Monday, August 29, 2016

ACT Government release new rapid bus routes and bus expansion for 2017

The ACT Government today released details of new rapid bus routes and expansion to the ACTION Bus fleet, accompanied by funding details to support the expansion. These improvements to the bus network are aimed at increasing public transport patronage and have been planned to follow growth along public transport corridors. In time, several of these routes are likely to be replaced by light rail. The start of light rail service in late 2018 will free up over one million bus kilometres that can be allocated across the ACTION Bus network. It is the equivalent of buying a new fleet of buses and extra drivers.

The new routes include expansions of existing bus routes to enhance the 'rapid' aspect, and completely new routes. Importantly, funding is attached to the plans - $55 million for the services and $51 million for 80 new buses and a new depot to house them. This is a government announcement, not an election policy, with funding to be allocated in the pre-election budget update.

Buses and light rail will always coexist in an integrated transport plan, and we need to make sure we get maximum utility and value from our bus fleet. The big picture plan is that we need more people using public transport.  Light rail, more buses, better frequency, better routes. It's a very compelling plan, and achievable.

The only way to convince Canberrans to use public transport over the private car, is to offer reliable, frequent and attractive public transport. Bus fleet renewal, expanding the reach and frequency of bus services, integrating bus services with light rail and planning for future expansion provide that alternative. This will also lead to reduced travel times and reduced road congestion.

Seven new lines are added to the current Blue and Red Rapid services, with new services supporting Woden, Weston Creek and Canberra Airport every six minutes during peak times and every 15 minutes at other times. The network expansion starts with Belconnen to Gungahlin and Woden to the City rapid services commencing in 2017.

The announcement of new rapid services in 2017 follows on from last weeks announcement of extensions of the Blue Rapid bus from Lanyon to Kippax, and the introduction of a new ACTION Timetable on 27 August. In 2017 a new Green Rapid from Woden to the City via Manuka and Barton, and the Black Rapid from Belconnen to Gungahlin will commence. 

These new services will be phased in through to 2020.
  • Woden to City via Weston Creek (2018)
  • Belconnen to Watson via Dickson (2018)
  • Tuggeranong to City via Erindale (2019)
  • Lanyon to Airport via Barton (2020)
  • Belconnen to Airport via City (2020)
It may appear as if these are simply extensions to existing routes, that is not correct.
  • The Green Rapid is a new route from Woden to the City via Manuka and Barton
  • The Grey Rapid is a new line that goes from Belconnen to Watson via Dickson
  • The Purple Rapid is a new line that goes from Tuggeranong to Civic via Erindale, Woden and Barton
  • The Pink Rapid is a new line that goes from Lanyon to the airport via Tuggeranong, Woden, Barton and Russell
  • The Yellow Rapid is a new line that goes from Belconnen to the airport via Civic and Russell
Also important things to note about the new Rapid Network:
  • All rapid services will run at least every 15 minutes everyday with increased frequency during peak periods
  • The Blue Rapid now extends to Kippax and Lanyon
  • The Black Rapid from Belconnen to Gungahlin will have increased frequency 
  • These routes have most likely been planned thoroughly using data available to the government (MyWay, traffic)
  • These routes have been depend on the fact that light rail will be implemented, which will free up more than 1.2 million kilometres of bus travel

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said "When people know that there's always going to public transport where they need it ... that really drives patronage," "That's exactly what these rapid bus services already do and what future rapid bus services will do."

Minister Fitzharris also said that the debate about Canberra being a car-centric city was over and more rapid bus routes were planned for Molonglo and Gungahlin as the population grew.

The new bus route plans differ markedly from the release earlier in 2016 of the Canberra Liberals bus plans, in that they are funded, are based on research and future population patterns, and integrate light rail services with future transport planning.

ACT Government media release
Canberra Times article 'ACT Govt announces seven new rapid bus routes in network overhaul' here
ABC News Online 'Labor reveal nine line Rapid Bus network for Canberra' here

WIN TV Canberra covered the announcement on the 29 August 6PM TV News

ABC TV Canberra covered the announcement on its 29 August 7PM TV News

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

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