In its first week light rail from Gungahlin carried over 100,000 passengers and proved to be the success that its supporters knew it would be. On Monday, the ACT receives its second major public transport shakeup with Network 19. Integrating light rail, a record nine rapid bus routes, and more frequent local buses, the aim is to increase local connections to rapid routes, and increase the frequency. Although the radical Network 19 changes will prove beneficial, there will be many short term issues as passengers start using it, and locating the new bus stops they may have to walk further to use. Not everyone benefits, and indeed some people lose out.
On 18 April 2019 light rail began carrying members of the Canberra public along light rail stage one from Gungahlin to Civic. This ‘soft launch’ was also to be a test ahead of the official opening to the public on 20 April. The excited passengers waited at each of the three major stops, boarded and set out for the first trip! Some stayed to observe the political events, but most went excitedly about the rest of their day, after being lucky enough to be on the very first trip on Canberra’s brand new light rail. Several PTCBR members attended and were fortunate to be invited to the launch and the lunch. This post has lots of photos of the days events, and a few links to local media coverage.
Canberra was abuzz with excitement as light rail officially launched today with approximately 25,000 people hopping on board for a free ride. The formal event wrapped up at 4pm, but services will continue to operate to timetable, so the total number of passengers on launch day will continue to grow. Ten vehicles were deployed on the day, running 130 trips and covering 1,560 kilometres.
The PTCBR are pleased that Transport Canberra have reacted to community consultation and made sensible changes in local services and rapid bus routes. 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. 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.