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Government tweaks bus services as complaints roll in

Ian Bushnell 9 May 2019 115

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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115 Responses to
Government tweaks bus services as complaints roll in
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8:41 pm 09 May 19

This is free services are actually being used... cos it's free 🤔🤭

8:39 pm 09 May 19

No complaints here, I’m in Tuggeranong (Wanniassa).

    10:11 pm 09 May 19

    I'm presuming you must live in a part of Wanniassa that is near a Rapid stop? A friend of mine in Wanniassa has a much slower trip down to Tuggeranong and he now has to change Buses just to get to his nearest town centre. Gone from a quick 10 minutes to a 45 minute journey with a big walk.

    11:30 pm 09 May 19

    Yeah I guess I do, R5. It’s a lot more frequent now too, especially during peak hour, like every 10 min. For me, the change is a massive enhancement.

    11:04 am 10 May 19

    Karl Varnsen I think this is a great example of the new Bus network design. Great for the third of Canberrans who live within walking distance of a Rapid stop, but at the expense of those who don't. Government introduced inequality in action (bus company pun intended)

8:39 pm 09 May 19

I have put in my complaints and all you get is a bloody generic email back. Bring back the 161 morning and evening, not enjoying walking through Wanniassa for 20mins in the dark and cold just to be able to catch the bus to work and home 😡

8:37 pm 09 May 19

Carmen Isbester does this help you and aranda schools?

    2:49 am 10 May 19

    Dot Smith Not the schools from what I can see.

    Longer buses may be a bandaid solution-there's still a risk of buses being full. Hard to tell coz some numpty introduced "a month of free travel".

8:36 pm 09 May 19

Definitely bring back the 3 - I now need to catch three buses to get to the NGA and National Library when I used to catch one! Also can’t get from Deakin to Manuka or Barton without changing buses and waiting for connections.

    9:20 pm 09 May 19

    Suzanne Parkinson yes please.

    7:17 am 10 May 19

    Suzanne Parkinson - Manuka is the commercial hub for the inner south. Surely there is a direct bus from Deakin to Manuka?

    9:43 am 10 May 19

    Stephen Roberts no - I used to be able to catch the 3 and walk from Wesley Church to Manuka as that was the closest I could get. Now I’d have to change from the 58 to the R5 and then still walk from Wesley. No direct bus.

8:31 pm 09 May 19

From the news story, I thought we might be seeing some progress. But obviously the poor commuters of Tuggeranong aren't deemed worthy of getting their Bus services back. Amazing how quiet Labor MLA's Burch and Gentleman have been about the Bus routes for Tuggeranong. They haven't dared tried to claim how much better the new network is for southern locals, but they don't dare stand up to Minister Fitzharris on behalf of their constituents.

    10:50 pm 09 May 19

    Jeff Smith and Steele who couldn’t even respond directly to me.

    Kambah service so bad that many more driving to Wanniassa and Mawson park n rides so they are full earlier leaving people to park in streets

mr reason 8:28 pm 09 May 19

Of course everybody wants their own tailored personal bus for themselves and maybe one or two others. Share a taxi. The new network is about mass public transport and very effective. Haters gonna hate.

8:27 pm 09 May 19

ACT election next year guys

8:21 pm 09 May 19

Bailey Pickard

Kapow- people power

8:16 pm 09 May 19

Get them off our quiet street would be good. Bus activity has increased 10 fold in our street, and there are no stops in the route they take.......its ‘rat racing’ which is an issue which was identified by the ACT Government that resulted in speed humps being included in our street. A letter to the Minister asking for an explanation is being prepared 😡😡😡😡😡

    10:37 pm 10 May 19

    Hi Dominic, you do realise that you live in a suburban area and things like buses and cars travelling on the road outside your house come with that? It seems to me that if something as simple as a bus or car driving down your street bothers you so much then you probably shouldn't be living on such a built up urban area.

8:08 pm 09 May 19

Tim Knieriem still haven’t fixed anything for us though.

7:58 pm 09 May 19

Bring back number 3. We need to go to Belco.

7:41 pm 09 May 19

So glad to see the choo choo train has cleared up the morning GDE car park. Oh, wait a sec.

    8:13 pm 09 May 19

    It was never going to be the panacea of Gungahlin's transport problems. Flemington and Northbourne do look pretty good now, though...

7:41 pm 09 May 19

Bring back the express routes for morning and afternoon peak times. For example 160 and 162 Kambah

7:28 pm 09 May 19

Just an ill planned cockup

7:22 pm 09 May 19

Bring back 717. The 32 route is a joke

7:18 pm 09 May 19

Oh the irony of private school student parents complaining about the public bus service to private schools!

    7:47 pm 09 May 19

    Paal Burnett oh!! The jealousy!!

    7:55 pm 09 May 19

    Jorge... nope! Walked to school!

    8:00 pm 09 May 19

    It's easy to forget that those parents are paying their dues (rates and taxes) and probably have the right to expect adequate services, just like the rest of us.

    8:13 pm 09 May 19

    If the service is not being used effectively used. You can’t expect the service. We all pay for transport services and also your right to choose which school you send your children to!

    8:36 pm 09 May 19

    What exactly are you trying to say? Is it that just because I chose a private school for my kids that my primary school kids aren't entitled to catch a public bus? We lost the only bus that wad available for my kids to catch to get to school, that just happened to be a public bus. They now walk to school because that's the only option. We never had a dedicated school bus so public buses were the only option. Not only did my kids lose the bus other kids did too so did the adults in our area. But I'm not allowed to complain because a chose a private school!

    8:48 pm 09 May 19

    You have every right to complain. But if the service is being underused we can’t expect it to be subsidised. Good on you for encouraging your kids independence with letting them walk to school. I made heaps of friends walking to school as a kid.

    9:24 pm 09 May 19

    Paal Burnett you do realise if people didn’t send their kids to private schools you would have so much overcrowding in the public system. Either way, all parents, or most, pay taxes. Nope I don’t have a child at school.

    10:03 pm 09 May 19

    Paal Burnett plenty of complaints have been made to the minister that school buses in many areas were fully utilised but govt still insists that their data told them otherwise. Someone’s telling porkies and I don’t believe it’s the parents.

    10:28 pm 09 May 19

    TrishnBill Palmer I agree plus the act govt provided this service previously and to downgrade it in mid school year is a low act. We all pay rates let’s work as a team and call out TC s inadequacies 😃

    10:45 pm 09 May 19

    TrishnBill Palmer so true

    9:08 am 10 May 19

    You do realise paal that its cheaper for the tax payer (you) for people to send their kids to a private school. Are you wanting all private schools to close and your taxes will go up to fund nee public ones? Or will you winge about that as well?

    10:08 am 10 May 19

    Mitchell... this is off the topic of the main comment about the irony of the situation of Private school parents whinging about public bus services!

    3:03 pm 10 May 19

    Paal Burnett your comments are ridiculous! All kids have the right to bus services, to feel safe and get to school/home in a timely manner. Who gives a damn where they go to school?? The minister is a joke! I bet her kids don’t have to walk over 45 minutes to the bus stop, only to be left uncollected because the buses are too crowded now. Yes, a truly safe and efficient system 🤨

    Oh, but the light rail is so good isn’t it - for the Northside!!

    4:58 pm 10 May 19

    Karen Taunton well said

    6:54 pm 10 May 19

    Paal Burnett Lets close all private

    schools and see what happens then.

7:18 pm 09 May 19

Megan Fitzharris - still has no idea.

bj_ACT 5:54 pm 09 May 19

The key objective of ACT Labor according to their current manifesto is to create a fairer society through: Equity; Equality; Participation; and Access.

Obviously these objectives can be ignored if you happen to be a bus commuter in an outer suburb.

These recent Bus network changes are a dagger to the heart of Labor’s guiding principles around fairness for all. No wonder John Stanhope questions this current Labor Government.

bj_ACT 5:51 pm 09 May 19

So Minister Fitzharris is still ignoring the issues and impacts on commuters who don’t live within walking distance of the Rapid Routes.

This re-design was always about getting more bums on seats by providing faster and more regular public transport for a third of the Canberra population and simply ignoring the rest.

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