Transport Canberra’s problem areas where fewer people are taking the bus

Ian Bushnell 6 December 2019 51
Woden Bus Interchange

Woden Bus Interchange: Woden Valley patronage is down 5 per cent. Photo: File.

New figures on the number of people taking public transport show that bus use is falling in Woden, Belconnen and Tuggeranong, despite an overall rise in patronage across Canberra, according to the ACT Greens.

ACT Greens Transport spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur says new Transport Canberra data obtained by the Greens from Questions on Notice confirms that while Network 19 has seen many commuters enjoy improved services, there are parts of Canberra that are worse off.

The data shows that overall public transport patronage is up by 6 per cent from the September quarter 2018 to the September quarter 2019.

While patronage from some parts of Canberra, including Weston Creek (+12%) and the light-rail serviced Gungahlin (+29%), is much higher, the number of people taking the bus from the Woden Valley (-5%), Belconnen (-2%) and Tuggeranong (-4%) has fallen.

The figures also show that most fare types are seeing more patronage, including full fare, school students and concessions, but fewer tertiary students are taking public transport.

Ms Le Couteur said that after six months of seeing how Network 19 worked for passengers, the Government needed to fix the identified problems while keeping the gains.

“Scrapping Network 19 is not the answer because areas like Weston Creek have really benefited. Instead, it is time to make changes that improve services for people in the Woden Valley, Belconnen and Tuggeranong,” she said.

During the recent sitting week, Ms Le Couteur successfully moved a Motion Amendment to force the Government to report more detailed data on patronage in Woden Valley, Belconnen and Tuggeranong, and improve patronage from these areas

“I believe that the Government needs to look more closely at why patronage from Woden Valley, Belconnen and Tuggeranong is lower and take steps to fix the problems,” Ms Le Couteur said.

Transport Minister Chris Steel said recently that the Government continued to monitor the new network and Transport Canberra had made 180 changes since its inception in April.

The Canberra Liberal have also been pushing for axed services, particularly in Tuggeranong, to be restored.

Daily average number of journeys on bus and light rail

Daily average number of journeys on bus and light rail. Image: Supplied.

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51 Responses to Transport Canberra’s problem areas where fewer people are taking the bus
Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 8:45 am 20 Dec 19

ABC Radio this morning is reporting that the ACT Government has released question on notice data that shows the reduction in Bus use data for Woden and Tuggeranong is more than twice as bad as the data shown here in this riotact report. That terrible usage data certainly won't surprise Southern bus users who have had to experience a markedly worse bus system since the changes.

Scooty Greagg Scooty Greagg 12:28 pm 13 Dec 19

I know about trains and buses how time tables are made up after working on the trains

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 9:49 am 11 Dec 19

Yes, Palmerston and other Gungahlin suburbs are very badly served. But ... you have the tram!

    Rebecca Roberts Rebecca Roberts 12:10 pm 11 Dec 19

    Trish Roberts yes all of the suburbs where you have to go further away from your destination to get to a hub are worse off

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 12:13 pm 11 Dec 19

    Rebecca Roberts I was being ironic! The tram is very little help indeed.

    Rebecca Roberts Rebecca Roberts 12:31 pm 11 Dec 19

    Trish Roberts not compared to the direct bus we lost getting to civic

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 12:44 pm 11 Dec 19

    Rebecca Roberts Yes, that was convenient for you, and also for me visiting you. That new “loop bus” is no use at all.

tfx1 tfx1 6:30 pm 10 Dec 19

There is a simple technical solution to solving Canberra’s public transport problems for buses with out requiring any tram extensions. Hire Brisbane City Council to run the bus system and design the busways. They have built many little busways around traffic hotspots and even some big ones which were much cheaper as they built them around and under already existing motorways. If you want a bus system that works look at Brisbane.

Kirsty Ross Kirsty Ross 12:37 pm 10 Dec 19

Buses need to run more often especially on the weekend. A bus every 2 hours on the weekend is not acceptable. Sydney buses are much better

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 1:57 pm 09 Dec 19

I think the only people 'surprised' by the drop in passenger numbers across Tuggers, Woden and Belco are Canberra Transport Executives and the Minister himself. You only had to read the Riotact, print media or listen to local radio to hear a constant stream of real world stories from bus users who were going to be worse off after the change.

Marie Lynn Marie Lynn 9:25 am 09 Dec 19

No surprise here. Example: my Fisher weekend bus service now only provides a bus every 2 hours. I recently finished up at Woden interchange at 6.20pm. With the shopping centre closed for the day, there was no way i was going to sit around at a deserted interchange for 2 hours until 8.14pm, so I had to ring my husband to pick me up. Result? One less person on the 8.14pm bus. Multiply that by the number of other Canberrans who do the same at other locations throughout the day and evening, and of course patronage will be down. It's either a self-inflicted oversight, or a ploy to make numbers look low in order to cut further services. Either way, it's not a good look for ACTION.

Dee Sharpe Dee Sharpe 9:42 pm 08 Dec 19

The distance to the bus stops are now too far to walk for mobility challenged people.

John Hynes John Hynes 7:07 pm 08 Dec 19

When you cut services and make people use two buses when you used to only need one it doubles the trips, hence increased journeys, especially in Gungahlin. My wife used to catch a single bus from Palmerston to civic each day. Now she would have to catch a bus, then the tram. The 29% are people who dont have choice and now catch a bus, one journey, to Gungahlin, the the tram, a second journey, to civic. As for my wife, add one car to the roads at peak twice a day.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:43 pm 08 Dec 19

The Greens certainly don’t use the bus with the Alan Jones’ advertisement on the back window.

Ken Mansell Ken Mansell 6:38 pm 08 Dec 19

“…areas like Weston Creek have really benefited”? Look at the data in the article and you will see no benefit for Weston Creek. In an area of 22,000 people only 958 people used the bus each day but after all this it is now a massive 1,066. A mere 108 more people a day. That means less than half of 1% of Weston Creekers started using the bus under this new timetable and this is the Greens idea of a “real benefit”? It’s easy to get an 12% increase (it actual is an 11% increase but they fudged the rounding) when you start from such a low base. So the only places with a real benefit are Gungahlin and Civic with their team.

    geetee geetee 8:57 am 14 Dec 19

    Yes Ken. And i wonder if that ‘increase’ in Weston Creek numbers is due to some passengers having to catch two buses instead of one now – even just to get to Woden.

    And the weekend buses running only once every two hours is a real pain.

Wal Coggins Wal Coggins 12:57 pm 08 Dec 19

Which bus do thr Greens use?

William William William William 9:49 am 08 Dec 19

Mostly symonson south Canberra lost 2 regular services no walking on road way dogging cars as must walk on road as there is no foot path safe enough to get to narrabundah stop they could of varied the route but this government has not the brains as brainless in designing routs that is why they stuffed up the whole service it should of been trialled, tested seen were is needed where is not not changed permanently is ok for north side residents But lacks on south Canberra some need catch 3 buses when was one beforehand a complete mess No wonder

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 3:57 pm 09 Dec 19

    I don't know where about in Symonston you are referring to, but there are footpaths all the way from the caravan park to Goyder St where Bus 6 runs. I used those paths yesterday. However, yes the area has had an unnecessary reduction change of bus routes. I now have a longer walk to a bus. I now need to walk from Narrabundah into Griffith to catch a bus, annoyingly crossing a road where Bus 6 runs, but there is no bus stop there. Suggestions for a bus stop there have been ignored; as have all improvements suggested by numerous people. The meetings that were held with residents of Narrabundah and nearby areas, were only for PR purposes, as the bus authorities had absolutely no intention to take any comments aboard; only to hold the meeting so that could say they listened to the local residents. Listening and taking aboard what locals, who know the area, suggest, are not the same thing. Not one thing suggested by the locals I can notice has been implemented.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 12:16 pm 10 Dec 19

    Julie Macklin Good point about the loss of Buses for people in Symonston. I just tried Google maps and it said it is a 29 minute walk from the middle of the Mobile Home area to the nearest Bus stop in Narrabundah. Google Maps, also had as its first recommendation for Public Transport was to ‘catch an Uber’ to the Bus stop. I don’t think the good people of Symonston, want to waste their limited funds on an Uber just to get them to a Bus stop. Narrabundah didn’t do great in the Bus changes but it still has much better services than areas like Symonston, Kambah, Theodore, Holt, Banks etc which really lost out.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 2:05 pm 10 Dec 19

    Jeff Smith The people at the Mobile Home site now have a 1.7 km walk to the bus. If I lived there I would invest in an old bicycle and ride that to the bus stop. At least it's a flat ride. My walk to the bus used to be 320 metres, but that was replaced by a 900 metre walk. That last figure is, from attending a meeting with bus representatives, was the bus stop that was suggested was my new bus stop. Fortunately I found a bus stop in Griffith that is closer, at only about 550 metres walk. However this would be unsuitable for anyone with mobility issues, because this involves crossing Sturt Street without any crossings. The bus stops along Stuart Avenue in Griffith are only about 200 or less metres apart, but from the last bus stop in Griffith it's 1.1km to the first bus stop in Narrabundah, passing a whole heap of Narrabundah without a bus stop.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 2:25 pm 10 Dec 19

    Julie Macklin Yes so sad! The people with the lowest car ownership in Canberra also have terrible access to public transport. Unfortunately a mate of mine who lives there had his 'old bicycle' stolen. It's not a great setup in the housing areas for the disadvantaged for people to easily look after and secure their belongings. Google Maps gives me 2.3km walk from his place to the Goyder St Bus stop showing why the area needs more bus services.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 3:22 pm 10 Dec 19

    Jeff Smith A lot of government retirement units were built along Kootara Crescent, which at the time was a good place for them, as the bus to Civic and Woden ran past them. There is still a bus that runs to Civic (taking the 'scenic' route) that goes past them, but no longer to Woden, which from the meeting I attended, I got the idea that far more people wanted to go to Woden than Civic, and considered Woden the local mall. These old people now have over a kilometre walk to catch the bus to Woden. Some in Narrabundah now have almost a two km walk to catch the bus to Woden. Puts my 550 metres walk into perspective.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 5:28 pm 10 Dec 19

    Julie Macklin Yep agree - you would hope that pensioners and low income people are who Canberra Bus network are focused on servicing. Unfortunately, Roads that are easy to service by Bus, seem more important than the commuters themselves.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 7:50 pm 10 Dec 19

    Jeff Smith I was cynical and thought that maybe many who caught the bus in Narrabundah were Seniors and on other cards which gave them free bus rides. They weren't an income stream, so irrelevant...unlike the commuters of Griffith.

Bri Travalos Bri Travalos 12:00 am 08 Dec 19

It takes 40 minutes to get from calwell to Isabella plains by bus, which is less than a 5 minute drive no wonder no one is using the busses also it takes over an hour to get from Tuggeranong to Belconnen which is a 20 minute drive without traffic why would people use the busses? They’re supposed to be convenient not inconvenient

bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:23 pm 07 Dec 19

Worst designed Bus system imaginable. Maybe the team from Love Island or Jar Jar Binks himself was involved in the new network?

Roger Mungummary Roger Mungummary 9:42 pm 07 Dec 19

They axed bus services all over the place with no regard for the elderly or the disabled and all pay for the red elephant which is useless to the Southside. AKA the part of Canberra that pays for everything and gets sfa priority

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 6:39 pm 07 Dec 19

There are two huge problems with our buses. First is the ceiling imposed on the number of buses back in 1989. See We still have the same number of buses we had in 1989. The other is early running, which is worse than running late. People get really mad if they arrive a minute or two early at the stop only to see the bus has departed several even earlier. See all the green dots on

Jenny Bolin Jenny Bolin 6:01 pm 07 Dec 19

Surprise, surprise! Cut the buses, and numbers drop! I wonder why!

Linh Kieu Linh Kieu 5:42 pm 07 Dec 19

I agreed with the article. Please recall all express services.

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 3:38 pm 07 Dec 19

No surprise Tuggeranong Bus use has dropped when they took away so many bus stops right across the Tuggers area, redirected many commuters well out of the way through Cooleman Court and then continually ignored the complaints from Tuggeranong Bus users. Obviously it's been the same story in Belco and Woden. #Busfail

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