to travel to. UC/CIT.

    chewy14 11:54 am 15 Aug 18

    JC,
    once again showing how the flexibility of buses is far superior to that of light rail, where they can easily be changed to suit demand patterns.

    Good stuff.

    TheWolf 9:05 am 14 Aug 18

    Based on 1 or a few busses with low numbers, they cancelled a few full busses.

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