Weekend buses back on track, says Steel

Ian Bushnell 25 October 2019 19
Woden interchange

Woden Interchange: Weekend buses are now hitting reliability targets, according to Chris Steel. Photo: File.

The number of of people taking buses on weekends has increased and there have been fewer cancelled services since the government responded to public pressure over passengers being left stranded at stops after their bus failed to show, according to the first Transport Action Plan Quarterly Update tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

The ACT Government revised the weekend timetable and introduced six standby drivers at each of the bus depots to fill any gaps in the schedule as part of a 10-point Action Plan in response to an Assembly resolution.

After the new network began at the end of April, average weekend reliability slumped to 89 per cent, which the Government admitted was not acceptable, attributing it to a lack of drivers volunteering for the contentious weekend roster.

The Assembly’s August resolution, after a Liberals’ motion was amended by Labor and the Greens, called on the government to release an action plan within a month.

The Greens’ amendments also called on the government to increase bus driver numbers through continued recruitment and consider incentives for drivers to work weekends.

Transport Minister Chris Steel said the Update showed reliability had jumped to almost 100 per cent for the last four weekends.

Reliability chart

Reliability of weekend services. Image: Supplied.

He said more than 150,000 journeys were recorded over the past four weekends, about 27,000 more than in the same period last year.

“Weekend reliability earlier in the year was not hitting the mark. It’s great to see more Canberrans catching the bus on the weekend, confident that their service will arrive,” he said.

The government had initially cut services to deal with the problem but a public backlash and the Assembly forced it to do more to provide a long-term solution, including recruiting more drivers.

Mr Steel said that since the new network began, 58 new drivers had started with a further 10 currently in training.

The Action Plan included making longer shifts to make weekend work more attractive, spreading workloads between the Belconnen and Tuggeranong depots, as well as increasing the number of stand-by drivers to cover unexpected absences or vehicle breakdowns.

Transport Canberra is also moving from an annual recruitment round to continuous campaign to meet growing demand, with preference given to candidates interested in weekend work.

Mr Steel said work had commenced on nine of the 10 actions, with two completed (the revised timetable and standby drivers being available at each of the bus depots).

When Mr Steel announced the Action Plan last month, he said the government would also consult with staff and unions on potential changes and incentives in the drivers’ enterprise agreement to deliver a reliable weekend service.

The current agreement does not force drivers to work weekends, and if they choose to they are not paid weekend penalty rates as it is built-in to their overall pay rate.

The revised weekend timetable will incrementally increase weekend services to meet the Network 19 plan.

The public will be able to view the Quarterly Updates on the Transport Canberra website.

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19 Responses to Weekend buses back on track, says Steel
Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 3:19 pm 29 Oct 19

I have adopted the ACT Government's weekend Transport success KPI for my homelife. I am now succesfully doing the dishes 99.9% of the time. However, I told my wife that to meet the KPI, I have cut back to only doing the dishes once a fortnight. Doesn't seem to be cutting the mustard.

Marko Lehikoinen Marko Lehikoinen 9:15 am 29 Oct 19

Are they sure the finals sports matches plus savage implementation of illegal parking policing didn't help improve those usage figures? As many have pointed out, if services have been cut, of course the reliability figures look better.

Roland Thorne Roland Thorne 11:35 pm 27 Oct 19

It's easy to claim improved reliability when the total number of weekend services was decreased in the new timetable. How about improving convenience by adding more services and having them run more frequently?

Robert McMahon Robert McMahon 9:49 am 27 Oct 19

Fewer cancelled services because the number of services has declined. Not rocket science

Simon Gadgets Simon Gadgets 10:27 pm 26 Oct 19

Smoke n mirrors move along nothing to see here

Jenny Margherita Jenny Margherita 7:59 pm 26 Oct 19

Buses every 2 hours in the capital of Australia?? what a joke .. great for tourism I don’t think .. get your act together before the next election ..

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 6:07 pm 26 Oct 19

Busses only come every two hours!

Amanda Brown Amanda Brown 5:31 pm 26 Oct 19

Fewer services altogether! You can’t cancel a bus that’s never scheduled 🤪

Doris Andrews Doris Andrews 5:25 pm 26 Oct 19

What do you mean increased. There are virtually no buses on the weekend and I can assure you they are practically empty.

Claire McGreevy Claire McGreevy 5:07 pm 26 Oct 19

So it’s acceptable to have weekend buses running every TWO hours in Ngunnawal? That’s progress? The bus service was meant to get better, not worse.

Bec Eyley Bec Eyley 4:50 pm 26 Oct 19

There’s only been less cancellations because you cut half the bloody services. Especially Southside!

M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 4:41 pm 26 Oct 19

"The current agreement does not force drivers to work weekends, and if they choose to they are not paid weekend penalty rates as it is built-in to their overall pay rate." Nice little sweetheart deal between Labor and the Transport Workers Union there.

Karen Betts Karen Betts 4:36 pm 26 Oct 19

If bus services were free (slightly radical, forward thinking public transport outside the box thinking, I know) - even for a fixed period - perhaps patronage would swamp the current substantial reliance on cars. Just my two cents worth.

    Warren Morris Warren Morris 4:39 pm 26 Oct 19

    I think that’s a great idea. I’d say increase everyone’s rates a little and make the busses permanently free

    Penny Gordon Penny Gordon 5:26 pm 26 Oct 19

    Warren Morris how is that fair for people who live in areas that the service is so bad that they can't use the bus?

    Karl Brown Karl Brown 6:17 pm 26 Oct 19

    Not for me. I can ride to work in 40 minutes. Takes me 1.5 hours on the bus.

Ray Mcgee Ray Mcgee 4:34 pm 26 Oct 19

“Says Steel”.... well he isn’t gonna say anything negative now is he 🙄

bj_ACT bj_ACT 12:30 pm 26 Oct 19

When did reducing services for the outer suburbs to once every 2 hours become the measure for success?

How can you take away buses from people just to ensure you have enough weekend bus drivers?

This network change was all about servicing people lucky enough to live near a Rapid Route and kicking the rest where it hurts.

Good luck to kids trying to get to their weekend sporting commitments like the Transport Minister promised.

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