Prior to the introduction of the 312-317 series of Routes in 1998, the dumping of the 316 and 317 and the introduction of the 300, 318 and 319, ACTION’s intertown service (now known as Blue Rapid) was one route – the famous 333.
The route, serviced by the iconic articulated buses, ran between Woden and Belconnen Interchanges before being extended to Tuggeranong Interchange on 4 September 1989.
Due to the fact that only one route operated the intertown, frequency was quite high, with buses leaving from each end of town every five minutes during peak hours, seven-and-a-half minutes during off-peak times and fifteen minutes on weekends.
A lasting reminder of the old serviice is still visible on some of the older articulated buses, where underneath the ACTION logo on either side of the vehicle, the word ‘intertown’ can be seen.
When Network 98 was introduced, the 333 was sadly a casualty, replaced with six routes numbered 312 through 317. It was essentially the same service, however all routes (aside from 316 and 317 southbound) continued past the final interchange through one or more suburbs to a terminus.
The combination of these six routes formed a high frequency service equal to that of the 333.
By removing the service, ACTION were also able to allocate their articulated vehicles elsewhere, easing congestion on school routes with a high level of patronage and even allowing some routes to be combined, boosting available fleet capacity.
Routes 316 and 317, which ran from Kippax to Tuggeranong were discontinued several years later, whilst their sister routes 116 and 117, which operated between Kippax and Woden lasted a few years longer.
Routes 318 and 319 were introduced a few years later, as Routes 312, 313, 314 and 315, which previously serviced suburbs in both Tuggeranong Belconnen, were modified to commence at Tuggeranong Interchange and only service the Belconnen suburbs. Routes 318 and 319 commenced at Belconnen Interchange and operated the intertown before continuing to Lanyon Marketplace.
With the introduction of Network 2010, the ‘Intertown’ name was replaced with ‘Blue Rapid’
Ironically, Network 2012 proposes to extend Routes 318 and 319 past Belconnen to Kippax – in part returning the 316 and 317 routes.
The 333 has since returned in another form – Route 300. This service effectively shadows the 333 Route but operates less frequently, often used to supplement the 312-315, 318 and 319 services during peak times. Generally during the off-peak, Routes 312-315, 318 and 319 do not operate, so Route 300 runs in their place.
Route 900 is the current weekend intertown service, although it differs by traveling via Erindale between Woden and Tuggeranong.