23 April 2024

Speed up light rail rollout, fix bus issues, urges public transport lobby

| Ian Bushnell
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The Gungahlin Light Rail terminal

Gungahlin light rail terminus. Other districts should not have to wait so long for a line, says PTCBR. Photo: Region.

The rollout of light rail across the ACT should be sped up and pre-feasibility work for all stages should occur simultaneously to ensure smoother transitions between projects, according to the ACT’s public transport lobby.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra has also called for a beefing up of Major Projects Canberra to give it the capacity to deliver more light rail stages sooner.

In its 2024 ACT Budget submission, PTCBR says the government’s commitment of a stage a decade was no longer relevant after revealing the latest milestones of 2028 for 2A and 2033, saying both projects were now well behind promised timelines.

“We urge the ACT Government to learn from issues with Stages 2A and 2B and begin planning now to ensure smoother delivery of future light rail stages while maintaining the ongoing progress of the light rail to Woden project,” the submission says.

READ ALSO ‘No reason we need to wait’: ACT Greens demand faster start date for light rail stage 2B

It calls on the government to fund pre-feasibility work for all future stages of light rail identified in the ACT Light Rail Network Plan.

“Government must take a long view of light rail delivery and begin preliminary work now on future light rail line projects,” the submission says.

PTCBR says Major Projects Canberra needed enough resources to ensure multiple stages of light rail can be advanced concurrently, regardless of which specific phase of project delivery each stage is at.

The submission also calls for the government to increase the frequency of light rail and bus services and do more to ensure better bus connections.

It wants all bus services to run at a minimum of an hour apart seven days a week and for the temporary weekend service cuts of Network 19 to be reversed.

“Suburban routes remain at a two-hourly frequency on Saturday nights and all day on Sundays – this is not good enough,” the submission said.

“Sparse service on routes that are often circuitous and lengthy is an unattractive prospect and poor offering for passengers.”

The submission calls for more buses to be run during peak times, particularly articulated ones, to alleviate overcrowding.

Light rail services on Fridays and weekends should also be increased to every 10 minutes on Friday nights between 6:30 pm and 1:30 am, every 15 minutes on Saturday between 6 am and 9 am, every 10 minutes from 9 am to 9 pm, and every 15 minutes after that. On Sundays, they advocate for buses every 15 minutes from 7 am to 9 am, every 10 minutes from 9 am to 6 pm and every 15 minutes after that.

“We regularly hear from our members and the public asking for a greater level of service provided over the weekend. This reflects the modern lives lived by Canberrans, who want to get around conveniently on all days of the week and enjoy the city’s nightlife with assured and easy ways to get home,” the submission says.

man outside Legislative Assembly

PTCBR chair Ryan Hemsley: The government needs to get the basics right. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

PTCBR says there are too many multi-leg journeys, buses running late and missed connections for public transport to be a viable option for many commuters.

It says only about three-quarters of buses run on time, and the government should prioritise fixing this.

Transport Canberra should use existing data or conduct new research to identify highly patronised routes that would best benefit from revised timetables.

PTCBR says passengers shouldn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes for their connecting bus.

The submission calls on the government to investigate faster services through measures such as bus lanes and traffic light priority to prevent buses from regularly being caught in traffic.

It also seeks funding for the final stage of the Belconnen Transitway.

The submission says a public transport infrastructure standard should be established for bus stops and interchanges so passengers have appropriate shelter, seating, maps and directions to key nearby locations.

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PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley said the government should focus on delivering an integrated bus and light rail network that gets the basics right.

“Canberrans want public transport that is on time, frequent, reliable and pleasant to use. Our submission calls on the ACT Government to focus on improving these fundamental elements of our public transport system,” said Mr Hemsley.

“For example, it is unacceptable that Transport Canberra’s buses run on time only 77 per cent of the time. Punctuality is a key aspect of service delivery, and we need to see drastic improvements as a matter of priority.”

Mr Hemsley said the best way to get more people using public transport was to make it better.

“The evidence is clear – if you provide better services, more people will use them. We’ve seen it with the recent improvements to Saturday bus services, which resulted in the highest number of local bus trips recorded on a Saturday,” he said.

Public transport is set to be a major issue at the October election. While the Canberra Liberals plan to dump light rail after stage 2A, they have adopted many of PTCBR’s suggestions in their bus-focused public transport policy released earlier this month.

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Who the hell are PTCBR and who nominated them to speak for public transport users in Canberra. Very many of us do not want more light rail. It is expensive, slow, inefficient and ineffective for this city.

Better bus services are essential. More rapid routes, more shelters and seats, as well as closer bus stops, so children, elders, vulnerable people and those with mobility challenges have a safe workable means of getting places.

We don’t need rigid inflexible rails and wires destroying what’s left of our treescape. Buses and transit lanes are more effective, quicker to construct, cheaper and able to be adjusted as demographics change. Much smarter!

Leon Arundell4:43 pm 30 Apr 24

Step 1 of “an integrated bus and light rail network that gets the basics right” would extend Adelaide Avenue’s transit lanes to Woden and to Civic. That would satisfy projected public transport demand along that route until 2046. Step 2 would provide fast transit lanes along the proposed 80 km light rail network. Steps 3 and 4 would provide bus rapid transit (twice as cost-effective as light rail) from Civic to Woden and to Belconnen.

Grumpy Grandpa and Teddy Bear are right, people want efficient public transport, and the stupid tram isn’t it. Why we are spending billions to deliver slower public transport remains a complete mystery.

Light Rail lobby group wants more light rail now regardless of cost

Truly surprised.

GrumpyGrandpa5:15 pm 24 Apr 24

“PTCBR says there are too many multi-leg journey…”

The irony of this statement about the bus network is that, the number of multi-leg journeys can only increase with an expansion of LR, with people needing to get off their bus and join LR to complete their journey.

Minister Steele had suggested that the existing R4s between Woden and the City would continue to run, for those who preferred a faster trip. Anyone who believes that the government would run parallel services along the same route, probably also believes in the tooth-fairy and aren’t aware that this is an election year, where vague unsubstantiated promises get made.

The PTCBR are right. No one likes multi-leg journeys. People just want to get from A to B the fastest way possible.

PTCBR should wake up and recommend light rail extensions be canned in favour of trackless tram technology. Us rate and taxpayers are having enough of a bad time with cost of living issues without Barrs taxes and charges supporting light rail. This government needs to be turfed out own at least held to account by new Independents. I will never vote Labor again whilst Barr, Rattenbury, Steel and Gentleman are in the Assembly.

Every good thing ACT greens/Labor are doing about Climate Change they are doing as if we had forever to act . We face fast-approaching adamantine deadlines

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