The ACT Government has rejected claims that it is keeping the long-awaited new bus timetables secret, saying they will be released in March as promised.
The Canberra Liberals have called on Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris to release the new bus timetables to the public immediately so Canberra commuters can plan their travel needs.
Transport spokesperson Candice Burch said that with only two months until the new bus network starts, Canberra commuters were still in the dark about how long their journeys would take.
Miss Burch said changes to the school bus services had left parents uncertain about how long their children would take to get to school and back.
Public consultation on the proposed network closed on 12 August 2018, and the Government’s report on community feedback was released on 16 October 2018.
“Now, more than four months later, and with the new network already delayed until 27 April, timetables for Network19 are still being kept secret,” she said.
Ms Burch said the Government refused to provide the new timetables during the consultation phase, knowing full well that the network disruptions would increase door-to-door journey times for Canberrans across the territory.
“The Labor-Greens Government’s refusal to release an indicative timetable before the new network takes effect is yet another slap in the face to children, schools and parents who never wanted these changes,” she said.
“With Labor’s cuts to dedicated school bus services, parents are still not sure how long their kids’ bus trip will take, or how long children will be waiting at interchanges before or after school.”
Ms Burch said the Minister had shown total disdain for school principals, some of whom demonstrated goodwill by considering changes to the school day timetable to accommodate potential changes in student commute times.
“It is clear that throughout the consultation process, Minister Fitzharris has failed the Canberra community, and continues to do so every day she chooses not to release the new network timetable.”
“Given the significant disruption the new network and cuts to services are going to cause, the least Minister Fitzharris could do two months out, is provide some clarity to Canberrans about just how the new network will affect them.
A spokesperson for the Minister said there were no further changes to the network after the Government’s final consultation and the timetables were on track for release in early March.
The Government did not want to release the timetables too early so people would be engaged in the process at the right time.
The spokesperson said timetables were complex and required careful planning, testing and consultation with staff before being released.
Commuters would be able to view the new final route maps for the entire network and detailed information about bus arrivals and departures for every ACT school to familiarise themselves with the new network.
A new journey planner was also being tested to help people plan their public transport trips more easily.