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Tale of two cities: Wanniassa residents left in the cold with new bus network

Lachlan Roberts 17 July 2019 65

Rebecca Lamb, MLA Mark Parton, Chris Hastir, Arthur Abraham, Geoffrey Lamb and Andrew Wall are adamant the bus routes need to change. Photos: Daniella Jukic.

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Since the rollout of the new bus network, the community has lost the route which took them to Woden town centre and has been replaced by the rapid R5, around 800 metres down the road.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.

Geoffrey Lamb has lost the service he used for the past 42 years.

“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.

Bill Bowron said the removal of the service has made him an ACT Government cynic.

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.

Nicole Lawder, flanked by Mark Parton and Andrew Wall, said the old bus services in Tuggeranong need to be reinstated.

“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.”

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65 Responses to Tale of two cities: Wanniassa residents left in the cold with new bus network
Kent Street Kent Street 4:20 pm 17 Jul 19

I, for one, rarely catch the Tuggeranong to Civic bus now that they have been transformed into traveling sardine tins.
And, that’s without having any of our local services removed.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 5:26 pm 17 Jul 19

42 bus stops (21 each direction) gone from the suburb of Wanniassa. That doesn’t even include the School only Bus stops such as those up Gaunson Cres.

Major internal link roads in Wanniassa such as Longmore cr, Wheeler Cres, Sternberg Cr, Kirkton St etc have lost all or most of their Buses.

What a debacle for Tuggeranong the new Bus service has been.

Minister Fitzharris stuffed up public transport in the south, let’s hope Mr Steele can fix the issues his organisation created.

JC JC 9:07 pm 17 Jul 19

I really tire of this North vs south nonsense. Making out like it is only the south that has had changes that have an adverse effect and only the north that has improvement.

Whilst I concede that some areas like Kambah may be worse off there are just as many places in the south that benefit from the new network and there are just as many places and people in the north who haven’t gained from the changes.

And the issue of the changes is not about light rail either. Light rail is just one part of the change, which is the creation of these rapid routes and services that feed it.

Loose the north vs south nonsense then a sensible conversation might be possible.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 11:11 am 18 Jul 19

    We don’t often agree JC, but I think the analysis and argument of the new public transport needs to focus at a much lower level, not just North v South.

    The new Transport Minister has now admitted that bus services have become slower for residents in Tuggeranong and that the recent usage numbers show Bus use has reduced in Tuggeranong in the last few months. However, Weston Creek (also in the South) has had big growth in commuters due to a number of Tuggeranong buses being sidetracked through the Creek.

    The Canberra Times analysis about 6 months ago, highlighted areas across the North and the South who were winners and losers under the new network. That analysis has largely proven true over the last few months.

    Garfield Garfield 12:11 pm 19 Jul 19

    JC, three issues really stand out for me. The government claimed that the start of LR would mean buses on that route could be moved elsewhere leading to better services in other parts of Canberra. That should have resulted in better services in areas with poor existing services and the same services for other areas, or in other words, more bus resources should have meant none were worse off and some better off. That has not happened with thousands of public transport users complaining about being worse off.

    The second issue is that the start of LR services only impacts that corridor, so why the need for radical changes to the bus system south of the lake? If I was cynical I’d suggest that degrading the bus system in Tuggeranong, as has happened evidenced by the reduction in bus users bj pointed out, is a gambit to make the eventual business case for stage 2 of LR look better.

    The last one is that surely one of the key reasons to have public transport is to assist those who don’t have other means of transportation. That includes those with disabilities, a growing number of older people and younger school kids. Some of the distances these people are expected to walk now is just too far. Its as though the people designing the network only thought about fit and healthy people of working age and never considered the people who completely rely on public transport.

    The new network is a mess, and while the problems are not confined to Tuggeranong, it seems to me the problems are more acute the further away from civic you get.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:46 am 20 Jul 19

If Bill Gemmell wants evidence I suggest he drives around Gowrie and Fadden and notes all the abandoned bus stops in the streets running off the main through roads.

A lot of these now closed bus stops were recently refurbishes with seats and even pavement enhancements for the visually handicapped costing hundred of thousands of dollars.

Another giant planning fail by the steel wheel on steel rail government.

    JC JC 9:21 am 21 Jul 19

    Looking at the current map Gowrie and Fadden must have had an awful lot of services before if the current services are a fraction of what was there.

    But alas looking at the old map in the shot below and comparing to the new map tells a different story. Only difference I can see in terms of streets served is Partridge Street no longer had a service but the areas off Partridge are close enough to other streets for it to be quite minor compared to other suburbs. In fact where I live I have always been 800m from a stop. Doubt anyone in Gowrie or Fadden are that far at any point even with the removal of the service along Partridge.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 11:01 am 21 Jul 19

    I’m not sure that map link is an accurate representation of the bus routes available before the changes. Not sure if it’s missing Expresso’s that serviced people in peak hour or school buses, but definitely streets that had buses on them a few months ago are not showing up on that map.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:05 pm 21 Jul 19

    That is why I suggested to Bill Gemmell that he takes a tour around the suburbs affected. Maybe JC and his fellow apologists should too.

    JC JC 5:01 pm 21 Jul 19

    It appears to be the right map.

    Reason Gowrie and Fadden don’t show expresses was because they didn’t have any! They had the 65 and 67 which went from Woden you tuggeranong via Fadden and Gowrie plus the suburbs just to the south. But the espresso versions of the 65 and 67 only went via the suburbs south of Isabella Drive and then went down the Monaro Highway.

    The big difference with the new network is the Fadden and Gowrie buses no longer go to Woden but in terms of stops services there are two pairs less and those areas are comfortably accommodated by other stops.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 7:17 pm 22 Jul 19

    I can’t speak for Gowrie and Fadden, but I know Deakin and also know my relatives zones in Wanniassa where my nephew caught a bus before the change on Gaunson crescent (that isn’t on your map) and There was definitely a peak hour bus from north west Kambah that doesn’t appear on the map either. That’s why I presume the map you linked only partly reflects the old bus routes not fully represents them????

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 7:29 pm 22 Jul 19

    Here’s link to bus stop not on map.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:03 pm 21 Jul 19

    Try Nicklin Crescent Fadden off Bugden Crescent where 4 bus stops have been wiped out.

    The point I was making wasn’t about how far you live from a bus stop it was about the waste of money refurbishing the bus stops and then closing them down. To me that is bad planning; probably doesn’t bother you and your red bubbles though.

Phwoa Phwoa 9:34 pm 22 Jul 19

It’ll definitely be a tale of two cities when the votes get counted. Would be surprised to see a single Labor vote from South side.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:50 am 23 Jul 19

    A lot of people who are employed by the ACT public service live in Tuggeranong and they know which side their bread is buttered on.

    They will vote accordingly.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:56 am 23 Jul 19

Damien Haas refers to valid criticisms of his failing public transport vision as “giant whinge emails”.

This is similar to calling people who are campaigning for a reduction in immigration as racists.

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