PTCBR in the news: Queanbeyan edition

Our last post got some attention from the RiotACT, and we were asked to expand on our views about public transport in Queanbeyan. There’s a feature article this weekend about it, with some good quotes:

The ACT is serviced by Transport Canberra (previously ACTION), while over the border, it’s Q-City Transit. A local public transport advocacy group has called for the ACT and NSW governments to put their heads together to streamline the connection between the two.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) said both governments need to work together to integrate services and fares.

“But there are also things the NSW Government could do now,” PTCBR chair Ryan Hemsley said.

“The NSW Government has a capable and responsive operator in Q City Transit, which can put on more services. All that’s needed is the political will.”

All aboard! Lobby group makes the case for better cross-border bus connections (James Coleman, The RiotACT)

These sorts of exercises are always useful, because (1) it promotes public transport and PTCBR and (2) it gives us another excuse to go back to the community to get more information about how things are on the ground. The PTCBR Committee is a relatively small group of people, and our advocacy is only as good as the information we have. The more people talk about and identify public transport issues, the better we can shape government views about them.

Queanbeyan needs better public transport

This RiotAct article about parking woes in Queanbeyan reminds us that as our cities get denser, the only way we’re going to need ways of getting people around that don’t involve private vehicles. This means more walking, riding, and yes, public transport.

In March this year, PTCBR made a submission to Transport for NSW about the Queanbeyan Integrated Regional Transport Plan. The current bus situation in QBN is rather unsatisfactory, and a few steps behind what’s on offer across the border. While a lot of people point to the lack of integration between Canberra and Queanbeyan services, more frequent services allowing Queanbeyan residents to access their CBD would be a good start.

PTCBR submission to the flexible transport review

Source: ACT Government

PTCBR recently made a submission to the ACT Government’s review into flexible transport. This currently takes the form of community transport service for older Canberrans and people with disabilities who cannot access the regular public transport service.

From our discussions with members, the main problem with the current service is that it only operates on weekday mornings, and you need to book 2 days in advance. This is a rather low level of service, and the ACT Government should invest more to make it more useful.

The review was a bit open-ended, and it’s not clear what the Government is looking to achieve. There was some talk of using taxis and ride-share to supplement the current service (such as by taking passengers to interchanges to transfer onto frequent services). We supported this, subject to it being well-designed for passengers with mobility issues.

There was also talk of using taxis and ride-share to support public transport more generally, which we’re more sceptical of. There are a lot of drawbacks with so-called “microtransit“, as they often end up being less efficient and more expensive than regular fixed line buses, even when our big night time buses seem perennially empty.

Interestingly, there was the earlier BusPlus proposal from the CSIRO to use data science to map out a hub and spokes network which combined taxis with trunk services. This proposal got some attention, and for a while the ACT Government was exploring a pilot. It ultimately went nowhere, likely because Transport Canberra focused its efforts on Network 19 instead.

If the ACT Government is looking at a hybrid taxi/bus scheme, there needs to be a lot of thought behind it to make sure it isn’t just an expensive kludge. In the meantime, we recommended the review stay focused on improving the current flexible service, and supporting Canberrans who can’t access the regular public transport network.

The review is in its final stages. If you or anyone you know has thoughts on the ACT’s flexible bus service, let us know, and we can put you in contact with the review team.