PTCBR recently made a submission to the development application for the remodelled Woden interchange. You can read it here, as well as our earlier submission to the pre-consultation.
Overall, we’re very pleased to see some much-needed investment to upgrade the current, outdated interchange, and it should result in a better overall experience for passengers. That said, we’re taking the opportunity while we can to remind the ACT Government that with a little more thought, it could be even better. Our key suggestions are:
- Make it easy for passengers to move between platforms. Obviously the City Interchange is the worst offender, as passengers have to cross up to six lanes of Northbourne traffic, and then have to dodge buses in the interchange itself. This design is much better, with a number of signalised crossings. But we were concerned about a recent drawing which suggested passengers might still have to cross two lanes of bus traffic either side of the light rail tracks, and that increases the risk of accidents. Also, our ideal interchange would be one with the light rail tracks on the outside, so passengers can simply cross the platform to transfer to their bus, and not have to cross the road.
- Design the shelters with passengers in mind. The proposed shelters are of the kind that has been popping up around Canberra for the last 20 years: angled roofs and relatively open to the wind. While they usually perform better than they look, we’ve made a few suggestions about what might make things more comfortable for passengers, the main one being walls to keep out the wind. It’d also be nice to see a proper waiting room within the CIT building itself.
- Make sure the interchange can accommodate future growth. A few of the planning docs suggested that some bus routes would need to be rejigged so they could all fit in the interchange. We’d rather the interchange be designed so it can accommodate the bus routes which best suit Canberrans. The planning documents do envisage a significant expansion of services up to 2030 (including light rail), but if there are already capacity constraints now, we’re concerned about what things might look like 20-30 years from now.
As an advocacy group, we’re realistic about what we can achieve out of community consultation. The ACT Government largely has put together a pretty comprehensive design, and this is really only just about tweaking. Besides, we don’t want the whole thing thrown out: we like that they’re building a big new interchange!
But it’s important to get involved in consultation for a few reasons. First, the world is run by those who show up, so speaking up is always better than saying nothing. Second, government bodies like to be seen as being responsive to community feedback, and often take on a handful of suggestions from the community, even if only to give the appearance of being consultative. Third, public opinion can be influential when there might be conflicting views within government about how to deal with a particular issue.
So fingers crossed, let’s hope something comes of this!