25 September 2018

Libs accuse Government of misleading public on bus stop distances

| Ian Bushnell
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A Weston Creek bus at Cooleman Court. The analysis says the area will lose out in the new network. File photo.

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.

“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.

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The consultation process was a, sadly typical for this gov’t, faux consultation.

If you live in Kambah you can go jump as far as catching a fast bus into the city, unless you want to walk down to Athllon Drive on Kambah’s far Southern edge!!!!

Ian has chosen to illustrates story with an image of the future Weston Creek bus station, which is capable of holding one articulated bus at a time. Readers may also like to note the exit from the Cooleman Court Southern car park and how exiting cars will be performing right hand turns across the front of arriving and departing buses. It is certainly a recipe for chaos.

On the new network, the fundamental flaw in the design, and repeated again in the Fairfax analysis is is there has been no data considered on actual journeys undertaken by all modes, not just bus. For example, how many people travel from Weston Creek to Belconnen, or vice versa? Any geek will tell you the data is available, but it comes at a price. Then again, so does running an empty bus on a poorly planned route.

That map is highly flawed – it counts all the businesses in Mitchell as residences for their calculations and there are points on Flemington within 10m of a light rail stop that being counted as being over 800m away!

There are many issues with the new transit system, but arguing against it with such fundamentally flawed analysis totally undermines any actual argument you might have. Get a better GIS analyst!

Firstly looking at the map on line, I can’t see your claim for any points 10m from a light Rail Stop coloured as over 800m away. Unless you are including the Proposed Mitchell stop that the government has promised they might put in during the next few years? Bit hard to model a non existent rail stop.

Also, You need to provide your own correct GIS data and map yourself. Unless you and GNAF know exactly which individual property point in Mitchell has a certain number of people in it and which are day time businesses only, you have to assign population averages across the entire model. Mitchell is a bit of an outlier in your example.

Put up your own more accurate map online, then both you and the Canberra Times will have done more to inform the public than Transport Canberra.

The light rail stop at the intersection of Nullarbor Ave is missing off that map so a whole swathe of high density housing is wrong. So the posters statement that places 10m away is true. No doubt there are other inaccuracies too.

Oh and interestingly it does show parts of Mitchell being within 800m, quite rightly so as the northern part is very much servicable by the Well Station drive stop. Pity the park and ride that was planned for this corner is nowhere to be seen. That would make the light rail more useful for those in the burbs of Gungahlin.

Am I looking at the wrong place? I’m still not seeing it.

It would appear as if they have fixed the map. But of course the stats the same. Still brings into question the accuracy and methodology.

Like many other people I checked the map in yesterday’s Canberra Times to see if my house was within 800m of a Rapid bus and found that I am beyond the 800m mark.

But then it occurred to me that like the Blue Rapid service, my daughter’s school bus doesn’t actually enter our suburb, so she has to catch it at about the same distance from our house as the Rapid service will be.

So, to get from Coombs to Mt Stromlo High School (which is the designated high school for our suburb), many children have to walk more than 800m to their school bus.

If it entered the suburb it wouldn’t be a rapid!

There are some rapid that do though but in their case they are at the ends of routes and serve as a local feeder and the rapid for the crossing local buses.

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