1 March 2021

How the Woden Interchange project will affect your commute

| Ian Bushnell
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Proposed Woden Interchange

An artist’s impression of the proposed Woden Interchange. Image: ACT Government.

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).

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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.

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The 2019 bus network changes made the commute to work slower for the majority of Tuggeranong workers, now this proposal is going to make that trip to work in the city or Belconnen even slower again.

Who designs these Canberra bus network changes? The two guys from Dumber and Dumber???

All very interesting. But Westfield – sorry, Woden – is unlikely to see light rail before 2030. So there is plenty of time to pay consultants to move toy buses and trams around on a floor map.

Capital Retro10:01 pm 01 Mar 21

“by 2045 there won’t be anyone car maker in the world still making petrol vehicles, and a good thing too.”

Remember “peak petrol”? That was going to put all cars off the road too but it didn’t happen.

There are huge quantities of unexploited oil deposits all over the globe. All the infrastructure, independent of grids etc. is ready to turn it into petrol which will become cheaper and cheaper.

Concurrent with this happening, renewables which are already the most expensive way to produce electricity will become more expensive.

Not such a good thing after all.

HiddenDragon5:58 pm 01 Mar 21

The light rail obsession (look at this elongated ink-blot and tell us what you see, gentlemen) of the boys who run this town knows no bounds. Even their own consultants point out the awful problems this proposal involves, and yet they still obstinately plough ahead, trying to sell it with the usual intelligence-insulting spin which pretends that there is absolutely no alternative to doing this thing pronto and that a bit of green window dressing will make it all OK.

The one positive part of the overall proposal is the new CIT – which would be a long overdue boost for the Woden town centre, with ongoing employment benefits. The government should find a way of doing that first, get going on it, and go back to the drawing board on the practicalities of its light rail to the south fantasies.

How would you do it first genius? CIT goes where the current interchange is. You can’t levitate it over the top. You have to build the new interchange first.

Capital Retro10:58 am 02 Mar 21

Most people that will be going to CIT will be from the Tuggeranong and Weston Creek areas and the tram doesn’t run there. Trams from City to Woden will be empty.

Two points;
1. It’s a bus interchange with provision for light rail in the future. Saves doing a bunch of re-work at a later date. If the light rail doesn’t come through (and I don’t know what you’d do with your day if it didn’t) then it stays as a bus interchange.
2. Not sure if you quite understand the CIT model. Certain courses get taught at certain campus. It’s not only students from Tuggeranong and Weston Creek that want to do hospitality or hairdressing (which are getting picked up and moved from Reid to Woden).

This is a daft proposal that will increase commuter times for all. Having to go through interchanges is the thing that makes catching the bus slow, so having to change onto the tram means every single journey will be longer. The plan also moves the interchange further from the shops, adds thousands of CIT students to the area, and has a hotel with one tiny laneway for access. Their plans don’t even have pictures of pedestrians or cyclists trying to cross the area east-west, so too bad if you think you can get from the interchange to the hospital. The plan completely ignores the Woden master plan feedback that said access was the biggest issue. It is incredibly, frustratingly bad urban design.

Richard Windsor2:18 pm 01 Mar 21

There is still no rational cost/benefit analysis for this white elephant. Given the choice of busses with the majority of passengers seated compared to trams with the majority of peak hour passengers standing, I suspect lots will vote with their bums and drive (even car-pool)

I ask again. This is a waste of public funds and is too expensive. That aside, as a Tuggeranong traveller, why would you catch the long distance bus via Woden when you can go via Yamba Drive or Tugg Parkway in better time with fewer stops. Absolutely bonkers Canberra. You seems to have agreed to it though I have not the faintest idea why. May it is the fancy toy which takes too long over the current bus route which is itself too long via Woden. The DA needs to be shot down in flames and those Ministers responsible removed from office post hjaste before they make our day to day living more exspensive for little gain. You can contact me to discuss further-dabblers3@gmail.com if you have something to say.

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