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.

 

 

 

PTCBR Network 19 submission – A new integrated public transport network using light rail and buses to grow Canberra’s public transport patronage

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) have made a submission on Network 19, the first integrated bus and light rail public transport network in the territories history, to the ACT Government. The PTCBR support the ACT Governments active transport and public transport programs, including the introduction of light rail and integrated public transport services. The continued budget focus placed by the Territory government on these important areas will improve Canberrans lives immediately, and for decades to come.

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Download the submission by clicking here

In our submission we are providing suggestions on Network 19 and possible future improvements to the planned integrated network and supporting infrastructure (including regional cooperation) that can be implemented.

We recommend:

  • a focus on connections between rapid and local bus services,
  • prioritising buses on our roads,
  • expanding Park and Ride,
  • resourcing on-demand travel properly,
  • extending the rapid bus network into Queanbeyan,
  • bringing regional NSW buses into the Canberra public transport and ticketing network; and
  • exploring a stand alone school bus fleet.

The PTCBR understand that any bus network consultation is going to be greeted with concern from existing passengers who are seeing their daily routines disrupted. We appreciate that for some people the complete redesign of the bus network to accommodate a more in-depth commitment to making rapid light rail and bus services the backbone of the territories public transport network, supported by more frequent and shorter local services connecting to that rapid backbone, may not initially seem to be a better overall network. Change can sometimes be difficult, but the PTCBR have looked at the proposed Network and believe it is the improvement that we need for the 21st century.

With some modifications, the proposed Network will resolve long standing complaints about the local bus network, and build on the success of the rapid bus network, while establishing light rail as the backbone future more frequent local services can connect to. It will enable Canberra to become a compact livable city, that can free itself of car dependence.

We thank the Government for the extensive consultation process they have undertaken, with many appearances at community groups, street stalls and also at a public meeting convened by the PTCBR for our members to ask questions. We are aware that some of the proposed local routes may need some finessing to work as intended, and understand that the purpose of a consultation process is to locate these issues and resolve them when a final Network plan is delivered in 2019.

We have encouraged our members to make individual submissions on specific local issues that they can provide detailed feedback on. Subsequently, this submission makes very few locally focused recommendations and looks at longer term recommendations and observations that Network 19 and the commencement of light rail stage one can bring about.

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

 

The rapid bus and light rail network as proposed under Network 19, with a Queanbeyan link added
The rapid bus and light rail network as proposed under Network 19, with a Queanbeyan link added

PTCBR Public meeting 8 Aug 2018 to discuss Network 19 and Light Rail Stages One and Two

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As Network 19 Consultation on the integrated bus/light rail public transport network comes to a close, TCCS are providing a Network Planner for our members to engage with. I’m sure we are very familiar with the proposals, and this is a good opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions.
Light Rail Stage One is being built right now, and vehicle testing has commenced. If you would like to know more about the testing and commissioning of the Gungahlin to Civic stage, Scott Lyall of TCCS will answer those questions.

Light Rail Stage Two has been in the news recently, with a federal Inquiry into the heritage aspects and approvals process (that three PTCBR Committee members appeared at). Pam Nelson of TCCS will update us on Stage Two and answer questions that we may have.

The meeting will be chaired by Deputy Chair Robert Knight. There will be an opportunity for members to ask questions and provide feedback to TCCS on these topical public transport issues..
The PTCBR meeting will be at:
5PM on 8 Aug 2018
Griffin Centre,
20 Genge St, Civic. 
The Agenda for the public meeting will be:

  • 5.00 – Chair report and lobbying update
  • 5.15 – Light Rail Stage 1 update
  • 5.25 – Light Rail Stage 2 update
    5.35 – Network 19 presentation and Consultation
  • 5.45 – 6PM Questions/discussion – moderated by PTCBR Deputy Chair Robert Knight
All members of the public are welcome to attend.
Membership renewal
For members seeking to renew their membership, forms will be available on the night (if your details have changed) and fees accepted if you have the exact money ($20 or $10 for any concession card holder). If you know someone that is seeking to become a member, please invite them to attend.

Network 19 Submission by PTCBR

The integrated bus/light rail network that commences in 2019 is a mass rapid transit spine supported by higher frequency local bus networks. This is a policy that the PTCBR supports. The Network 19 proposal currently out for consultation is a bold modal change from the bus networks that Canberra has been used to. It is a massive disruptive change that aims to increase public transport patronage from its current level.

The introduction of light rail will achieve patronage growth for Gungahlin and those adjacent to the light rail stage one corridor, but that increase also needs to occur in areas served only by bus (until further stages of the light rail network are built). Does the Network 19 proposal get this right? Can it be improved?

The PTCBR Committee are working on a submission on Network 19. Although PTCBR support the strategic approach, there are areas that PTCBR feel could be improved, and we will be providing that view in our submission, based on Committee and PTCBR member feedback.

Network 19 Consultation closes on August 10. Supporting documentation for Network 19 Rapid and local bus services can be found here:

A New Bus Network for Canberra (PDF)

Rapid Bus Fact Sheet (PDF)

Canberra Full Network 19 Map (PDF)

You can make your own submission directly at canberrabuses.com.au.

Next PTCBR Meeting
Our next public meeting will be ‘Public Transport in the Pub‘ – date to be announced shortly. It is aimed at being a more social type meeting, and less formal.

Thank you for your support in our public transport lobbying efforts. It is appreciated and has a real effect on public transport policy and improvements to the network both minor and major.

I look forward to speaking to you at a future meeting.
regards

Damien Haas
Chair, PTCBR

Light rail stage two cost announcement welcomed by PTCBR

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Media Release: Light rail stage two cost announcement welcomed by PTCBR

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) are pleased that the ACT Government has provided an estimated cost for stage two of Canberra’s light rail network. The cost incorporates design changes likely to be necessary for federal government approval, including a new light rail crossing structure between Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, and wire free light rail operation through the Parliamentary Zone.

 

“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.

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

All the Rapid Bus routes promised at the 2016 election to be delivered in 2018, along with light rail

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Map of the Canberra Rapid Bus network from mid-2018

 

The proposed Rapid Bus routes to be introduced in mid 2018 have received a thumbs up from the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR). 

TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris today announced that in 2018 Canberra would have nine rapid transit routes. Eight would be rapid bus, and one would be light rail. The announcement was made at the opening of the new $4 million dollar Dickson bus interchange, directly across the road from the Dickson light rail stop on Northbourne Avenue.

Announcing all eight rapid bus routes to be delivered at once is a bold move, and it really cements how serious the government is about public transport, and especially on integrating light rail and buses.”

The focus on expanding the rapid bus network in 2018 instead of introducing them individually over a multi-year period, isn’t something that the PTCBR anticipated. It’s a pleasant surprise. Announcing it at this brand new bus facility just reinforces how serious the government is about public transport policy.
This almost certainly a combination of a positive budget position, and the political direction on positive public transport policy (supported by results from the public that use it).  The budget surplus forecast by the ACT Government, has allowed the early delivery of expanded public transport, including light rail, demonstrating that sensible long term infrastructure investment is affordable.
With the buses currently operating on the Gungahlin rapid to be reallocated across the bus network when light rail starts, and eighty new buses on order, this rapid rollout can really kick start the new Transport Canberra philosophy of expanded local services feeding into rapid bus and light rail routes, that was introduced with Network 17.
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TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris announcing the new rapid bus routes at the opening of the $4 million dollar Dickson bus interchange
PTCBR believe that Canberrans will appreciate that light rail, expanded local bus services and more frequent rapids can shorten their overall travel times, and allow them to spend less time commuting, and more time with their families.
There was a great deal of focus on the governments light rail plans leading up to the last election, and not so great a focus on how similar the long term bus plans were from the Canberra Liberals and the ACT Government. The major difference is that several of the rapid bus routes proposed by the government are to become light rail lines over the coming decades.
This reflects increasing patronage, especially on routes such as Canberras most heavily used rapid bus, the Belconnen to Civic rapid, which is now also running to the Airport. Certainly a Belconnen – Civic – Airport light rail line is a sensible addition, creating a North South and East West light rail spine across the territory. This route becoming light rail may becomes a 2020 election proposal.
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Local bus entering the Dickson Interchange from Northbourne Avenue
The only slightly disappointing aspect that PTCBR could identify with this rapid bus network plan was that Queanbeyan doesn’t appear on the new rapid network. PTCBR recommend that a Civic – Fyshwick – Queanbeyan route be trialled. We firmly believe that cross-border discussions into establishing this route, operated by either Transport Canberra or a NSW operator be explored.
The new ticketing technology that Transport Canberra will adopt could assist this process. Queanbeyan buses do not use the NSW Opal technology, and if all three jurisdictions (ACT, Metro NSW, regional NSW) adopt a compatible ticketing technology, this could become logistically feasible.
Minister Fitzharris is demonstrating great confidence in Transport Canberra and their ability to service such a bold rapid bus plan in mid 2018. It’s the same bold approach from the Government that saw light rail delivered, and PTCBR expect that the Canberra public will also accept these changes. The rapid buses are becoming more popular as frequency and service hours are extended, especially the critical local bus services, and this bodes well for light rail.


Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra regions peak public transport lobby group. Their website is at ptcbr.org

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

 

How do we best use a million extra bus kilometres across Canberra after light rail starts in 2018?

The days and weeks after light rail stage one begins operation in 2018 provide a rare opportunity to significantly boost our ability to expand Canberra’s bus services. The benefit to all residents of Canberra from light rail replacing overtaxed buses trundling along the Northbourne – Flemington corridor will be immediately apparent. To people in that corridor they now have access to a brand new frequent, reliable and attractive transport technology. Across Canberra, the bus network will benefit from an injection of a million extra bus kilometers a year.

Since the decision to implement light rail was taken, a bold and flexible approach to bus policy has also occurred. This is a positive sign for public transport. Using the Red Rapid buses, and the million kilometres a year they were driving on that service, across the network will effectively add a fleet of high quality, disability compliant buses at little extra cost in equipment or staffing.

How do we best realise this opportunity?

Several high priority transport tasks can be addressed by this one million bus kilometres a year for the rest of Canberra.

Expanding Rapid Bus services: This is a government commitment, and the phased rollout of Rapid Buses will further strengthen the business case for future light rail lines on some of those Rapid Bus routes.

Increasing local bus services: Expanding the reach and frequency of existing local bus services in the suburbs of Gungahlin and adjacent to Northbourne Avenue is essential. A large proportion of those extra kilometres must also go to the rest of Canberra. Residents of suburbs in Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong will benefit from increased local bus service frequency. This will particularly benefit Woden residents, and those living adjacent to the second stage of light rail.

Guaranteeing connections: Reducing overall travel time of people losing their suburb to Civic bus service becomes easier when frequency increases. Connecting to frequent light rail services that provide a less than ten minute wait for a connection, is a compelling reason to not drive. Even Woden, Belconnen and Tuggeranong residents will benefit from shorter connections between transport modes.

Much of the fear mongering leading up to the 2016 election implied that once light rail started, that ALL bus services from Gungahlin and suburbs adjacent to Northbourne would disappear. This is simply wrong. Expanding the frequency of these local bus services has always been the intention. Some routes may change and no longer run directly to Civic, and instead connect with the Dickson light rail and bus interchange. That increases options and reduces overall travel time. Information on these changes should be provided by TCCS soon.

A bright transport future

Increasing public transport patronage reduces private car use. Every person that uses public transport removes those car kilometres, resource usage, carbon emissions and parking demand from society. We all benefit from these resources being used more efficiently and sustainably.

The car dependent Canberra we are slowly moving away from is a result of the car focussed NCDC urban planning and several decades of declining bus services, only recently addressed. As patronage declined, bus services were further reduced. Some of the disastrous Stanhope/Hargreaves era bus timetable implementations damaged patronage so badly that confidence in a bus only solution to Canberra’s public transport future, evaporated. Rising private car use only made overall transport issues worse.

Post-Stanhope and a new focus on urban issues over esoteric ideology by the Gallagher government were welcomed by public transport and planning advocates. The introduction of light rail is the modal shift Canberra needs and is the primary way to deliver a bright transport future to Canberra. Densification along transport corridors will also lessen the insatiable demand for greenfields land for standalone housing.

The current government has shown incredible commitment to delivering a better future for Canberra in the transport and planning space. The public has supported this radical change at two consecutive elections. Light rail is coming and this is now accepted on both sides of the Legislative Assembly.

Recent bus policy has been flexible and responsive, with a focus also placed on active travel to support the shift in thinking about how we move around our suburbs and city. Light rail alone and buses alone wont resolve transport challenges, an integrated approach is the best way. That has been the policy approach of the Barr government, supported by the Greens and capably implemented by Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris. This is incredibly positive and should be applauded.

Although being built first in the area that most needed better public transport, light rail wont reach all of Canberra’s towns for two decades or more, but the bus network will always be required to service the suburbs that most of us live in. Using the flexibility of buses, and the certainty of mass transit light rail gives Canberra the best opportunity to deliver first world public transport options, and reduce car dependency (whether we drive it or it drives itself…).

That injection of an extra million bus kilometres a year into our public transport system starting in 2018 must be well used. The current signs indicate that it will be.

Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the regions peak public transport lobby group. Their website is at ptcbr.org and a robust discussion on public transport and planning takes place at their Facebook page.

Membership in PTCBR is $20 a year for adults and $10 a year for any concession card holder.