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Media Release: Chris Steel MLA, 16 June 2020

On Saturday 18 July the ACT Government will introduce a significant public transport network update that addresses community feedback, making it easier for Canberrans to avoid the peaks and spread their travel across the day.

The updated network will provide 692 extra bus services each weekday – a 17.5% increase – and bring more direct routes, more frequent services and significant improvements across the network for all Canberrans.

“As some Canberrans gradually return to work during Step 3 of recovery, we will be implementing an improved bus system with more services on key routes to help avoid crowding,” said Minister for Transport Chris Steel.

“Our advice still remains the same about public transport which is to avoid travel in peak times. However, implementing this update to the bus network will assist in supporting those who need to use public transport.”

Minister Steel said that the step is supported by a recent ACT Government survey on public transport use during COVID-19 which found 54% of people surveyed expected to return to their usual public transport use gradually over coming months.

“This updated public transport network provides more options for people to spread out their travel and avoid the peak as well as shorter journey times across our city. Some school services that were experiencing high patronage will also have greater options,” Minister Steel said.

During the pandemic patronage has been down by up to 85% per cent on last year. These numbers are increasing as schools have returned and more people move back to work with journeys more than tripling from 39,647 (WC 6 April) to 136,351 last week (WC 15 June). Prior to the pandemic average daily journeys on public transport had increased by 14% in February 2020, compared with February 2019.

Minister Steel said the planned network 19 update, originally due to be implemented on 28 April, was delayed by the pandemic.

“While some other states cut services due to COVID-19, Transport Canberra focused on delivering our existing services throughout the pandemic. Now we can more clearly communicate changes to the network with the public and school communities this is a far better time to introduce the network update,” Minister Steel said.

The network has a range of updates that will provide benefits across the city, including:

  • More services, particularly off peak, with an extra 692 bus services running every weekdays
  • More local buses running at least every 30 minutes all day on weekdays
  • Faster travel times across our city
  • Better coverage of Taylor, Denman Prospect, Wanniassa, Giralang and McKellar
  • Better connected, with timetables for routes that serve the same area better coordinated to improve connections and reduce waiting times for passengers.

Tuggeranong benefits

  • Travel time savings of about 20 minutes from Lanyon, Tuggeranong to the City for passengers using Rapid 5
  • Rapid 5 (Lanyon to City) running every 10 minutes all day on weekdays
  • Three local routes 72, 76 and 77 providing direct services from Tuggeranong suburbs through to the Canberra Hospital and Woden
  • Better coverage of Wanniassa with route 73 stopping on Kirkton St, Gaunson Cresent, Longmore Crescent and Sainsbury St

Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo benefits

  • Rapid 10 (Molonglo to city) service will run more frequently, every 15 minutes at peak times
  • Rapid 4 and Rapid 5 to both take the most direct route from Woden to the City
  • New Frequent Local route 59 introduced from Woden to Forrest, Barton and Russell, running every 15 minutes on weekdays

Inner north and south benefits

  • Travel time savings of about 4 minutes each way on Rapid 9 between Dickson and Belconnen
  • Route 902 running directly from Old Narrabundah to the Woden Town Centre, seven days a week to reduce the need to change buses
  • More direct services on Rapid 4 and Rapid 5 from Woden to the City.

Belconnen benefits

  • Travel time savings of about 9 minutes in the morning on route 41 from Charnwood, Flynn and Melba to Belconnen
  • Services on route 32 (Belconnen to City via Jamison) running every 10 minutes at the busiest times
  • New services through Giralang, Kaleen and McKellar connecting to Gungahlin and Belconnen

Gungahlin benefits

  • Local bus services from Crace, Palmerston and Nicholls to the Belconnen Town Centre to reduce the need to change buses
  • Mitchell improvements with Route 18 extended to Dickson, reducing the need for passengers to make multiple transfers

“The Government has listened to community feedback. These improvements have responded to what we have heard from Canberrans, as well as analysis of transport data,” Minister Steel said.

“More peak buses will be provided back to Tuggeranong each afternoon from the City and Barton to Lanyon Valley, Kambah, Chisholm and Calwell, giving passengers more flexibility about when they leave work.

“While we already extended light rail service peak times in February, increases to light rail frequency will commence from 18 July, which will see morning services increase to every 5 minutes and earlier Sunday services from 7am.”

Minister Steel said that the updated network would see an increase of almost 55 extra bus services each weekend. The frequency of weekend services is planned to increase from the beginning of Term 4, or earlier, once driver training had been completed, following delays to face-to-face training during the pandemic.

“These improvements will play an important part in Canberra’s recovery plan. When the time is right, we look forward to inviting people back to public transport at a time in the future, to experience the benefits of the network update for themselves,” Minister Steel said.

Full timetables and detailed regional improvements are available at transport.act.gov.au.