Commuters from Woden to the City will be swapping their Rapid buses for light rail once the line is connected to the Town Centre sometime after 2026, according to a consultant’s report included in the development application for the proposed new interchange.
The report from Veitch Lister Consulting, which sets out interchange arrangements and network changes as the facility and light rail Stage 2B is constructed, confirms that the Rapid 4 and 5 buses from Tuggeranong will terminate at Woden, and passengers will transfer to light rail for the run into the city.
At present, the Rapids take 15 minutes to get to the city and the light rail journey will be comparable if a little longer, but only after the so-called Barton dogleg was dropped in 2019, which would have meant a 25 to 30-minute run.
There will be extra stops, including the run around City West before arriving at Alinga Street.
The report assumes post-light rail that Routes 74, 75 and 78 from Tuggeranong will be extended to Woden via the upgraded Athllon Drive to provide a single transfer journey to the city. Route 79 will also be merged into routes 76 and 78.
The report covers four phases of the Interchange project – pre-Woden Depot, post-Woden Depot, light rail construction and post-light rail – and outlines safety risks and challenges the government will face during construction.
The government is also building a new depot in Phillip that will house 104 buses, which will allow greater frequency on routes.
Before light rail is connected, the light rail stops in the centre of Callam Street will serve the R4 and R5 buses, while local routes will use the eastern and western sides of the street.
In the first phase – sometime between 2021 and 2023 – before the depot comes online, there will be several changes to Weston Creek and Tuggeranong routes.
Routes 63, 64, 65, 70, 71 will be re-routed to turn left on to Melrose Drive, where there will be a new stop at Brewer Street near Westfield, instead of continuing further along Hindmarsh drive to turn left on to Callam Street. This is designed to balance inbound and outbound services to and from Woden.
Outbound buses will continue to divert into Corinna Street to serve the existing stop at the shopping centre.
Tuggeranong routes 72, 76 and 77 will be re-routed from Yamba Drive, with 76 and the 77 continuing straight up an upgraded Athllon Drive to Callam Street while the 72 will divert to serve Mawson, Torrens and Chifley (via Beasley Street, Wilkins Street, Heard Street, Mawson Drive, Hodgson Crescent, Melrose Drive, Botany Street and Hindmarsh Drive).
Originating buses will do the reverse, with their first stop on the eastern side of the Woden Interchange before travelling south.
A Callam Street stop about 80 metres north of Hindmarsh Drive and only 400 metres south of the Interchange used mainly by R4 and R5 passengers will be removed.
In the second phase – sometime between 2023 and 2025 – the Woden Bus Depot will open and buses will continue to use platforms in Callam Street.
The report assumes that frequencies will increase on local routes to at least three services per hour, with South Canberra routes 57 and 58 going to four, and 59 to six.
Along with this ‘aspiration’, two new routes are envisaged – from Molonglo and Fyshwick.
These changes are likely to lead to increased demand at the Woden Interchange during the morning peak.
The report assumes that sometime between 2025 and 2026, light rail to Woden will be under construction, which is likely to be a “challenging time” for operations at the Interchange.
The central transit corridor in Callam Street will be inaccessible, but buses will continue to use the outer carriageways in Callum Street.
The report warns that with fewer bus stops available for use, the facility is expected to face congestion during peak times, and any encroachment by light rail construction into the operational portion of the interchange could pose risks to health and safety, as well as compromise its ability to function effectively.