The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has welcomed today’s release of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories’ (JSCNET) report on Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for the proposed stage 2 of the ACT light rail project, arguing that the report provides much-needed certainty around the second stage of Canberra’s most important infrastructure project.
The PTCBR made a submission to this inquiry and gave evidence at a public hearing earlier in the year, addressing the heritage and approvals process.
“We are happy see the committee make a number of common-sense recommendations around the design and approvals processes for light rail stage 2” Mr Damien Haas, Chair of the PTCBR said.
“The timely release of the committee’s report means that the ACT Government can get on with the job of delivering the crucial next stage of Canberra’s city-shaping light rail network”.
The six recommendations made in the JSCNET report cover a range of issues, including heritage, urban design and approvals processes. Recommendation 2 of the report outlines a two-stage Commonwealth approval process for light rail stage 2, involving:
An amendment to the National Capital Plan; and
NCA Works Approval and other Commonwealth approval processes, including Parliamentary Approval.
The PTCBR agrees with the committee that this is the most appropriate way forward, and will continue to strongly advocate for light rail stage 2 throughout the remainder of the public consultation processes.
Mr Haas said “Importantly the Committees report means that the NCA and the ACT Government can resume working on a light rail route through the Parliamentary Zone that can serve the people of Canberra, service national institutions and satisfy heritage concerns.”
“When people visiting Canberra in future years travel by light rail to visit the nations treasured institutions, they will be more able to appreciate how beautiful our capital is, than focusing on the road and looking for a carparking space.”
The PTCBR look forward to the next steps for light rail stage two:
the Governments response to the report
a route through the Parliamentary Zone being identified by the NCA and ACT Government,
a National Capital Plan amendment prepared, and
the business case for Woden to Civic light rail finalised,
followed by work commencing on extending our light rail network.
Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the regions peak public transport lobby group representing Canberra’s public transport users.
In 2019 Canberra will have its first integrated public transport network with light rail and rapid buses forming a mass transit backbone with more frequent local services linking to the rapid bus/light rail. It is a significant and radical change to Canberras public transport experience and has been subject to extensive route design, and community consultation (see details here).
Transport Minster Meegan Fitzharris MLA today released the final route design for Network 19, following an extensive community consultation program. This updated route design is based on extensive community consultation, and incorporates additional local and rapid routes that were not in the earlier version. Work is continuing on the timetable that will be used in this network, and is expected to be complete in December, now that the network has been finalised.
The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) are pleased that Transport Canberra have reacted to community consultation and made sensible changes in local services and rapid bus routes.
Restoring the Tuggeranong/Woden/Civic/Belconnen rapid bus is sensible, especially give strong patronage by University of Canberra students.
The addition of new local loops in Belconnen, extra stops in Gungahlin and extra Molonglo services are sensible.
Addressing Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo patronage demands and responding to feedback to finetune the local routes in each area (see more from transport Canberra here).
Extra peak services from south Tuggeranong will replace Xpresso services, and better serve all commuters.
A seven day network with consistent weekday and weekend numbering is welcome, and long overdue.
Extended Sunday services running to 10 PM are very welcome.
Installing new bus stops and expanding local service near schools has removed the need for some dedicated school bus services (and over time more school children will have the advantage of using the regular bus network).
Further work needed
Further work needs to be done on establishing better connections between the rapid routes and local services where they overlap or run adjacent to each other.
A rapid bus connection into Queanbeyan should be made a priority of the ACT and NSW Governments.
Dropping service to places like Hume, Alexander Maconochie Centre, Fairbairn and Campbell Park need to supported with a proper expansion of on-demand and flexible bus services.
Overall, the new integrated public transport network is a massive change and will take some getting used to by passengers used to the local bus services meandering around their suburbs. It may take some time before the changes are fully appreciated. By not releasing timetable information during consultation, people have looked at the changes and used their current experience and frequency and applied it to the new routes (even though local services are expected to increase in frequency).
This network is going to be a strong builder of public transport patronage based around light rail and more frequent buses. It is the modal shift Canberra has needed.
After extensive community consultation, Canberra’s updated public transport network was released today to give Canberrans more buses, more often, seven days a week.
Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said a number of changes have been made to the new network, which will be complemented by a range of services to support commuters thanks to the community’s suggestions.
“The new network of buses and light rail will make it easier for Canberrans to get where they want to go, offering a genuine alternative to driving, seven days a week,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“This is all about making Canberra better connected and getting more people on public transport so we can secure Canberra’s status as one of the world’s most liveable cities as our population continues to grow.
“The ACT Government has already committed $43 million for the addition of 80 new buses to our network. In addition, we will be investing in new infrastructure and more customer service officers to make our public transport network even more convenient for Canberrans.”
“And to get more people using public transport, I’m excited to say we will be providing a month of free travel on the new network for MyWay card users.”
Minister Fitzharris thanked the community for getting involved in the consultation, which saw more than 13,000 pieces of feedback received.
“This was genuine consultation, and as a result we have made changes to a number of routes. I acknowledge the new network will involve changes for some users, but we need to strike a balance which makes public transport as attractive as possible to all people, including both new and existing passengers.”
Changes following consultation
Through the feedback, people told us they wanted changes to some of the proposed routes and we’ve made 37 changes across the 58 routes in the regular network and added an additional 78 school services following consultation on network.
“For example, we have extended a proposed Rapid service from Tuggeranong to Belconnen, instead of just the City to ensure people travelling from Tuggeranong to Belconnen don’t need to change buses,” said Minister Fitzharris.
“We’ll also add direct local connections to Woden from Weston Creek, provide better coverage in south-west Belconnen, and add new peak bus routes from the south of Tuggeranong.”
The community told us they supported a high frequency, seven-day network of turn up-and-go rapid buses – and under the updated network almost six out of 10 Canberrans will live in walking distance of a rapid bus stop.
There will be services at least every 15 minutes along 10 Rapid transport corridors from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, continuing into the evening with less frequency. Sunday and public holiday service times will also be extended to 10pm.
Simpler access to information was also a theme in the consultation, which is why we’ll have a new electronic journey planning system to help people plan their public transport trips.
Changes to school services following consultation
Parents and other bus users asked for more help and supervision at interchanges to make changing buses easier and feel safer. As a result, new Customer Service Officers will help school children and adults alike become familiar with using interchanges and improve signage.
In addition to improving the regular bus network, which school students are currently most likely to use, the updated network also includes 78 more dedicated school services than in the initial consultation to help students get to school.
“We’ve heard what parents, teachers and students have said and we will also recruit a specialist schools liaison to ensure buses continue to meet schools’ needs,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“Currently the overwhelming majority of students don’t use the bus at all to get to school, so we hope this combination of the improved regular network and school-only services will encourage more young people to start using the bus and continue to be bus users after they graduate.
“Parents, students and schools asked us for more comprehensive information about the new services to schools, so today we’ve published school-by-school information detailing services that will get kids to school before the bell and take them home again.”
Further improvements still to come
Following the consultation, the ACT Government has committed to provide free travel for one month on the new network, as well as deliver more customer service officers, more school crossing supervisors, improved infrastructure around schools and better information to help people navigate the new network.
“As part of the consultation the community asked us to improve infrastructure and customer service,” said Minister Fitzharris.
“We will invest in more customer service officers, and soon start installing new electronic ticket machines at interchanges. We will also improve footpaths around schools as part of the Active Streets for Schools program.
“The ACT Government has also committed to increasing and renewing the Transport Canberra bus fleet, with our new blue buses increasingly visible on our roads. The growth of the fleet will be possible through the recommissioning of the Woden Bus Depot, adding to the current Belconnen and Tuggeranong sites.
“With the network now settled, the team at Transport Canberra will finalise the bus timetable before the end of the year to give Canberrans a clear idea of how they’ll get around in 2019,” Minister Fitzharris said.
A full timetable will be published later in the year before the network starts in early 2019.
Canberrans will be encouraged to provide ongoing feedback to Transport Canberra through the Transport Canberra website to help continuously improve the timetable and network more broadly.
The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) are pleased that the ACT Government and Transport Planners have studied the 13000 pieces of feedback received through community consultation and announced changes. It’s a clear demonstration that effective community consultation can work well. We expect that other announcements arising out of this consultation will show the public that genuine concerns will be listened to.
PTCBR believe that Transport Canberra need to act on not just feedback, but actual evidence. Todays announcement (the Ministers media release is below) about restoring school services from 250 to around 240 dedicated school services (around 100 were proposed for Network 19) is a pragmatic decision, but one that needs to be revisited in the future as an expanded light rail and rapid bus network makes public transport quicker and more accessible for more Canberrans.
In the school bus discussion many bizarre claims about the public transport network have been made in an attempt to justify dedicated school buses. Transport planners need to make decisions based on data not anecdata. The public transport network is safe, and the interchanges are safe. Isolated incidents are not evidence of patterns. All passengers, including school age children travel through our transport interchanges every day in their tens of thousands, with few incidents occurring. There is more likelihood of a kid being bullied in a school bus than on a regular bus leaving an interchange, where Canberrans would call inappropriate behaviour out straight away.
“The ACT government has signalled a partial back down on sweeping cuts to school bus services proposed under its new public transport network, following backlash from principals and parents over student safety.”
School services impact local bus frequency
Adding around 100 dedicated school bus services back in to the school network takes those buses out of the peak hour fleet, and that will have an effect on local and rapid bus service frequency in Network 19. This is not the best outcome. It would be better for parents to raise independent children, confident enough to travel on a regular bus. PTCBR hope that over time the dedicated school bus service can be reduced, with more frequent local bus services near schools.
Transport Canberra advise PTCBR that patronage reviews on school services will be conduced annually, and that many of the school services that have been restored from the initial Network 19 proposal, have been altered with shorter trips and more direct school services.
Converting school service passengers to regular bus service passengers
If a parent chooses to live in one town centre and send their children to a school on the other side of town, that is a decision they have taken, and they shouldn’t complain about the travel time, and it especially precious to complain about losing a dedicated school bus. They can always send their child to a local school, that they could walk or ride a bike to.
Ultimately the PTCBR understand that if its a choice between a parent driving a child to school, or using a dedicated school bus, the bus is a better option, but we hope that over time as the regular bus service improves, parents will have the confidence in their children and the bus network, to let them travel with the other 60% of school children that travel to school on a regular bus every day.
The PTCBR await further announcements arising from the recently concluded community consultation around Network 19 and look forward to the introduction of an integrated bus and light rail transport network in 2019, that will transform Canberra.
Media release from TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris dated 20 September 2018
Community feedback on bus network to help make CBR better connected
The extensive bus consultation undertaken from June to August this year has heard that Canberrans support more frequent bus services that run into the evenings and on weekends and they want to feel safe when using public transport.
More than 13,000 pieces of feedback over a two month consultation period were received to help Transport Canberra shape its new network of more buses, more often, seven days a week according to a new Listening Report released today.
People also detailed a number of concerns about changes that were proposed to individual routes, as well as changes to Xpresso services and dedicated school bus services.
“I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to our extensive consultation process on the new network.
“Currently only 8% of people are using our buses and this needs to change. Our new bus network will be designed to encourage greater public transport use as our city grows.
“Today I’ve released a high level Listening Report, which highlights the themes and feedback received during the consultation process.
“From this consultation, we heard people support more frequent buses and services that run into the evenings and on weekends. They told us they want to feel safe when using public transport and had questions about some students having to change buses on their way to school. People said they want more information on how the buses will run and an improved journey planner.
“Xpresso users provided feedback about changes to the services they use, and there were a large proportion of comments on individual services.
“My message to people is that we have heard your concerns and we are making changes to help ensure the network works for as many people as possible. While we can’t make changes to everything, we will do our best to balance the different views of existing users while developing a network which will attract new users.
“The full details of the changes we will make following this consultation will be announced in October, with ongoing discussions with a number of groups,” said Minister Fitzharris.
The ACT government wants more people to use public transport. At the moment only 4% of trips around our city are on public transport, compared to 78% by private vehicles.
Improving our public transport will help secure Canberra’s status as one of the world’s most liveable cities as our population continues to grow.
“As the new network is introduced we will continue to monitor feedback to help Canberrans use the new network.
“Once the new timetables are released later this year, Transport Canberra will embark on an education campaign to inform the community about the changes and how to plan their routes and access public transport ahead of the new network launch in early 2019,” Minister Fitzharris said.
The recently released design documents for John Gorton Drive Stage 3B show a planned light rail route running in the median of John Gorton Drive north of the Molonglo River. The route then heads east along a planned extension of Bindubi Street, with a stop near the intersection servicing the planned residential estate of Whitlam.
This is the first instance of light rail being a key influence in the design of infrastructure in the Molonglo Valley.
“The Molonglo Valley has been designed around an ‘urban boulevard’ concept and is therefore ideally suited to a future light rail route,” PTCBR Committee Member Ryan Hemsley said.
“As a long-time resident of Weston Creek and a current resident of Molonglo, I look forward to seeing how the future stages of John Gorton Drive and Bindubi Street incorporate provisions for a light rail route to service our growing district”.
A draft concept plan included in the documentation shows three stops servicing the future suburbs of Molonglo Valley Stage 3. The route shown is largely consistent with the planned Woden to City via Weston Creek and Molonglo route outlined in the 2016 Light Rail Network Plan.
ACT Government population estimates have the Molonglo Valley growing by over 500% between 2016 and 2020. In this year alone, nine development applications for multi-unit sites in Denman Prospect have been lodged with the planning directorate.
The PTCBR believes that light rail will be a critical part of Molonglo’s infrastructure mix if it is to avoid many of the road congestion problems that have plagued Gungahlin.
The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) have made a submission on Network 19, the first integrated bus and light rail public transport network in the territories history, to the ACT Government. The PTCBR support the ACT Governments active transport and public transport programs, including the introduction of light rail and integrated public transport services. The continued budget focus placed by the Territory government on these important areas will improve Canberrans lives immediately, and for decades to come.
In our submission we are providing suggestions on Network 19 and possible future improvements to the planned integrated network and supporting infrastructure (including regional cooperation) that can be implemented.
a focus on connections between rapid and local bus services,
prioritising buses on our roads,
expanding Park and Ride,
resourcing on-demand travel properly,
extending the rapid bus network into Queanbeyan,
bringing regional NSW buses into the Canberra public transport and ticketing network; and
exploring a stand alone school bus fleet.
The PTCBR understand that any bus network consultation is going to be greeted with concern from existing passengers who are seeing their daily routines disrupted. We appreciate that for some people the complete redesign of the bus network to accommodate a more in-depth commitment to making rapid light rail and bus services the backbone of the territories public transport network, supported by more frequent and shorter local services connecting to that rapid backbone, may not initially seem to be a better overall network. Change can sometimes be difficult, but the PTCBR have looked at the proposed Network and believe it is the improvement that we need for the 21st century.
With some modifications, the proposed Network will resolve long standing complaints about the local bus network, and build on the success of the rapid bus network, while establishing light rail as the backbone future more frequent local services can connect to. It will enable Canberra to become a compact livable city, that can free itself of car dependence.
We thank the Government for the extensive consultation process they have undertaken, with many appearances at community groups, street stalls and also at a public meeting convened by the PTCBR for our members to ask questions. We are aware that some of the proposed local routes may need some finessing to work as intended, and understand that the purpose of a consultation process is to locate these issues and resolve them when a final Network plan is delivered in 2019.
We have encouraged our members to make individual submissions on specific local issues that they can provide detailed feedback on. Subsequently, this submission makes very few locally focused recommendations and looks at longer term recommendations and observations that Network 19 and the commencement of light rail stage one can bring about.
As Network 19 Consultation on the integrated bus/light rail public transport network comes to a close, TCCS are providing a Network Planner for our members to engage with. I’m sure we are very familiar with the proposals, and this is a good opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions.
Light Rail Stage One is being built right now, and vehicle testing has commenced. If you would like to know more about the testing and commissioning of the Gungahlin to Civic stage, Scott Lyall of TCCS will answer those questions.
Light Rail Stage Two has been in the news recently, with a federal Inquiry into the heritage aspects and approvals process (that three PTCBR Committee members appeared at). Pam Nelson of TCCS will update us on Stage Two and answer questions that we may have.
The meeting will be chaired by Deputy Chair Robert Knight. There will be an opportunity for members to ask questions and provide feedback to TCCS on these topical public transport issues..
The PTCBR meeting will be at:
5PM on 8 Aug 2018
20 Genge St, Civic.
5.45 – 6PM Questions/discussion – moderated by PTCBR Deputy Chair Robert Knight
All members of the public are welcome to attend.
For members seeking to renew their membership, forms will be available on the night (if your details have changed) and fees accepted if you have the exact money ($20 or $10 for any concession card holder). If you know someone that is seeking to become a member, please invite them to attend.
Network 19 Submission by PTCBR
The integrated bus/light rail network that commences in 2019 is a mass rapid transit spine supported by higher frequency local bus networks. This is a policy that the PTCBR supports. The Network 19 proposal currently out for consultation is a bold modal change from the bus networks that Canberra has been used to. It is a massive disruptive change that aims to increase public transport patronage from its current level.
The introduction of light rail will achieve patronage growth for Gungahlin and those adjacent to the light rail stage one corridor, but that increase also needs to occur in areas served only by bus (until further stages of the light rail network are built). Does the Network 19 proposal get this right? Can it be improved?
The PTCBR Committee are working on a submission on Network 19. Although PTCBR support the strategic approach, there are areas that PTCBR feel could be improved, and we will be providing that view in our submission, based on Committee and PTCBR member feedback.
Network 19 Consultation closes on August 10. Supporting documentation for Network 19 Rapid and local bus services can be found here:
“The indicative cost of between $1.3 and 1.6 billion dollars is not a figure that the Canberra public should be shocked by. It’s a major infrastructure project that a city of our size requires, and can afford.”
“Few people blink an eye when 800 million is spent on Majura Parkway. In fact we spend huge amounts on roads, with no expectations around costs or befits at all. Light rail stage one, and the sensible financial model underpinning that shows we can afford to pay for and build stage two in a similar phased way as stage one” Mr Damien Haas, Chair of the PTCBR said.
PTCBR strongly support light rail stage one, and light rail stage two. The second stage is a significant step in linking north and south Canberra and ensuring that public transport becomes a viable option for existing and future residents. The PTCBR encourage the federal inquiry into light rail stage two to conclude with a recommendation for the project to proceed.
Mr Haas observed that the commentary around the time taken for the trip from Woden to Civic by bus compared to the proposed trip time by light rail is an issue that overlooks long term public transport benefits.
“The current rapid bus leaves Woden and doesn’t stop until it arrives at the Albert Hall. It simply motors past tens of thousands of residents and employees that cant get on board. Light rail will have stops along Adelaide Avenue that many Woden and Inner South residents can use. It opens up the rapid transit network to a whole new group of people that don’t have that option now.”
“More importantly, light rail stage two provides much better public transport into the Parliamentary zone, a significant employment hub. Many people in Woden cant get the bus to work in Parkes or Barton, light rail will offer that option. That trade off is definitely worth a short ten minute increase to the rapid bus travel time. The long term aim is to increase public transport patronage. Providing a better service helps achieve that. ”
On the benefits to all Australians, and not just those in Woden, Mr Haas said that “Visitors to Canberra will appreciate that they can step off light rail from a hotel in Civic or along Northbourne, and walk a few blocks to our many National Attractions. Light rail stage two benefits all Australians, those visiting the National Capital as well as those of us lucky enough to already live here.”
Mr Haas encouraged the Canberra public to support light rail stage two saying “Light rail stage one will open soon and be tremendously successful. The people opposing light rail now, and clinging to a packed rapid bus for Woden, will change their minds when they see the benefits light rail delivers to Gungahlin residents”.
The PTCBR look forward to consulting its members and engaging with Transport Canberra on light rail stage two.
PTCBR will be holding a meeting for its members in July to discuss Network 19 and light rail stage two in more detail.
Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra regions peak public transport lobby group.
Media release from TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA:
City to Woden light rail planning well underway
Planning for light rail from the City to Woden is well underway, with the ACT Government releasing a mid‑year update on stage 2.
The ACT Government is committed to constructing light rail between Gungahlin and Woden via the City, Parkes and Barton as the backbone of its vision for a city-wide integrated public transport network. The government reaffirmed its commitment to developing light rail stage 2 with $12.5 million invested in progressing the project through the 2018-19 financial year.
The ACT Government expects to make a final investment decision in respect of stage 2 once greater clarity is achieved on the Commonwealth Government’s support for the project and any associated planning requirements.
Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said the next steps for the project included developing the design in close consultation with the National Capital Authority (NCA), making planning and environmental submissions, and undertaking further community and stakeholder consultation on the project. The project will also be considered by a Commonwealth Parliamentary committee inquiry in the coming days.
“Light rail from the Gungahlin to Woden will create a north-south public transport spine for Canberra, significantly improving transport accessibility in our region. Stage 2 from the City to Woden via Barton will cater for growing population and employment adjacent to the light rail corridor.
“The ACT Government is acutely aware of the national significance of many locations along the City to Woden corridor, particularly within the Parliamentary Zone.
“The design of the light rail alignment, stops and other features is being carefully managed to respect and enhance the heritage value of these locations.
“For example, as well as wire-free running, thought is being given to the simplified stops near landmarks such as Old Parliament House to reflect this iconic location. We are also considering other elements such as grassed tracks, similar to that in operation in Adelaide, to conceal the rail within the landscape of the national boulevard.
“Windsor Walk is also proposed to be revitalised to become a central linear park and continuous pedestrian spine connecting transport facilities, offices, a proposed retail plaza and landscaped recreational areas.
“Light rail will also revitalise the Woden Town Centre, by enhancing amenity and safety, improving access to the shopping district and employment hubs and increasing property values.
“Light rail stage 2 supports the revitalisation of suburbs along the corridor, creating more vibrant, community-focused, active and modern precincts.”
Minister Fitzharris said the ACT Government’s investment decision will be guided by a final business case for the project in coming months.
“Our business case can be finalised once we’ve worked through approval processes with the NCA and Commonwealth Government. However initial costings have been developed and are currently anticipated to be in the region of $1.3 to $1.6 billion.
“This is commensurate with the original cost estimates for the first stage of light rail, escalated to future dollars and reflecting additional costs associated with bridges, wire-free running, additional light rail vehicles and other factors.
“At this stage, we are looking to achieve approval of the business case in 2018-19, procurement in 2019-20, before construction would ultimately commence in 2020-21. Of course our timeframes will depend on Commonwealth support for the project, and associated planning requirements.”
Minister Fitzharris said the Joint Standing Committee Inquiry currently underway provides the ACT Government with an exciting opportunity to explain how light rail benefits Canberrans while supporting the Commonwealth Government’s national objectives and plans for the Parliamentary Zone.
“Light rail from the City to Woden will not only enhance access to the precinct, but will serve to demonstrate the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to our cities through its support of a modern, well integrated mass transit solution, helping to make our nation’s capital an even more liveable and sustainable city.
“The ACT Government will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth to progress these planning approvals,” said Minister Fitzharris.
Media Release: PTCBR Welcome consultation on Network 19
The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) welcome the announcement of Network 19 and look forward to engaging with the Government and Transport Canberra on ensuring that the local services and enhanced rapid services suit the changing nature of Canberrans transport needs.
The introduction of light rail in late 2018 delivers a rare opportunity to introduce large numbers of new bus services, and extend operating hours, especially around Sunday services. The PTCBR expect to see increased local services in all parts of Canberra, but particularly in the outer fringes of Canberra in areas such as Tuggeranong and West Belconnen.
There are several important service elements that need attention:
extended weekend services, especially Sunday evening services
local bus services in new residential estates starting when residents begin moving in
a seven day network with consistent seven day route numbering
better bus station designs at the points in the network where local and rapid bus/light rail services intersect
The Network 19 consultation exercise offers the community a good opportunity to look at the entire network of public transport that is being created around a rapid transit spine. Light rail stage one, and expanded rapid buses deliver a viable alternative to the private car.
PTCBR Chair Damien Haas observed that “Network 19 is a good start on integrating light rail with buses, and it’s where Canberra needs to go. More frequent local bus services will mean that even if a person needs to change modes once, their overall trip times should reduce. This particularly impacts people living in the outer suburban areas.”
On the changes to the bus services around schools PTCBR Chair Damien Haas said that “These changes will also also benefit parents, children and local schools, with routes altered so buses pass more schools than under the previous bus networks. This should encourage parents to allow their children to use regular public transport, instead of driving kids to school.”
Mr Haas also observed that “We would like to see an increased focus on Demand Responsive Transport, Flexible Buses, Community buses and a more transparent mechanism to access those services. Many of these services exist but aren’t well known, especially to the people that really could utilise them such as the aged or disabled members of our community”.
PTCBR look forward to consulting its members and engaging in consultation with Transport Canberra to ensure that any issues identified during consultation can be altered before implementation.
The PTCBR are aware that these changes are significant and will have an impact on peoples travel patterns. “We don’t expect that 100% of Canberrans will be pleased with the massive changes, but the changes are consistent with the future public transport network we need to create for a more livable city. More frequent rapid transit integrated with more frequent local buses. That’s going to help people make that decision to leave the car at home, become a one car family or incorporate more cycling and walking into their daily trips to work, school, shopping or visiting friends.” Mr Haas said.
The changes to bus stops will be keenly observed by the PTCBR “It’s clear that there will be changes to bus stops with several hundred relocated or removed, and that will be noticed by people used to catching a bus from that spot for the last decade or more. Stops every 400 metres or so are fairly generous, and increasing that stop spacing by a hundred metres or so should introduce efficiencies in local services and route time savings. We’d like to see more covered stops as well as better lighting and seating associated with this change.” Mr Haas said.
PTCBR will be holding a meeting for its members in July to discuss Network 19 in more detail, and engaging with Transport Canberra throughout the consultation process.
Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra regions peak public transport lobby group.
The federal government Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories is holding an inquiry into the ACT Governments light rail stage two project, from Civic to Woden via the Parliamentary Triangle.
The PTCBR have made a submission encouraging the Committee to recommend that the project proceed, and supporting the strong working relationship between the National Capital Authority and the ACT Government.
In launching the new inquiry, Chair of the Committee Mr Ben Morton MP said, “the land around the Federal Parliament is an important space for all Australians, and it is therefore appropriate that the Parliament has a role in ensuring that any proposals for change preserve this significance. The inquiry will also provide the ACT Government with an early indication of the Parliament’s view of its proposal.”
The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories will inquire into and report on the development of stage two of the Australian Capital Territory light rail project, with regard to:
the relevant parliamentary approval processes for works within the Parliamentary zone;
the roles of the National Capital Authority and the Australian Government, and the associated approval processes;
possible impacts on the Parliamentary zone and Parliamentary precincts, including any impacts on the heritage values and national importance of the Parliamentary zone and our national capital; and
the identification of matters that may be of concern prior to formal parliamentary or Australian Government consideration of the project; and
any other relevant matter the Committee wishes to examine.
Media reports are here and here and here. The common theme is that Canberra Liberal Senator Zed Seselja believes that light rail along Commonwealth Avenue would create some form of commuting disaster. Senator Seselja has opposed light rail from the outset. It should be noted that Senator Seselja is not a member of the Committee assessing the light rail project.
This public transport project was supported at the 2016 ACT Assembly election, and community consultation since then has resulted in a route design that travels through Parkes and Barton, serving national attractions and many federal government departments and agencies. This second stage of light rail will link up the many accommodation providers located along Northbourne Avenue and around EPIC, enabling visitors to the nations capital to visit national attractions, and Parliament itself, by public transport.
The PTCBR strongly believe that it is the best public transport option for ACT residents, employees in the Parliamentary zone, and business and tourism visitors to Canberra.
The 2018-19 ACT Budget will be announced on Tuesday 5 June. Along with a significant drip feed of pre-budget announcements across a broad range of portfolios, this announcement from the TCCS Minister focuses on light rail and buses. It also provides funding to address any questions that the NCA and the federal inquiry into light rail, may have.
The highlights of the announcement are:
Construction of a light rail stop in Mitchell in 2019/20
$10 million to further advance the technical and design aspects of light rail to Woden (includes work to inform the recently announced federal inquiry)
$2.5 million in works to support Woden light rail including businesses cases for the redesign and build of a new Woden Town Centre bus interchange, an updated ‘Park and Ride’ strategy incorporating bus and light rail, and redevelopment of the Yarra Glenn intersection with Melrose and Yamba Drives to accommodate light rail.
This is the media release in full:
Media release by Meegan Fitzharris MLA Minister for Transport and City services
More investment in light rail to continue the network rollout
The ACT Government is investing in the next stage of planning, design and enabling works for light rail from the City to Woden through the 2018 Budget.
“Extending light rail to Woden will see Canberra further realise the benefits of a city-wide light rail network by providing a critical north-south public transport spine. We are committed to bringing light rail to Woden, and this further investment will ensure we deliver,” said Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services Meegan Fitzharris.
“The preferred route will connect the City and Woden via Parkes and Barton. This route provides the best access through the Parliamentary Zone to employment hubs, cultural institutions and other places of interest such as Manuka Oval.
“With this preferred route now on the table and progress being made regarding the Commonwealth’s approval processes, we are getting on with making Canberra’s transformative public transport project a reality.
“Light rail from Gungahlin to the City is going well, with testing of the light rail vehicles to begin soon, and Canberra Metro on track to complete construction in December this year.
“This Budget will also fund the start of works on a light rail stop for Mitchell. This will enable Transport Canberra to enter into negotiations for a stop at Sandford Street and will include the technical design for the stop to be constructed in 2019-20.”
Minister Fitzharris said the Budget will invest $10 million to further advance the technical and design aspects of light rail to Woden so that the National Capital Authority will have all the information it needs to understand the benefits of the project.
“This will include work to inform the recently announced Inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee into the Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for the project.
“The ACT Government has welcomed the Inquiry, and we are committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure planning for this project responds to their needs so that we can deliver this important transport link for our city.”
The Budget will also invest a further $2.5 million in works to support light rail to Woden. This involves the preparation of detailed businesses cases for potential early works, including:
The redesign and build of a new Transport Canberra bus interchange in the Woden Town Centre;
An upgrade of Parkes Way to improve traffic flow;
The development of an updated ‘Park and Ride’ strategy incorporating bus and light rail; and
The redevelopment of the Yarra Glenn intersection with Melrose and Yamba Drives to accommodate light rail.
“We are tackling this project from both ends because we want to be ready to get work underway as soon as the project gets the green light.
“This project is significant for Woden and urban renewal of the town centre. We are already seeing investment in Woden as a result of the ACT Government’s plan to build light rail, and this will continue as we have seen along the City to Gungahlin corridor,” Minister Fitzharris said.
This investment in delivering an integrated public transport system for Canberra is another way the ACT Government is growing services for our growing city through the 2018 Budget.”
More to come after the budget is officially released.
PTCBR encourage the federal government to support better public transport for the nations capital
The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) are disappointed that Federal Parliament has decided to interfere in the provision of better public transport for Canberrans.
While all infrastructure projects should be subjected to scrutiny, the PTCBR would be disappointed if the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories went beyond the inquiries terms of reference and politicised a standard public transport project.
The ACT Government and the NCA have collaborated closely since 2016 on this project, and now in 2018 when the business case should be out and tenders being prepared, the process has been delayed by an unusual intervention by federal parliament into urban public transport.
The PTCBR hope that Prime Minister Turnbull, a well known public transport user and supporter, can persuade his fellow parliamentarians to support and endorse this project.
It will improve the transport options for all Canberrans, and open up the national attractions in the Parliamentary Triangle to all Australians that visit the nations capital city.
The lack of investment by the federal government into Canberra’s public transport is a topic that should be discussed, instead parliament decide to investigate a project wholly funded by the citizens of Canberra.
We hope that the inquiry concludes quickly, that the committee is satisfied with the work performed to date by the NCA and the ACT Government, and that the business case for Canberras second stage of light rail can be released as soon as possible.
The PTCBR hope that this process is not used to politicise a project that has been supported by Canberra voters at two consecutive ACT Territory elections.
Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra regions peak public transport lobby group.
On Wednesday morning the Chief Minister Andrew Barr, MLA Shane Rattenbury and Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton, officially launched the first CAF Light Rail Vehicle for Canberra’s light rail network at the (almost completed) Canberra Metro light rail depot at Mitchell.
As a significant milestone for this important transport infrastructure project, the remarks by both the Chief Minister and Shane Rattenbury were focused on city building and the transformative nature of light rail. It was a confident delivery of a key election commitment, and that satisfaction was evident today. Glenn Stockton also spoke about the pride he had in his workforce in delivering the project for Canberra and that it would be delivered on time.
Todays launch clearly shows that progress on light rail stage one is continuing and on schedule for service to commence in late 2018. A second stage of the light rail network is currently being designed and worked through (the business case is imminent). The PTCBR is supportive of this as it will provide superior public transport options to Canberra’s residents, and drive the transformation of Canberra from car dependency to a more livable compact city.
“Mr Barr said the LRV’s unveiling was an important milestone and another practical example of progress on the project and of the Government meeting its election commitments.
He said that with Canberra’s population heading towards half a million it was crucial to invest in transport infrastructure now.
“That’s why we’re continuing to work on Stage 2 of light rail together with further investments and initiatives to improve transportation within the city,” he said.
He said the sceptics had been proved wrong and he was particularly pleased with the rejuvenation of the Northbourne corridor which is occurring faster than expected.
“There were many sceptics in the lead-up to the procurement of this project and many people said I wouldn’t be standing here as Chief Minister after the last election as a result of our advocacy for this project,” he said.
“Those sceptics also said there wouldn’t be the sort of investment and renewal in the Northbourne corridor we’re witnessing.”
He said there would a continued focus on public transport improvement, with light rail at the centre, including more rapid bus routes, improved demand responsive transport and more active transport options.
“It’s all part of making Canberra an easier city to get around and a better city to live in,” Mr Barr said.
The ACT Greens’ Cabinet Minister Shane Rattenbury said the Canberra LRV was the first in Australia to have a dedicated space for bicycles and was part of the strategy to provide as many options and as much connectivity as possible.
“I think well see people using light rail as their central transport spine, particularly when Stage 2 to Woden is complete,” he said.
Mr Rattenbury could even see bikeshare services install racks at light rail stops.
He said travelling to and from Gungahlin would be much easier and the Government was now considering a stop at Mitchell, where traders have been campaigning not to be bypassed.
“This is a really important part of shaping our city for the future. This is about providing modern environmentally friendly transport alternatives for Canberrans,” Mr Rattenbury said.”
“Canberra Metro chief executive Glenn Stockton said one tram a week will start arriving in Canberra from the end of March, with testing on an electrified track to begin in April. “
“Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who revealed he’d nicknamed the tram Cam in what could be seen as a nod to the Can-The-Tram movement, said there was a degree of satisfaction in seeing the project reach this stage.
“Let’s be frank, there were many sceptics in the lead up to the procurement of this project. Many people said I wouldn’t be standing here as Chief Minister after the last election as a result of our advocacy for this project.
“Those sceptics also said there wouldn’t be this sort of investment and renewal of the Northbourne corridor we’re currently witnessing so there’s a strong sense of satisfaction but we’ve still got a way to go, we’ve got a second stage of this project to work through in the context of this parliamentary term and there’s a lot more new investment coming for Canberra and a continued focus on public transport improvement.”
Mr Barr said the business case for the second stage of the project would be looked at when cabinet reconvened later in January.
“Let me be very clear we are committed to further stages of Canberra’s light rail network. We’ve committed in the last election to stage two and my mind is of course turning to stage three and beyond,” Mr Barr said.
More photos below…
The red Transport Canberra livery is quite attractive. No advertising will be seen on Canberra’s light rail vehicles (at least in this term of government)
The physical size of the vehicle was remarked upon by many people present. Parked next to a bus, its size will be quite evident. That is largely because it is designed to carry 200 plus passengers, as opposed to 80 on a bus.
Making the vehicle ready for service requires all OH&S and transport regulation signage being applied.
You don’t want to lose parts!
The Mitchell depot is still being fitted out.
Always useful to have a crane in a heavy vehicle depot.
I think the Chief Minister is asking where the ignition keys are…
The PTCBR Committee have confirmed a date and a space to hold our Annual General Meeting. Any member of the public may attend, but only financial members are able to vote if elections are required for any positions.
The PTCBR AGM will be held:
When: 5PM, Thursday 14 December
Location: Griffin Centre, Genge St, Civic
Following the AGM, a public meeting will be held.
PTCBR Public meeting
Presentation and consultation by TCCS on Network 18.
The two meetings are expected to conclude before 7PM.
Any financial member can nominate for any position on the PTCBR Committee, in accordance with our constitution. If you are seeking to nominate, please contact the Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d encourage members to join the committee and assist with our ongoing projects and lobbying activities.
The proposed Rapid Bus routes to be introduced in mid 2018 have received a thumbs up from the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR).
TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris today announced that in 2018 Canberra would have nine rapid transit routes. Eight would be rapid bus, and one would be light rail. The announcement was made at the opening of the new $4 million dollar Dickson bus interchange, directly across the road from the Dickson light rail stop on Northbourne Avenue.
Announcing all eight rapid bus routes to be delivered at once is a bold move, and it really cements how serious the government is about public transport, and especially on integrating light rail and buses.”
The focus on expanding the rapid bus network in 2018 instead of introducing them individually over a multi-year period, isn’t something that the PTCBR anticipated. It’s a pleasant surprise. Announcing it at this brand new bus facility just reinforces how serious the government is about public transport policy.
This almost certainly a combination of a positive budget position, and the political direction on positive public transport policy (supported by results from the public that use it). The budget surplus forecast by the ACT Government, has allowed the early delivery of expanded public transport, including light rail, demonstrating that sensible long term infrastructure investment is affordable.
With the buses currently operating on the Gungahlin rapid to be reallocated across the bus network when light rail starts, and eighty new buses on order, this rapid rollout can really kick start the new Transport Canberra philosophy of expanded local services feeding into rapid bus and light rail routes, that was introduced with Network 17.
PTCBR believe that Canberrans will appreciate that light rail, expanded local bus services and more frequent rapids can shorten their overall travel times, and allow them to spend less time commuting, and more time with their families.
There was a great deal of focus on the governments light rail plans leading up to the last election, and not so great a focus on how similar the long term bus plans were from the Canberra Liberals and the ACT Government. The major difference is that several of the rapid bus routes proposed by the government are to become light rail lines over the coming decades.
This reflects increasing patronage, especially on routes such as Canberras most heavily used rapid bus, the Belconnen to Civic rapid, which is now also running to the Airport. Certainly a Belconnen – Civic – Airport light rail line is a sensible addition, creating a North South and East West light rail spine across the territory. This route becoming light rail may becomes a 2020 election proposal.
The only slightly disappointing aspect that PTCBR could identify with this rapid bus network plan was that Queanbeyan doesn’t appear on the new rapid network. PTCBR recommend that a Civic – Fyshwick – Queanbeyan route be trialled. We firmly believe that cross-border discussions into establishing this route, operated by either Transport Canberra or a NSW operator be explored.
The new ticketing technology that Transport Canberra will adopt could assist this process. Queanbeyan buses do not use the NSW Opal technology, and if all three jurisdictions (ACT, Metro NSW, regional NSW) adopt a compatible ticketing technology, this could become logistically feasible.
Minister Fitzharris is demonstrating great confidence in Transport Canberra and their ability to service such a bold rapid bus plan in mid 2018. It’s the same bold approach from the Government that saw light rail delivered, and PTCBR expect that the Canberra public will also accept these changes. The rapid buses are becoming more popular as frequency and service hours are extended, especially the critical local bus services, and this bodes well for light rail.
Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra regions peak public transport lobby group. Their website is at ptcbr.org
The Public Transport Association of Canberra are pleased that the Canberra Liberals are now supporting light rail in Canberra. This very welcome about face has occurred following representations by the Mitchell Traders Association to their local members after recently realising a light rail station was not going to be built in Mitchell as part of light rail stage one. The benefits of light rail for residents and businesses along the light rail stage one corridor have been supported at two elections, and it is pleasing that business owners in Mitchell, and the Canberra Liberals, now support better public transport options.
In the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday 19 September, Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Wall MLA will table a motion (below) calling for a light rail station to be constructed in Mitchell, and compensation for businesses affected by light rail construction.
PTCBR are not sure why the motion by the Canberra Liberals motion is being made now, as TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA has already indicated that a light rail stop in Mitchell will be built (the supporting infrastructure is in place) and that it is a matter of when it will be built. The Mitchell Traders met with the Minister recently and were also told that a stop would be built.
Light rail will provide tremendous access directly to Mitchell by thousands of potential customers and employees. A light rail stop in Mitchell that can be built between stages one and stage two construction, would benefit everyone.
PTCBR also strongly support a light rail stop in Mitchell, and called for it during consultation several years ago, when the Mitchell Traders, and Canberra Liberals could also have asked for a light rail stop in Mitchell.
Although a stop was discussed in the consultation processes, no Mitchell stop was planned or appeared in the business case. The many new businesses that now front Flemington Road will benefit from a light rail stop, and better integrated bus services to link with the bus routes that already travel through the Mitchell precinct.
Although it is very positive that Mitchell Traders and the Canberra Liberals now support a light rail stop in Mitchell, it is a valuable warning to other parts of Canberra that will see light rail extended to their town centres over the coming decades. The best time to engage in consultation for an infrastructure project is when it is being planned, not when the bulldozers are visible from the window of your business.
Business and commercial and residential property owners along the corridor for the second stage of light rail from Civic, through Parkes and Barton to Woden, are urged to take part in consultation processes and express a view on stop locations and possible routes.
Oddly, the Canberra Liberal motion also calls for more all day parking in Mitchell. More parking seems to be at odds with a call for more public transport. More short term parking would be better for customers than more all day parking.
The motion also asks for compensation for business losses due to light rail construction activity. Although it is unfortunate for any business to suffer a downturn due to infrastructure provision, the benefits that these businesses will accrue from light rail running past their door, will be many.
PTCBR (and its predecessor ACT Light Rail) have always supported a light rail stop in Mitchell, and hope that the Canberra Liberals motion and the ACT Governments existing stated support for a light rail stop will see budget funds provided for a stop to be built in the very near future. Bipartisan support for public transport is always positive.
Motion moved by Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Wall on 19 Sep 2017:
MR WALL: To move—That this Assembly:
(1) notes the important contribution that businesses in Mitchell make to the ACT economy and the considerable amount of revenue collected by Government from Mitchell traders through rates, payroll tax and other fees and charges; and
(2) calls on the ACT Government to:
(a) construct a light rail stop at Mitchell;
(b) explore what compensation can be offered to businesses severely
impacted by the construction of light rail;
(c) construct additional all day car parking in Mitchell (especially for
workers on the eastern side of Mitchell);
(d) detail how Mitchell will be serviced by buses following the operation of
(e) include Mitchell on a regular schedule for street sweeping;No 31—19 September 2017 541
(f) improve the urban services delivered in Mitchell, such as footpath and
streetlight maintenance; and
(g) undertake consultation with businesses in Mitchell about
implementing urgent minor capital works in the public realm.
Light rail stage one construction by Canberra Metro is well underway, with tracks being laid and the depot in Mitchell approaching completion. In the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday 14th Sep, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA read out a list of Canberra companies that are helping to build light rail stage one. She advised the Assembly that:
58% of the contracts for stage one have been let to Canberra owned companies.
Of the 137 local contracts, they are shared between 114 local companies.
That is a great result for a project where one of the objectives was to grow local expertise in building light rail.
Sydney has recently seen it’s public transport demand boom, with demand exceeding capacity on several popular light rail lines. Forward planning and a coordinated integrated transport planning strategy may have seen this coming, and treasury may have allowed further vehicle to be procured, adding capacity into the network.
Long term urban trends and planning policy Australia wide are for high density residential housing adjacent to transport corridors. As well as alleviating resdential housing demand, this is leading to increased public transport patronage, but sometimes one policy area isn’t aligned with another (and this includes treasury).
In Canberra, although we don’t have planning and transport under the same minister, the ministers, senior bureaucrats and planners of both areas are across the issues concerning others. This is a recent change, that only occurred in the last few years (and planning policy and bureaucracy is evolving again…), but is already proving itself with the careful approach taken with light rail stage one.
PTCBR are expecting patronage on Gungahlin to Civic light rail stage one to exceed expectations. That is one of the reasons we are lobbying hard for integrated bus service planning to start ASAP. If our predictions are correct, planing for Woden to Civic light rail stage two must include extra light rail vehicles above those that might have been ordered simply to satisfy current/predicted Woden to Civic patronage. Vehicle ordering lead times are significant, and experience interstate has shown more demand not less.
Let’s enjoy the benefits of dramatic uptake in public transport use, without suffering the disadvantages.
Transport Canberra held a media event on Friday 25 August 2017 to announce that new electric and hybrid buses would be entering regular fleet operations from Monday. They will be trialled for twelve months. Two of the three buses from Carbridge and Volvo have been in Canberra for a few weeks, and have been wrapped with AOA branding visibly proclaiming their drivetrain, and equipped with Nxtbus and MyWay equipment as well as the regular fitout of TCCS specific signage in the passenger area. The third bus, from Carbridge, will enter service in December.
The buses are externally very similar to regular buses in the TCCS fleet. Most people wont even know they are travelling on one (except they will wonder why it is so quiet…).
The Carbridge BYD Toro is made in Malaysia from Swiss body components and a Chinese BYD drivetrain. There are around 15,000 of the same drivetrain in operation worldwide, but only around 10 in Australia at present. Two will be trialled in Canberra.
The Volvo B5R is one of around 20 in Australia, with an Australian made Bustech body. It is a diesel electric hybrid bus. One will be on trial in Canberra.
(note that the specs are slightly different to suit Transport Canberra requirements)
Representatives from Carbridge and Volvo Australia attended the media launch. It is of great interest to both companies as not only are electric and hybrid buses the future of buses, fleet replacement of Canberra buses will see the older Renault and Dennis buses phased out and newer buses phased in. The results of the trial could influence future fleet replacement tender requirements.
Ride, presentation and interior
Both buses have fairly standard passenger bus interiors. They have been fitted with bike racks, Nxtbus and MyWay equipment in use in all Canberra buses. Both buses have rear door exits, that are wide and quite usable (and the ‘No Entry’ stickers have NOT been applied).
The only clear difference between the two is that the Carbridge has a noticeable step between the low floor front passenger area, and the rear area. The Volvo stepup is not as high, and has a slight incline. The Carbridge representative advised this would change in future versions, as battery packs and drivetrains were updated.
Both buses are new, and have the new car smell. The squeaks and rattles are possibly amplified and more noticeable because…
They are so quiet. They hum.
The Carbridge is so quiet that you can hear a person in the back row of the bus speaking from the front of the bus, while the bus is driving through Civic. Out on the road, all you can hear is the hum of the drivetrain (or maybe its tyre noise?).
The Volvo bus is a diesel electric hybrid. It takes off under electric power and the diesel engine kicks in as it needs it. The diesel engine also powers the battery pack. It is a quiet bus, and although it is not as quiet as the Carbridge, it is much quieter than a diesel bus, as it doesn’t rev away as it takes off from a standing start. It just glides away. The video shows this quite well. On the road, I doubt a passenger will notice.
The ride of both buses is very good. Around London Circuit and on Parkes Way the Carbridge was very smooth. Around the Arboretum the Volvo was also very smooth and rode well. The Carbridge is perhaps firmer than the Volvo. A full load of passengers and a few months of operation might make a difference.
Canberra bus drivers are renowned for their lead foots and quick application of brakes. They might need to watch that on these buses as they just GO. Full power is available as soon as the accelerator is depressed. As the accelerator is released, brakes apply automatically. I spoke to the driver of the Carbridge bus and he admitted he was being careful, as it was a new bus. Both drivers were very very keen to show off the buses (always a good sign).
There might need to be a period of adjustment and training for drivers of these buses. The snappy speed and quick braking abilities of both buses, might need to be tempered with a full load of Canberrans glued to their smartphones – unless they want to be thrown all over the place as a P plated Hyundai cuts in front of a bus at a set of lights.
This trial is significant. The ACT Government is committed to better public transport, transitioning to fully renewable sources of energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The trial of electric and hybrid buses is a key component of the longer term policy goals in these areas.
The average Canberra bus travels around 350 kilometres a day. Times that over a year, over an entire fleet of buses and that is an awful lot of diesel fuel consumed, and a lot of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted. Despite recent improvements in diesel engine technology, fully renewable sources of power are better for a range of reasons.
Electric and hybrid buses are being trialled worldwide, and significant technological advances are made every year. As fleets are ordered, manufacturers are likely to offer models with features that public transport operators demand. The cost of fully renewable electric power may be similar to the cost of a diesel hybrid bus that generates power as it operates. Data collected in a trial can determine this.
Importantly, for public transport to be sustainable it must be used. Making public transport frequent, reliable and attractive will attract and retain patronage, Passengers want a comfortable ride that arrives on time and when it is needed.
The two buses used in this trial are both attractive and comfortable. The heaters work well on both. The seats are comfortable and there are ample hanger straps. Disabled access is good; both have low floor entrances, and flipup seats in the front passenger area to cater for prams and wheelchairs. Both buses have bike racks fitted. They are also quiet and the electric bus is fume free. The hybrid bus only operates its diesel engine when the bus is on the road, so it will also be fume free when at a bus interchange.
The days of buses idling and pouring diesel fumes into the atmosphere are on their way out. This will offer significant advantages for urban and transport planners in the future. The lack of noise these buses emit means that residents living near bus interchanges will barely notice them coming and going.
If the trial proves that these types of buses is successful, then the familiarity of the buses will make their adoption fairly seamless from a passenger perspective, and pretty straightforward from a driver perspective. The drivers position and instruments are very similar, the only difference being immediate power, lots of torque, and that the brakes are applied when the accelerator pedal is lifted.
Mechanically the buses are probably less work than a diesel bus. However that can be determined over the yearlong trial. Both types of bus will be operated out of the Tuggeranong depot, and some equipment specific to electric and hybrid buses has been installed out there, and some modifications to the TCCS bus tow truck have also been carried out. Both Carbridge and Volvo will be keen to ensure that any technical support will be available promptly.
This year long trial of two different technologies will provide invaluable data and experience to Transport Canberra and ACT Government policy makers. The trial coincides with the introduction of light rail stage one from Gungahlin to Civic and a massive shift in Canberra’s transport patterns.
The failure of the previous electric bus tender earlier this year was unfortunate, but when you are sailing close to the cutting edge that can happen. We can’t let the fear of failure stop us from exploring a better future. The two models selected for this trial are from manufacturers with proven track records, and Volvo is one of the biggest truck/bus manufacturers in the world. Both want to make this work.
Light rail will radically change public transport in Canberra, with the heavy lifting carried out along a mass transit light rail spine that will in several decades extend to all town centres. While the rapid buses may be replaced by light rail, buses will always have a major role in servicing our suburbs, delivering passengers to light rail and taking children to school. Integrated transport and active transport will lessen the requirement for people to own two or more cars, and will build a reliable public transport network that can shape urban planning around transport corridors.
These new electric and hybrid buses are a key part of our public transport future.
Transport Canberra and City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA office issued a media release on 25 August 2017:
Electric buses join Transport Canberra fleet
Two of the three electric or hybrid buses Transport Canberra will use during its alternative fuel bus trial have arrived in the ACT, wrapped and ready to roll into action.
Minister for Transport and City Services, Meegan Fitzharris said the first two buses, one Carbridge electric and one Volvo hybrid will start service as part of the Transport Canberra bus network in the coming weeks.
A second Carbridge electric bus will join the fleet in December 2017.
“The ACT Government is committed to looking at new and innovative ways to improve our public transport system to manage Canberra’s growth, reduce congestion and protect our liveability,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“These buses are another example of the ACT Government’s forward thinking in regards to both public transport and minimising human impact on the environment.”
“Recent improvements in technology mean electric and hybrid buses are becoming more economical and operationally viable, which is why we believe it is the right time to run this trial.”
The two plug- in electric buses by Carbridge carry battery technology developed in China and have been specially built in Malaysia for this trial. Similar vehicles are currently used at the Sydney and Brisbane airports to provide passenger shuttle services.
The Volvo hybrid vehicle contains a diesel engine, battery bank and energy recovery systems.
The trial, which will see all three buses run as part of the bus network until the end of 2018, will enable the ACT Government to assess the viability of using alternative buses within the bus network to see if they can progressively replace the existing fleet.
These buses have been installed with the necessary equipment like MyWay ticketing, CCTV, bike racks and the NXTBUS real time information system.
For more information on the trial, visit http://www.transport.act.gov.au. The Parliamentary Agreement between Labor and the Greens includes the promotion of integrated transport.
Since work began on light rail stage one along the Flemington Road and Northourne Avenue corridors, the installation of rail has been seen as a significant milestone. The contract between the ACT Government and Canberra Metro specified rails in the ground in July as a KPI. And they were.
Several test sections were laid in July, and as the workforce assembled for the construction has been building its skillset, the rails are due to be permanently installed from next month. The first images below are of the rails as they appear now, and largely as they will appear when service commences.
The last images are of the initial test sections, and show how they are laid and installed into the surface bed. The surface rust will disappear once light rail vehicles start running along the rails.
Although roughly half the public supported a dogleg to the Canberra Hospital, at the Woden end, that option is unlikely to be taken up due to “uncertainties raised about how convenient it would be to (access) the hospital entrance and the implications for the future southern extensions of the network”. These are concerns that the PTCBR raised in its submission to the ACT Government on stage two.
Although it may seem that many people use public transport to access hospitals, it is not supported by data. Rerouting the Woden terminus to the hospital would also impact options to extend light rail from the Woden Town Centre to Tuggeranong in the future.
There was also strong support for access to Manuka Oval from light rail, and more stops in Barton to cater to the workforce there. By using this route many national attractions such as Old Parliament House, the National Gallery, National Library and Reconciliation Place are in walking distance from light rail stops. The report also indicates that pedestrian access to light rail stops along Adelaide avenue require research and careful design. At the conclusion of this stage of the consultation process, it it appears that the light rail stage two route likely to be selected, is very similar to Route 2A from the initial options offered for community consultation in May this year.
The next step in this process is for Transport Canberra to complete the business case for light rail stage two.
TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris office issued this media release on 21 August 2017
Strong community support for light rail to Woden
As the Government progresses its technical and expert analysis, community engagement on Stage 2 of the Light Rail network shows Canberrans have a strong preference of which route they’d like to take to Woden.
Minister for Transport and City Services, Meegan Fitzharris said that the result of the consultation demonstrates strong support for Light Rail Stage 2 to travel to Woden through Parkes and Barton.
“We have had an overwhelming response to the online survey on Your Say, with 4772 people providing their thoughts on preferred route options, alignment and stops,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“The report indicates that 75 percent of respondents support a route that travels through Parkes and Barton.”
Community feedback indicates the key reasons for support include:
it capitalises on tourism, education and employment hubs, and proximity to cultural institution;
it provides service to a large number of commuters;
it allows for future stages to continue further south towards Fyshwick and Queanbeyan.
“I would like to thank everyone who has provided feedback on Light Rail Stage 2,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“As the project progresses, more opportunities will be provided for Canberrans to have their say and engage on broader issues identified along the southern corridor and related transport issues for Canberra.”
At the same time the Government will continue to combine the findings of its expert analysis with the community’s views to develop the business case for Stage 2 of Light Rail.
The business case will be considered by the Government in late 2017/early 2018 while in the meantime Stage 1 of light rail continues to progress well.
To view the Light Rail Update, including the consultation summary report, please visit:
Colliers International is a multinational property sales and management operation with a strong presence in commercial property in Canberra. Earlier this month they released a report based on a survey of commercial property owners about Canberras Light Rail project.
The survey consisted of submitting ten questions to ninety property owners along the Northbourne – Flemington light rail route (out of 110 property owners). 36% of owners responded to the survey.
Colliers felt there had been a lack of engagement with commercial property owners, particularly along the Northbourne Avenue and Flemington Road light rail corridor.
Colliers survey focus was on the impact of light rail on commercial property in the short, medium and long term. The primary objectives of the survey were for Colliers to understand the following:
Do property owners believe that the light rail project will ultimately benefit Canberra?
Whether the major infrastructure project would benefit commercial property values and tenant retention along the corridor.
Have owners of properties along the Stage 1 route considered repurposing or disposing of their properties given the ACT Government’s land release program along the corridor?
Is there cause for concern of an oversupply of dwellings given the significant number of mixed-use developments forecast along the corridor?
What are the major concerns for commercial property owners along Stage 1?
What did the survey find?
Overall the survey results show support for the light rail project and its positive benefits. However, some of the findings from the survey are a little startling for supporters of better public transport, and show that more work needs to be done communicating with business and property owners about the benefits that light rail will bring. Some of the responses are contrasting and reflect the differing views of respondents overall.
According to the survey results, commercial property owners believe:
light rail is likely to provide a significant economic boost to local business
will increase employment
encourage domestic and international investment in Canberra
that Canberrans will use light rail to commute to and from work
the light rail network should expand from Civic to Woden, then the Airport
light rail will create increased activity and better amenity
lead to better tenant retention in the long-term
will not lead to an oversupply of residential property
light rail will improve the value of their property
While there was strong consensus of the benefits of light rail, respondents had some concerns about the project believing that newer technologies may supersede light rail and affect the long-term viability of the project
Map from Colliers survey report showing property growth categories
Matthew Winter, manager at Colliers International, said respondents also had different views on when to proceed with future light rail stages and which town centres should be priorities. “Owners indicated the light rail network should expand from CBD to Woden next (33%) and Canberra Airport (30%).
The survey also supported the urban renewal benefits of light rail, Winter commenting that “Despite not necessarily supporting the proposed technology, half the owners surveyed said now is the right time for light rail to be implemented and indicated the project would serve as a catalyst to reinvigorate tired gateways,”.
With the business case for stage two of the light rail project to Woden ( a tired town centre in dire need of urban renewal) being prepared now, this support from commercial property owners is encouraging.
Work to be done in communicating light rail objectives
The responses from the property owners also show that there is still significant work to be done in communicating the benefits of light rail to the business community. Almost half the respondents believe light rail would have little to no impact on traffic congestion, a fundamental objective of the light rail project for Gungahlin residents and those commuting by car and bus along Northbourne Avenue, Canberra’s most congested road.
Property owners also believed there was a lack of information about transit times and fares, that may lead to prospective passengers commuting by car instead, finding it a cheaper and more direct option, despite traffic congestion. They also believed that people would use light rail to commute to and from work, assuming the stops were near office locations and “Park and Ride” locations were provided.
Property owners also expressed concerns that a slow light rail service and the possibility of interchanging to other travel modes in order to reach final destinations may also be impractical for most.
Winters also observed that “Given the strategic land release programme of the ACT Government along Northbourne Avenue and Flemington Road, many owners noted the likely demand from developers for these opportunities and had investigated possible options,” including sale or conversion of their properties.
“This seems to support the notion that further amenity and infrastructure along the corridor will have a positive benefit for owners through improved tenant retention, increased accessibility, and provide a solution to the current parking shortage, particularly in areas such as Braddon.”
Winter said “Overwhelmingly, owners believe light rail will improve the value of their property.”
How useful is this survey?
PTCBR has contacted Colliers and asked when a survey of Woden property owners will be conducted. It would also be beneficial to expand the survey (if repeated) to include property owners within the TOD corridor, roughly a kilometre from the route. They advised that they are planning to conduct future surveys (including follow-ups), particularly once the direction of Stage 2 is confirmed. This may include Woden and Barton owners subject to the route.
Although the survey size is small, it is focussed on a specific demographic that shapes how the corridor will grow. Their views are very useful for the current project, and in planning communications strategies for future stages of the light rail network In Canberra.
The Public Transport Association of Canberra is the regions peak public transport lobby group. Their website is atptcbr.organd a robust discussion on public transport and planning takes place at theirFacebook page.
On Wednesday August 1st 2017 some important legislation covering a few practical elements for light rail operations, was passed in the ACT legislative Assembly. This regulatory update permits licensed car drivers to legally operate light rail vehicles. The Road Transport Reform (Light Rail) Legislation Amendment also extends third party insurance to light rail vehicles and passengers. In a sensible move, Segway riders are also now subject to drink driving legislation.
Light rail on track for a safe and successful future
The first stage of reforms to the ACT’s road transport legislation to support the safe operation of light rail was today passed in the Legislative Assembly.
The Road Transport Reform (Light Rail) Legislation Amendment delivers legislation to support the safe operation of light rail vehicles in the Territory’s road environment through integration with the ACT’s road transport legislation and road rules.
Drivers of light rail vehicles will be required to hold a full car licence and be provided with extensive training on operating a light rail vehicle.
If a driver is detected breaking a road rule, such as running a red light or speeding, they can be issued with an infringement notice and face a fine and potentially lose their licence.
Light rail vehicles are also covered by the ACT’s compulsory third party insurance scheme, ensuring that a person involved in an accident with a light rail vehicle is treated the same as if the accident involved any other type of vehicle.
A driver of a light rail vehicle is subject to the same requirements applying to drivers of vehicles involved in an accident. A police officer can require the driver to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs.
The bill also subjects a user of a segway-type (‘personal mobility’) device to two drink driving laws: consuming alcohol while riding, and riding while intoxicated.
“This is a significant step forward in the delivery of a modern and sustainable public transport network in Canberra,” said Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury.
Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris also welcomed this significant step in the light rail project.
“An integrated public transport network with both light rail and buses is the way of the future and an essential part of how cities operate,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“While the physical side of the project continues to develop in clear view of the community, having the legislation in place to ensure the network is convenient and safe is also crucial to the success of the project.”
The Public Transport Association of Canberra is the regions peak public transport lobby group. Their website is at ptcbr.org and a robust discussion on public transport and planning takes place at their Facebook page.
The days and weeks after light rail stage one begins operation in 2018 provide a rare opportunity to significantly boost our ability to expand Canberra’s bus services. The benefit to all residents of Canberra from light rail replacing overtaxed buses trundling along the Northbourne – Flemington corridor will be immediately apparent. To people in that corridor they now have access to a brand new frequent, reliable and attractive transport technology. Across Canberra, the bus network will benefit from an injection of a million extra bus kilometers a year.
Since the decision to implement light rail was taken, a bold and flexible approach to bus policy has also occurred. This is a positive sign for public transport. Using the Red Rapid buses, and the million kilometres a year they were driving on that service, across the network will effectively add a fleet of high quality, disability compliant buses at little extra cost in equipment or staffing. How do we best realise this opportunity?
Several high priority transport tasks can be addressed by this one million bus kilometres a year for the rest of Canberra.
Expanding Rapid Bus services: This is a government commitment, and the phased rollout of Rapid Buses will further strengthen the business case for future light rail lines on some of those Rapid Bus routes.
Increasing local bus services: Expanding the reach and frequency of existing local bus services in the suburbs of Gungahlin and adjacent to Northbourne Avenue is essential. A large proportion of those extra kilometres must also go to the rest of Canberra. Residents of suburbs in Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong will benefit from increased local bus service frequency. This will particularly benefit Woden residents, and those living adjacent to the second stage of light rail.
Guaranteeing connections: Reducing overall travel time of people losing their suburb to Civic bus service becomes easier when frequency increases. Connecting to frequent light rail services that provide a less than ten minute wait for a connection, is a compelling reason to not drive. Even Woden, Belconnen and Tuggeranong residents will benefit from shorter connections between transport modes.
Much of the fear mongering leading up to the 2016 election implied that once light rail started, that ALL bus services from Gungahlin and suburbs adjacent to Northbourne would disappear. This is simply wrong. Expanding the frequency of these local bus services has always been the intention. Some routes may change and no longer run directly to Civic, and instead connect with the Dickson light rail and bus interchange. That increases options and reduces overall travel time. Information on these changes should be provided by TCCS soon.
A bright transport future
Increasing public transport patronage reduces private car use. Every person that uses public transport removes those car kilometres, resource usage, carbon emissions and parking demand from society. We all benefit from these resources being used more efficiently and sustainably.
The car dependent Canberra we are slowly moving away from is a result of the car focussed NCDC urban planning and several decades of declining bus services, only recently addressed. As patronage declined, bus services were further reduced. Some of the disastrous Stanhope/Hargreaves era bus timetable implementations damaged patronage so badly that confidence in a bus only solution to Canberra’s public transport future, evaporated. Rising private car use only made overall transport issues worse.
Post-Stanhope and a new focus on urban issues over esoteric ideology by the Gallagher government were welcomed by public transport and planning advocates. The introduction of light rail is the modal shift Canberra needs and is the primary way to deliver a bright transport future to Canberra. Densification along transport corridors will also lessen the insatiable demand for greenfields land for standalone housing.
The current government has shown incredible commitment to delivering a better future for Canberra in the transport and planning space. The public has supported this radical change at two consecutive elections. Light rail is coming and this is now accepted on both sides of the Legislative Assembly.
Recent bus policy has been flexible and responsive, with a focus also placed on active travel to support the shift in thinking about how we move around our suburbs and city. Light rail alone and buses alone wont resolve transport challenges, an integrated approach is the best way. That has been the policy approach of the Barr government, supported by the Greens and capably implemented by Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris. This is incredibly positive and should be applauded.
Although being built first in the area that most needed better public transport, light rail wont reach all of Canberra’s towns for two decades or more, but the bus network will always be required to service the suburbs that most of us live in. Using the flexibility of buses, and the certainty of mass transit light rail gives Canberra the best opportunity to deliver first world public transport options, and reduce car dependency (whether we drive it or it drives itself…).
That injection of an extra million bus kilometres a year into our public transport system starting in 2018 must be well used. The current signs indicate that it will be.
Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the regions peak public transport lobby group. Their website is at ptcbr.organd a robust discussion on public transport and planning takes place at theirFacebook page.
The ACT Government have announce a comprehensive community consultation program for the Woden light rail stage of the light rail network. Four choices of route have been identified, with two different routes through the Parliamentary Triangle in Barton, and termination in Woden at Callam Street or the Hospital, being the details that are to be determined.
The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) are pleased that community consultation on the second stage of Canberras light rail network has commenced. This second stage will run from Woden to Civic and provide a much needed boost to public transport services to Woden residents, and to workers in the Parliamentary Triangle.
PTCBR urge the government to quickly proceed with a business case and final routes, taking into consideration the best options for Canberra, and Woden residents.
As well as addressing road congestion and providing better public transport options, Woden light rail stage two through the Parliamentary Triangle is a tremendous opportunity to provide easy tourist access to the national attractions.
PTCBR are pleased at the extensive consultation agenda that the ACT Government have set in motion, and are confident that the final route chosen will provide the best transport options for Canberra, and tourists that visit the national capital.
If all goes to plan, the construction of light rail from Civic through the Parliamentary Triangle and to Woden, could commence as soon as the first light rail from Gungahlin starts making its way to Civic in 2018.
PTCBR urge all Canberrans, not just Woden residents to take part in this community consultation process, light rail will eventually stretch right across Canberra, and it is important that people have a say in how it is planned and delivered..
Aware that the consultation process was to occur, PTCBR convened a meeting of its members in Woden in April to look at the issues around bringing light rail to Woden. Initial results were posted to the PTCBR Facebook group, and further comments were provided that are incorporated in this report .
The ACT Government has established a website with more information, maps and newsletters for the consultation process. It is at http://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/LRS2 and also hosts a survey where you can share your thoughts on the route.
The government are keen to determine which of the route options would serve Canberra better.Lets take a look at the options.
Connecting to the Gungahlin – Civic light rail stage, this new extension would leave the Alinga Street terminal on Northbourne Avenue and enter London Circuit. There is no firm decision on whether light rail around London Circuit should go to the left or the right, although a preferred option would be as close to ANU and New Acton as possible. The left option would go past the Assembly and the retail heart of Civic.
Light rail along Commonwealth Avenue is a fairly straightforward engineering challenge with the bridge already known to be able to handle light rail. A stop near Albert Hall would be logical.
A bigger and more complex engineering challenge concerns the route of light rail through the Parliamentary Triangle. One option is to go around Capital Circle from Commonwealth Avenue to Adelaide Avenue, or to route light rail through Barton. The Barton option would bring light rall along King Georges terrace in front of Old Parliament House, across Kings Avenue then to National Circuit.
It would then loop along National Circuit past several hotels and large federal government office blocks to Canberra Avenue. It would then turn up Canberra Avenue to Capital Circle and then straight to Woden along Adelaide Avenue.
Once entering Woden Town Centre the options for a light rail terminal are either in Callam Street, near the ACTION Bus interchange, or the Canberra Hospital by continuing along Callam Street to Hindmarsh Drive and then turning east along Hindmarsh Drive.
The community consultation timeline runs from May 1st to June 11th 2017. Several community consultation sessins are planned for community councils and shopping centers.
PTCBR urge all Canberrans to engage with the community consultation process.
PTCBR held an initial consultation session on Woden light rail at the Woden Library on 3 April 2017. The session was facilitated by PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Deputy Chair Robert Knight, and attended by three committee members and six PTCBR members. Initial results were posted to the PTCBR Facebook group, and further comments were provided that are incorporated in this summary.
The summary contains key findings of participants views, light rail stop suggestions and general comments about Woden light rail stage two.