12 April 2024

Liberals will make sure ghost buses taunt haunts Labor come October

| Ian Bushnell
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Sorry, there are only 12 electric buses on the road at present, and not this one. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Labor called it a stunt. But the Canberra Liberals’ “ghost buses” taunt in the Legislative Assembly this week will resonate with many Canberrans who have seen the “106 electric buses” livery in their travels and wondered where they are.

Well, 90 of them are on their way, “procured” and “secured”, as Acting Transport Minister Tara Cheyne said.

And the Libs know that.

But details matter, particularly in an election year when all parties will be looking for openings to attack their opponents.

READ ALSO UC education students given even more placement opportunities through $12.8 million government agreement

It’s clear the Liberals will exploit sitting weeks in the lead-up to the election to expose the government as much as possible, highlight its alternative approaches and build a narrative.

So expect more ‘stunts’.

Complaining about it or how the Liberals may be wasting the Assembly’s time is neither here nor there. Guess what? It’s politics.

The problem for the government is that it, or Transport Canberra, has been too clever by half in getting ahead of itself before all the electric buses are in the fleet and running around town.

The Greens aren’t impressed with the delay, either. Photo: Ian Bushnell. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Most people aren’t up with procurement timetables, delivery dates or setbacks. When they see 106 electric buses, they will think that many are in service, and the government would not want to disavow them of that belief.

Misleading propaganda? Possibly.

Even the four Custom Denning buses that arrived last year haven’t made it onto our roads due to technical problems. They’re back now from repairs in Sydney, and hopefully, we’ll see them on the road soon.

But it took a while for the community to hear about it.

Any kind of procurement is fraught at present, and the Liberals’ claim that they will somehow be able to do it better should be taken with a grain of salt, but that’s their right as an Opposition.

They believe they are on a winner with their electric buses public transport policy and will take every opportunity to point out the government’s shortcomings.

Labor’s coalition partners, the Greens, were no help. They joined the pile on.

Transport spokesperson Jo Clay expressed her party’s disappointment that more electric buses weren’t being put on the road as quickly as promised.

“I want to put on the record that we have not met targets set for the number of electric buses on the road,” she said.

“It’s true, and we want to make sure that we are telling history as it is.”

Perhaps a little revenge for the way Labor dismissed the Greens’ rent freeze proposal?

READ ALSO ACT Greens’ legislation for two-year rental freeze and other housing changes, rejected

The onus is on the government to get it right and take responsibility – that’s what being in power is all about.

Too many governments have become addicted to spin and weasel words, instead of being upfront with the community.

It may work for a while, but it always comes back to bite them.

The ghost buses jibe may haunt the government come October when public transport will be a battleground issue.

This week’s experience should convince it to forget the spin and, in this case, get the buses here as soon as possible.

And not to let the Liberals have too many cheap wins and put them on a roll that may be hard to stop.

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Incidental Tourist9:33 pm 15 Apr 24

I’d like to point to one Liberal’s proposal which has not been mentioned – The public transport service guarantee. Here is its brief analysis https://ptcbr.org/2024/04/05/canberra-liberals-2024-transport-policy-the-good-the-bad-and-the-weird/

Many people assume that the tram makes commuting faster and more convenient. This is a myth unless you live near tram. Everybody who drive along the tram route see many ghost bus stops and NO buses. So the issue is not tram as such, rather it’s disappeared busses. A few remaining busses only go to Gunghalin typically forcing commuters to go backward or sideways let alone adding extra interchange. Those who live in the area for long enough still remember a lot of full busses rolling one after another along Flemington road. So it appears that paradoxically tram reduced the number of public transport patrons in the area. Many people assumed that tram would make commuting more convenient but this was not the case in Gunghalin. Ironically with the tram extension even more people who use public transport today may have to switch to cars as commuting becomes longer and less convenient.

The Canberra Liberals have taken light rail to every election since 2012 opposing it and the party’s vote has diminished. This pattern of failure suggests to me that Canberrans support light rail.

The Canberra Liberals again refuse to explain how their bus only plan for an expanded public transport network will occur. Elizabeth Lee and the party’s transport spokesperson Mark Parton block users and any discussion on their Facebook pages. Where will the significantly expanded bus fleet and drivers come from? How will the expansion, seemingly concentrated in our main town centres, affect the travel needs of public transport users in the outer suburbs?

Elizabeth Lee has previously committed to not dealing with the union who she has a deep and ingrained hostility towards. How will the Liberals’ transport plan affect relations and negotiations with the transport union? All of these questions Ms Lee and her party refuse to answer.

The party refuses to support the extension of light rail south from Commonwealth Park. What the party is not telling voters is that bus travel will be diverted from the city along Constitution Avenue and Kings Avenue. The Canberra Liberals also refuse to explain how their bus only transport plan will adequately manage the growth and future travel needs of workers in Barton and Parkes. The new security precinct under construction in Parkes is expected to bring in over 5,000 new workers.

The Canberra Liberals public transport plan will place significant additional pressures on our road networks both north and south and longer travel times for public transport users.

@Jack D wrong again. in 2020 the Canberra Liberals went to the election supporting light rail where they lost two seats. I also note that to this point Barr has been unable to say what route the light rail will take to woden, how they will get it across the bridge and how many billions it will cost taxpayers.

@Tom Philips
A business case would be useful too, Tom, don’t you think?

Just which transport policy are you talking about that the Liberals took to the 2020 election Tom Philips? Are you talking about the empty election commitment for a bus only transport mode or the changed policy position Mr Coe announced in an embarrassing interview on ABC radio just before the election? A changed policy position that not even his colleagues were informed about or aware of.
This was a major policy shift for the Liberals but did not stop the party or its candidates campaigning against the project right up until the election!

Jack D. You said 55,000 people make Light Rail trips everyday. If you think those patronage numbers look solid, you need to enrol in a basic maths course and maybe an ethics course too.

ACT Governments own data shows Light Rail has averaged around 11,000 boardings a day and about 13,000 a day over the last half a year. Light rail has averaged around just 6,000 people a day. Almost a tenth of the number that you claimed used light rail.

Workers who live near Light Rail are six times more likely to drive than take Light Rail.

You don’t help the cause for public transport in Canberra by just making up numbers and claiming them to be true.

As I have clarified and you well know bj, it was a typo and I clarified it!

Again just for your benefit bj!
*15,000 passengers use light rail every day not 55,000. (ACT Government Open Data portal -Light Rail Patronage). The numbers released by the ACT government speak for themselves!

*not actually 15000 passengers.

Truly bizarre that Jack D continues his charade by providing links to the exact evidence disproving his own statements.

Next level delusion bit hardly unexpected.

If you clarified that you made a typo, then please make it clear that you made a mistake instead of trying to hide it. Seems more like you obfuscated the changed data and then also was claiming people not boardings.

“Most people aren’t up with procurement timetables, delivery dates or setbacks. ”
Most of ACT for the feds or local government or sits down to dinner with someone that does. Timetables slip when not managed.

There seems to be a difference between whats accepted for local government vs federal. You couldn’t spend $70 million on a new IT system and can it with nothing to show and still keep your job. This is a result of the same government getting elected each cycle. We’re now paying for that with their do whatever they want attitude. They’re also keen to tell you how to think about it too.

The technical issues with these buses is likely if they catch fire they can’t get everyone off before it goes boom or that they don’t meet accessability requirements, despite claiming they are inclusive they left it to last minute to check! Our open and transparent government isn’t open and transparent with the details.

There are still signs in tuggeranong where roads were to be duplicated, yet werent for the past 7 years straight. 7 years ago the idea of raising london circuit wasn’t a dream, yet its almost complete. Government trust is at an all time low. I expect a change at this election.

They literally installed LED bus stop lights for our safety one year only to remove bus route the following year. It then took them 2 years to remove the stop, heaven forbid they re-instate the route.

Capital Retro1:59 pm 12 Apr 24

Same problem everywhere with these Element novelty carriages: https://pulsetasmania.com.au/news/metros-zero-emission-electric-bus-trial-goes-on-pause-due-to-technical-issues/

A battery from one caught fire last week and created a lot of problems for fire responders. Don’t look for details as they have already been expunged.

@Capital Retro
“A battery from one caught fire last week and created a lot of problems for fire responders. Don’t look for details as they have already been expunged.”

Yes of course it happened, CR, and it’s just a massive media cover up – just like your report of “a Coles Express delivery truck (was) burning fiercely near Cootamundra”, for which no-one could find any supporting evidence, was also part of a media cover up.

There are only a few reported fires in China from EV’s the internet is full of evidence.

China is the same country that paints rockwalls green to look more envrionmentally friendly. We’re starting to see more of that here.

Seriously, you are going to use media manipulation in China to justify cuckoo conspiracy theories about media coverup in Australia.
Yeah right!

Capital Retro9:03 pm 12 Apr 24

Unfortunately it’s the same everywhere else. The narrative must not be challenged.

Capital Retro4:49 pm 13 Apr 24

Nothing on the MSM about that. There have been several like this in North America too.

Remember this:


@Capital Retro
Seeing as though we are delving into hgistory, CR, what about this:
https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/18/americas/mexico-gasoline-explosion-tlahuelilpan/index.html … your precious fossil fuel involved and there were actually lives lost in this Mexican gas pipeline explosion.

Tragedies are tragedies irrespective of the cause.

So you submitting a report from a UK broadcaster, on an incident in Scotland, to bolster Capital Retro’s Australian media ‘cover up’ conspiracy theory are you, FP?

Yeah … nah!

Capital Retro6:19 pm 13 Apr 24

100% right, actually.

Capital Retro7:40 pm 13 Apr 24

My comments were alluding only to recycling fires.

Very poor effort from you in trying to muddy the waters JS but that’s your job, isn’t it?

Capital Retro7:45 pm 13 Apr 24

Can’t you see it’s a global cover up?

You and you peers expect me to believe in “global boiling” so why can’t we call out the suppressing of reporting incidents adverse to the fear-mongers narrative?

Why not let all the facts be tabled so we can make our own decisions?

@Capital Retro
Good to see you finally accept you are fabricating conspiracy theories about Aus media cover up, CR

@Capital Retro
“Why not let all the facts be tabled so we can make our own decisions?”
So let me get this right, CR. This “cover up”, by Aus media, on the reporting of a fire in a recycling plant in Scotland, is proof that “global boiling” (I assume you are referring to anthropogenic climate change) is not to be believed?
Did you consider it might be that, in this short term news cycle world, it (the incident in Scotland) may no longer be newsworthy? Just as we no longer seem to see overseas reports of fires, caused by mobile chargers (for phones and other electrical equipment), destroying houses, etc.

You call for the facts to be tabled. The overwhelming majority of the scientific community has been tabling the facts, on anthropogenic climate change, for many years and still people like you continue to trot out your denialism fantasies.
So you only want facts that appeal to you to be tabled, eh, CR?

Capital Retro10:10 am 15 Apr 24

They are theories, not facts.

@Capital Retro
Yes – theories based on science … which is a lot more credible than your denialism.

Bring on the public transport debate! Let voters see just what the Canberra Liberals and their transport spokesperson, funny man Mark Parton have to offer in the way of public transport policy should the party win this year’s territory election.

It is not looking good!

If this latest bit of theatre and conflated anger is anything to go by, only seven months out from the territory election, heaven help us. The party is doing its best to take the focus off themselves by taking information sourced from local media and using it against the government to waste the assembly’s time. All because the party lacks inquisitiveness and are too lazy and inept to do the hard yards themselves. A party that has no policies and nothing else to offer.

Bring it on!

@ Jack D ummm didn’t the liberals just announce a fairly comprehensive transport policy a couple weeks ago? Once again Jacky boy you are clutching at straws with your comment.

Jack D,
Whinging for months that the Liberals don’t have a transport policy.

Then complains when they do release a detailed public transport policy which is clearly superior to the ALP/Greens one, and at the same time continuing to highlight the failings of the current government.

Perhaps Jack D can tell us where the options studies, cost estimates and business cases are for Light Rail Stage 2 that underpins the ALP/Greens public transport policy?

Too funny.

Very scarce on firm implementation details – might just be pie in the sky when it comes down to it.

Which party’s policy are you referring to????

So exactly like the current government’s plans then?

The Liberals offering a comprehensive policy? The Canberra Liberals should explain to Canberrans why their party is prepared to sacrifice the long-term benefits of an integrated bus and light network for a cheaper transport option of bus only. Why are Gungahlin residents able to enjoy a light rail network that is reliable, comfortable and safe to travel on but an option their party is denying to other public transport users in Canberra.

The Canberra Liberals have failed dismally at every election since 2012 by rejecting light rail. The Gungahlin to City tram has reduced congestion, is popular and far superior in mass transport than buses. 55,000 people use light rail every day (ACT Government Open Data portal -Light Rail Patronage).

The Canberra Liberals are again offering voters a dumbed down public transport policy for bus only at this year’s election. Their policy is light on detail and replaces a failed bus only transit network that already exists. The party has not explained how an expanded bus network will satisfy our expanding city’s future public transport needs – How will the expansion occur? Where will the buses come from? How will bus only public transport affect travel needs in our suburbs?

What plans do the Canberra Liberals have for the current light rail network that commences in Gungahlin and ends at Commonwealth Park? There is only one choice and that is to provide an alternative route down Kings Avenue through Parkes and Barton and on to Woden creating more congestion, crowded buses and longer travel times. How will the Liberals bus only transport policy cope with the new security precinct currently being built in Barton and Parkes? When complete there is an expected growth of over 5,000 new workers into the area. This will create enormous pressures on our bus and public transport networks.

“The Canberra Liberals should explain to Canberrans why their party is prepared to sacrifice the long-term benefits of an integrated bus and light network for a cheaper transport option of bus only”

What benefits? As above Jack, perhaps you can point us all to the options study and business cases the Government has prepared for light rail Stage 2 and beyond? What exactly are the costs.

Funny that you expect the opposition to provide more detail and evidence than the Government who has access and control over all the associated resources and funding.

Although good on you for admitting the Liberals option is cheaper, not sure why you think this is a bad thing. Why would you want the government to waste money?

“Why are Gungahlin residents able to enjoy a light rail network that is reliable, comfortable and safe to travel on but an option their party is denying to other public transport users in Canberra.”

Making one mistake is not a reason to continuing making them. This point is nonsensical. The first stage of light rail was the most viable and even then the justification was poor. Future stages are worse.

But I take your point around equity, why exactly are taxpayers across Canberra being forced to pay for exorbitant and unjustified private benefit for a tiny amount of people who live and own property near the light rail route?

Particularly when on the government’s own figures, the full network wouldn’t be rolled out for decades?

“55,000 people use light rail every day (ACT Government Open Data portal -Light Rail Patronage).”

Stop pulling made up figures out of your rear end. The average per daily usage for light rail is less than 13000 boardings for the last 6 months. And most of them are people using it both ways, so the actual individual user numbers are far lower. I’ve provided a specific breakdown here previously but as you say, the figures are freely available.


The rest of your comment is just standard partisan dribble. Moreso because the lack of information from the government on those issues along with the costs involved is invisible.

One wonders how backwards life would be if the Canberra Liberals were in government. Not to mention their Troglodyte support base who back them. The chewy14s, those excitable young Liberals and the conservative, religious and right-wing fanatics all infesting social media fulminating, belittling and snarling at Labor and their supporters for their progressive social policies including women’s rights, drug reforms and Light rail.

I think ACT voters should vote for the Canberra Liberals at this year’s election. Just to provide an insight and a dose of the indifference, stinginess, contempt and backwardness the party has for progressive voters in the ACT and is famous for. Believe me, ACT voters will never elect another Liberal government again!

I will be enjoying pizza and wine with my friends on election night. Looking forward to ACT voters again rejecting and giving the Canberra Liberals another thrashing.

Bring it on!

*15,000 passengers use light rail every day not 55,000. (ACT Government Open Data portal -Light Rail Patronage). The numbers released by the ACT government speak for themselves!

I wonder if Jack D realising that so few Gungahlin and inner north residents actually use Light Rail will make him change his support of Light Rail.

My guess is the low usage data doesn’t actually matter to him.

Capital Retro4:41 pm 13 Apr 24

Is that the same 7,500 travelling both ways?

If so, what a disaster the urban renewal experiment has been.

Light rail patronage numbers look pretty solid to me bj!

I am not surprised you would see it that way CR!

Capital Retro7:37 pm 13 Apr 24

Yes, I am consistent in my opinions. How about you enlighten me with the facts?

@Jack D

Light rail is at capacity. They can’t add any more trains at risk of stopping the flow of traffic. So I assume its not at capacity.

Light rail that replaces acceptable bus service, isn’t a public transport solution. Its slower than the buses could have been, if they also had priority signaling.

Light rail isn’t value for money. IA said so. This hasn’t been disproven by the business case because there is none.

Surely if you want to start a transport network you start with the area the business case makes sense. It didn’t and doesn’t make sense anywhere else in Canberra.

One of the costly factors of light rail was it used concreted tracks. If they used more conventional tracks it would have been considerably cheaper. Why the expanse in cost?
Why couldn’t they make the trams locally. It wouldn’t be the trips that the CM went on to get them in the first place when he already had someone apointed as international delegate. The trams were Barrs excuse to travel to europe, and get the local developers to support his re-election

Once again,
Jack D completely unable to provide any answers to the questions raised and keeps lying about the patronage numbers. Unfortunately it’s to be expected from ideologically wedded Light Rail zealots.

The numbers do speak for themselves Jack.

15000 passengers are not using light rail daily, the average figures, both weekday and weekend are well below. Attempting to pick the peak usage as typical just outlines your ignorance.

Imagine if we had more sensible people who understood how transport and infrastructure projects were supposed to be managed, rather than the partisan hacks like Jack D who aren’t capable of even the most basic original thought.

So wedded are they to their political masters, they just constantly spew the talking points provided to them.

And all of Canberra suffers for it.

I’ve stirred the troglodytes!

Maybe you should just calm down a bit chewy14!
Your rage directed at those who comment in these pages seems to indicate you have a disturbing and unhinged opposition to those you disagree with!

Jack D,
No wonder you’re projecting so hard when you’ve been caught out so comprehensively.

I know you have trouble dealing with facts but you’d do much better if you calmed down.

Perhaps then you might be able to discuss issues logically and rationally, rather than repeating your extreme partisan rants ad nauseum.

It’s a government town. Government workers vote for more government. That’d be Labor. Then, there’s idealists to the left of the Labor machine. That’s Greens. Having an opposition party is nice window-dressing, but we all know that this is virtually a one-party jurisdiction. Unless it’s just for recreation, joining the ACT Liberals is a waste of anyone’s time.

I hear it is a bit lonely being a member of the Canberra Liberals Rustygear. Apparently, membership has declined rapidly over the years as the party lurches further to the right and members leave in droves!

Forget the missing battery buses, The Transport Minister created ‘ghost buses’ a few years ago when they removed almost a thousand local bus stops and about 30 local bus routes.

They even left many no longer serviced bus stops in place and just had a paper sheet struck on saying “we’ve improved Canberra bus services” but have taken away this bus stop. Definitely written by a media spokesperson not a true bus user.

You’d see unaware people waiting in a bus shelter for a bus that was never coming.

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