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What I’ve learnt from catching buses in Canberra

By Vanessa Jones 12 October 2016 43

Bus stop
The Riot Act said I could write a “500 word piece for RiotACT on what catching buses regularly has taught you about Canberra’s transport needs,” after I commented about buses.
OK, seeing the number 500 makes me want to divide this article up into numbers. Let’s start with one.

1. Catching buses has taught me that we do not need a yuppy tram line to increase the price of Shane Rattenbury’s 2 investment properties in the tram line area, we need Alistair Coe’s rapid bus system. And that opinion is coming from someone who has never voted Liberal in their life, and who grew up with a Liberal hating father, who swore and cursed Fraser all my childhood, who saw Whitlam fund public schools so well and hated everything about Fraser. So, it’s a big step for me to say “go with the Liberals’ rapid bus system, it’s the best system for bus users and non drivers”.

2. Not driving for 3 years has taught me that not driving sucks, especially in Canberra. I miss driving to the country, I miss driving to Hall to go for a walk amongst the beautiful paddocks, and quiet country roads. I miss ducking out to get chook food at Hall, or from the new pet food place at Belconnen. How can you carry a 25kg bag of chook food home on the bus?

3. I miss seeing the development of this city, the changes. It’s hard to see it all from the bus. I miss looking, with my eyes, from the freedom of a car. I miss the independence of going where I want, when I want. I miss popping into cafes or galleries or doing whatever I want when I want. I think I just said that.

4. I miss being able to drive to the coast when I want.

5. So, I’d better get back to the issue. What has catching buses taught me about our transport needs?

6. Do the rapid bus system.

7. Build bus shelters on every main road-street. I have discussed this on my Facebook page, and then the other day I met a man who is blind, and he told me that his main concern is having bus shelters. He gets wet, waiting for a bus to work, in West Belconnen. That really sucks. Imagine being blind, you get dressed, get to the bus stop, and then it rains on you. Your work clothes are wet, for the day ahead. If we can build a tram line, then build bus shelters in all suburbs on major streets. The man told me that some bus shelters had been smashed, new ones. Well, maybe we can build the old concrete ones. Hearing that man’s story really moved me.

8. So, we need Coe’s rapid bus system. And we need bus shelters on all major streets-roads. Also, we need more buses on the weekends. Catching a bus on the weekend in Canberra really sucks. You wait ages. I campaigned to get rapid buses more frequently to Kippax, and now they are every 10 minutes on weekdays. They need to be more frequent on weekends. Recently, there was a talk at Kingston about local politics, with journalists. It was on a Sunday evening. Catching buses on the weekend would have been a huge headache – 2 buses to the event, then 2 buses home, after 7pm. No way, what a headache, what if it’s cold and it rains. Make buses more frequent on weekends.

9. The nicest bus driver in Canberra is Francesco, he is lovely. He smiles and “hi 5s” people on buses, he recognises you, he is great. Francesco should get a well-paid job teaching bus drivers PR skills, he is fabulous.

10. It rains in Canberra, and it gets windy in winter. Those winds can eat you with cold. We need bus shelters. It’s hot in summer, we need bus shelters.

11. Kippax didn’t have a My Way machine before. I asked for one, now we have one. Make sure there are My Way machines all over this city.

12. If My Way bus tickets do not work, bus drivers should be nice. Often, upset people get kicked off buses when their My Way card does not work. Those people look like they will cry on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere. Be kind to people who have their My Way cards muck up, and not work. Let them on the bus. Most people look shocked and upset when their card does not work. Be kind.

13. When there are tram debates, about the pros and cons of trams, listen to non-drivers and bus users. Have you not driven in this city for one year or ten years? Non-drivers know so much, they know about transport, they are not thinking of their home prices increasing when they debate tram issues, or their 2 investment apartments increasing in value. Listen to people who catch buses. Ignore people who have bought 2 investment apartments in the tram area, to cash in on the tram line. Use common sense, not greed, when planning for transport with government funds.

14. Avoid being a non-driver, it really, really sucks.

Vanessa Jones is an independent candidate running for the seat of Ginninderra in the ACT Legislative Assembly election.

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43 Responses to
What I’ve learnt from catching buses in Canberra
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Ubiquitous 8:23 pm 07 Aug 18

Francisco is my favourite driver too! He used to be my driver after school. Always greeted me with a high five and a small conversation in Spanish (due to us both being Fromm spain.) A true legend of this town.

sportsmum 12:37 pm 15 Oct 16

This is a really great piece with lots of very good points in it. I hope our local government members read it and adopt the suggestions.
I really like the idea of smaller buses to run more frequently in the suburbs, with large buses doing the rapid runs between town centres. There doesn’t seem to me to be any reason why we can’t do rapid runs linking all the major local hubs from Lanyon, Tuggeranng, Erindale, Woden, Weston Creek, Fyshwick, Hume, Kingston, Barton, City, Belconnen, Jamieson and so on out to Gungahlin. It would work better than a light rail and provided the right attention is given to rapid bus lanes on the roads then it seems very practical to me – and about half a billion dollars cheaper.

Vanessa Jones 7:25 am 15 Oct 16

JC said :

Vanessa Jones said :

I looked at the weekend timetable from Kippax to Belco, and there are 3 buses per hour I think, but all leave within about 15 mins of each other- so for 45 mins there are no buses- so it’d be better to have them every 20 or 30 mins. I might be wrong, but that is what I worked out. Also, keep bus numbers the same all week- changing the numbers at weekends is so confusing and crazy. Why? So, need weekend buses every 20 or 30 mins Kippax to Belco and return. Too easy, but they choose not to do it… Vanessa

On Sundays for example Kippax is served by the 903, 904 and 905.

The 903 leaves Kippax (Belco bound) at around x:48, the 904 yeah much the same time and the 905 at x.19. So in essence a bus every 30 minutes, which is not really unreasonable.

You may think it is easy to have one every 20 minutes to even it out, but frankly as they take different routes to get to Belconnen you may well find two buses leave 20 minutes apart but arrive at the same time. One route (903) goes straight down Southern Cross, as Kippax is near the end of the route and the other two go through suburbia and hence take longer. Then there is the issue of the effect on other bus routes, spreading them out to every 20 minutes might mean an extra bus is required to do the same job.

Also unless I am mistaken Labor have promised to extend all 300 and 900 series buses to Kippax.

On the weekends, there are rapids Civic to Belco and return every 15 mins I think. That is great. BUT, what about weekend rapids for Belco to Charnwood, Dunlop and Kippax and return? That is the next issue. Every 20 mins would be great. I tried to find The Liberals’ rapid bus weekend promise- what would that be? I couldn’t find it.

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