In the 1980's public transport patronage in Canberra was much higher than it is today. As the city expanded rapidly, the bus system had to also expand. ACTION Buses went from a small metropolitan bus service performing mainly local area services, to a bus service that had to manage intertown commuters AS WELL as continue its local area service role.
Expansion was carried out, articulated buses were purchased and a new depot was built. Despite this, the observation by ACTIONS General manager in the mid 80's was prescient. He saw what was needed:
"Somehow we have to find the capacity to double the number of people carried on major trunk routes within three years, there was an urgent need to consider some other form of public transport, probably a light rail system."
Mr John Brigg, General Manager ACTION (1985)
Unfortunately Canberra did not go down this path, and continued to rely on a bus only public transport system. Patronage started to trend down and over time that figure has reached around 6% of trips taken to work (although many people are carried out of work hours and school services carry many thousands every school day). Road congestion has grown in proportion to the number of cars bought. It was rare in 1985 for a family home to have 4 cars parked in its driveway and regarded as normal. 30 years later and Mr Briggs advice is at last being followed. Capital Metro Stage One will start to build that mass transit system on Canberra's major trunk routes.
Canberra Times 10 August 1985
As well as this website, the facebook group 'Light Rail for Canberra' carries frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news.