We’re not there yet on fixing transport ‘chaos’, say Canberra Liberals

Ian Bushnell 18 June 2020 24
Candice Burch

Liberal transport spokesperson Candice Burch says more needs to be done to fix the network. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Transport is looming as a major election issue with the Canberra Liberals promising to restore school bus services and claiming the revamped network had fallen short of fixing the commuter ”chaos” the Labor Government itself had created.

Canberra Liberals Transport spokesperson Candice Burch said the government had 18 months to consult the community in its first attempt at a new network only to ”bungle” the result.

She called the latest changes a rehash of February’s announcement, saying the increase in services was only a step in the right direction. She flagged a Liberal transport plan ahead of the October poll.

The government delayed the April roll-out of the changes due to COVID-19, but Ms Burch said the problems with the network were evident well before the pandemic.

The government has created nearly 700 new services, increased frequencies and cut travel time in response to community feedback and analysis of transport data.

But Ms Burch said schools were being shortchanged and weekend and suburban services were still not up to scratch.

”We still haven’t seen an increase in weekend services. People are waiting over 12 months now for the weekend network they were promised, and we still haven’t seen reinstatement of a large number of dedicated school buses services that the government was responsible for cutting,” she said.

”And a significant number of commuter services that were cut as well.”

Ms Burch declined to detail further changes the Liberals would make but said the party would have a lot more to say on its entire transport platform in the lead-up to the election.

”The Liberals will listen to Canberrans and ensure that we are providing the services that Canberrans need and want to get to them to school, work and around our city as quickly as possible,” she said.

Ms Burch said Transport Minister Chris Steel could not use the pandemic as an excuse for the network failures.

“Prior to the pandemic, patronage had fallen in a number of regions in Canberra, and we also saw a significant fall in satisfaction across the network,” she said.

”This demonstrates that Canberrans weren’t happy with the network and haven’t been using it. So we need to do all that we can to after the pandemic is over to make sure we’re getting as many people as we can on to public transport.”

Mr Steel has the same goal and has not ruled out further tweaks although he believes these latest changes will ”see us into the new world beyond the pandemic”.

He said the government had listened to the community and the changes struck the right balance.

”We can’t go to every single residence with a bus route but I think we’ve struck the right balance with providing coverage in this network update as well as improving the frequency,” he said.

Mr Steel said he had worked closely with school communities, and there were now extra services and improvements to route buses, as well as aligning services with bell times.

Schools to benefit included Narrabundah College, Amaroo, Good Shepherd, Melrose High, Red Hill Primary and the Grammar schools.

An extra benefit was that students using route services to get to and from school were using public transport on the weekends.

”We want to create a community of life-long public transport users and I think that’s what we’re seeing with the network changes but there are improvements that we can make,” he said.

The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations said the government had fixed many of the issues it had raised.

”There are some great improvements here – extra services, better timing, new pick-up points which mean some kids are not having to cross busy roads anymore. We’re pleased to see that families have been heard,” President Kirsty McGovern-Hooley said.

”We still have some concerns at Kingsford Smith School. We are still looking at the details but it looks like buses will still bring kids to school up to half an hour before school starts and, depending on where you live, having to wait nearly half an hour for a bus home after school.”

The Public Transport Association said many of the proposed changes reflected feedback they have received from their members and the general public, such as the improvements to bus routes in Tuggeranong, North Belconnen and West Gungahlin.

”The frequency improvements are especially welcome, as they will help reduce the risk of crowding on buses and light rail as COVID restrictions are gradually lifted over the coming months,” chair Ryan Hemsley said.

”We still have some concerns about the frequency of certain weekend buses, and we expect the government to stay true to its word to reinstate the minimum service levels promised as part of Network 19.”

Mr Steel said increases to weekend bus services had been delayed by COVID-19 disrupting driver training but by the start of Term 4 there should be 291 extra weekend services.

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24 Responses to We’re not there yet on fixing transport ‘chaos’, say Canberra Liberals
Scott Humphries Scott Humphries 9:06 am 19 Jun 20

"Ms Burch declined to detail further changes the Liberals would make"

Wayne Palmer Wayne Palmer 9:50 pm 18 Jun 20

I do enjoy a good piece of satire. Please follow it up with one about Kate Carnell not doing things for self interest.

Benkin Manfish Benkin Manfish 4:46 pm 18 Jun 20

It's a good thing we have the Liberals, the party of public transportation, to fix this and definitely not make it worse.

    Julie Maynard Julie Maynard 5:52 pm 18 Jun 20

    Benkin Manfish watch our rates increase!

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 6:45 pm 18 Jun 20

    Benkin Manfish how often do you catch a bus. Could have been one of the best in Australia if people used it.

    Benkin Manfish Benkin Manfish 8:25 pm 18 Jun 20

    Julie Maynard I will, they seem to do that no matter which party is in power, especially if you want services delivered.

    Benkin Manfish Benkin Manfish 8:27 pm 18 Jun 20

    Tom Porter I do (or at least did before the current pandemic), not sure what that has to do with my point though.

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 8:30 pm 18 Jun 20

    Benkin Manfish if more people in Canberra left their cars at home and used public transport, the system would be one of the best in Australua. Count how many cars are single occupant.

    Benkin Manfish Benkin Manfish 8:32 pm 18 Jun 20

    Tom Porter I agree with you. Which is why I'm not keen to see what a party that has historically been committed to car based infrastructure would do to the gains we have made.

    Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 10:18 pm 18 Jun 20

    Julie Maynard how much have they increased under labour? You must have a very short memory

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 9:57 am 19 Jun 20

    Tom Porter Why would the Canberra Bus system suddenly be one of the best in Australia? The 2019 network re-design made buses even worse for a huge chunk of Canberra, the change has seen bus use drop across much of the city. In my suburb Kambah, bus journey times have almost doubled. Therefore too many people have gone out and purchased cars because they can no longer rely on the bus. Canberra Transport took away my direct bus service, a service that mirrored my quick car journey straight up the parkway. If you don't want single people in cars, then ensure the buses use the routes that cars actually use, Tuggeranong Parkway, Monaro Hwy, William Hovell dr etc....

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 11:08 am 19 Jun 20

    Of course it is going backwards no one uses it.

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 11:10 am 19 Jun 20

    Jeff Smith, Express buses used to go up the Parkway but it became too clogged with cars.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 12:56 pm 19 Jun 20

    Tom Porter Your just making things up and not answering the questions I asked. I have used the Tuggeranong Parkway in both cars and buses for years and it's generally one of the fastest and most free flowing city roads in Australia. Other than the occasional accident (which is a very rare occurrence between the Kambah and Woden section that I mainly use) the Parkway is a very good road for a city. And now by not using the parkway since the bus changes, Canberra Transport has made my Kambah bus trips much much slower and more indirect. As I'm a heavy user of the bus service, you don't need to target me but you need to be target those people sitting alone in their cars and the bus network re-design that helped put them there.

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 4:09 pm 19 Jun 20

    Jeff Smith you were never targeted. I first moved to Canberra in 1979 and travelled from Gowrie to Wooden by bus. I have seen roads in Canberra gridlocked by an accident especially the parkway. If people would use the bus system instead of cars, it would be a great transport system

    Alison Brittliff Alison Brittliff 10:17 am 21 Jun 20

    Tom Porter because the new timetable is rubbish, takes me as long to get from kambah to Woden on a bus as it takes me to drive fro kambah to gunghalin, not very enticing

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