30 November 2018

Running late: Start of new bus network delayed until Term 2, 2019

| Ian Bushnell
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The new start date will allow the network to be aligned with the launch of light rail services. File photo.

The start of Canberra’s new bus network has been pushed back until the start of the second school term next year, with new timetables to be issued in March and a month of free travel to sweeten the delay and encourage patronage.

The new start date will allow the bus network to be aligned with the launch of light rail services, although Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris is unable to commit to a firm date for that other than the first quarter of 2019.

“Given the complexity of this kind of major infrastructure project and the need for third-party accreditations that are beyond the government’s and the Canberra Metro consortium’s control, we have decided to start the new bus network in term two to minimise disruption to commuters as much as possible,” she said.

The Government continues to be dogged by complaints that the new network has reduced people’s travel options in some areas and about fewer dedicated school bus services.

Some schools continue to protest against the withdrawal of dedicated services, with Radford College accusing the Government of ignoring its concerns, but a spokesperson for the Minister said further changes were unlikely and the network would proceed as is.

Radford says the lack of dedicated services from the southern services was its main concern and it was now considering organising its own service, to be paid for by parents.

Ms Fitzharris has tried to reassure parents that the buses and interchanges are safe for young children, saying Transport Canberra will boost staff on the ground and that 60 per cent of schoolchildren are already using regular services.

The new network will now begin on Saturday 27 April, with school services starting when term two begins on Monday 29 April. Timetables will be released in early March.

Transport Canberra will provide a month of free travel for every journey on the new network when a passenger uses a MyWay card.

Ms Fitzharris said the later start date would give travellers, and especially students and families certainty and enable schools to prepare for the new network during term one rather than in the busy end-of-year period.

“We have already released the updated network, following extensive consultation, to give the community a chance to become familiar with the new bus routes,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“By starting the new network before the start of term two we can give passengers, especially parents and school students, certainty to plan their journeys for both the beginning of the 2019 school year and for term two onwards.

“We usually make changes to our bus network during school holidays to minimise disruption to students. By starting the bus network for term two, we can provide certainty to students while minimising any risk of disruption when light rail begins.”

Route maps for the entire new network, including maps and services for every school and at a suburb level, are already available online: https://www.transport.act.gov.au/getting-around/new-network

More information and enhanced customer service will be rolled out in early 2019 ahead of the start of the new network.

A new journey planner, which was one of the improvements the community asked for in the recent transport network consultation, will be available before the new network starts.

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Queanbeyanite6:49 pm 06 Dec 18

You lot do realise a month’s fares is not ‘free’, they’re borrowing it and adding that to the $4 billion they’re racking up on your ‘Visa card’, so you and your grandchildren will be paying even more off, even if you never set foot in a bus or tram.

It was really funny hearing Meegan Fitzharris the other morning on Radio Canberra 666 – she said that Canberrans are really looking forward to light rail. It’s actually that Canberrans are looking forward to being able to DRIVE down Northbourne again.

Considering the government is spending Tens of millions extra on the new Bus services, there still seems to be a lot of commuters who will be worse off under the route changes.

I’m not convinced the ACT Government transport designers have adequately analysed all the Bus and Demographic data to the level they claim. Too many holes in the proposed Routes keep surfacing.

Finally someone who can see there is more money going into the bus network and it is not cutting robot for light rail. Reality is there are about 40 extra buses on the road, taking into account new buses to the fleet (replacing old buses 2 new to 1 old) plus buses freed up by light rail.

I think the core issue is that people are too fixed in their ways. I’ve said it before but the new network is designed around making the suburban portion of the route shorter and more frequent and changing to a more direct rapid at the first time the two cross rather than always change at traditional interchanges

I also think the lack of peak hour expresses is a major failing. They are the one service that really should have been kept including in Gungahlin.

Lack of clear park and rides is another issue. Again the new rapids would work a lot better if there were good park and rides along the way. Whilst it wouldn’t totally get people out of their cars it would at least get them out some of the way.

For me I think park and ride is what I shall be doing next year. .

You’re right JC on a number of points. The Government is putting a lot of extra money into Busses and I think that is often missed.

It’s just a shame they have picked some winner and some loser suburbs in the new plan. If they opened up their data and routing information for public scrutiny, then I think it would be better for everyone. Including the Act Government after some initial pain.

I think many people are concerned that the new Bus design is for political reasons, not demographic and socioeconomic reasons.

Ms Fitzharris, please publish all your data fully and prove us wrong. Not keep chopping and changing the proposed plan and timelines to suit the loudest voices or most powerful stakeholders. The last six months have been an exemplar of how not to design and implement a new transport system.

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