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Tram talk a deliberate diversion from massive failure of buses

By Hank Spier - 14 October 2016 21

action-bus

Action buses has failed Canberra year after year, losing taxpayers $150m yearly. It is an absolute disaster for the people of Canberra.

The Government commissioned a company to analyse the running of ACTION buses. In October 2015 the company MRCagney published its report. It found that plunging passenger satisfaction combined with expensive, inflexible industrial arrangements with the TWU were the main reasons why ACTION buses were losing so much money and why ACTION was so inefficient.

The report was highly critical of the running of ACTION buses and recommended a complete overhaul of the whole network. It went further and recommended that ACTION buses be privatised.

An example of what is wrong with the network is that only 17% of ACTION revenue comes from fares. The remaining 83% comes from the taxpayer, many of which  never use an ACTION bus.

The bus network is unsustainable. So what does the Government do to divert attention from this debacle it says ”look over here – not at the buses, lets build a new tram which will solve all of Canberra’s transport problems.” What a joke but many of us fell for the trick. Now we don’t talk about the parlous state of the buses we just talk about the tram. To a large extent the trick worked but in practical terms it didn’t. ACTION is still a basket case and will continue to be unless something serious is done about it and government takes on the might of the TWU.

If Canberra goes ahead with the tram there are 2 things we know for sure. First, instead of 17% of revenue coming from fares, that figure will drop to 10% of revenue coming from a combined bus/tram network fares. This means the taxpayer will go from subsidising the losses from 83% to 90%. And second it will bankrupt the Territory.

No one in their right mind would support the building of the tram in Canberra.

Written and authorised by Lucinda Spier, Canberra Community Voters Party.

Image by Bidgee

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21 Responses to
Tram talk a deliberate diversion from massive failure of buses
1
Grail 2:33 pm
14 Oct 16
#

What would privatising the busses accomplish, in terms of customer satisfaction and services?

2
Maya123 3:21 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Privatise the buses and the fares will go up massively; patronisation will drop, bus routes will close, car dependency will increase, roads will get busier and instead of spending on buses (because that’s now left to private enterprise), money will be spent increasing and widening the roads. Build it they will come. Money will be spent increasing and widening the roads. Build it…Money will…
But, of course, many here would approve of this; everyone can drive.

3
Rollersk8r 3:24 pm
14 Oct 16
#

By “disaster for the people of Canberra” do you mean the bus patrons? Because I use the bus and it works pretty well for me, thanks.

ACTION has had countless overhauls and new timetables introduced. It’s simply a fact of life it will never break even. It is public transport on every main street of a very low density city, which does come at a high cost.

In any case – light rail will apparently light the fuse of excitement for public transport Canberra-wide. Patronage will go through the roof!

4
bj_ACT 3:49 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Grail said :

What would privatising the busses accomplish, in terms of customer satisfaction and services?

Agreed, No private Bus company would bother to service southern Tuggeranong or Western Belconnen. What’s obvious is the current bus system is not working (patronage is actually dropping not going up to the promised 10% by ACT Labor)

If Labor win then I hope the Libs get on board to re-design the Tram to a better long term model that they will support if the ever get in Government (the current proposal is flawed to even Public Transport experts who support light rail).

If Liberal wins, then I hope the Greens and Labor come on board for a complete re-design of the Bus system that all parties can agree with funding for a decade at least.

5
Garfield 3:59 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Grail said :

What would privatising the busses accomplish, in terms of customer satisfaction and services?

I was just reading letters to the Canberra Times and saw one about ACTION. Apparently a report last year indicated that savings of around $27m p.a. could be achieved by putting the management of ACTION out to tender. The whole thing doesn’t need to be privatised, but by bringing in the private sector to manage it the service could be improved significantly by the sounds of things. A private operator would know that the key to maximising their profits would be to improve user satisfaction with the service, as any competent government would insist that services were not reduced.

6
Laurel 6:54 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Why doesn’t Canberra use minibuses instead of large buses for the late nights and low-density routes? Fifteen people in a minibus would be light and efficient. Not a shrunken bus, but an actual van-minibus. Yes, the bulk of the cost goes on grossly overpaid drivers, but economising on the machinery wouldn’t hurt at all.

7
Maya123 7:18 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Rollersk8r said :

By “disaster for the people of Canberra” do you mean the bus patrons? Because I use the bus and it works pretty well for me, thanks.

ACTION has had countless overhauls and new timetables introduced. It’s simply a fact of life it will never break even. It is public transport on every main street of a very low density city, which does come at a high cost.

In any case – light rail will apparently light the fuse of excitement for public transport Canberra-wide. Patronage will go through the roof!

The bus works well for me too, at least week days. Prefer a tram though, as the route is more permanent and certain. It would not be suddenly changed. Caught a bus yesterday. I couldn’t have got to my destination quicker if I had driven and then parked.

8
dungfungus 6:29 am
15 Oct 16
#

Laurel said :

Why doesn’t Canberra use minibuses instead of large buses for the late nights and low-density routes? Fifteen people in a minibus would be light and efficient. Not a shrunken bus, but an actual van-minibus. Yes, the bulk of the cost goes on grossly overpaid drivers, but economising on the machinery wouldn’t hurt at all.

Uber taxis would be more efficient and cheaper.

9
Maya123 11:31 am
15 Oct 16
#

dungfungus said :

Laurel said :

Why doesn’t Canberra use minibuses instead of large buses for the late nights and low-density routes? Fifteen people in a minibus would be light and efficient. Not a shrunken bus, but an actual van-minibus. Yes, the bulk of the cost goes on grossly overpaid drivers, but economising on the machinery wouldn’t hurt at all.

Uber taxis would be more efficient and cheaper.

Would have needed about twelve of them to replace my bus yesterday.

10
dungfungus 5:33 pm
15 Oct 16
#

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

Laurel said :

Why doesn’t Canberra use minibuses instead of large buses for the late nights and low-density routes? Fifteen people in a minibus would be light and efficient. Not a shrunken bus, but an actual van-minibus. Yes, the bulk of the cost goes on grossly overpaid drivers, but economising on the machinery wouldn’t hurt at all.

Uber taxis would be more efficient and cheaper.

Would have needed about twelve of them to replace my bus yesterday.

I was referring to low density and late night volumes.

That does not equate to 12 taxis.

11
madelini 11:18 am
19 Oct 16
#

The busses have largely been ignored for a long time. It is a service though, not a profit-generating machine, which is important. If you take away the “cost to the taxpayer” slogan, what we’re left with is a system that has prioritised saving money over providing a service. For many people, the bus is not practicable in their day-to-day lives, and the weekend and late-night services are a joke. Savings will never be made if people have no incentive to catch the busses.

12
dungfungus 2:44 pm
19 Oct 16
#

madelini said :

The busses have largely been ignored for a long time. It is a service though, not a profit-generating machine, which is important. If you take away the “cost to the taxpayer” slogan, what we’re left with is a system that has prioritised saving money over providing a service. For many people, the bus is not practicable in their day-to-day lives, and the weekend and late-night services are a joke. Savings will never be made if people have no incentive to catch the busses.

Buy saying the busses have been ignored are you referring to the 92% of Canberrans who never use them or something else?

13
Leon Arundell 4:41 pm
29 Oct 16
#

The biggest failure is that Labor is going backwards on its 2012 election commitment “to increasing the public transport share of all work trips to 10.5% by 2016 and 16% by 2026.”
The 2015 ACTION Expenditure Review found that that share had fallen from 7.8% in 2011 to 7.1% in 2014. Since 2014, patronage has barely matched employment growth. If ACTION actually achieves the patronage targets in the 2016 Budget, it will get to about 8% by 2019 – still less than the target for 2011.
Based on the ACT Transport Demand Elasticities Study, the the best ways to get more people on public transport are:
1. increase car parking charges
2. reduce in-vehicle travel tims
3. reduce walking time
4. reduce fares
5. Reduce wait times.

14
dungfungus 11:03 pm
29 Oct 16
#

I’ve just noticed the destination sign on the ACTION bus featured in this story.

If what was speculated on in Saturday’s Canberra Times comes true, that professional sporting team name/ destination will never be seen again after 2017.

Anyhow, that won’t affect ACTION’s revenue because most of those trips were free, but I am sure the passenger numbers were used to inflate the usage of public transport.

15
JC 8:06 pm
30 Oct 16
#

dungfungus said :

I’ve just noticed the destination sign on the ACTION bus featured in this story.

If what was speculated on in Saturday’s Canberra Times comes true, that professional sporting team name/ destination will never be seen again after 2017.

Anyhow, that won’t affect ACTION’s revenue because most of those trips were free, but I am sure the passenger numbers were used to inflate the usage of public transport.

Think you will find the Brumbies charter the buses hence Action makes more money than they do off normal services.

And can see you are praying for the Brumbies to get kicked out aren’t you?

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