The ACT Government has made changes to the bus network after months of pressure from the public and the Opposition.
Changes to the network in April will include: more frequent Saturday services, more frequent services from Woden to the City, direct services from Tuggeranong to Woden via Canberra Hospital, direct services from Palmerston, Crace, Nicholls and Casey to Belconnen, more routes and direct services to Gungahlin, and faster travel time between the City and central Tuggeranong.
A new route connecting Woden and the City via Barton and Russell has also been added, while route 18 through Mitchell has been extended to Dickson. The R6 route has been removed from City West, in preparation for the construction of Light Rail stage 2A from the City to Commonwealth Park.
“During the first six months of (Network 19) operations we’ve been listening to the community and analysing the transport data,” said Transport Minister Chris Steel.
“These changes will improve travel times and connections with major Town Centres and places of interest and address some of key issues raised by the community since the introduction of Network 19.”
The bus network faced strong backlash when it was first introduced, with members of the public expressing concern over the loss of dedicated school, local and express services, and the need to walk further to bus stops.
The Canberra Liberals, who have strongly opposed bus Network 19 since its inception, welcomed the changes, but Shadow Transport Minister Candice Burch said several issues persist.
“Questions remain about driver availability and reliability for weekend shifts,” she said. “The Minister is yet to confirm whether dedicated school bus services will return.”
The Opposition has promised to reinstate dedicated school services if elected in October.
A new weekend bus timetable was released last year, after a number of weekend services were cancelled due to a shortage of drivers.
The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) said the changes address a number of concerns, and welcomed the improvements to Saturday services, but called on the Government to ensure full weekend bus services are restored “as soon as possible”.
PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley said public transport services would need to be “seriously” ramped up to meet the Government’s long-term plan of a 40-45% shift away from private car use by 2045.
The Government has also announced an increase to the frequency of light rail services due to higher than expected levels of patronage. Minister Steel said more than 15,000 boardings are being made every day, with crowding on both morning and afternoon services. Peak services, one every six minutes, have now been extended to: 7-9.30am southbound, 3-6.30pm northbound and 3.30-6pm southbound.
Further changes, expected to begin in April, will see the frequency of light rail services increase to five minutes during peak, the afternoon peak extended to 7pm and earlier services on weekends and holidays from 7am.
Changes to the bus network will begin on Tuesday 28 April. For more information, visit transport.act.gov.au