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RIP Number 5 Bus – the folks in Narrabundah will miss you

By Elizabeth Lee MLA 31 October 2017 13

Nothing gets Canberrans more fired up than when their regular bus route changes it seems.

On 9 October, the new timetable and route changes came into effect; a change which the government claims provides more frequent and efficient services for all Canberrans.

Not according to the numerous emails, letters, calls and face-to-face approaches I’ve had recently.

In September, my office did a letterbox run of some of the suburbs in my electorate to inform them of the new bus timetable and the services that may be impacted.

One of these was the cancellation of the popular number 5 bus which provides a direct service to the City and Woden for Narrabundah residents.

Blinded by its shiny new timetable, it seems the government forgot one crucial thing – actually consulting with actual users of the service before actually deciding to cut it and actually notifying them of the cancellation.

Since I’ve been in the Assembly, I’ve never had as many emails and calls and letters than I have had about the cancellation of the number 5 bus. Who knew that after the tram debate was done and dusted, public transport could ever ignite so much excitement again?

As early as 13 September, I put questions to the Minister for Transport in Question Time about what consultation she had undertaken before unilaterally deciding to cut the service and got nothing more than, “information is being made available to residents now”. Pretty hollow words as an afterthought when the government had already decided to cut the service.

In addition to the correspondence I’ve had with the Minister since that time, the topic of public transport came up again in the Assembly on 26 October. Almost 6 weeks after I first raised the issue with her in the Assembly (which I am sure is not the first time she received complaints from residents about it), she was still clinging onto the line of denial – that the changes to the timetable are providing more services to the Inner South.

All hats off to the government officials who fronted Narrabundah residents at the Community Services Open Day on 28 October. When you choose to go into the public service, facing irate residents about changes that you personally may, or may not, have had a say in can’t be easy. Kudos to the team from Transport Canberra for being available to answer questions and listen to resident concerns.

And to give the Minister credit – she did acknowledge that perhaps the government could have done better to communicate the changes to Narrabundah residents, but, aside from it coming too late, it also came with a qualified claim that perhaps residents are “confused” because they are receiving “other information” in addition to information from Transport Canberra. In other words, I was the naughty local member who notified my constituents of the bus timetable change and the residents were not smart enough to work out what the changes mean and are now “confused”.

When the residents of Narrabundah no longer have a service that goes through a key part of their suburb taking you to Woden or to the City, and you stubbornly continue to claim this is an increase in service, perhaps it is you that is “confused”, Minister.

You said so confidently in the Assembly last week, “One of the major improvements to the 2018 network will be increased frequency and better connections so that Canberrans will be able to just turn up at a bus stop and go where they need to”. Can you honestly look a Narrabundah resident in the eye and say that?


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13 Responses to
RIP Number 5 Bus – the folks in Narrabundah will miss you
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Ruth Dewsbury 8:33 am 09 Nov 17

Absolutely, Mark. I hope the Government responds to invitations to meet and discuss a solution. Perhap ‘fix the six’ is a compromise with one or more stops along Kootara to restore access to Woden to the retirement complex, shops, childcare and community housing residents (and the rest of us!). In this beautiful spring weather a 15 minute walk is bearable for the able bodied but I do dread the trek in the blazing heat or the dead of winter. I feel sad getting into the car to work, adding to greenhouse gas emissions and paying a fortune for parking but I’m forced to now to get anywhere quickly. Please Minister Fitzharris, help restore faith that the government has the interests of our community and equitable access to public transport at heart.

Mark 9:27 pm 08 Nov 17

Agree 100% Ruth. Cancellation of Route 5 is inequitable and will cause further hardship for a specific portion of the community that can ill-afford it (particularly the high proportion of families on low incomes, people living with disability, public housing tenants, elderly pensioners and the hundreds of children who reside in lower Narrabundah. The new changes will significantly increase journey times, require further waiting and connecting with other buses, require longer walking distances and crossing busy arterial roads, or any combination of these.

Route 5 provided a long established rout linking key community amenities and schools as well as health care facilities at Canberra Hospital. The new routes 4 and 6 represent a significant diminution of public transport service for the lower Narrabundah community – particularly its vulnerable residents (children, aged, people with disability).

All this at a time when the government is trumpeting wonderful improvements in bus services for the wider Canberra community.

I hope Minister Fitzharris and Labour government do the right and decent thing and review the decision, given the weight of submissions and outcry. While we may not share in the improvements being rolled out across Canberra, we would surely hope to experience ‘no net loss’ in the existing level of service (prior to scrapping the 5), at the very least. Social justice. Thanks Elizabeth Lee for your advocacy.

Leon Arundell 8:16 pm 08 Nov 17

The important thing is how this change will contribute to Labor achieving its commitment to 16% of journeys to work by 2026 – it’s already missed its 2016 commitment of 10.5%, by 2.3%. http://grapevine.net.au/~mccluskeyarundell/Our_City_-_Transport.pdf

Maya123 10:48 am 08 Nov 17

Belconandonandon said :

In reply to your comment Maya123 (so that I don’t fill the comments section with the chain of replies):

It’s a 10 or so minute walk through a nice neighborhood to either the 6 or the 80 (depending on where you live in Narranbundah), which both go to directly Woden. In exchange you get a more frequent and direct bus service to Woden, Manuka, Kingston, the Parliamentary Triangle and the City. I think the route 4 will be handy for students who go to CIT, Narrabundah College, Red Hill primary or Boys Grammar, as well as people who want to go to Red Hill Shops or the Outlet Centre.

Overall it seems like a genuine improvement to me. That said, perhaps the government could put in extra bus stops to shorten the walk for some people – they could put a number 6 bus stop on the corner of Sturt Street and McIntyre Street as well as a number 80 stop on Canberra Avenue a bit closer to Ipswhich Street.

A “10 or so minute walk through a nice neighbourhood” to an elderly person on Kootara Crescent, maybe with their walker? Lot of aged housing along there.

Ruth Dewsbury 7:24 pm 07 Nov 17

There is one good thing about the bus changes. It’s strengthened an already vibrant community and given us lots of opportunities to chat as we trudge the 15 minutes to the Number 6 on Macintyre or 10 minutes to Canberra Ave, where I had to chuckle this morning when the driver of the empty Number 4 advised unwitting passengers not to catch it if they wanted to get to Civic any time soon. None of us has the slightest interest in taking the 4 to Red Hill or the Canberra Outlet Centre. As others have noted it’s the lack of a direct Woden service that is the biggest problem, especially for the elderly and the ill who need to get to hospital or to access essential services. This is, actually, a serious issue and one that is making a lot of hard working, good neighbours sad, confused and justifiably angry. Thanks Elizabeth Lee for taking us seriously. Narrabundah deserves better.

Rover 6:07 pm 02 Nov 17

Belconandonandon said :

Personally, I won’t miss the number 5 at all. When I lived in the area, I used to catch the bus from Narrabundah to the City and it took forever. The new route 6 would have taken half as long, and I think it’ll be good having a rapid service from Manuka to Woden and the City.

Generally, I think it’s better to have to travel a bit further to the bus stop but have more direct and frequent services, rather than having meandering bus lines that only come once an hour because they service every square inch of Canberra.

Well, of course you won’t miss it if you don’t live in the area any more…and it may well have been a different 5 to the one you caught as the 4 and 5 were tweaked in 2014 when the original 6 was scrapped. The new Rapid Green 6 is great for me as Narrabundah College is my stop anyway, but it is really noticeable how many more people are getting off there now and heading down to Old Narrabundah.

And it’s not all about getting to Civic – what about the people who have to get to the hospital? Don’t know if you’ve walked through Old Narrabundah lately, but there are very few concrete footpaths and it’s difficult terrain if you’re sick or elderly. There are no bus stops on Sturt/Jerrabomberra Ave, so they have to cross a four-lane, 70km/h road to get to the stop in McIntyre St, or negotiate the roundabout at Jerrabomberra Ave/Goyder St to get to the bus stop. Or they can catch the 4 and hope it meets up with the 6 at Narrabundah College some time in the next half hour.

Or every second Rapid Green 6 could be diverted through Old Narrabundah. Just a suggestion.

Belconandonandon 1:46 pm 02 Nov 17

In reply to your comment Maya123 (so that I don’t fill the comments section with the chain of replies):

It’s a 10 or so minute walk through a nice neighborhood to either the 6 or the 80 (depending on where you live in Narranbundah), which both go to directly Woden. In exchange you get a more frequent and direct bus service to Woden, Manuka, Kingston, the Parliamentary Triangle and the City. I think the route 4 will be handy for students who go to CIT, Narrabundah College, Red Hill primary or Boys Grammar, as well as people who want to go to Red Hill Shops or the Outlet Centre.

Overall it seems like a genuine improvement to me. That said, perhaps the government could put in extra bus stops to shorten the walk for some people – they could put a number 6 bus stop on the corner of Sturt Street and McIntyre Street as well as a number 80 stop on Canberra Avenue a bit closer to Ipswhich Street.

Maya123 10:50 am 02 Nov 17

I should have added that Bus 5 was more about Woden to me and I imagine many other Narrabundah residents, as it was a quick trip to Woden. Now we have lost our Woden bus in effect. A walk of approximately a kilometre for many now, depending where you live. Route 4 was always more ‘tortuous’ than bus 5 for Narrabundah residents and best avoided. But for people along Kootara Crescent that’s their bus to Civic now, increasing the travel time, as it meanders along far worse than bus 5 ever did.
There was no need for bus 4 to be extended into lower Narrabundah, increasing travel time. Why has it been extended to duplicate the route of Red Rapid buses along Canberra Avenue? What is the justification of that inefficiency, while cutting the route through Narrabundah? Cut the route of bus 4 through lower Narrabundah and have bus 6 cover that route instead. It would be simple to do. But hang on, that would return our bus 5 and return our old far superior bus service.

Am I allowed to be cynical? Perhaps we in lower Narrabundah (retired getting free bus trips) were not paying as well as those in Red Hill.

I have heard no logical reason Bus 5 has been cut. A bus still drives that route (longer bus 4 route). A driver and bus is still being used, but without taking us to Woden. Then bus 4 doubles up with the Red Rapid route. Why? Is it an attempt to direct customers away from Woden to the Canberra Outlet Centre.

My guess is that Woden was the main shopping centre for many lower Narrabundah residents because of the quicker trip; now it is gone.

Maya123 11:39 pm 01 Nov 17

Belconandonandon said :

Personally, I won’t miss the number 5 at all. When I lived in the area, I used to catch the bus from Narrabundah to the City and it took forever. The new route 6 would have taken half as long, and I think it’ll be good having a rapid service from Manuka to Woden and the City.

Generally, I think it’s better to have to travel a bit further to the bus stop but have more direct and frequent services, rather than having meandering bus lines that only come once an hour because they service every square inch of Canberra.

Ah yes, the old people living along Kootara Crescent will enjoy walking that km to catch Bus 6 at Narrabundah College. Do them good!
Route 5 was a quick ride to Woden. It wasn’t all about Civic,

Belconandonandon 5:27 pm 01 Nov 17

Personally, I won’t miss the number 5 at all. When I lived in the area, I used to catch the bus from Narrabundah to the City and it took forever. The new route 6 would have taken half as long, and I think it’ll be good having a rapid service from Manuka to Woden and the City.

Generally, I think it’s better to have to travel a bit further to the bus stop but have more direct and frequent services, rather than having meandering bus lines that only come once an hour because they service every square inch of Canberra.

bj_ACT 3:26 pm 01 Nov 17

It’s the continued claims from the Transport Minister of “this is an increase in service” that really gets me. Especially when her claims are patently and obviously not true.

I posted in the earlier thread about Minister’s claims on the new Lanyon to Civic Rapid service. An ‘Anything but Rapid Service’ that will run from Tuggeranong to Civic via Woden, Kingston/Manuka. A journey that according to Google Maps Routing takes more than twice as long as a direct route would take (and that’s by car, imagine what the actual Bus trip will be).

Up until a couple of weeks ago, weekend Busses went straight from Erindale to Civic every 15 minutes or better. This service has now been dumped. How can the Minister dress up reduced services, more complex routes and increased travel time as an improvement?

Just because Tuggeranong residents don’t have the communication clout of Inner South residents, shouldn’t mean they continue to get reduced public transport facilities. Forcing residents to use a car and worsen the cycle.

https://the-riotact.com/government-wants-your-say-on-buses-as-new-rapid-network-unveiled/220413

Direct Route 27 mins
https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/Mort+St,+Canberra+ACT+2601/Lanyon+Marketplace,+4+Sidney+Nolan+Drive,+Conder+ACT+2906/@-35.3656156,149.0452899,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x6b164d66c6347dcf:0x4c6ff846170903c5!2m2!1d149.1312567!2d-35.2745495!1m5!1m1!1s0x6b17cb27e0dd7f01:0xdb04b0b47f88f750!2m2!1d149.0926974!2d-35.4570023!3e0

Proposed Rapid Route 1 hour and 2 minutes
https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/Mort+St,+Canberra+ACT+2601/Lanyon+Marketplace/@-35.3067256,149.1118319,13.5z/data=!4m74!4m73!1m65!1m1!1s0x6b164d66c6347dcf:0x4c6ff846170903c5!2m2!1d149.1312567!2d-35.2745495!3m4!1m2!1d149.147598!2d-35.2992656!3s0x6b164d099bced9cf:0x2aa627166d10ed8c!3m4!1m2!1d149.1423367!2d-35.316156!3s0x6b164cfc6dd0d393:0x1300ea6e6d4bdfa0!3m4!1m2!1d149.1318932!2d-35.3197068!3s0x6b164ce8ba801f07:0x17f12e2f3c2640d0!3m4!1m2!1d149.1246281!2d-35.329612!3s0x6b164cbee9f91759:0x1300ea6e6d41de01!3m4!1m2!1d149.0969881!2d-35.3184147!3s0x6b17b336198eb5cd:0x15ba7593730dfe05!3m4!1m2!1d149.0940311!2d-35.3192368!3s0x6b17b3481640b063:0x5d5eebcd26146274!3m4!1m2!1d149.0944445!2d-35.3300065!3s0x6b17b35046a81271:0xeb8d5935b7725fe1!3m4!1m2!1d149.0883542!2d-35.3448223!3s0x6b17b4a4928153b5:0xa9ca030280d9c45e!3m4!1m2!1d149.0927654!2d-35.3696635!3s0x6b17b4d009d6d2a7:0xbca90d3d928cb84a!3m4!1m2!1d149.0827902!2d-35.3903768!3s0x6b17b53e6560eefb:0x4f2acc27835bf618!3m4!1m2!1d149.0994014!2d-35.403009!3s0x6b17b54be8460757:0xfff578adeaab41b7!3m4!1m2!1d149.1115259!2d-35.4362332!3s0x6b16354eeabdde17:0x2790bad2f2823301!1m5!1m1!1s0x6b17cb27e0dd7f01:0xdb04b0b47f88f750!2m2!1d149.0926974!2d-35.4570023!3e0

Maya123 7:06 am 01 Nov 17

I was a regular user who would catch it to Civic and Woden (I went to Woden mostly), as it was more convenient than the hassle of driving and finding a park. Plus to Woden it took about the same time as driving, and depending on lights, I’ve had the bus beat my car to Woden on one of the few times I drove there. Now I am considering giving up the bus and driving EVERYWHERE, which brings some tears to my eyes, as I liked the bus.
I am overseas at present and I wished I could have made more comment about this. Because when I get home my bus will be gone.
I particularly feel sorry for those elderly residents in housing along Kootara Crescent, placed conveniently beside what used to be a bus route. It always appeared to me that the housing was purposely placed there, because No. 5 ran past. Now these elderly people will need to walk about a kilometre to catch the bus to Woden. And more government housing is under construction at present along a route that no longer exists.
Best argument ever for the tram this, for if this were a tram route it would be unlikely to be ripped up and moved. That’s why developers and investors like investing along tram routes; they don’t just get eliminated at someone’s ignorant, uncaring, personal fancy.

bazinga 4:05 pm 31 Oct 17

Well, I’ve gone back to driving so that’s a good indicator of the “increased” service. Frustrated with the waiting time having increased, exacerbated by the buses not running to schedule and then the bus home in the afternoon is over crowded. It worked great as it was before the changes, I actually preferred it to driving, it’s just not worth the hassle now.

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