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Mitchell to the City on ACTION

By Sgt.Bungers - 23 May 2009 22

This morning I had to drop my car in for a service in Mitchell.  I then chose to take an ACTION bus to City Interchange to go to work.  I caught the 56 bus at 8:46am from the North Western end of Mitchell.  I got off the bus in the City Interchange at 9:18am.  32 minutes to travel 8.7km.  An average of 16.3km/h.  I then had to walk to my office closer to ANU, another 12 minutes thanks to the fun that is crossing Northbourne Avenue on foot, with signals timed for a 5-6 minute waiting time for pedestrians.  All up, 9.3km took me 44 minutes using the fasted available means of public transport in peak hour, or 12.7km/h average.

My point, mainly that someone with average fitness could have jogged to the City from Mitchell in less time than it took me to utilise ACT public transport this morning.  Someone with good fitness could have done it in 30% less time.

Should travel times like this be considered an acceptable caveat when utilising a cheap form of “environmentally friendly” transport?  Is this really an attractive, acceptable, viable solution to getting us out of our less viable (long term) private means of transport?

If not, what can we do to improve environmentally friendly transport to and from the city from the North in peak hour?  AM/PM bus lanes on Northbourne?  24h bus lanes on the median of Northbourne? Light Rail? A massive, free car park at EPIC, with express busses running every 2-3 minutes from it, into the City in peak hour? Completely flatten Canberra and rebuild it with the aim of fitting all residents into an 80% smaller footprint?

What’s Your opinion?


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22 Responses to
Mitchell to the City on ACTION
vg 8:37 am 24 May 09

“My point, mainly that someone with average fitness could have jogged to the City from Mitchell in less time than it took me to utilise ACT public transport this morning. Someone with good fitness could have done it in 30% less time.”

Begs the question why you didn’t then

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 8:10 am 24 May 09

The buses in Canberra are ok IF you want to go only between major centres.

Buses don’t even viably service where I live (10 bucks and an hour and a half to the city last I checked), so for the short term I’ll enjoy the burble up the Monaro Hwy in the V8. Free/cheap parking can still be found in most places if you know where to look.

deye 7:07 am 24 May 09

Given the small percentage of travel that public transport makes up of the total if you were to reduce car travel by 5% then public transport would have to double in size. Can you see twice the people fitting on ACTION ?

JC 1:06 am 24 May 09

bd84 said :

It’s the same story for almost every bus route in Canberra, except most people’s journey will be about an hour for what takes no more than 25 mins in the car.

I’ve said it about a million times that people will not catch a bus for as long as they take the scenic route and aren’t a decent comparison for travel time in a car. Yes it is fixable with money and some common sense in the bus routes, but they keep the same long sceneic routes and just add rubbish services like the “redex”. Shorter and more direct services will get people on buses.

They do the scenic route because they have to do a route to pick up passengers along the way. If money wasn’t an issue you might have 1 bus router serving just one suburb running every 15 minutes. Then they wouldn’t need to meander through the suburbs and you might stand a better chance of getting people on the bus. But this is not realistic option.

ant 11:50 pm 23 May 09

park n rides. I keep nagging about this, but bloody hell if they work in yankland, they sure can work here.

the crap buses are one reason why I don’t have my car serviced in Mitchell! I only catch buses when the car is getting its oil, it’s always an interesting adventure.

PsydFX 11:22 pm 23 May 09

Wow, the GDE must have really made a difference out there. When I was living in Gungahlin, it used to take atleast 45 minutes to drive into the City and find a park.

I’ve recently started taking the bus again, and I must say, I’ve been happy with the experience so far, and I can’t see why everyone bags on ACTION all the time, and even though it takes 2 busses to get from southside to the city, the whole journey only takes an extra 15-20 minutes than it would have if I was driving to work and having to look for a park.

bd84 10:29 pm 23 May 09

It’s the same story for almost every bus route in Canberra, except most people’s journey will be about an hour for what takes no more than 25 mins in the car.

I’ve said it about a million times that people will not catch a bus for as long as they take the scenic route and aren’t a decent comparison for travel time in a car. Yes it is fixable with money and some common sense in the bus routes, but they keep the same long sceneic routes and just add rubbish services like the “redex”. Shorter and more direct services will get people on buses.

arescarti42 10:09 pm 23 May 09

gomer said :

Less than 40 years from now it is likely that we will not be able to afford to commute to work because fuel will be too expensive (the other option is walking/riding by the way).

Certainly too expensive to be commuting by yourself in an average sized car. Perhaps not too expensive to carpool with 4 other people or catch the bus though.

gomer said :

The only solution I can see is that work needs to be spread out. Reduce the need for big roads into the city by setting a desk spaces to local accommodation ratio.

Hmmmm, one thing Canberra’s town centres show is that just because you put offices near people’s homes doesn’t mean that that’s where they’ll go to work. Spreading workplaces around the city would just make public transport a nightmare to coordinate.

gomer 8:35 pm 23 May 09

Less than 40 years from now it is likely that we will not be able to afford to commute to work because fuel will be too expensive (the other option is walking/riding by the way). It is unlikely that the majority will want to live in 80’s Japanese tubes so they can be close to work. There is no easy way to make 300,000+ people close to the middle of a city. So what then? The Griffin plan was great assuming that you believe what calvin coolidge said about technology always solving our problems, but I think global warming is a good example of the hole in his statement. The only solution I can see is that work needs to be spread out. Reduce the need for big roads into the city by setting a desk spaces to local accommodation ratio.

shiny flu 7:36 pm 23 May 09

I vote the last option. If we stuck more closely to Griffin’s plan instead of saying ‘you’re fired, we don’t have any more money’ we wouldn’t be stupidly spread out so much and the civic centre would actually be more central.

JC 7:04 pm 23 May 09

The OP hit the nail on the head. Canberra is way too spread out for any form of public transport to work in the suburbs. Shrinking the city into an 80% smaller foot print would work, although if we did that we might as well walk everywhere. We could possibly even really justify trams if we were that small a city!

The reason it takes so long to get from say Kippax to say Russell is the bus from Kippax has to meander through our large spread out suburbs stopping at every stop to pick up passengers then take them somewhere central, such as an interchange, although guess now in Belconnen that now means the side of the road. That alone takes the best part of 30 minutes.

Then you (mostly) need to change buses to the trunk route to the city. That takes maybe 5 minutes. Then the trunk route needs to get to the city. Once upon a time that took 15 minutes, but now it goes a different way which takes an extra 5, but for good reason, so as to serve more locations. So now we are already up to 50 minutes.

Next you need to change again, that might take 5 minutes if the bus is already there, but for the sake of averages lets say it takes 10 (assuming a bus city to Russel every 15 mins). Then it takes another 10 minutes to get through the city to Russell. So all up the trip has taken 1 hour 10 minutes.

By car you could do that trip in about 25 minutes in peak and about 20 off peak. On the bus though, off peak it could take another 30-45 minutes (or more) depending upon the connections.

I challenge anyone to come up with some sensible way of making the trip even 40% faster by bus but still making it affordable to the citizens.

arescarti42 4:45 pm 23 May 09

As long as roads remain (relatively) un-congested, and petrol is cheap, public transport will never have the same popularity in Australia that it has in most European and Asian countries.

Alas for those of us who like to drive, I’d be willing to bet petrol will be back pushing $2 a litre as soon as the world comes out of recession. What we should be doing in Canberra is putting in public transport infrastructure and encouraging urban infilling and higher density developments to make public transport more feasible and palatable for ordinary people.

Cobrico 2:29 pm 23 May 09

Correctamundo. Bus times to the north continue to be unacceptable. Yet ACT Governments of all colours continue to pretend that more buses are the answer.

The solution is not in rolling stock but in a traffic engineering solution of the type suggested by Sgt.Bungers, except where s/he gets a bit carried away.

ACT Govts just can’t seem to get the bus people to talk to the traffic engineering people.

Terry Snow seems to be able to get things done in Canberra: let’s put him in charge of it.

rosebud 1:14 pm 23 May 09

It’s pathetic. To get to Fairbairn from the northside for instance, it takes two buses and 90 minutes! 25 mins in a car. Probaby only about an hour on a bike (but then you have to dodge all those angry drivers stuck behind a slow moving, mostly empty bus on its way out to Fairbairn).

I often choose to walk home from Civic, which takes about 50 minutes, because I KNOW if I have to wait for a bus, it might take me just as long to walk to the stop, wait for the one bus that goes my way, crowd in with everyone else (thinking swine flu from the heaving masses) for the priviledge of being trundled along on a vehicle with little or no suspension and a driver who brakes so hard, old ladies slide past on their way out – whether they wanted to or not.

Public transport in the ACT is a joke.

deye 1:06 pm 23 May 09

I used to live in Duffy and work in Belco. To catch a bus for all but 1 service a day meant Duffy – > Woden – > Civic – > Belco. The 1 quick service was Duffy – > Civic – > Belco. The short service took about 40 minutes. The long one depended on if you managed to get the connections right and which direction you were heading so anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour and a half.

Alternatively I could get out the bike and head up the path to Scrivener dam, then on to Belco in 40-45 minutes depending on head wind.

Public transport will always be slow under most circumstances as a) you have to stop frequently and b) you have to make connections.

Because you went from Mitchell it’s not one of the well populated routes nor an express run it takes some time. If you went from Belco to Civic though it would be not much slower than a car as there are only a few stops.

Ideally you would have a rail network with minimal stops between the major points and run buses to feed the nearest station. Run the trains every 5 minutes and the buses every 10 or 15 and it shouldn’t be too bad. The way the feeder buses currently run every 30 or 60 minutes really does make it painful.

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