Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA today released the ‘Moving Canberra 2019-2045 Integrated Transport Strategy‘ policy paper. This is open for consultation into the New Year. The PTCBR will host a public meeting in early 2019 devoted to this.
The media release accompanying the release of the strategy is here:
Autonomous vehicle trials, better walking and cycling infrastructure and faster rail to Sydney are all part of an updated ACT transport strategy, released for public comment today.
The Moving Canberra 2019-2045 Integrated Transport Strategy considers how to deliver a vision for Canberra’sfuture transport experience that is modern, sustainable, integrated and provides real alternatives to driving.
“We need to keep improving and innovating our transport network to ensure Canberra continues to be one of the world’s most liveable cities,” Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said.
“We’re getting ready for a city which will be home to 500,000 people by 2030, so to protect our liveability we need transport networks that provide genuine alternatives to the car.
“This updated transport strategy builds on recent achievements including commencing construction on the first stage of light rail and building a bigger and better bus network, and it outlines the strategic policies that will underpin our future transport needs.”
The Strategy complements the recently released ACT Planning Strategy and outlines a number of possible actions over the short, medium and long term. It is also underpinned by an ACT Movement and Place Framework, which will ensure we deliver transport solutions for all road users and communities.
Some of the actions the Strategy looks at include:
setting aside land for high speed rail to Sydney;
reducing pollution from cars, buses and trucks;
separating walking and cycling paths;
undertaking further autonomous vehicle trials;
moving to a cashless public transport system;
conducting a review of bike share; and
undertaking a pre-feasibility study of proposed future light rail alignments.
“The Strategy includes some bold actions for us to consider into the future, and also reaffirms a number of commitments the Government has already made to ensure our city is better connected.
“It’s important to recognise that a number of the action items within the Strategy fall across several different Government portfolios and will also depend on cooperation with the community, industry and other stakeholders to deliver the best outcome.
“That’s why we have now opened the Strategy up for a period of consultation, so people can provide input and we can ensure the Strategy reflects a shared commitment to better transport for Canberra,” Minister Fitzharris added.
The Strategy is now open for consultation. Following consultation an implementation plan will be developed.
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 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.
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.