The Canberra Liberals have called on Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris to apologise for misleading the community on how close commuters will be to a bus or light rail stop in the new network.
Transport spokesperson Candice Burch said an analysis of the network commissioned by Fairfax Media found that just one in three Canberrans would be within an 800-metre walk of a Rapid or light rail stop, and only 15 per cent within 400 metres.
It found the big losers would be commuters in Tuggeranong, Weston Creek and sections of Gungahlin.
Ms Burch said the analysis discredited Ms Fitzharris’s claims that 55 per cent of Canberrans would be within 800 metres walking distance of a Rapid bus service or a light rail stop, with only 36 per cent of residents within that walking distance, according to the analysis.
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“Ms Fitzharris should apologise to Canberrans for running a misleading campaign to justify the Government’s overhaul of the bus network,” Miss Burch said.
“Many Canberrans are rightly upset at how the Government’s bus overhaul will impact their daily commute. They will be even more disappointed to discover the Government has not been honest with the facts.”
She said the consultation process was based on misinformation and inaccuracies and respondents did not have all the information they needed to make a full assessment.
“Walking more than 800 metres to a bus can be quite difficult for many Canberrans, particularly the elderly or people living with a disability,” she said.
“We want to see more Canberrans use public transport. We need an accessible, convenient and user-friendly bus network to make it easier for people to use public transport.”
A spokesperson for the Minister said the 55 per cent figure showed the growth in coverage from 38 per cent under the old network to 55 per cent in the proposed network. Transport Canberra would update these figures when the new network was released in October.
“What is clear is that the new network gives more Canberrans access to high-frequency bus services than ever before,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the ACT’s Estate Development Code set the 800-metre benchmark for distance from a high-frequency bus stop and 500 metres from a local service.
“Canberrans have told us they would walk further for a more frequent service. We’ve designed this network to have more buses, more often, seven days a week across the city so people get a better service,” the spokesperson said.
A combined 98 per cent of Canberra households were within 500 metres of a local service and 800 metres of Rapid services.
The areas which the analysis highlights would all benefit from more services more often, such as the new Rapid routes into Belconnen and Tuggeranong and rapid bus and light rail in Gungahlin.
The Government received 13,000 responses during its consultation with the main concerns being the loss of popular Xpresso services, changes to the school bus system and safety but there were also concerns about the loss of individual routes and bus stops.
It has flagged changes to the school system, backing away from axing school routes.
The spokesperson said the Government was analysing feedback from the community and would be announcing changes to the network in October.