School bus services restored to Network 19 based on feedback from the Canberra community – but is it the best long term strategy?

list rep cons
Community consultation was impressive

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.
list rep insights
Key insights arising from community consultation on Network 19

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.

Statement ends


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