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.
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.
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.
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.