2 March 2022

More than 80 bus stops across Canberra to get an accessibility face lift

| Lottie Twyford
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Bus stops around Canberra will be upgraded to make them more accessible to elder Canberrans or people with a disability. Photo: File.

Just over 80 bus stops around Canberra will be upgraded, improved or constructed throughout the year as part of the government’s commitment to ensuring the transport network is accessible to all Canberrans including the elderly and people with a disability.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) ACT CEO Jenny Mobbs warmly welcomed the news of the upgrades given public transport often plays a vital role in the lives of many senior Canberrans.

“As older people are challenged by mobility issues, any level path is better than what we’ve seen in the past,” she said.

Ms Mobbs said now was the right time to continue the program of upgrades given older people are starting to get back onto public transport after periods of lockdowns during the last two years.

“This is a really valuable program for older people,” she said.

READ ALSO What’s stopping women in Canberra from using public transport or active travel?

Last week, the ACT Government announced that every bus in its fleet will be a low-floor, accessible bus by the end of this year. The remaining 34 disability non-compliant Renault orange buses are being retired, as part of the transition to a zero-emissions and fully accessible transport fleet.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said it was important the government recognised there was no use having accessible buses if the structure of the stops themselves were not also accessible.

Ms Mobbs agreed, and said the two programs will work hand-in-hand to benefit older Canberrans, a group she said can be “very outspoken” about things that don’t work for them.

Mr Steel explained that traditionally Canberra’s bus stops had been simple concrete pads with blades, which haven’t been disability-compliant.

minister for transport and city services Chris Steel and council on the ageing CEO Jenny Mobbs

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel and Council on the Ageing ACT CEO Jenny Mobbs at the newly upgraded bus stop on the corner of Haydon Drive and College Street in Belconnen. Photo: ACT Government.

Most bus stops required changes such as the addition of tactile surfaces to support people who are vision-impaired, better footpath connections and disability-compliant concrete gradients and connectors – to allow for wheelchairs, for example.

An example of an upgraded shelter is the major stop on the corner of Haydon Drive and College Street in Belconnen – one of four bus stops upgraded along Haydon Drive in the past year.

A new 11.5 metre shelter was installed to replace a classic Canberra bunker shelter, which had limited capacity and no longer met the needs of the busy and well-used stop.

Tactile surfaces and a concrete pad were also added to allow better access for Canberrans with a disability.

READ ALSO First electric buses on road this year, 90 more on the way

Mr Steel said at least 70 upgrades were delivered throughout 2021 and this year’s program of works will exceed the last.

“By improving the accessibility of local bus stops we’re making it easier for everyone to move around our city,” he said.

“We recognise that for people to choose public transport as a regular mode of travel, it has to be convenient, reliable, comfortable and safe. That’s what we’re delivering with these upgrades,” he said.

Two new stops have also been established in Whitlam to complement the new Route 47 – which provides connections from the suburb to Belconnen and Denman Prospect.

The ACT Government is plunging $4.69 million into the bus stop upgrades and improvements program.

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It was illegal to use the old buses as of Janurary 1 this year. Steel hasn’t managed this and we’re against federal law. Apparently it was much harder to work out the electric buses and it then took longer to get diesels.

Canberra has iconic bus stops. Many of these are being ripped out of tuggeranong and placed into new areas of Canberra. Pork barrelling. Or is Mr Steel going to rob Canberra of the iconic and history of its busstops.

Many of the bus stops were already upgraded, and added with LED lighting. However as the stop was removed so did the busstop, no one wants a glow in the dark reminder that their route is no longer important.

With so many stops without a shelter or even, in some cases, a seat, the govt would be better advised to install shelters on all stops first before embarking on some grand modernisation program. The stop on Cth Avenue at the park doesn’t even have a shelter. And the shelters at the bus station itself are minuscule and often provide insufficient cover for passengers in sun or rain.

Leon Arundell3:16 pm 07 Mar 22

I agree with the Minister that there is “no use having accessible buses if the structure of the stops themselves were not also accessible.”
Has he consulted with any actual wheelchair users?
Few Canberra bus stops have ‘pram ramps’ that would allow a wheelchair user to access them from directly across the road, without having to make a substantial detour.
Wheelchair users are prevented by four steep steps from accessing one bus stop on
Wentworth Avenue, near the Bus Depot Markets.
That stop is NOT on the list of bus stops that are to be upgraded before the government’s deadline of the end of 2022.

As someone who uses the bus network regularly, I believe that these glass and metal structures serve only one purpose; advertising.

They only provide protection from the rain if it’s falling straight down. If its on an angle, you get wet. They only provide shelter from the sun in the middle of the day and depending on the direction of the wind, you may have to stand behind the shelter to be protected.

The Minister should wait at a bus stop in the weather and discover how pathetic these “shelters” really are!

You are so right and people with fair skin suffer. Get rid of the glass shelters.

Agreed. I’m Age Pensioner, some mobility challenges. Have been in a glass shelter and had icy rain coming in horizontally, at ankle and head height. Currently I can use the concrete shelters which do offer “shelter” and shade. Also seating for a number of people. Most glass ones only seat maybe 2.

They may look more ‘trendy’ but the new model is just a glass wall with a seat.

At least the old ones provided you some genuine cover from the wind and the rain.

Tell me exactly how are the new stops more suitable to the elderly or disabled?

At $30-80,000 each we have been conned once again by Chris and his disciples.

People who don’t catch buses decide on these matters. Glass shelters are an OH&S issue. They can do more harm than good.

Capital Retro6:02 pm 06 Mar 22

Are any of these destined for Tuggeranong?

Andrew Caird1:56 pm 06 Mar 22

And where is the protection from the wind and rain, another typical govt project, absolutely not fit for purpose.

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