The ACT Government has announced the new bus network will begin operating in April 2019, ahead of term two of the school year.
New services will begin on 27 April, ahead of the school term beginning on 29 April. The announcement comes amid confusion from parents and students with regards to the network start date.
Before the network commencement date was announced, Shadow Minister for Transport Candice Burch said Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris’s “failure” to keep the community informed was making it difficult for Canberra commuters to plan for next year’s travel needs.
“This uncertainty is having a detrimental impact on schools across Canberra,” Miss Burch said.
“Parents still don’t know the frequency and timing of the public buses they are being forced to put their kids on as a result of Labor’s bus cuts. They do not know how long their kids will need to wait at school or at interchanges for their buses to arrive.”
Minister Fitzharris announced that the timetable for the new network will be released in “early March”.
“We have already released the updated network, following extensive consultation, to give the community a chance to become familiar with the new bus routes,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“By starting the new network before the start of term two, we can give passengers, especially parents and school students, certainty to plan their journeys for both the beginning of the 2019 school year and for term two onwards.”
The Government received record amounts of feedback on the network during the consultation period, with major concerns about the axing of dedicated school bus services and students changing buses at interchanges.
Miss Burch said the uncertainty around the new bus network could be pinned on “delays to light rail”.
The ACT Government is still unable to confirm a start date for the light rail service; operators, Canberra Metro, need to obtain third party rail accreditation from the Office of National Rail Safety Regulator and the Independent Certifier. However, Minister Fitzharris said “starting the bus network for term two will also assist with the introduction of light rail”.
“Given the complexity of this kind of major infrastructure project and the need for third party accreditations that are beyond the Government’s and the Canberra Metro consortium’s control, we have decided to start the new bus network in term two to minimise disruption to commuters as much as possible,” she said.
“We usually make changes to our bus network during school holidays to minimise disruption to students. By starting the bus network for term two, we can provide certainty to students while minimising any risk of disruption when light rail begins.”
Passengers using MyWay cards on the updated bus network will receive a month of free travel when the network gets underway.