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Millionth passenger boards light rail amid growing uptake of public transport

Ian Bushnell 15 July 2019 42


Millionth light rail user Jordan Bradfield with Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra’s new light rail system has carried its millionth passenger as Transport Canberra reported growth in commuter numbers across the entire public transport network compared with last year, since full-fare services commenced.

To celebrate the light rail milestone, the Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel visited the Alinga Street stop this morning to present lucky passengers with a free MyWay card with $20 credit to use for journeys across the network, including the millionth passenger, Jordan Bradfield.

Mr Bradfield said he had been a regular bus user and it was great to have the light rail going.

“I get it to work, it’s 15 minutes, it’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s fantastic to see that Canberra has a real piece of public transport infrastructure now,” he said.

“Hands down it’s an easier commute than I am used to, and it’s a lot faster than I thought it would be, I think there are fewer cars on the road now.”

Mr Steel said success of the service spoke for itself with patronage numbers for light rail higher than anticipated in the business case for the first year of operation.

“We now have record numbers of Canberrans using public transport, exceeding expectations,” Mr Steel said.

“As time goes on with operations, the data is becoming clearer, Canberrans are choosing to use light rail and more public transport,” he said.

The Minister is still examining commuter feedback from the new bus network which included a stream of complaints about inconvenient route changes or losses, but any adjustments are expected to be minor.

Transport Canberra said light rail had generated a significant uptake in public transport use in the Gungahlin to the City corridor, with 32 per cent more public transport journeys starting in Gungahlin in June 2019 than there were in June 2018.

“Patronage growth in the inner north has also been very strong, with light rail now accounting for 20 per cent of all passengers on Transport Canberra services, and we expect this number to continue to grow as the urban renewal projects along the corridor are completed,” Mr Steel said.

Since the completion of free travel, weekday journeys across the whole transport network to 30 June 2019 had increased by 6.1 per cent compared with the same time last year and weekend journeys had increased by 32.7 per cent.

“The number of people using weekend services is incredibly high with more services in the evenings and more convenient services with the same route and number seven days a week,” Mr Steel said.

“Overall the signs are very positive for the new network. With more services, coming more often we are seeing more people moving on public transport compared to this time last year.”

32 per cent more public transport journeys are now starting in Gungahlin in June 2019 than there were in June 2018.

32 per cent more public transport journeys are now starting in Gungahlin in June 2019 than there were in June 2018. File photo.

Ninety-five per cent of journeys being made were using MyWay cards, up from 89 per cent, with over a million journeys planned online using the new Journey Planner.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra said one million passengers on light rail was a tremendous achievement in such a short time since the service started operating, and proved that the claims public transport lobbyists had been making about light rail were correct.

“There are more people using light rail than there were bus passengers, fewer cars on the road, less congestion and a much more attractive Northbourne Avenue. This is all due to light rail being built,” Chair Damien Haas said.

“After years of public transport lobbying, this is a significant achievement and the early immediate success justifies that effort. Gungahlin and all of Canberra benefit from this first stage of light rail.”

He said the teething problems had been relatively minor, and the PTCBR was looking forward to seeing passenger data on bus services feeding the light rail stations.

Mr Haas said that the success of Stage 1 supported the case for light rail Stage 2 between Civic and Woden to be built sooner rather than later.

The Government has split the Woden route in two, hoping that the first section from Civic to Commonwealth Park can be approved quickly, while the more problematical second section across the lake and through the Parliamentary Zone can start later.

Both sections have been referred to the Commonwealth under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation Act.


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42 Responses to Millionth passenger boards light rail amid growing uptake of public transport
D.c. Haas D.c. Haas 6:04 pm 15 Jul 19

Excellent results for light rail, and the bus patronage increase is truly impressive 🚌🚊👍

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 7:36 pm 15 Jul 19

    Seon Ferguson You were eventually going to have no choice to drive to work, Car parking is only going to get harder to find and more expensive. At least they planned ahead and built it before people started complaining about car parking.

    John Kerry Tozer John Kerry Tozer 8:17 am 16 Jul 19

    D.c. Haas - What? 3.5% of Canberra’s population and less than 20% of Gungahlin’s uses a tram that costs all of us $47 million this year and you say that’s success????

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 12:15 pm 16 Jul 19

    It amazes me that the head of the Public Transport association is always happy to congratulate Canberra Transport on Light Rail but he doesn't stand up for the Tuggeranong Commuters who lost their Bus Service under the new network. Such a sad misuse of his role to represent public transport in Canberra.

    D.c. Haas D.c. Haas 12:29 pm 16 Jul 19

    John Kerry Tozer think big picture. Let's say that the 11000 people using light rail every day, drove instead.

    Where would you suggest they park?

    Would you be happy to sit in traffic with another 11000 cars around you?

Peter Norton Peter Norton 8:41 pm 15 Jul 19

They gave the lucky passenger a $20 credit on his pass!!!! What an insult to him giving up his time and privacy to appear in their promotional efforts. What would it have cost them for free travel for 6mths or something meaningful?

    Tom Munro Tom Munro 3:09 pm 16 Jul 19

    Actually they gave everybody on the that light rail service a $20 myway card

    Chris Conserdyne Chris Conserdyne 3:57 pm 16 Jul 19

    Peter Norton It’s only meant to be taken as a token gesture, to commemorate the occasion. Has more appeal than simply giving away commemorative postcards

    Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 4:07 pm 16 Jul 19

    Peter Norton I actually think its a generous gift received for just turning up at the right time... The month for free was a nice gesture too...

John McAvoy John McAvoy 9:10 pm 15 Jul 19

One of these days you will call the light rail by it's proper name 'TRAM". Could you explain why all the signs on Northbourne Ave have a "T" on them. It is because it is a tram.

Paul Kitson Paul Kitson 9:17 pm 15 Jul 19

Great outcome. I have used it a maybe a dozen times and I think it is great. I can get from Gungahlin to Civic quickly and the ride is relaxing. I was a very serious skeptic at the start and thought it was too expensive (I hoped the LIbs would win the lats election justto kill the contract). But infrastructure development had to happen somewhere and this is a good start.

    Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 7:19 am 16 Jul 19

    Paul Kitson this government is too used of Comcare driving their buts around at our expense.... They should try some public transport.

    I mean Canberra has only been around 100 years!

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 3:51 pm 16 Jul 19

    Lauryn Roberts which government? The ACT government? They don’t use Comcar! Good rant though.

Tim Cole Tim Cole 11:16 pm 15 Jul 19

It was always going to take a million trips. More importantly, is it in line, ahead or behind the forecasts?

    Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 7:20 am 16 Jul 19

    Tim Cole the free travel pushed up the numbers.

Jill Brown Jill Brown 6:50 am 16 Jul 19

Now fix the bus service in the south. Thanks

    Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 4:12 pm 16 Jul 19

    Jill Brown I hate the negative comments around this post but I agree with yours. Some elements of the bus timetable changes are a debacle... and include several route abandonments where there are no alternative services. Perhaps RiotAct could run a story on that?

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 5:26 pm 16 Jul 19

    Yep - Even the new Transport Minister admitted on Radio this morning that he had caught the Kambah Buses that now meander their way very slowly via Cooleman Court and no one from Kambah got 'on or off' at Cooleman Court. This is just one example of some of the terrible routes under the new Bus design.

    Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 5:42 pm 16 Jul 19

    Three bus stops have been abandoned at Narrabundah Lane and during my in morning walk I often see buses running along that road with the "Not in Service" sign on the front. There is no way to get from Tuggeranong to Fyshwick - My sister had to turn down jobs because of that... I can go on... We could have a great bus service if the planners showed some creativity.

Meg Joy Meg Joy 7:13 am 16 Jul 19

The people lucky enough to live along the tram line who only want to go that way with minimal transfers were always going to get a good service. But people in every other geographic area who need to move around the rest of Canberra are suffering badly from the now-terrible bus services (some of which dump them at the tram and would be very annoyed their travel stats are being used in this way). Those other people in other areas have been dissed and they are definitely NOT feeling 'better connected'

Nathan Lofthouse Nathan Lofthouse 1:47 pm 16 Jul 19

It's the same 96 people riding back and forth, transport canberra cancelled their visas and wont let them get off + 4 passengers

Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 4:00 pm 16 Jul 19

Just goes to show: Build it and they will come. How long did we spend talking about it? And how long will we spend talking about the southern lines?

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