Tuesday, October 27, 2015

ACT Light Rail on 'Transport Canberra' single public transport agency announcement

ACT Light Rail today announced its support for the ACT Governments decision to create a single agency to oversee the ACT's public transport operators. When advised of the decision to create a single agency, ACT Light Rail Chair Damien Haas said:

"ACT Light Rail welcome the establishment of a single agency to oversee public transport in Canberra. As light rail starts construction in 2016, it is sensible that the territory's government bus operator and the light rail private operator would fall under the same agency. One of the key aspects regarding the success of light rail in other cities is the establishment of a single coordinating body for public transport."

"How a private operator would deal with the government public transport operator is a task that is handled at many different public transport agencies around Australia. This integration and liaison can work well or poorly depending upon the approach taken. That the ACT Government has taken this step so far out from light rail operations commencing is a positive sign."

Ticketing and fares had been seen as an area of confusion that the announcement would address. On ticketing, Mr Haas said that:
"This announcement will end confusion in peoples minds that there would be separate ticketing for light rail and buses, or a different fare structure. Canberra has one public transport ticket zone and one ticketing system that works very well."

"Canberra is probably unique in that the MyWay card ticketing system has been introduced with none of the problems that occurred in other states. People will  travel in confidence between light rail and bus, using the same MyWay card."

On the integration of services between light rail and buses, Mr Haas said:
"A single agency also ensures that timetable integration between buses and light rail will occur with greater efficiency. Getting those connections between people arriving by bus for a light rail journey, and the service running on time will be crucial."

"An integration of bus and light rail public transport has the potential to create a network effect, without multiple changes, meaning better convenience for travellers."

"A reliable, frequent and attractive public transport is the key to encouraging Canberrans to use public transport. Light rail is a modal change proven to draw people onto public transport who otherwise would not use it."

ACT Light Rail expects that the commencement of light rail operations in 2019 will see a dramatic increase in bus patronage as people use the bus feeder services. Mr Haas observes that:
"The bus service on the Gold Coast has seen a patronage increase of 22% since Gold Coast light rail started operations. ACTION will see a similar boost in patronage as public transport becomes peoples preference. Planning for these improvements is good governance."

On ACTION services generally, Mr Haas said that:
"Minister Rattenbury said earlier this year that he wanted ACTION to improve and that nothing was off the table. ACTION certainly need to lift their game. Light rail will start to do the heavy lifting on the mass transit side and ACTION need to focus on improving its local services and increasing its frequency in the suburbs. A bus once an hour just isn't sufficient for people in the suburbs wanting to get to light rail that will run every ten minutes."

"The ACTION drivers do their job very well, it is time for ACTION Managers to step up and show the improvements that the government needs them to make. Light rail will give them that opportunity, but they need to have the skill set to realise it."

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