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.
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.
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.