Expanded Park and Ride facilities, including multi-level car parks at group centres, should be a part of the ACT’s new integrated public transport system, according to Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR).
In a submission to the ACT Government consultation on the new bus network, which closed on 12 August, PTCBR said Park and Ride locations could be more than car parks and signage, but multi-storey facilities with ground floor retail and services.
It says they could be co-located with existing local centres, adding to the retail mix and car parking capacity, and freeing up open car parks for short-term parking favoured by business owners and their customers.
The expanded Park and Rides could also serve as well-designed bus stations where rapid buses and local buses connect.
PTCBR says Cooleman Court in Weston Creek, which will become an interchange for transfer to new Rapid services, would benefit from this approach because, at present, Parkinson Street was inadequate as a transfer point.
The submission argues that Parkinson Street lacks enough space for buses, has no protection from the elements, and passengers will have to cross a busy street.
It advocates the construction of a multi-storey Park and Ride with ground floor retail on the surface carpark on Parkinson Street that could either complement existing Cooleman Court retail offerings or provide community functions not already there.
“This model can be applied in other group and local centres across Canberra, and could be trialled in the newer residential areas such as the Casey Shops or residential areas currently being planned and constructed in Molonglo and Ginninderry,” the submission says.
Overall, PTCBR supports the Government’s transport reforms but believes they could be improved.
“We appreciate that for some people the complete redesign of the bus network to accommodate a more in-depth commitment to making rapid light rail and bus services the backbone of the territories public transport network, supported by more frequent and shorter local services connecting to that rapid backbone, may not initially seem to be a better overall network,” PTCBR chair Damien Hass said.
“Change can sometimes be difficult, but the PTCBR has looked at the proposed Network and believe it is the improvement that we need for the 21st century.”
PTCBR has also called for a focus on connections between rapid and local bus services, and for planners to avoid the temptation to revert to long meandering routes.
It believes the rapid bus network should be extended into Queanbeyan, with regional NSW buses brought into the Canberra public transport and ticketing network.
Buses also needed to be given clearer run on the roads, particularly at peak times, with measures such as traffic light priority, bus lanes on all new arterial roads and bus only intersections in areas with high bus traffic.
It supports the move to reduce school services but says the Government should explore a stand alone school bus fleet, including private sector services. There also needed to be more stops at actual schools, not just nearby.
On-demand travel also needed to be resourced properly.
“With some modifications, the proposed Network will resolve long-standing complaints about the local bus network, and build on the success of the rapid bus network, while establishing light rail as the backbone future more frequent local services can connect to. It will enable Canberra to become a compact livable city, that can free itself of car dependence,” Mr Haas said.
To read the submission, go here.