Network 19, light rail, buses and the winners and losers

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An edited version of this article was published in the Canberra Times here.

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. It was a long time coming, and although it received overwhelming support from the public at the 2016 election, much political blood was shed in the decades leading to this endorsement including the toppling of Canberra Liberal Trevor Kaine, ALP Chief Minister Rosemary Follet and her Transport Minister David Lamont.

Chief Minister Barr and Transport Minister Fitzharris deserve much credit for the resolve they had to see the benefits of this city changing project through, since it was first announced by former Chief Minister Katie Gallagher in 2012. Essential political support from the Greens ensured that light rail survived the Legislative Assembly. Former Transport Minister Simon Corbell may one day be able to catch light rail from Civic to Kingston for a coffee, as he once famously predicted. Light rail will be a legacy for generations to come.

On Monday, the ACT received its second major public transport shakeup with Network 19, a fundamental reset of the system. 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. Passengers have long complained about the magical mystery local bus tours, and this has been addressed.

Weekend passengers also benefit with light rail until 1AM and rapid buses operating until at least 10 PM on Sunday. Over time, it would be good to see local buses offer this same service, but as long as the TWU believes working weekends is voluntary and not something that the public expects that may be some time off. Passengers fortunate enough to live adjacent to light rail will be able to travel until 1AM on Saturdays and 11.30 PM on Sundays. This is the sort of weekend public transport service that Canberra has needed for many years.

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. Many long used local bus stops are disappearing, requiring people to walk to unfamiliar streets in their neighbourhood. Some people will have to transfer between services.

With 140 suburbs and 530 buses, not every suburb in Canberra can have a direct service to Civic. Expresso services received cuts, as patronage figures saw most removed, others changed to become part of the new rapid routes, and a few, mainly in Tuggeranong, retained in a different form.

Fairbairn, Hume, ANU and other locations lose a bus service. Although ANU has its own coaster bus, it may not have enough capacity for the students that relied on the former service. Transport Canberra have indicated that on-demand and flexible buses will replace some services, but there is no extra funding to expand this fleet and the software for the small fleet of on-demand buses is not yet available. In some instances the services are more likely to be used by the fridge magnet generation, than the app generation.

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Schools on regular local bus route in Nicholls

The loudest voices against Network 19 are the parents of children who use school buses to travel from north to south Canberra. These services have slightly decreased from 246 school bus services to 221 services, and there are now reportable metrics in place. Some services carry a handful of students a day. Clearly a bus carrying a hundred people is better used on a local bus or rapid service decreasing peak hour bus frequency. While there is no separate school bus fleet in Canberra, this balance of resources will continue to be played out.

Many schools now have regular bus stops next to them, or nearby. The majority of students travelling to school by bus do so on a regular bus, and it is better for their independence and to stop bullying that they do so into the future. Many former students and bus drivers have advised that a student is less likely to be bullied on a regular bus, when an adult passenger will speak up, than on a school bus with no adult present except the driver occupied navigating our roads.

 

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Excellent wayfinding signage in Civic

Passenger wayfinding between rapid and local bus services outside the interchanges also needs some work. Savvy passengers may know they can step off a rapid bus, walk 100 metres and step on a local bus, other passengers may not know this. People won’t mind transferring if the frequency of services leads to shorter waiting times for the next bus or light rail. Better signage at local bus stops, or software notifications could help here.

Overall the benefits of more frequent local services connecting to a mass transit spine will make public transport more efficient and better for passengers. Network 19 has been subjected to exhaustive community consultation, with changes made to school bus services, Expressos and some local loops modified. In large transport networks, people often transfer to complete their trip. It is a new paradigm this city needs to adopt as it goes from a country town to a city.

Our city has grown and now our transport network has changed to accommodate that growth. In 1992 Gungahlin had 389 residents, today it has 80 thousand – 50 thousand who have arrived in the last five years. Light rail was delivered by  the Barr government under budget, before the major duplicated roads in Gungahlin being constructed at the same time. A startling reminder that under the Stanhope administration, public transport and road infrastructure was very far down the funding priority list, while single dwelling housing blocks were allowed to sprawl across Canberra. We have to stop building in car dependency.

Gungahlin residents deserve much credit for getting Canberra to an integrated bus and light rail transport network today.  They called for better public transport in the early 1990’s when it was apparent that buses alone would not carry the amount of passengers the popup suburbs were attracting. The Gungahlin Community Council, the Light Rail Coalition, and then ACT Light Rail were community groups energised by the idea of better public transport and planning outcomes that light rail could deliver. Sustained community activism can lead to political outcomes.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra has supported the current Governments public transport policies, and worked with transport planners and operators to bring about better public transport outcomes. Community consultation is vital, as direct engagement with the decision makers has led to better passenger experiences. Sometimes transport planners don’t get it right, and users can provide advice on a better passenger experience and provide user insights.

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Light rail vehicles in Gungahlins new station – it carried 100,00 people in its first week

We must get public transport right. At 420 thousand residents now, and half a million soon, Canberra must keep building transport infrastructure that matches our growth, and corrects past mistakes. More buses are being ordered, more articulated buses with greater passenger capacity are in the fleet than ever before, zero emission vehicles may form the core of a bus fleet (light rail is powered by renewable energy). Public transport is a visible sign of the health and livability of a city and its people. This government understands this, will future governments? The 2020 Assembly elections will be telling, as the Canberra Liberals are yet to share any thoughts on future public transport infrastructure.

This week Network 19 has arrived, building on the success of light rail stage one opening last week. There will be passengers with problems in the next week or two, as people have to establish new routines and make changes to long used commuting patterns. Despite teething issues, in a few months the true value of this radical change will be realised.

As only about ten percent of Canberrans use public transport now, the aim of Network 19, light rail stage one (and stage two when it is built) is to attract new passengers, encourage greater residential and business growth around transport corridors, and to provide incentives to people to park their car at home. A month of free public transport accompanying the new network and the introduction of light rail will attract new passengers, Canberra needs to keep them using public transport. The results of Network 19 may take some time to be realised but they must work if we want to enjoy the bush capital and not live in our cars.

Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the regions peak public transport user lobby group.

Canberra light rail starts carrying the public on a preview and launch day

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Golden Ticket for the first public light rail passengers

On 18 April 2019 light rail began carrying members of the Canberra public along light rail stage one from Gungahlin to Civic. The ACT Government combined the official launch and letting the public ride and experience the light rail by holding a community ballot, where several hundred people won Golden Tickets, letting them on the first service. This ‘soft launch’ was also to be a test ahead of the official opening on Saturday 20 April.

The launch came the day after the national rail safety regulator accredited the network for operation, and on the day that the ACT Government announced that the light rail project came in at $707 million dollars, $76 million dollars under budget.

It was a fairly simple day with Golden Ticket winners advised to arrive at a specific stop (Gungahlin, Dickson or Civic), have their name checked off, and then wait for their vehicle to leave. It would then travel to Civic (or for the lucky passengers that left from Gungahlin, they did a complete return journey) where people could either travel back to Dickson or Gungahlin, or wait for the plaque to be unveiled. After the unveiling (and press conference) there was a light lunch for invited guests where a cake was cut and consumed (see photo further down…)!

Leaving simultaneously from Gungahlin, Dickson and Civic, these first light rail services left around midday carrying Golden Ticket winners from the public, invited guests, many members of the media, Canberra Metro staff, Transport Canberra and ACT public service executives and ACT Government MLA’s.

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.

For people that have been campaigning for light rail in Canberra, and better public transport for many years it was a truly momentous experience. Riding in a brand new light rail vehicle, from Gungahlin to Civic, was very satisfying. It has already started to change Canberra for the better, and will for the next century.All the people associated with ACT Light Rail Coalition, ACT Light Rail and the PTCBR should be proud of the hard work they have put in over the last two decades.

The ACT Government deserve the credit for this, it has been a long hard slog with much political skin shed to get from an idea floated by former Transport Minister Simon Corbell, to a plaque being unveiled at the official opening by Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris. Administration of the project by Transport Canberra has been exemplary – with the project coming in $76 million under budget. Although the construction by Canberra Metro took a few months longer than anticipated, it is still a tremendous achievement. Light rail will be a lasting legacy, and something that the ALP and Greens can be rightly proud of.

This post has lots of photos of the days events, and a few links to local media coverage.

TV Coverage

WIN TV plaque 18 Apr
WIN TV Canberra coverage here

Nine News CM LR 18 aprNine Canberra TV News coverage here

abc tv newsABC Canberra TV News coverage here

Win tv newsWIN TV Canberra covered it again on 19 April here

Online Media

Video taken by PTCBR members on 19 April

Photos from the official opening day

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IMG_20190418_103255IMG_20190418_103248IMG_20190418_111854Golden Ticket winning passengers waiting for the first LRV IMG_20190418_114616IMG_20190418_113709Politicians on hand to witness the very first light rail trip for passengers!

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After arriving, the doors opened, and people raced onboard. That old guy with the walking stick is faster than you think!

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Moments later the LRV was full

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After years of campaigning for light rail – it was amazing to be on the first trip out of Gungahlin

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This LRV exiting the EPIC stop, is the first LRV from Civic carrying passengers to Gungahlin
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The view down Northbourne Avenue is very different than the view we have seen as car passengers/drivers – when the trees grow back it will be beautiful
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Lots of people made the trip to the light rail stations just to take photos of the first LRV’s
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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA unveiled a plaque and then answered questions from the media for some time

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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas, Former Transport Minister Simon Corbell, Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris at the official opening of Canberra’s light rail
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury
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Transport Canberra and City Services Director (and former Capital Metro CEO) Emma Thomas and PTCBR Chair Damien Haas
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Transport Canberra Director Duncan Edghill

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Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton

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Cutting of the light rail cake

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Caroline Le Couteur MLA talk to PTCBR Public Officer (and long time light rail campaigner) Ian Ruecroft and GCC Chair Peter Elford
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas, PTCBR Deputy Chair Ryan Hemsley and PTCBR Public Officer Ian Ruecroft at the light rail launch lunch

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

What a ride! 25,000 people travel on light rail’s first official day

 

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Media release from Andrew Barr ACT Chief Minister Barr and Meegan Fitzharris MLA Transport Minister

 

20 April 2019

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 City and Gungahlin terminals came to life with live music, kids’ entertainment and barbecues for people waiting to ride. Typical waiting times were between 15 – 25 minutes and passengers were excited and well behaved, with no major incidents to report.

More than 8,500 sausages were cooked during the launch event and a team of 190 friendly volunteers were at hand to provide information on using the light rail and updates on the future of light rail construction.

The day was a great success, with people of all ages trying out the light rail for the first time. We saw the community at its best: embracing a new opportunity with enthusiasm, safety and courtesy for their fellow passengers.

Following the launch, additional light rail features will be phased in over the coming weeks. This means the finishing touches to landscaping and road surfaces will continue and final permanent balustrades will be installed at intersections. Any other minor issues that need work will be fixed by Canberra Metro at no cost to the Territory.

Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said the passenger experience will keep getting better as drivers get used to taking passengers and journey times and frequency continue to improve.

“Thank you to everyone who came out today for a great celebration of our city.

“The Gungahlin to City route is the first stage of a broader program to connect Canberra’s town centres.

“The launch turnout shows how invested the community is in the future of Canberra. While light rail is a new concept for many people, the positive feedback we’ve received tells us that we are on the right track in improving the connectivity and liveability of our city. Canberra is now better connected with the light rail route from Gungahlin to City, and this work now continues with the second stage of light rail – City to Woden.”

Free travel continues on all public transport today and tomorrow Sunday 21 April – with paying services starting on Easter Monday 22 April. From 29 April all services will be free again for a month across the new network of light rail and more buses, more often.

For information on using light rail or to stay up to date with the City to Woden project visit transport.gov.au

Statement ends

Canberra Metro Light Rail depot at Mitchell now operational

Canberra Metro Mitchell Depot light rail vehicle railyard.
Canberra Metro Mitchell Depot light rail vehicle railyard.

Canberra Metro hosted a small media function on Friday march 1st to show off the completed Mitchell light rail depot that will house the first fourteen light rail vehicles (LRV’s) for Canberras light rail network. Located in Mitchell, about half way along the route, the light rail depot contains a control centre, a workshop, offices, cleaning facilities and a rail yard. It has taken 31 months from sod turning to becoming fully operational (although it has been used as a workshop for around a year).

The light rail control centre has realtime monitoring of LRV’s, and of the CCTV on the vehicles and at stations along the line. All vehicles are monitored, and their location along the network can be observed from several different types of linked software. LRV operating parameters can also be monitored. Audio messages can be made to one or all vehicles from the control centre. Intersections along the route are also under CCTV monitoring, so any collisions can be monitored, and emergency vehicles despatched.

At the media event, Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA said that she was confident that light rail operations would commence in April. There will be a free weekend of public transport across Canberra (I think this means that light rail will commence on a Saturday) when this occurs.

Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton discussed the regulatory approvals process, saying he was confident that the light rail route would gain approval for a late April commencement of operation.

Between now and the opening date, the ACT Government and Canberra Metro (who have built the network) must sign off on contractual requirements. In addition the federal government regulator must sign off on the licence to operate an electrical network, and accreditation to operate a passenger railway.

Canberra Metro operations has received a rebranding and will be known as CMET. Some of the customer relations staff attending the opening, had CMET branding on their clothes.

The media covered the opening and the announcement that new traffic arrangement around light rail and road intersections now apply.

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ABC Canberra published a Facebook post here.

The Canberra Times published an article here.

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ABC Canberra TV News report on the depot opening (click here)

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Nine TV News report on the depot opening (click here)

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WIN Canberra TV News report on the depot opening (click here)

The following photos of the Depot including the Control Centre, were taken on March 1st 2019.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris talking to media representatives covering the Depot opening
Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris talking to media representatives covering the Depot opening
Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton talking to media representatives covering the Depot opening
Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton talking to media representatives covering the Depot opening
Canberra Metro operations are rebranding to CMET
Canberra Metro operations are rebranding to CMET
Canberra Metro operations control centre at the Mitchell Depot
Canberra Metro operations control centre at the Mitchell Depot

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View from the control centre of the entrance and exit from the Mitchell light rail depot to Flemington Rd. Thats a large substation and in front of that is the track into and out of the workshop area.
View from the control centre of the entrance and exit from the Mitchell light rail depot to Flemington Rd. Thats a large substation and in front of that is the track into and out of the workshop area.
That large cylinder is a sand tower. Sand is used in the braking system to enhance friction between steel wheels and steel tracks, in an emergency. The building next to the carpark is the backup control centre. In the background the railyard, that houses the 14 light rail vehicles in our current fleet.
That large cylinder is a sand tower. Sand is used in the braking system to enhance friction between steel wheels and steel tracks, in an emergency. The building next to the carpark is the backup control centre. In the background the railyard, that houses the 14 light rail vehicles in our current fleet.
The light rail workshop
The light rail workshop
The light rail workshop
The light rail workshop
Behind the LRV is the washing shed. All LRV's will be washed, before being stabled for the night.
Behind the LRV is the washing shed. All LRV’s will be washed, before being stabled for the night.
A map of the track inside the Mitchell LRV Depot showing the exit onto Flemington Rd
A map of the track inside the Mitchell LRV Depot showing the exit onto Flemington Rd

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This shunter moves LRV's in and out of the workshop. It can be operated by a person walking alongside it with a remote control.
This shunter moves LRV’s in and out of the workshop. It can be operated by a person walking alongside it with a remote control.
In the background the LRV fleet in its railyard. Future plans include covering the yard, and expanding it (to the right) when the LRV fleet expands for future stages.
In the background the LRV fleet in its railyard. Future plans include covering the yard, and expanding it (to the right) when the LRV fleet expands for future stages.

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

Final route design for Network 19, Canberras first integrated public transport network released following extensive consultation

Network 19 Media Event
Minister Fitzharris just before local journalists asked her questions about Network 19

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.

See our previous coverage of Network 19 here and here

Read the PTCBR Network 19 submission here

 Network 19 Final Oct 18

What changes have been made?

The updated Rapid Route map is here. Here are the changes in each region of Canberra:

Local media reactions

Media coverage of the announcement has largely been based on detail from the media release (below), A local newspaper reported the announcement with a focus on the changed school services (here). City News had a short article mentioning that timetables were yet to be released  “Commuters wait to see full timetable” (here).

PTCBR assessment of the finalised Network 19

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.

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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.

Statement ends

 

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

School bus services restored to Network 19 based on feedback from the Canberra community – but is it the best long term strategy?

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Community consultation was impressive

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.
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Key insights arising from community consultation on Network 19

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.

Statement ends


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