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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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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.

    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.

8:53 am 10 May 19

Andrew Tina confirmed

8:42 am 10 May 19

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

8:18 am 10 May 19

Act govt a disgrace. Good on the backlash

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).

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

6:34 am 10 May 19

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

    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).

    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.

    10:15 am 12 May 19

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

    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.

    11:57 am 12 May 19

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

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

    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??

    10:31 am 10 May 19

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

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

    4:31 pm 11 May 19

    You and the 10 people who voted you up are the out of touch ones who don't have kids who had their school services cut. You don't know what it is like to have your service cut like that by a heartless company who doesn't care about its customers.

    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?

11:22 pm 09 May 19

Install a mini bar in n every bus. Not only will this keep them happy, but commuting with busing will become very popular, revenues will increase and more bus driving jobs and a bar tender on every bus!

Everyone will be happy😊

11:12 pm 09 May 19

Yet still no return of the heavily used school children only buses cross canberra. The govt absolutely paid no heed to the consultation process it ran. I hope people continue to express their outrage at primary school kids exposed to possible harm in public interchanges and on public buses, or being told to ride on busy roads in morning peak hour.

10:27 pm 09 May 19

Since the trauma to our children and their safety from day two of the new network, we are now driving our children too and from school at great cost and inconvenience . At least the T2 lane on Adelaide ave is free of buses😂

10:13 pm 09 May 19

Wonderful that Transport Canberra is listening and adjusting the network to work for more people. How good is that?

10:05 pm 09 May 19

OMG honestly...there is always going to be teething issues with an entirely new travel network...short term pain for long term gain hopefully!! 🤞All the comments I have have seen from ACT Government have been about how they will listen to community feedback and adjust where possible...which has happened...people say that adjustments have been made in the first two weeks like it's a bad thing?? I think it's good...seems the Government are listening.

    11:22 am 10 May 19

    Kim Bailey Agreed!!

    12:12 pm 10 May 19

    It would be more believable if Transport Canberra had listened before they rolled out the new travel network, not after they had. Adjustments in the first two weeks are good, but they are also an indication that some of the feedback recieved before the roll out was probably correct, and should have been listened to. I don’t think that is unreasonable to highlight.

    6:50 pm 10 May 19

    Said no south sider ever..

9:58 pm 09 May 19

“Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris acknowledged that there had been a lot of community feedback, and Transport Canberra was continuing to monitor the new network.” Surely community consultation prior to the implementation of the new network would have been far more helpful?

    10:35 pm 09 May 19

    Claire McGreevy To be fair, Transport Canberra did do community consultation prior to introducing the new network, unfortunately on that occasion they also just "monitored" the feedback and then ignored it

    10:36 pm 09 May 19

    Claire McGreevy that would be common sense ,which they should have as a unit in every Trade and uni course

    10:46 pm 09 May 19

    Damien Kell yes, they’re good like that. Years ago I attended a focus group commissioned by the then Action Buses seeking feedback for the introduction of the Flexi Bus service. We all said it wasn’t viable and that other services were needed ahead of that. They didn’t want to hear it but rather just kept trying to convince us what a great addition to the nightly bus service it was going to be. They paid us cash for attending the focus group only to go ahead with what they’d planned anyway. Mmm...epic failure in the end as the service sunk like a stone but they just wouldn’t listen.

9:30 pm 09 May 19

I’d like to give credit where credit is due. I put in my complaint on the first day of the new network - because it was clearly terrible - and I’m happy to say that changes have been made as a result and we now have a service that seems to be working again. Mass complaints seem to get action. I’m actually impressed that someone’s listening 👏🏻 although it sounds like I’m in the minority here and there is still a way to go. Hopefully services will continue to improve for all.

    11:09 pm 09 May 19

    Roxanne Pickering you are in the minority. So many people have complained about the loss of route 3. Those of us on the Southside have lost the most useful route with no rational explanation.

    11:18 pm 09 May 19

    Suzanne Parkinson I’m really sorry to hear this. There really seems to be a lack of common sense approach by Transport Canberra. I really hope you see some positive changes to your route in the immediate future. There appears to be so many people disadvantaged by the changes. Keep voicing your concerns.

    11:45 pm 09 May 19

    Roxanne Pickering this is not a one off - ACTION appreciate feedback and generally act on it if they possibly can

    4:36 am 10 May 19

    i’ve had no response either. My new regular driver asked me yesterday if I had a response. I said no. He said he has had a lot of complaints about the same issue.

    Having said that, my bus has far less people since the new network and the time is only 2 minutes earlier in the morning. I am wondering what has happened to all the other regulars.

9:29 pm 09 May 19

Wow, all the issues that were raised (and promptly ignored) during the public ‘consultation’ period seem to have been realized....who’d have thunk it

9:19 pm 09 May 19

Please put Civic interchange back to the way it was, with shelter in bad weather. Sad seeing older people flagging down buses as they sail through the interchange. Sad seeing the elderly and disabled having to cross Northbourne twice to get to and from Canberra Centre.

9:09 pm 09 May 19

They should definitely bring back some of the dedicated school buses. I don't have children myself, but I am sick to the back teeth of having to share a bus with disruptive, ill-mannered St Eddy's boys every morning

8:46 pm 09 May 19

My girls have missed their connecting school bus twice this week because the TWO public buses they need to catch beforehand to get to Woden interchange are continuously late. Action buses cannot suggest a solution and have even questioned my girls about our choice of school which is outside our suburb! Thanks for nothing Transport Canberra and ACT Government. Unbelievable!

    8:50 pm 09 May 19

    Megan Vetter that’s disgraceful! So people should change schools and perhaps workplaces to in order to fit in with bus timetables. So arrogant!

    10:29 pm 09 May 19

    Megan Vetter it’s a sad state of affairs

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