Almost 700 new bus services will be introduced into Canberra’s public transport system from tomorrow, Saturday 18 July.
According to ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel, the 17.5% increase in services is expected to see a reduction in travel time in many routes, and more frequent services on both weekdays and weekends.
“The new network will see faster and simple, more direct connections throughout the city. There will be travel times from places like Lanyon, Calwell, Erindale to the city cut by up to 20 minutes,” he said.
“We are encouraging Canberrans to jump online and plan their journey on the new network using Transport Canberra’s trip journey.”
From Monday 20 July, Transport Canberra will also offer an online service to inform transport users of traffic on routes, and the quietest time to travel.
Mr Steel encouraged Canberrans to continue to be vigilant when using public transport during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are also asking Canberrans to think about travelling maybe 30 minutes earlier or 30 minutes later to avoid crowding on peak services during the pandemic,” he said.
“I think what has happened in Victoria is a good reminder of the importance of good hygiene as well as distancing yourself from others when using public transport.”
Mr Steel said the service upgrades had been made with the expectation public transport patronage would start to increase as Canberrans slowly return to work.
“Last week there was 48% less patronage compared to the same week last year. We are still in the school holidays and we are expecting people to gradually move back to work,” he said.
“We expect that patronage won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until around 18 months into the future.”
The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today welcomed changes to the ACT’s transport network but cautioned that more needs to be done to support Canberrans facing transport disadvantage.
Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “We are pleased that the Government has responded to community feedback with additional off-peak services and better connectivity and accessibility through improved routes.
“Fast and frequent commuter bus and light rail services are essential. However, we also need a transport system that is flexible and meets the needs of people at risk of social isolation and transport disadvantage. This includes older people, students and young people, people with disability, new migrants and others who do not have access to cars.
“ACTCOSS has continued to highlight the issues created by transport disadvantage which include barriers to accessing employment opportunities and essential health services.”
To reduce social isolation and improve access to essential services, ACTCOSS has called for a diverse public transport system including:
- Additional funding for community transport providers
- Improved on-demand transport including through the ACT Government’s Flexibus
- Full compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act by all ACT public transport vehicles
- A lifting of the cap on the ACT Taxi Subsidy Scheme for people with disabilities.
Dr Campbell said that “as Canberra grows and new suburbs are built, we need to ensure that new communities have community facilities, appropriate services and good transport networks”.
“In the lead up to the ACT Election, ACTCOSS will be calling on all parties to commit to a comprehensive audit of community needs in planning, including transport.”
For information about the new services and to plan your journey, visit www.transport.act.gov.au.