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Some confusion and delays but new transport network roll-out deemed a success

Ian Bushnell 29 April 2019 234

A Transport Canberra officer assists a passenger at the city interchange. Photos: George Tsotsos.

Despite reports of confusion and longer commutes, the ACT Government believes today’s roll-out of the new integrated public transport system has been a success, particularly with the popularity of light rail.

Boosted by the month-long free ride with a MyWay card and workers back from school holidays, the light rail reported full carriages during the peak run into the city, with strong patronage along Northbourne Avenue.

Transport Canberra staff were out in force to assist passengers, particularly to guide them to the right bus connection at interchanges.

The new bus network created the most confusion for passengers, although Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris believed, on the whole, the changes meant a quicker, more frequent, and more reliable system.

“We’re prepared for a transition and we’ll continue to work with the community as they get used to the system and it’s bedded down,” she told reporters at the city interchange.

“With 10 Rapid services that are running at high peak frequency through interchanges, it’s actually the case that there are more services, moving more people more quickly, seven days a week, and in the evening than before.”

A bus at the city interchange.

For those whose commutes were longer than before she urged them to contact Transport Canberra and take a look at the online journey planner to see if there was a more efficient route to take.

Ms Fitzharris said the Government was committed to lifting public transport usage, which was languishing at second last in the nation at 8 per cent, and urged people to give the system a go while it was free.

Transport Canberra would be monitoring the system and patronage but would only be making minor tweaks to the network ahead of a review towards the end of the year and a further one in 12 months’ time.

Ms Fitzharris said frequencies could be increased if necessary but because routes were set and the network was interlinked it would be very difficult to make major changes.

She said Transport Canberra would also be monitoring the 200 school services still operating and working with school communities to ensure a smooth transition.

Although there are fewer dedicated school services, Ms Fitzharris said that overall more buses are running past schools than before.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris chats to a Transport Canberra officer.

Despite being called a seven-day-a-week service, the network remains reliant on the Transport Workers Union drivers volunteering for weekend shifts. It has been known for some weekend services to be dropped due to a lack of drivers.

Asked whether she could guarantee there would be enough drivers for the weekends, Ms Fitzharris said the Government was very confident that the drivers would do the right thing by the Canberra community.

Additional transport officers, customer service assistants and Transport Canberra representatives will continue to be at major bus interchanges over the coming weeks to help customers with the changes and provide timetable information.

There will be services at least every 15 minutes along rapid transport routes from 7 am to 7 pm Monday to Friday, continuing into the evening with less frequency. Weekend and public holiday service times will also be extended to 10 pm.

Safety across the network has been given a boost with CCTV cameras on every bus and at all major interchanges, school crossing supervisors at 25 school crossings, improvements to infrastructure around schools and additional customer service assistants at interchanges.

“This is a new era for public transport in Canberra. Our city is growing and that’s why we are investing in a better public transport network to keep Canberra connected,” Ms Ftizharris said.

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234 Responses to Some confusion and delays but new transport network roll-out deemed a success
BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 10:36 pm 03 May 19

Yes, we have successfully grown up if by that is meant we now have people leaving home and then arriving at work two hours later, just like Sydney and Melbourne.

Jordania Jordania 8:55 am 03 May 19

Success? Ha ha ha ha ha (and so on ad infinitum). Success for whom? I would like to see Ms Fitzharris and all the Labor members of the Assembly getting public transport to work and their other appointments for a whole week. If, at the end of that, they are still happy with what they’ve wrought, well and good. But they won’t do it so we’ll never know.

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 10:40 pm 02 May 19

ABC666 pointed out today that the “most ever”stat is totally misleading, because so many more commuters are having to catch multiple buses where previously they would have boarded once. Dishonest of the minister.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:35 am 03 May 19

    Has that been “fact checked” by the experts at the ABC?

Taryn Saunders Taryn Saunders 9:49 pm 02 May 19

Pity it's a federal election...

BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 8:13 pm 02 May 19

And the weather has been so nice for everyone walking or waiting to catch a bus or tram. Pretty soon it will be 0 degrees or wet and windy, or all of that.

THEN people will be complaining.

Robert Koch Robert Koch 8:00 pm 02 May 19

Billion dollar tram, bargain basement landscaping with mulch already washing away. This is at the main tram terminal in the city.

jgsma jgsma 2:35 pm 01 May 19

Adding nearly 6 hours onto my weekly commute means I’m subsidising the ACT government by about $120 per week of my time – to say nothing of having to cross Northbourne avenue in the rain/heat/cold to stand on a full tram. But, as has been said, the data will show me still using public transport as I have no choice.

Kent Street Kent Street 10:21 am 01 May 19

Step 1 – shut down a bunch of schools
Step 2 – shut down school bus services

Is anyone else detecting a pattern?

Anne Hurn Anne Hurn 9:59 am 01 May 19

It’s Happening Everywhere!- Sooo Clever ! 😡😡🙄

Kathryn Hurn Kathryn Hurn 9:48 am 01 May 19

Completely agree with Dale Phillips. My daughter is on the same bus and gets on at the stop before Woden Interchange. I put her on the bus yesterday and the bus was completely full with room for only one more person (thank god) - but what about the poor kids at the Interchange? The bus was not a double, bendy bus either, which I was expecting for so many kids. Today, the bus didn't get to her stop until just before 8:30am - looks like they'll all be late for school....

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:25 am 01 May 19

I live in a loop street in Tuggers. There were 3 daily school bus services here but they are now cancelled. I don’t know what the new arrangements are nor do I care.

A couple of years ago the government spent about $100K upgrading the bus stops (seats, Braille markers etc.)

The ACT Labor government is always looking for new ways to waste money and they never fail to deliver.

ffisher ffisher 8:36 am 01 May 19

Possibly successful and good for anyone who lives a 0-10 min walk from the rail line.

For the rest of the tens of thousands of commuters, a success based on what? Longer commute times (eg 45 mins); removal of some services altogether (parents now taking kids to school as no service for younger kids); increased traffic on road (three fold increase in our suburb as parents drive to Gungahalin to drop kids off at interchange, which by the way they ignored the reality this would occur and did not provide a “drop off zone” near the interchange). The train is no more full than the collective buses were in peak and lets wait for the free period to end. Minister Harris never provided the real data about the network and surveys before so she won’t now; it will be well and truly massaged to fit the message that the money was well spent and is a success, what else could they say. Its not up to Minister Harris or the government to say its a success; its up to the commuters.

    Paul Paul 6:06 pm 02 May 19

    Well said. A good sample of the end user feedback is the only way to judge the success.
    It’s becoming pretty obvious that families are bring put under extra stress, time delays, security issues for younger students, less precious time for kids to get sleep, all avoidable with prioritising students and families better and more capable timetabling.
    The new light rail is unrelated to the poor decision-making with school buses and the dubious hub and spoke route bus model for route buses for a city with under a million population.

    Such a shame the new tram will be tarnished by Transport Canberra’s continual low competency in planning. The new tram makes sense but everything else I think many people are scratching their 5heads about how they have not been able to do a better job. Not learning from past mistakes is extremely disappointing and concerning.

Julie Hunter Julie Hunter 7:42 am 01 May 19

We bought our house in an area that was close enough to my kids schools that they would only need one bus. Feeling ripped off.

Ruth Chatterton Ruth Chatterton 6:25 am 01 May 19

They've killed the bus service south of the lake, but think it's a success because the trams are full!

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 11:27 pm 30 Apr 19

Here's the article I mentioned below, The issues raised by the expert analyst 6 months ago have proved eerily prophetic. "the results of the analysis he conducted on behalf of Fairfax Media should cause alarm for public transport designers of the new Bus network" another bit from a separate ANU professor is also core to the current issue "The distance between homes and the nearest bus stop is regarded as a fundamental part of accessing the broader public transport network"

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 11:12 pm 30 Apr 19

A Transport and demographic expert raised concerns about the switch to Rapid Routes in the Canberra Times about 6 months ago and it was also covered in Riotact at the time. The story analysed the added walk distance of the ACT Governments proposal and that the removal of local Bus stops would actually make the network worse for anyone who lived more than a reasonable walking distance from a Rapid Stop. Looks like the expert was correct on this occasion.

Next I’ll be agreeing with the 99% of experts who believe in human influenced climate change and that vaccination has actually improved global health.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:34 pm 30 Apr 19

Does anyone else feel like the ACT Governments 2018 feedback loop for the Bus changes was a sham?

They received a record 13,000 plus pieces of individual feedback, but chose to ignore huge chunks of the responses that didn’t fit the re-design they had locked in.

Surely that level of formal concern from so many Canberrans should have started the alarm bells ringing.

    jgsma jgsma 2:30 pm 01 May 19

    Yes. I went to a meeting where they just kept parroting that there would be more buses, more direct, more often. Well, I don’t consider adding 70 minutes to my daily commute AND having to cross Northbourne Ave with my work gear in the heat/cold/rain to stand up on a tram as more direct.

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 10:22 pm 30 Apr 19

A Transport and demographic expert raised concerns about the switch to Rapid Routes in the Canberra Times about 6 months ago. The story analysed the added walk distance of the ACT Governments proposal and that the removal of local Bus stops would actually make the network worse for anyone who lived more than a reasonable walking distance from a Rapid Stop. Looks like the expert was correct on this occasion.

Next I’ll be agreeing with the 99% of experts who believe in human influenced climate change and that vaccination has actually improved global health 😉

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:00 pm 30 Apr 19

Despite all the fail, fail, fail signals I would bet that if an election was held tomorrow the same people responsible for this debacle would be voted back in.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 7:38 am 01 May 19

    That’s because the local Liberal opposition are so inept, not because Mr Barr is so good.

    A small L Liberal party in Canberra who focus on Business, focus on council level issues, don’t change our social rights and address residents concerns would have a much better shot at winning the local elections.

    Local Liberals are too far to the Right, when they should be slap bang in the centre if they want to be electable.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:28 am 01 May 19

    Sounds like you have the answers so why don’t you put your name forward.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:42 am 01 May 19

    My number 1 election commitment would be free Mr Frugii ice cream and Silo bread for all financially struggling Canberrans. Maybe I should run for politics:-)

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:20 pm 01 May 19

    Sounds like the Greens would suit you best.

    Don’t forget an EV in every garage.

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