Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Expert strata, facilities & building management services

What I’ve learnt from catching buses in Canberra

By Vanessa Jones - 12 October 2016 42

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.

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
42 Responses to
What I’ve learnt from catching buses in Canberra
1
Grail 4:06 pm
12 Oct 16
#

As a semi regular bus user in Canberra for about three decades, I am curious as to why the Liberal plan for rapid busways is supposedly much better than the Labor plan for light rail. Can you support your opinion?

When it comes to late night busses, yes it would be nice if we could increase frequency. But who pays? We are going to add a dozen extra busses to pick up nobody except that one lady on that one Saturday night. For those scenarios, Taxi or Uber is the better option. “But that costs money” you say. I already subsidise you $6 per trip on the bus, maybe being without a car and saving a few thousand a year on private transport you could pay for an Uber once every now and then?

I can see you are not only an impatient bus user but an inattentive driver. When I ride a bus I can see the world around me with my own eyes. When I drive, my attention is entirely on the task: road around me, traffic around me, what my next action needs to be. I am certainly not daydreaming about investment properties or wasteful spending on busways.

You sure have an axe to grind about investment properties. How many investment properties do the Liberals have? Why are they so quiet about their own investments?

2
JC 4:29 pm
12 Oct 16
#

Vanessa not going to get into the light rail debate as such as I think light rail would only work on one corridor in Canberra which is City to Gungahlin, and not as a service for those in wider Gungahlin but those that live along it.

Buses on the other hand service the outter burbs including Gungahlin burbs like where I now live. (I grew up/lived in Macgregor and Dunlop since the mid 70’s, so know that area well)

But to concentrate on bus rapid as a solution, do you really think that bus rapid would cut down travel times from the outer suburbs of Canberra?

I personally think the answer is no. The biggest problem slowing down buses is they meander through low density housing estates. To fill a bus they need to go through (depending upon suburb of course) at least 3 sometimes 4 suburbs to get sufficient passengers. Once they get to somewhere like Belconnen town centre, where a BRT would start they have already spent the best part of 30-40 minutes getting there. Then the trip from say Belconnen to the City, you might shave a few minutes off a trip, but it wouldn’t be a significant amount nor an incentive to change modes from car to bus.

Then of course we need to look at the routes the buses would take. In years gone by express buses (the old 333) from Belconnen to the City used to run express, only stopping at the ANU and Marcus Clarke Street, and it was via Eastern Valley Way and Belconnen way. Took 15 minutes and I reckon today with increased traffic 20 on the same route. But it missed UC, CIT and the hospital. The change to go via College Street and Haydon Drive, added about 7 and now closer to 10 minutes to the trip but added UC, CIT and the hospital, where on every trip a number of passengers get on or off. So a worthwhile change as before this area was very under serviced, I know as I used to study at CIT Bruce and drove because the bus was hopeless.

Whats that got to do with BRT? If you were going to run one from Belconnen to the City would you ignore these major passenger generators or would you continue to serve them? If you dropped them and reverted to the old 333 route we could, maybe with BRT go back to 15 minute trip times Belco to the City, and without BRT about 20 minutes. But if we were to serve UC, CIT and the Hospital with BRT, then buses need to stop, which would mean the time saved would be miniscule as there would be limited scope to pick up speed between those stops.

I laughted at the proposal from Labor, yes Labor years ago saying they could cut bus travel time down to 15 minutes by building a BRT whilst still serving CIT, UC and the hospital, but the only way it was physically possible is if buses traveled at about 120km/h from the hospital to the City. Impossible.

And looking south to Woden for a second, the route and timings are pretty much unchanged from the 333 of days gone by. The only major difference is going anti clockwise around London circuit Belconnen bound rather than clockwise as they did before. Part of the route is already an dedicated bus only lane, so how much time could be saved? Again biggest time waster is getting from the Woden suburbs to Adelaide Ave. BRT won’t fix that.

So really what is the point of BRT?

Only real way to improve transport to the burbs is to minimise the amount of suburbs a bus needs to travel trough, though that itself is difficult owing to the hierarchical design of shops in the ACT. Take Dunlop for example. Quickest way to Belconnen would be via Ginninderra Drive and Coulter Street, but that would mean missing Kippax. So do we have local buses that go through the burbs to link suburbs to group centres and then have town centre buses that do one suburb and then to the town centre and beyond? Don’t think the answer is easy, nor do I think the answer is BRT either.

The other way is more express buses from the burbs to the city. But they don’t need BRT either, they just need to avoid travelling via the town centre and places like College and Haydon Drive. That is where the time is saved. And on the times I’ve caught express buses been really well patronised.

3
Southerly_views 5:58 pm
12 Oct 16
#

Interesting article and point-of-view, especially about bus shelters. The fancy new glass shelters still leave people exposed to the cold wind and rain unlike the old circular solid concrete shelters shown in the photo above. I think the attraction for government is the new glass shelters are provided free-of-charge by a supplier which then sells advertising space. Unfortunately I have already seen a few shattered glass shelters being repaired after vandalism.

While the tram arguments remain ongoing we live in a Tuggeranong suburb where the nearest bus stop is a 2.1 km walk from our homes. Ten years ago ACTION proposed school only bus stops and after 3 community meetings and many letters they installed them nearby. At least now our kids can catch the bus to the nearest school (4.5 km away after the two closer schools were closed). They no longer have to walk the 2km to the regular bus stop in the winter cold and rain or the summer heat. However, if the kids want to bus to Tuggeranong, Woden or Civic they still have to walk the 2km to the regular bus stop. While everyone argues about the benefits of the new tram we are still waiting for a regular ACTION bus service within close proximity to our homes. ACTION talks about servicing the tram in Gungahlin with more frequent local services but in our suburb after twenty years we are still waiting for a bus stop. It doesn’t look at all promising for the future either.

4
Madam Cholet 7:24 pm
12 Oct 16
#

Vanessa, I know your are a candidate and we’re asked to write something about buses in Canberra, but I have to say I think that might be the best rebuttal to the tram written so far. Simple, to the point and written from the perspective of someone who may even benefit from trams done the right way.

I’m not anti-tram in general, but I am anti-tram as it has been designed.

Unfortunately I don’t live in Gininderra – but good luck all the same.

5
Nilrem 5:48 am
13 Oct 16
#

Sometimes being a non-driver is quite relaxing. I particularly enjoying surfing the web and doing emails on my bus ride to work. I arrive quite relaxed, in stark contrast to the days when I drive and have to deal with the aggro congestion on Northbourne Avenue in peak hour.

6
rommeldog56 8:05 am
13 Oct 16
#

Nilrem said :

Sometimes being a non-driver is quite relaxing. I particularly enjoying surfing the web and doing emails on my bus ride to work. I arrive quite relaxed, in stark contrast to the days when I drive and have to deal with the aggro congestion on Northbourne Avenue in peak hour.

Yep – buses are great for that. Very relaxing trip. Far less passengers will be able to will be able to sit in the tram though.

7
Leon Arundell 9:02 am
13 Oct 16
#

Independent candidate Marea Fatseas cares about facilities for Canberra’s 10,000 children and 8,000 adults who walk all the way to school or work, and for the 25,000 who walk part of the way.

The parties seem to be falling over themselves to spend yet more money on the mere 27,000 Canberrans who commute by public transport (2011 census and census@school).

Does anyone else care about walking?

8
Maya123 9:07 am
13 Oct 16
#

Nilrem said :

Sometimes being a non-driver is quite relaxing. I particularly enjoying surfing the web and doing emails on my bus ride to work. I arrive quite relaxed, in stark contrast to the days when I drive and have to deal with the aggro congestion on Northbourne Avenue in peak hour.

I’m retired now, but I feel that way when I catch the bus to the shops, or my volunteer job. Much less stressful, and no hassle with parking. Today though, I will cycle, as it’s nice weather.

9
Adsy 9:15 am
13 Oct 16
#

What nonsense! I am a regular bus user who doesn’t have an investment property on Northbourne Ave and I support light rail!
A good summary of why ‘more buses’ isn’t the answer to our transport and congestion woes can be found here: http://www.actlightrail.info/2016/10/more-buses-ultimate-band-aid-solution.html?m=1

10
rogelio 9:35 am
13 Oct 16
#

Love this article! As a person who solely depends on buses, weekend bus time table is the absolute worst. I work in Majura. There is one bus every hour. If I finish work at 5:30, The bus comes at 6:18. Then I get to civic at around 6:55 and then the 900 series take 15-20 minutes and I reach home at 7:30ish. Its crazy! Especially during winter!

11
pink little birdie 2:35 pm
13 Oct 16
#

Leon Arundell said :

Independent candidate Marea Fatseas cares about facilities for Canberra’s 10,000 children and 8,000 adults who walk all the way to school or work, and for the 25,000 who walk part of the way.

The parties seem to be falling over themselves to spend yet more money on the mere 27,000 Canberrans who commute by public transport (2011 census and census@school).

Does anyone else care about walking?

The Labor, greens and a couple of independents do care – at least I raised the issue in Ginninderra and Kim Fisher ran across to Vijay Dubey (an independent to include him in the conversation . But realistically what are the issues that walkers have that aren’t covered by increased shared paths and the cycling infrastructure?
Most students who walk to school only walk through surburban streets which are already low speed. Liberals have promised flashing lights at schools and Labor have promised lollypop people to supervise crossings.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-election-2016/act-election-labor-to-employ-lollipop-people-to-supervise-school-crossings-20161009-gry50c.html

The only issue I can think of is safer road crossings at traffic lights where there are not pedestrian crossings on all sides of the intersections. (Eg Ginninderra drive, Baldwin and Haydon, Ginniderra drive and into UC, Ginninderra drive and Aikman, Luxton and Laithlain streets).

12
Vanessa Jones 4:51 pm
13 Oct 16
#

rogelio said :

Love this article! As a person who solely depends on buses, weekend bus time table is the absolute worst. I work in Majura. There is one bus every hour. If I finish work at 5:30, The bus comes at 6:18. Then I get to civic at around 6:55 and then the 900 series take 15-20 minutes and I reach home at 7:30ish. Its crazy! Especially during winter!

That sounds really difficult. Vanessa

13
Vanessa Jones 4:53 pm
13 Oct 16
#

Maya123 said :

Nilrem said :

Sometimes being a non-driver is quite relaxing. I particularly enjoying surfing the web and doing emails on my bus ride to work. I arrive quite relaxed, in stark contrast to the days when I drive and have to deal with the aggro congestion on Northbourne Avenue in peak hour.

I’m retired now, but I feel that way when I catch the bus to the shops, or my volunteer job. Much less stressful, and no hassle with parking. Today though, I will cycle, as it’s nice weather.

Yes, buses can be nice. Sometimes you can miss driving, though. Especially for some locations and heavy loads. Vanessa

14
Vanessa Jones 4:58 pm
13 Oct 16
#

Southerly_views said :

Interesting article and point-of-view, especially about bus shelters. The fancy new glass shelters still leave people exposed to the cold wind and rain unlike the old circular solid concrete shelters shown in the photo above. I think the attraction for government is the new glass shelters are provided free-of-charge by a supplier which then sells advertising space. Unfortunately I have already seen a few shattered glass shelters being repaired after vandalism.

While the tram arguments remain ongoing we live in a Tuggeranong suburb where the nearest bus stop is a 2.1 km walk from our homes. Ten years ago ACTION proposed school only bus stops and after 3 community meetings and many letters they installed them nearby. At least now our kids can catch the bus to the nearest school (4.5 km away after the two closer schools were closed). They no longer have to walk the 2km to the regular bus stop in the winter cold and rain or the summer heat. However, if the kids want to bus to Tuggeranong, Woden or Civic they still have to walk the 2km to the regular bus stop. While everyone argues about the benefits of the new tram we are still waiting for a regular ACTION bus service within close proximity to our homes. ACTION talks about servicing the tram in Gungahlin with more frequent local services but in our suburb after twenty years we are still waiting for a bus stop. It doesn’t look at all promising for the future either.

Interesting comments- the outer areas have a hard time with buses I think. Vanessa

15
Vanessa Jones 5:00 pm
13 Oct 16
#

Madam Cholet said :

Vanessa, I know your are a candidate and we’re asked to write something about buses in Canberra, but I have to say I think that might be the best rebuttal to the tram written so far. Simple, to the point and written from the perspective of someone who may even benefit from trams done the right way.

I’m not anti-tram in general, but I am anti-tram as it has been designed.

Unfortunately I don’t live in Gininderra – but good luck all the same.

Thanks MC, very generous of you! Vanessa

1 2 3

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Search across the site