Canberrans love their local shops. It’s one of the hallmarks of good (sub)urban design in our city, which is all the more reason why we get so upset when they’re empty (see Giralang, Coombs).
This is why PTCBR made a brief submission to the Suburban Land Agency’s consultation about the Whitlam Local Centre, the newest suburb in Molonglo. It has the potential to be a great community hub, connected to the school, local bus routes, and rapid bus/light rail. But they need to start thinking about the little things now.
Our submission has some examples of what we like about our local shops, and what we don’t. In particular:
We like high streets, with shops facing out directly onto a street with nice big footpaths. Forde is a really good example of this.
Big open car parks are massive no-nos. They keep people locked in their cars, and are barriers to a vibrant high street. Too many of Canberra’s local shops in the last 30 years have this feature, and it can’t be allowed to continue (eg Bonner).
Bus stops should be close to the shops, where everyone can see them. The Whitlam local centre will be a big block, there’s no point in having the bus drop people all the way on the other side. Further, having the stops close to other activity increases ‘passive surveillance’, where people feel safer because they know they’re in eyeshot of others.
The submission is below, and we’ll keep an eye on how the centre design evolves.
As part of its submission on the National Capital Authority’s draft amendment to rezone the Curtin Horse Paddocks, the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has called on the Federal Government agency to work with the ACT Government to deliver the infrastructure needed to service the new diplomatic estate.
“While the process leading up to this rezoning has been far from ideal, the NCA now needs to accept responsibility for limiting the impact of this new 45-hectare estate on the amenity of Canberra residents, said PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley
“This is not something that can be fixed with a bucket of white paint and a new set of traffic lights. The development of the Curtin Horse Paddocks will require a complete rethink of public transport and private vehicle movements around and throughout the estate.”
Mr Hemsley said that residents of Curtin and Deakin are at risk of bearing the brunt of new southbound traffic flows from the estate.
“Residents of Weston Creek and Molonglo also face substantial new delays along the Cotter Road if the infrastructure status quo remains.” Mr Hemsley said.
Mr Hemsley noted that the ACT Government was already set to invest heavily along the adjacent corridor as part of the extension of Canberra’s light rail network to Woden.
“While light rail stage two is a critical piece of the puzzle, we don’t believe it’s acceptable for the ACT ratepayer to foot the entire infrastructure bill for this rezoning, especially when 60 per cent of the site will deliver minimal financial returns to the Territory.” Mr Hemsley said.
Mr Hemsley identified the King’s Avenue overpass as a good example of new, city-shaping infrastructure that was delivered by the NCA with funding from the Federal Government.
“We urge the NCA to work with the ACT Government to deliver equally good infrastructure to support the development of this sizable diplomatic estate.”
The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) is calling on the ACT Government to provide practical public transport assistance for people who have had their cars rendered unusable by the major hailstorm on Monday.
Mr Ryan Hemsley, PTCBR Chair said “From media reports, we understand that around 10,000 people may be impacted through unexpectedly losing access to their car due to hail damage. Some will be adequately insured, including having access to a replacement rental car. Many others may need to make greater use of public transport, including buses and light rail”.
To better support Canberrans through this difficult time, Mr Ryan Hemsley, PTCBR Chair, is calling on the ACT Government to:
Significantly Increase weekend services on routes to underserved areas, such as the Molonglo Valley, to enable affected Canberrans to reliably access employment, shopping, medical and social activities. For example, on weekends, the people of Molonglo only have access to limited services operating every two hours and with a circuitous route to their closest major supermarkets;
Require additional Transport Canberra employees to work on weekends and public holidays if necessary, even if this requires changes to the long-standing composite pay and weekend staffing arrangements; and
Provide targeted information to new and infrequent public transport users about how to best get to the major commercial and community centres and events.
Ryan Hemsley is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.
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.
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.
The recently released design documents for John Gorton Drive Stage 3B show a planned light rail route running in the median of John Gorton Drive north of the Molonglo River. The route then heads east along a planned extension of Bindubi Street, with a stop near the intersection servicing the planned residential estate of Whitlam.
This is the first instance of light rail being a key influence in the design of infrastructure in the Molonglo Valley.
“The Molonglo Valley has been designed around an ‘urban boulevard’ concept and is therefore ideally suited to a future light rail route,” PTCBR Committee Member Ryan Hemsley said.
“As a long-time resident of Weston Creek and a current resident of Molonglo, I look forward to seeing how the future stages of John Gorton Drive and Bindubi Street incorporate provisions for a light rail route to service our growing district”.
A draft concept plan included in the documentation shows three stops servicing the future suburbs of Molonglo Valley Stage 3. The route shown is largely consistent with the planned Woden to City via Weston Creek and Molonglo route outlined in the 2016 Light Rail Network Plan.
ACT Government population estimates have the Molonglo Valley growing by over 500% between 2016 and 2020. In this year alone, nine development applications for multi-unit sites in Denman Prospect have been lodged with the planning directorate.
The PTCBR believes that light rail will be a critical part of Molonglo’s infrastructure mix if it is to avoid many of the road congestion problems that have plagued Gungahlin.