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On the buses

By Madam Cholet - 14 January 2010 44

ACTION bus (image care of abc.net.au)

ACTION bus (image care of abc.net.au)

I’m sure that this is not a new rant or rave, but having just had two days of using the buses in this swealtering heat I will give it a go.

Before I go too far into said rant, the point of my post is this – does anyone know if Action Buses have a plan to replace any of  their old fleet? I have heard a few things recently about new this and fantastic that, but haven’t actually seen anything materialise. What exactly do our fares pay for in the long term?

On Monday afternoon, in full knowledge that the old bus on my route would not be air conditioned, I still ran the gauntlet in order to get home slightly earlier. By the time I got off the bus I was so overheated that I thought I might throw up! At least I can say that all the windows were open, although even hurtling down the Monaro Highway was not enough to provide anything other than an extra blast of heat. It appears though on the old buses that the drivers area is air conditioned – just haven’t managed to extend to the paying passengers.

Thinking a bit more carefully about my trip today I decided to take the later bus which is always a new air conditioned model. Upon taking my seat I realised that the air con on the bus was not coping with the heat at all and we were essentially travelling in a super heated sealed box.

Over the years of travelling on the buses in Canberra, I have made a number of calls to ACTION asking what has to be done to get a newer bus on our route for a bit of cool relief at the end of a long day at work. I have been advised that bus drivers pick their own buses and unfortunately some of them prefer the old ones so nothing to be done. It seemed as if the school kids who have subsidised fares always got the newer buses, yet even with the kids on school holidays, we still miss out. Years later we are still being fobbed off with the old buses that break down frequently, and now it seems new ones that can’t cope with anything higher than 25 degrees outside.

When will “they” realise that no one is going to seriously consider taking the bus if the service is not improved. We are frequently advised not to leave children/dogs in vehicles on hot days, but Action are quite content to move passengers around Canberra in exactly the same conditions.

Thankfully back to driving the car tomorrow –  and air conditioned luxury. In an ideal world I would take the bus everyday if I could, however childcare obligations make that an impossible choice for now. Given the last few days though, I may consider driving on these days of extreme heat.

What’s Your opinion?


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44 Responses to
On the buses
bd84 5:26 pm 14 Jan 10

Geez people always find something to complain about just for the sake of having a whinge.

I think the lack of airconditioning is one of ACTION’s smallest problems, over crowding, ticketing problems and having 100 odd routes that go nowhere as slow as possible, rank far above someone whinging that they’re a bit hot on the bus. ACTION has one of the youngest average public bus fleets in the country, they aren’t going to replace buses because someone feels a bit hot.

I caught a bus on Tuesday for the first time in about a year – to pick the car up from being serviced haha. It was about 39 odd degrees, yes the bus was a bit hot, but all the windows were open so there was some air movement so it wasn’t a sauna. The points I noted was that both buses were indicated as wheelchair accessable on the timetable website and neither ended up being accessable and the second driver skipped a few streets on the return journey. I was lucky to get off where I did as it would have been a long walk to where I wanted to go if I didn’t

somewhere_between_bu 5:11 pm 14 Jan 10

I’m happy I get my Ps in late February, then I can avoid the Eddies boys, and the Telopea kiddies.

Anyway, since the Redex has been brought in, more air-conditioned buses have started taking the 2-digit Gungahlin routes (51, 52, 56, 58, 59, etc), whereas, more old Renaults have been taking Intertowns.

I would still like to see the Redex extended to Narrabundah College, it would make far more patronage, and it would probably be cheaper (ACTION could stop the Narrabundah-City school buses)

Observing 4:37 pm 14 Jan 10

Mathew8993 said :

Your idea of the air con not working on one particular route is rediculous.

I think that comment comes from someone that is either a) trolling or b) never taken an ACTION bus. Not “rediculous” or even ridiculous. Just the reality of the current ACTION service. They use the same buses for the same route at a scheduled time. As someone mentioned, bus drivers choose their favourite buses and keep using them.

Yes, its true that buses will never be more comfortable or convenient that a car, but that’s not even part of the arguement. The fact is that its dangerously hot in the ACTION buses – especially since I’ve noticed often windows are not opened to let airflow through. So everyone agrees that a child stuck in a car can cause heatstroke yet no one puts two and two together about people on buses in the same situation?

And as always, someone comes on saying the harden the f up, which is predictable (possible trolling). Its actually getting a bit boring when people say that. I think the harden up line should be included into Godwin’s Law.

You can tell people from Canberra are not used to this heat – anyone in Central Australia would straight away know about how easy it is to get heatstroke and not make any comments about hardening up when it gets this hot.

sloppery 3:21 pm 14 Jan 10

Sometimes it gets really hot, and it’s not much fun for anyone.

And as Mathew8993 says, riding in a bus will never be as comfortable or convenient as using your own vehicle.

Mathew8993 2:44 pm 14 Jan 10

It is not entirely ACTIONs responsibilty to fix the air conditioning. It is also supposed to be maintained and serviced regularly by the Air Conditioning manufacturer (Carrier & Thermo-King) Your idea of the air con not working on one particular route is rediculous.

Also newer A/C buses are better for the environment than older buses, despite what you say about the A/C producing heat and Co2 etc. The fuel/engine system processes are cleaner than ever and have to meet emissions standards, the new MAN buses are about two years ahead of the standard of emissions required.

Public transport will never be better than driving yourself, so it your a serial whinger then just drive/carpool and enjoy your air conditioning, and the fact your on time and in more control.

pepmeup 2:24 pm 14 Jan 10

using older non airconditioned buses is better for the environment. It seems the whole problem with the environmnetal debate in the country is that people want change, but not at their own expence. Air conditioning is evil, heating the outside world, using tons of energy producing tons of C02 so you can feel a little more comfortable. Harden up.

Parkway Parker 2:16 pm 14 Jan 10

I caught the bus to work this week and had lovely air conditioning, friendly bus drivers, punctual service and sometimes only five people on a peak-hour service…I’d recommend catching the bus.

Observing 1:04 pm 14 Jan 10

You know, I have travelled to many so called third world countries that have had better buses and services that ACTION. Amusingly, when I tell them the type of public transport we have here, they are at first amazed, then they think Canberra must be a very poor region.

The aircon breaking down is NOT a time to time problem with ACTION. They don’t fix the air con on some routes at all and haven’t for weeks. I’ve had a broken air conditioning at work and at home many times. Never has it taken months, if they are even fixed at all in these buses.

spinact 12:58 pm 14 Jan 10

Special G said :

Take one for the planet and enjoy the heat on the bus. or get changed into your beach gear before travelling home and close your eyes and think of the beach.

There’s a silver lining to just about everything

caf 12:25 pm 14 Jan 10

The ACTION fleet seems to be constantly renewed, with older buses retired and newer ones brought in. Some of the non-airconditioned buses are as young as 10 years though, so it’ll be a while longer before they’re all gone (they seem to keep them for about 20 years).

housebound 12:24 pm 14 Jan 10

Let’s face it, the heat would be less of an issue if the travel times were more reasonable. Tough choice: 90 minutes by bus (including changes) in the heat, or 20 minutes by car with air conditioning, either electric (push a button) or manual (wind down the window).

MrMagoo 9:34 am 14 Jan 10

You know what, for many a year (myself included) there have been rants on here about ACTION and service etc.

It is widely known that I have no option but to bus it to work, given my lack of vision… However, part of me is thinking that it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg with regards to service provision etc. Yes, if more people use the bus, then the Government may be in a position to increase services, but also if the Government put more services on, maybe more people would use them. Given the often polarising opinion on here regarding public transport, parking, roads etc., perhaps the whole ‘if you build it, they will come’ mantra is a bit lost on the people of Canberra and of course the Government.

Special G 9:34 am 14 Jan 10

Take one for the planet and enjoy the heat on the bus. or get changed into your beach gear before travelling home and close your eyes and think of the beach.

Mathew8993 9:24 am 14 Jan 10

Much to your rant, ACTION is currently in the process of taking delivery of 100 new air conditioned buses. Around 65 are replacement buses for older (non air conditioned ones) and the rest will increase the fleet size for extra services such as the REDEX trial.

In the last 4 months or so there have been 15 new buses delivered, however you may not get these as about 10 of them are on REDEX services, however the rest of them will go onto normal services once they are delivered.

Currently the government is spending your money on the new smart card ticketing system ‘MyWay’ which will be commencing live trials this year and be fully implemented by next year, meaning and end to getting your ticket stuck in the machine, and a faster boarding process.

You can complain all you want about non air conditioned buses but your not the only one. Sydney is still running buses around built in 1983 on their government services, ACTIONs oldest bus was made in 1987 and they are reaching the end of their lives (for a public bus service) and most of the 1987/1988 model buses are being replaced with these new buses currently being delivered.

In regards to your air con problem, yes the AIR con takes a lot of power to run, and from time to time yes they do break down, not much can be done about it at the time as a mechanic will need to fix the system, it’s not just on buses, air conditioners break down in shopping centres and offices all the time, it’s a fact of life, and sadly yes it is VERY hot when they fail and all you can do is open the roof hatch or open two one or two windows sometimes fitted to the buses, annoyingly some new buses have no opening windows which i think is rediculous in case of A/C failure what air can the passengers get, i think in that situtation a replacement bus should be called!

spinact 8:46 am 14 Jan 10

I don’t think Action has ever turned a profit so you’re fares don’t even pay for the service you get at the moment let alone improvements in the future.

Unfortunately the Government seems to think they need to force people to use the bus service (eg with pay parking increases etc) THEN they’ll improve the system. Stupid. Haven’t they heard of “build it and they will come”?

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