27 March 2024

New weekend bus timetable boosts Saturday services, Sunday misses out

| Claire Fenwicke
Join the conversation
Transport Canberra buses

More bus services have been added to Canberra’s Saturday timetable. Photo: James Coleman.

Local bus frequencies will be increased on Saturdays around Canberra but public transport advocates say there’s still a way to go to reach promised levels of service.

The new weekend bus timetable will begin on Saturday, 6 April (the first weekend after Easter) and will extend hourly services from the first service in the morning until 6 pm.

Rapid bus services will continue to run every 15 to 30 minutes across the entire weekend.

Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) acting director general Ben McHugh said the teams had been working “extensively” to recruit more staff to join the approximately 1000-strong driver workforce so that they could deliver more frequent Saturday services and maintain reliability.

“Driver resources have been an ongoing challenge for all jurisdictions, not only to maintain established driver numbers which naturally reduce over time, but in the years post the COVID pandemic, we have seen a lot of departures through retirement,” he said.

“Driver recruitment efforts, particularly in the past year with more permanent part-time drivers coming on board, have helped Transport Canberra to rebuild staffing numbers.”

Sunday bus frequencies will remain the same.

READ ALSO Liberals claim ‘true costs’ of light rail Stage 2A three times what was promised, figure rubbished by govt

The new services have been described as a “welcome change” by the Public Transport Association of Canberra.

But deputy chair Damien Haas said we were still a long way from getting minimum hourly services on weekends.

“If you want to visit the War Memorial on Sunday, you deserve better than waiting two hours for a bus,” he said.

“And heaven help you if you want to get to work.”

He also pointed out there wasn’t a guarantee the new services would be “reliably run” and wanted assurances of driver coverage on weekends.

“[Until then] we can’t be confident that Transport Canberra can consistently operate the seven-day bus timetable that was promised in 2019,” Mr Haas said.

A new Weekend Reliability Trial was agreed to in the recent enterprise bargaining agreement between the ACT Government and drivers and workshop staff.

More drivers will be needed as Canberra continues to grow, and it’s hoped that both these initiatives will pave the way to further increase the frequency of weekend bus services.

“We know that the travel habits of Canberrans have changed and there has been a significant increase in the use of weekend public transport services by Canberrans,” Mr McHugh said.

“The Saturday uplift allows us to focus on more frequent bus services to meet the demand for that day and deliver better transport services for the Canberra community.”

READ ALSO Solar-powered signage trial could signal new approaches to rural level railway crossing safety

Changes to the new weekend bus timetable include:

  • Extension of hourly local buses from the first service in the morning until 6 pm on Saturdays
  • 57 additional bus services in the Belconnen region
  • 48 additional bus services in the Gungahlin region
  • 61 additional bus services in the Central Canberra region
  • 73 additional bus services in the Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo regions
  • 92 additional bus services in the Tuggeranong region.

No changes will be made to light rail frequencies, which are currently scheduled every 15 minutes on weekends.

Visit the Transport Canberra website for more information on the new weekend bus timetable or call 13 17 10.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

All those people on Riotact who had concerns that the 2019 “More Buses More Often” bus changes to remove bus stops, remove local services, change weekend timetables and replace the Xpresso’s were told by ACT Government supporters not to worry and that Light Rail will free up all these additional bus services and improve the entire bus network.

Are there any people brave and honest enough to now admit that maybe the ACT government didn’t quite deliver their promises around the bus network all those years ago.

GrumpyGrandpa5:57 pm 27 Mar 24

There are a couple of big shortcoming of this expanded Saturday timetable:

Firstly, the hourly services travelling around the suburbs finishes at 6pm. Anyone going out at night, still can’t reliably get home on public transport.

Secondly; the real world.
Unless there has substantially increased it’s workforce, the government must be expecting a large increase in their drivers taking up the extra Saturday shifts.
You can almost guarantee that with the extra workloads, if any shifts are going to get missed, it will be that later night shifts, making it even harder to get home at night.

The other impact is Sunday. From what I understand, legally there are maximum hours drivers can be on the road. With extra work on Saturdays, will there be enough drivers to work Sunday, or will there just be more Sunday runs missed, because they have increased the Saturday services?

As someone who relies on public transport, I hope my fears will prove to be unfounded. The thing is we’re been let down many times before. It would be so much more reassuring if they weren’t going to be doing a Weekly Reliably Trial. 🙄 To me, this anticipates a likely failure.

We would never have an automated ai driven bus in Canberra even if the technology was sound. The unions wouldn’t let it happen. That’s also why its so hard to get a bus on weekends. We should be able to hire weekend drivers and not get stuck with weekend rates if that was the job. Instead we end up with a bow down to the catholic church and not working Sunday.

Having unstable bus service means it doesn’t get used. Its a downward spiral. You are required to have a car in Car-berra.

Gregg Heldon11:44 am 27 Mar 24

Third world service for a supposed first world city. And those that say “it’s better than nothing”. I’m happy for you that you’re prepared to accept mediocrity.
We will continue to get half arsed services from a half arsed Government.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.