Government tweaks bus services as complaints roll in

Ian Bushnell 9 May 2019 101

Transport Canberra is making adjustments to the new network as it goes. Photos: George Tsotsos.

The ACT Government has made changes to its new bus network not even two weeks since its introduction, after a torrent of complaints from disgruntled passengers.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris acknowledged that there had been a lot of community feedback, and Transport Canberra was continuing to monitor the new network.

She said Transport Canberra was now putting on bigger buses for certain services, adding extra services past schools where there was high demand and adjusting bus stops near schools.

It was also adding more light rail services, particularly where it had proven to be more popular than anticipated.

A spokesperson said Transport Canberra was continuing to monitor how services were working for schools and making adjustments as required.

So far additional buses had been added for Burgmann Anglican School to cater for demand past its school in the afternoons and a larger articulated bus added to meet demand at St Francis Xavier College.

Transport Canberra was also about to adjust the time of a service out of Gungahlin to make journeys more convenient for students travelling to Dickson.

Changes to where buses drop off and pick up students near St Edmund’s College and St Clare’s College were made before the start of the network to ensure there was enough room at bus stops for all buses.

Larger buses were being used on some trips to meet demand, including on the Rapid 5 and Route 32.

The frequency of light rail services had been increased between 6 pm and 6:30 pm to cater for the extra demand.

The frequency of light rail services is being increased to meet demand.

Transport Canberra had to cut 4 per cent of services last weekend (4-5 May) due to not enough drivers volunteering for shifts – 148 out of the scheduled 3721. There were 36 driver duties not covered as a result.

The volunteer system has been a feature of the ACT bus system for decades and the Transport Workers Union rebuffed a new push from the Government to move to a compulsory seven-day roster.

Ms Fitzharris said the TWU had committed under the terms of the recently agreed Enterprise Agreement to ensure that all weekend duties were covered at all times.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the TWU and their members to help ensure they deliver on their commitment and help us deliver a seven-day network for Canberrans,” she said.

“Overall reliability was good, and whilst it was just short of the total service level, we were able to respond proactively to spread cancelled services across high frequency services to reduce the impact on passengers. We expect more certainty in delivering scheduled weekend services as we bed down the new network.”

She said more drivers for both buses and light rail were being recruited and ‘we hope that over time we can meet the community’s expectations with our weekend services’.

Ms Fitzharris said that there were more than half a million passenger boardings on the new public transport network, although the Government has been criticised for aggregating MyWay card touches across services.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr clarified this number when he addressed the Canberra Business Chamber on Thursday, saying more than 77,000 trips were taken on light rail during the first week of operation, adding to the 290,000 journeys taken on the new bus network over the same period.

“This shows there is a strong appetite in this community for faster, cleaner and better connected public transport that provides a real alternative to the car,” he said.

Ms Fitzharris said the feedback also included new and existing users who were saying how the new network had given them added options, and that they were now using public transport more, and in some cases using public transport for the first time.

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101 Responses to Government tweaks bus services as complaints roll in
William William William William 6:05 pm 16 May 19

MEEGAN Fitszharris, No service for south. As these mp Nevertheless get out in the suburbs see what the effects ARE sitting behind a desk or drive the voter paid for we put u there sure take u out the residents vote with their fingers? NOT ONE PERSON I KNOW STATED WILL VOTE LABOURER OR GREENS. YOU OUT ON YOUR OWN Meegan Fitszharris. Only car for light rail 18,000 No votes for Meegan Fitszharris.

edge88 edge88 9:35 am 13 May 19

Let the poorer areas and schools be the last. Very Antoinette, Barr.

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 6:18 am 13 May 19

Nice to see how much influence the private schools have on the government, how about the public school buses? I finally received a call from TC about my feedback, simply stating it would be referred for review by the network planners. I read that to mean “sorry, but you’ll just have to suck it up princess”. It means I will need to continually knock off work early some days to pick up my kids so they have time to get home, eat and get changed for sports training. TC would say it’s inconvenient, but for me it means working late to make up for their incompetence and less time with my family. Thanks for nothing.

Maya123 Maya123 4:14 pm 11 May 19

I just looked at a map and found that there is no tram stop outside of the entrance to EPIC. I was so looking forward to using the tram to attend events there, but it’s about a 400 metre walk either side to the entrance. It seems that the entrance to EPIC is the very logical place that a tram stop to be, so why was EPIC bypassed?

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 8:41 pm 11 May 19

    800m is now the acceptable walking distance for buses according to Canberra Transport. I’m not sure I agree with them on this occasion.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:33 pm 12 May 19

    There will be when EPIC morphs into high-density units.

    Remember, light rail isn’t about public transport, its about urban regeneration

John Nash John Nash 2:00 pm 11 May 19

My travel time has increased greatly. I used to have several bus options to Gungahlin in the mornings, but now they are every 30 minutes or so. I went from 16 minutes to 40 minutes to work. I have discovered though that if I run 1 km, I can get 1 of 3 busses every 20 minutes from another stop. Light rail is a definate win for residents of Gungahlin town centre, but a big bus loss for Gungahlin. I now drive 3 days per week as it is the only way to be on time on critical days.

Chloe Harradine-Hale Chloe Harradine-Hale 12:21 am 11 May 19

Am I the only one with absolute no complaints of the new timetable? I think it's great!

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 8:15 pm 10 May 19

I just don't know how Canberrans can publicly appreciate their improved Bus and Train services, whilst so many others across the city have lost their existing Bus services or doubled their commute time. I went through the 2003 Bushfires when we all supported each other, now it just seems to be "what's in it for me". Such a sad state of affairs when we don't care for the people who are the losers in the governments changes.

Joanne McRae Joanne McRae 12:33 pm 10 May 19

Can we have the number 54 back please? My 10 minute ride from Kaleen to Crace on this route has now become an almost one hour one, involving three buses.

Giuliana Zuccaro Giuliana Zuccaro 12:25 pm 10 May 19

ok so the timetable gets changed but why change the bus numbers. Just to confuse the already confused?

bj_ACT bj_ACT 12:15 pm 10 May 19

This has been another reminder of how useless the ACT Liberal Opposition is. We have almost 10 thousand Canberrans sign a petition to revert the Bus services and two weeks of complaints across radio, print and social media. But nothing from Coe.

ACT Labor has introduced a new Bus network that runs counter to their own Labor charter around fairness, equality and access and the ACT Liberals aren’t actively doing anything about the issue.

It’s no wonder they’ve been in opposition so long. They can’t even mount an argument against an ACT Government decision that negatively impacts a huge proportion of the city.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:36 pm 10 May 19

    Great comment. They are eternally missing in action.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:35 pm 12 May 19

    Actually, “missing” is sufficient as including “action” dignifies their uselessness.

Jim Jim Jim Jim 9:47 am 10 May 19

Why is this seen as negative. It shows they are responding to need as defined, and by the sounds of it, quickly. That’s actually a good thing.

    Paul Willemsen Paul Willemsen 1:46 pm 11 May 19

    The changes that have been made are minimal.

Sarah Dee Sarah Dee 9:38 am 10 May 19

This does absolutely nothing to address problems with the REMOVAL of services/routes upon which many people (including our children and elderly) were reliant.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 10:04 am 10 May 19

    I did notice how all the issue fixes were for inner Canberra private school kids. Outer suburban commuters who had their bus services ripped away can go and get stuffed according to Minister Fitzharris.

Maverick John Maverick John 8:53 am 10 May 19

Andrew Tina confirmed

    Andrew Wotten Andrew Wotten 11:45 am 10 May 19

    Maverick I seriously love the new schedule. Works well for this boy!

    Christina Phengrasmy Christina Phengrasmy 12:05 pm 10 May 19

    Now I’ve calmed down I’m not like furious!

    But I still gotta park and ride

    Maverick John Maverick John 12:16 pm 10 May 19

    Andrew didn’t ask

Bek Clark Bek Clark 8:42 am 10 May 19

It’s nice to see they’re responsive but can they also work on their reliability?

Dale Cameron Dale Cameron 8:18 am 10 May 19

Act govt a disgrace. Good on the backlash

Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 7:44 am 10 May 19

The Weston Creek and Molonglo bus services are pretty good, not perfect, under the new arrangements. The new Parkinson St bus station is a debacle, exaggerated by the need for a 250 metre walk from Brierly St for some folk transferring from the 63 and 66 services - will only get worse as the cold weather comes in and the new Sunday evening rapid services arrive after the local services have departed, meaning you wait 45 minutes or so for the next one or walk what could be quite a few kilometres or just take your car. I note Minister Chris Steel has not replied to correspondence pointing out the main issues with the Parkinson St debacle (his portfolio).

Antoinetta Borrello Antoinetta Borrello 7:41 am 10 May 19

I cant understand why it takes 2 buses now to get from Monash to Wanniassa where it was only the one add the extra does that work out better, maybe for ACTION surely not for commuters

Frank Koch Frank Koch 6:34 am 10 May 19

I bet you the public transport is going to run at a loss once again. Higher TAXES GUYS!

    Kimberlee Ann Kimberlee Ann 8:43 pm 10 May 19

    Frank Koch regardless of the increased tax, if any - the bus service was not sufficient. I am pleased they have listened to the people on this one, and while I sincerely hope taxes aren’t increased I will take this one as a win (for now).

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 10:08 am 12 May 19

    A win for some, but a big loss for too many Canberra bus users. Higher taxes on the poor in the outer suburbs to allow the government to provide better services for key voters from the Electorates of Mr Barr and Ms Fitzharris.

    Frank Koch Frank Koch 10:15 am 12 May 19

    Kimberlee Ann look at your rates, increases!!!!!!! What for.

    Kimberlee Ann Kimberlee Ann 11:48 am 12 May 19

    Frank Koch don’t get me started on my rates. Nothing makes me angrier at the amount rates have increased, and I agree with you for little to no return. And Jeff Smith, the win was in the fact that the buses were altered at all. I recognise that the TC changes are still rubbish but the fact that they listened at all is a small win.

    Kimberlee Ann Kimberlee Ann 11:57 am 12 May 19

    Frank Koch i agree it is outrageous! I have no excitement (or use) for the tram either.

Andrew Webber Andrew Webber 5:09 am 10 May 19

Now no direct buses to Woden anymore for Kambah commuters. They now go via Coolaman court an extra 15 to 20mins. Not counting the extra 10 to 15 minute walk for some people like me to get to a bus stop. Nice as it is Coolaman court is not a town centre and Nth Kambah is closer to Woden than Tuggeranong centre. And this will exclude quick access to future light rail services. Also no direct buses to the city after 730am connections are also from Coolaman. Not good for peak hour commuters

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 10:01 am 10 May 19

    Too right, Kambah commuters are surely the worst off Suburb since the Bus network changes. I wrote to my local MLA's but was told that I was the only Kambah resident to ever raise a complaint. We must be too busy stuck on Buses to properly raise the issues??

    Andrew Webber Andrew Webber 10:31 am 10 May 19

    Jeff Smith Cheers Jeff. I've been writing on FB pages but should formally write too

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 11:43 pm 09 May 19

I have lived in Canberra for all 67 years of my life and only have the highest praise for Action. They do their best and I am thankful

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 5:10 pm 11 May 19

    Seon Ferguson school run cuts are hard to take. I honestly wouldn’t say they don’t care- you just need to show them the numbers affected and propose what would work for all of you. How far away is the nearest service?

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