Election Announcement: ACT Greens

Better public transport for a better connected Canberra

The ACT Greens vision is to create a world-class public transport system for Canberra, that is rapid, reliable and regular. High quality public transport benefits everyone; it helps reduce congestion, improves people’s travel options, and it is a key part of building a healthy and sustainable city. It is a central plank of the Greens goal of creating a better connected Canberra.

Public transport has been overlooked and underfunded for years under successive ACT Governments. The ACT Greens have started to reverse this, securing important improvements to public transport in the last four years, including new express bus services such as the Red Rapid, new Park and Ride services to make public transport more accessible, and a new guaranteed minimum bus frequency of 30 minutes.

Even with light rail built in Canberra, buses will remain an important part of our city’s public transport network. They have the flexibility to go places light rail does not, and they will be needed to provide fast, frequent routes into Canberra’s suburbs, and to connect with light rail.

In addition to the bus initiatives in this policy document, the ACT Greens transport initiatives include the:

Better Suburban Bus Services

An essential element of better public transport in Canberra is improving the frequency and coverage of the bus network, so that it is convenient and reliable for everyone. The Government has not given enough priority to improving bus services; the last ACT Budget did not contain any money for additional services on the permanent bus network.

The Greens will commit an additional $21m over the next 4 years to significantly improve ACTION’s bus coverage, increase the frequency of services, purchase new buses to help address overcrowding, and build Park and Ride facilities to make the bus network accessible to more Canberrans.

The bus network improvements will focus on quickly linking Canberra’s suburbs to interchanges, shopping centres and other key destinations.

$21m additional funding for Canberra’s buses

Network improvements such as:

  • Linking Tuggeranong suburbs to Erindale and Woden Group Centres with 15-30 minute frequency services; expanding Xpresso services from Tuggeranong to the City and the Parliamentary Triangle.
  • Extending the rapid bus network to Weston Creek by providing 15 minute frequency from Cooleman Court to Woden Interchange and the Blue Rapid line; expanding Xpresso services to link to the City and the Parliamentary Triangle.
  • More frequent buses into Gungahlin and Belconnen suburbs, with a focus on linking residents quickly to the town centres and other key destinations (where they can easily interchange to the Blue or Red Rapid lines) such as Civic and Dickson.
  • More frequent buses during evenings and weekends.

New Park and Rides

To help residents connect to rapid bus services, the Greens will build new Park and Ride sites at:

  • Wanniassa (Erindale Centre), to assist people in suburbs such as Fadden, Gowrie and Monash to access the new bus station and bus routes planned for this site. Existing budget funding can pay for this Park and Ride, but the Government has consistently failed to progress its construction.
  • Southern Athllon Drive to allow Kambah and Wanniassa residents to access the Blue Rapid line.
  • Central Gungahlin, to increase the catchment of the Red Rapid service and ease pressure for parking in central Gungahlin.
  • Weston Creek, at Cotter road to help residents from Weston Creek and new Molonglo suburbs catch expanded Xpresso services; and near Cooleman Court (following a $50,000 feasibility study) to link with proposed new services to Woden.
  • The cost of these Park and Ride sites totals $3.9m.

More Buses – addressing overcrowding

The new funding will be used to immediately boost the size of the ACTION fleet to:

  • Support the frequency and coverage improvements to the network;
  • Alleviate overcrowding problems on the network on routes such as the Red Rapid, Blue Rapid, 2 and 39, by deploying more high capacity buses. The current ACTION fleet has had the same number of ‘articulated buses’ (33) for many years (and recently announced new purchases are only 1 for 1 replacements).
  • The funding will purchase a mix of bus sizes for the fleet; for example, approximately $9m will pay the capital and recurrent costs of 5 new standard size buses and 5 new high capacity articulated buses.
  • The funding for new buses is additional to the money in the 2012-13 Budget for replacement ACTION buses.

School Bus Boost

Canberra’s school bus services can be improved to give more students the opportunity to catch buses to school, to establish public transport early in new areas, reduce the need to rely on cars, and to improve kids’ health.

The current system for determining school bus routes is inadequate. It places an onus on the community to make the case for a new route, and there is too much of a delay starting new bus routes in new areas.

To improve Canberra’s school buses, the ACT Greens will:

  • Conduct an ACT wide school survey of travel patterns and travel needs, to proactively determine where new and improved school bus routes should operate. This will include school students and parents. The ACT Government has never conducted such a survey.
  • Dedicate $3m over the following 3 years specifically for new and improved school bus routes, including by starting school bus services early in new suburbs such as Gungahlin and Molonglo to promote their use.

Buses for new suburbs

The ACT Greens will ensure that public transport services are extended to new suburbs early in their development.

Currently, residents in new Canberra suburbs wait months or years before the Government provides public transport services to their suburb. People deserve these services early. Providing bus services will also reduce car dependence and living costs – the average weekly cost of a car is $195-247. Without public transport services, people are often left reliant on the purchase additional vehicles to meet their immediate transport needs.

The ACT Greens will dedicate $3m to establishing flexible, demand responsive bus services to service new Molonglo and Gungahlin suburbs, and other areas of Canberra that have limited transport access.

  • “Demand responsive” bus services are flexible bus services that respond to the travel needs of the passengers – sometimes called “dial-a-ride”. They are particularly useful for areas of low patronage such as new suburbs, or for specialised groups, such as nursing home residents.
  • After assessing the needs of the different areas, the Greens flexible bus service will respond by being either purely demand driven, or a hybrid model with some permanent stops and set times.
  • The flexible service will allow bus services even though the road network may not be complete and there may be a small number of residents. It will also provide data and evidence of people’s travel needs to ensure the best fixed routes can be introduced at a later time.
  • The flexible bus service can transport passengers to the places they need to go, such as shops and schools, as well as connect residents to other fixed bus routes. The service can be provided by ACTION, but the Greens will also explore the option of operating it through a private sector tender.
  • The $3m allows:
    • $600,000 in the first year for setting up the service, which may include establishing a booking system and purchasing smaller 21-seat buses (approximately $92,000 each).
    • $800,000 per year for the next 3 years to operate the service.

Cleaner Bus Technology

The ACT Greens want to ensure the ACT has the most environmentally friendly, low-polluting public transport vehicle fleet. We’ve proposed a $200m initiative for electric light rail that can be powered by renewable energy. We will also start the transition of Canberra’s bus fleet to modern, low-polluting vehicles.

a) Green bus trial

The ACT Greens will dedicate $2.7m to purchasing two new buses, each operating a different type of green bus technology, to trial in the ACTION fleet. One of the buses will be a hybrid electric bus. The other will be a different model of hybrid electric bus or an electric bus, powered by green energy.

Hybrid buses generally reduce CO2 emissions and other pollutants compared to diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, and have the option of being powered using renewable electricity. Using these ‘green’ buses instead of standard ACTION buses should reduce harmful particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX).

The trial will allow for an analysis of the costs and benefits of hybrid bus technologies in the Canberra environment and on ACTION routes. The trial costs include the purchase, fit out and operation of two buses as well as pre- and post-trial evaluations and driver training.

Hybrid trials are already being run in Sydney, Melbourne, and Queensland.

b) Reducing bus pollution for cleaner, healthier air

The emissions from diesel exhaust are harmful to human health. The emissions can be reduced significantly by fitting particulate filters to the buses. On ACTION buses, this will be around a 25% reduction. Currently 100 of ACTION’s diesel bus fleet have particulate filters and 258 do not.

The ACT Greens will retrofit all ACTION diesel buses with particulate filters to reduce emissions and improve air quality and health.

This initiative will cost $770,000 and will prioritise buses used on school routes.


Read original version: http://act.greens.org.au/sites/greens.org.au/files/TRANSPORT_Bus_Boost.pdf

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This page was last updated on 26 April 2021