Our wishlist for better public transport in Canberra – the 2019 Budget submission from the PTCBR to the ACT Government

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Dickson bus interchange  with light rail construction on Northbourne Ave

Every year the ACT Government invites the public and community groups to tell them what they would like to see the Government allocate funds to over the next year. It’s an excellent opportunity for our association, representing the users of public transport in Canberra, to let the Government know what we expect. Over the last month or so, the Committee of the PTCBR have prepared our submission, and it has also helped shape our organisations priorities for the next year.

Our 2019 Budget Submission can be found here.

In our budget submission this year we have asked for a split between making the passenger experience better, and strategic transport planning for the future. We have also asked that the iconic Canberra bunker bus shelter receive heritage listing!

Our recommendations are summarised below, and you can read them in full at the link to the full submission.  We will be following up our submission with lobbying of our elected representatives, and speaking to Transport Canberra and ACT Government planners. Much has been achieved in several years, but there is much more to do as we convince Canberrans to use public transport, and make the passenger experience better for those that do now.

Recommendations for ACT Government transport spending by the PTCBR

  • PTCBR ask for a rebalancing of the transport component of the ACT Budget with a 50 percent split between new road construction and new public transport infrastructure, until all light rail routes identified in the 2016 Light Rail Network Plan have been completed.
  • Extending the peak hour for weekday bus services until at least 6.30 PM.
  • Park and Ride expansion with Smart Parking technology and real time bus passenger information screens.
  • Passenger Counter Barometer used to generate a near real-time light rail and bus passenger barometer at the Civic Interchange.
  • Improved use of data and analytics to plan future services. PTCBR recommend that this be expanded and include data related to commercial and residential land use.
  • All data used for transport planning be anonymised and made available for the public to analyse and offer solutions.
  • New ticketing technology implemented as soon as possible. The ‘ticket’ used need not be a plastic card at all and could perhaps be linked to an account for micro transactions taken directly from an account holders credit or debit card using RFID technology.
  • A MyWay chip that could be used in a bracelet, implanted into the body or placed into a reaching wand (used by people with a disability) .
  • A coordinated ACT and NSW Government approach to cross-border public transport
  • A nationally unified electronic public transport ticketing with a single balance be explored.
  • A unified ticketing and fare model applied to bus companies in regional NSW towns with the potential to access Canberra.
  • Updating the Light Rail Network Plan to account for significant changes to Canberra’s urban form.
  • Consultation and reference groups for the Territory and Canberra Transport Plan
  • Workplace cultural reform within the ACTION workforce that can provide best practice workplace training on customer relations and passenger interactions.
  • A multi-year benchmarking exercise involving the use of private sector operators to determine the cost and effectiveness of Transport Canberra bus operation relative to the performance of operators in other Australian jurisdictions. The future rapid corridor between Weston Creek, Molonglo and Belconnen would appear ideal for such an exercise, while also addressing known gaps in coverage.
  • Toll roads for new parkways, including roads into and out of the ACT.
  • Congestion based charging for private vehicle use in areas with significant transport and parking challenges.
  • Replacing registration fees with distance based charges
  • Commence construction as soon as practicable on light rail to Woden and Belconnen
  • Preparatory work for future light rail network extensions
  • Planning for National Capital Plan variations with amendments reflecting the adoption of light rail technology for intertown mass transit.
  • Establishing a skills base for future light rail construction so a construction program can be forecast a decade out.
  • On-demand and flexible bus service expansion to satisfy and grow demand.
  • A common software booking platform for all providers of community buses in use around Canberra
  • Planning for a new railway station in Central or North Canberra
  • Restoring the City Loop bus services
  • A city free fare zone on light rail and bus services for MyWay Card Holders.
  • Restoring the National Institution Tourist oriented bus services
  • Merging of Rapid Routes 6 and 7 to create a South Canberra/Weston Creek Loop
  • Coordinated on-demand and last mile transport services for out of hours or rarely used suburban routes.
  • Active Travel only streets around town and significant group centres
  • All future retail/commercial centres have shared zones planned as a priority, to avoid retrofitting a decade or more later.
  • Installing more real time information displays at bus interchanges and Park and Ride sites.
  • Conduct a study of school holiday bus services to Stromlo Forest Park
  • Improve public transport in the Molonglo Valley by extending the northbound bus “jump” lanes along the length of the Cotter Road between John Gorton Drive and Kirkpatrick Street, and fast-track the construction of the proposed high-level bridge across the Molonglo River.
  • All bus stops covered and have bicycle storage or loops for securing bicycles.
  • Heritage listing for Canberra’s iconic Clem Cummings designed ‘bunker’ shelters
  • Locating local and rapid bus stops closer together where they intersect, or to provide clear signage for passengers willing to walk between closely located local and rapid bus stops.

The PTCBR are committed to lobbying the ACT, NSW and Federal Government for better public transport services for passengers that use the service now, and encourage all Canberrans to sample the improved services being delivered.

Light rail will commence service in early 2019 and will provide a huge impetus in encouraging the shift away from car dependence in Canberra. The radical Network 19 changes to the bus network, creating a system of shorter local loops and more rapid bus and light rail services, is a major step in encouraging more people to use public transport.

The ACT Government are revisiting the ‘Transport for Canberra’ plan in 2019 and the PTCBR will be ensuring that the users of public transport have a strong say in how our future public transport needs will be addressed.  The submission we have made to this years ACT Budget provides a strong indication of our lobbying priorities.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra,join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.