The ACT Government has announced changes to a number of bus routes, after significant concern was raised over the proposed new network.
The consultation saw over 13,000 pieces of feedback received by the government, with concerns over changes to local routes and the axing of some dedicated school bus services and express services.
Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris announced on Tuesday 16 October there will be 37 changes made across the 58 routes in the regular network, as well as an additional 78 dedicated school services.
Minister Fitzharris said direct local connection to Woden would be added, along with new peak bus routes from south Tuggeranong. She also said changes would provide better coverage in south-west Belconnen.
The changes include route alterations for suburb services that increase coverage and expand the amount of stops, as well as the extension of ‘rapid’ routes across Canberra.
More dedicated school services were added after parents expressed concern about students using the regular bus network, and changing buses at interchanges. However the additional services will still not service all ACT schools.
Minister Fitzharris said some routes had been changed to allow regular bus services to service schools as well, and said she hoped the combination of the regular network and dedicated services would encourage young people to use the bus.
The proposed network was met with criticism when it was first released in June, and attracted a record amount of feedback from the community. Transport Canberra said the network consultation had the most community engagement of any consultation ever undertaken through the ACT Government.
Shadow Minister for Transport Candace Burch said while many school students will be left without dedicated bus services, the “backflip” on the bus network is a win for Canberra commuters, and the Canberra Liberals are pleased to see the government change its mind on some of the worst of the proposed cuts.
“Naturally, we are disappointed that Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris didn’t do more to ensure all school children are safe when travelling to and from school,” Miss Burch said.
“On behalf of the community, the Canberra Liberals have campaigned against cuts to school services, cuts to express services, and increased walking distances to nearest stops for many Canberrans.
Miss Burch said she is pleased the government has restored peak express services for Southern Canberra, but disappointed that Belconnen residents will lose them.
“The fact that the Minister has back-flipped on the cuts shows just how wrong they were in the first place,” she said.
Other changes include an electronic journey planning system for planning trips, new electronic ticket machines and a “specialist school liaison to ensure buses continue to meet schools’ needs”.
Minister Fitzharris also announced that the ACT Government will offer all MyWay card users a month of free travel on the new network in 2019.
The full timetable for the new network is expected to be published later in the year, before services begin in early 2019.
For the updated network, including school services, visit transport.act.gov.au/getting-around/new-network