Canberrans living in the south of Canberra said they feel disregarded and forgotten by the ACT Government’s bus network and are calling for their local bus service to be reinstated.
Geoffrey Lamb and his wife Rebecca have lived in Michie Street, Wanniassa since 1977 and have used the 61 bus route at the end of their street for the past 42 years.
Since the rollout of the new bus network, the community has lost the route which took them to Woden town centre and has been replaced by the rapid R5, around 800 metres down the road.
Mr Lamb said he is now forced back into his car to drive to the park-and-ride, with the couple unable to walk to the next bus stop because his wife walks with a cane.
The couple, who have written to the new Transport Minister Chris Steel, said that the new service was not accessible for people with disabilities and was too full to catch during peak hours.
“In the past eight months, we have been shanghaied by the Government and Transport Canberra,” Mr Lamb said.
“They have taken our bus routes without our knowledge, without any consultation and without thought for the people living in this area. This was a very popular area and the service was well used and now it’s completely gone.
“It indicates to us as a group that this is the death knell for the service in Wanniassa. It is the same death knell that is being sounded through Tuggeranong.”
Mr Lamb described the new network as a tale of two cities: the north with the light rail and better service and the south which has lost services and gained nothing.
“Tuggeranong has been forgotten, not only Wanniassa,” he said. “The majority of bus services that have been supplied over the years have been a godsend to the people of Wanniassa. To put it mildly, we have been disregarded and forgotten.”
Bill Bowron recently downsized from this place in Farrer to move to Wanniassa in search of a more peaceful and accommodating lifestyle.
Mr Bowron said one of the selling points of living on Michie Street was the nearby bus service, which has since been removed.
“I was annoyed to see a notice go up on the nearby stop that said this service is being discontinued as a result of the new integrated bus and light rail network,” he said.
“Well, Woden is not likely to get a light rail for up to five years and Tuggeranong is not scheduled to have one for the next 10 to 15 years.
“I took offence at the general nature of the notice and it made me feel like a bit of smoke and mirrors is going on.”
Liberal MLA Nicole Lawder, a proud Tuggeranong resident, said residents have been angered by the myriad changes to the bus service in Tuggeranong.
“Minister Steel has admitted that the number of people catching the bus in Tuggeranong has dropped,” Ms Lawder said. “You cut busses, you close bus stops and you make the remaining bus routes less friendly and accessible and amenable for people.
“I don’t think anyone in the Government really cares how the people of Tuggeranong feel about the bus service. We need some of these bus services reinstated for the benefit of Tuggeranong residents.”
Liberal MLA Mark Parton said making people walk up to two kilometres to catch the bus is not feasible for some residents.
“Residents are told by the Government that there are half-a-million-dollar parties on in the middle of town celebrating public transport but there is nothing to celebrate here,” he said.
“We are not talking about unknown consequences. People have made it abundantly clear to the Government about what would happen with the network changes.”