This is a summary of the Canberra Liberals 2024 Election policy titled “People focused public transport”. By publishing this article, ACT Bus does not necessarily endorse this policy, nor have we fact-checked any of the claims or promises in the policy. You may view the full policy here [PDF].

On 3 April 2024, ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee and Transport Spokesman Mark Parton released the Liberal Party’s 2024 Public Transport policy titled “People focused public transport”.

The policy is entirely bus-based, with no further expansion of the Light Rail network beyond Regatta Point.

  • The key features of this policy are:
    • City to Woden “transport corridor”
    • Increased bus frequencies seven days a week and improved routes
    • Electric bus fleet with additional buses
    • Infrastrure improvements
    • Fare caps and Free City Travel Zone

City to Woden “transport corridor”

Rather than a Light Rail line between City and the Woden Town Centre, the policy proposes a busway along this route.

The busway would consist of a series of bus only lanes along the roadways, including the reinstatement of the bus lanes along Adelaide Avenue (which are currently T2 lanes). A new bus-only roadway would connect Yarra Glen with Callam Street travelling beside the Yarralumla Creek channel.

Intersection priority would be added at traffic lights along the route.

While this busway may allow for additional bus stops along the route (as is proposed by the Light Rail stage 2B), these are only marked as being under investigation rather than forming a definite part of the policy.

The intention is to complete the busway as far as Woden Interchange by 2027. A second stage would extend this busway to the southern intersection of Athllon Drive and Beasley Street by 2028, travelling to the east of the Yarralumla Creek channel south of the Hindmarsh Drive intersection.

Increased bus frequencies

The policy proposes more frequent bus services, particularly during peak and on weekends. It also includes the reintroduction of peak express services from outer suburbs to the City and National Triangle.

The proposed service frequency improvements are as follows:

  • Rapid services: every 5 – 7 minutes or better during peak; 15 minutes (or better) 7am to 7pm
  • Local routes: every 30 minutes during daytime 7 days a week; with more frequent services during peak
  • Peak express: at least every 30 minutes during peak

The policy does not outline a timeframe by which these frequencies are to be achieved, but would be no earlier than mid-2026.

Other bus route improvements

Other bus route changes that are mentioned in the policy include:

  • Restore the school bus network and identify where more dedicated school services are needed;
  • Trial on-demand local area services for last mile connections outside of peak times as well as on weekends and late at night;
  • Better bus routes to new suburbs of Molonglo;
  • Better bus routes to new Gungahlin suburbs, such as Throsby, Taylor and Jacka;
  • Incorporate Ginninderry shuttle service into the regular bus network;
  • Re-route 30 & 31 services to continue to City via Northbourne Avenue;
  • Review local bus routes to ensure they have optimal connections and frequency;
  • Investigate options to provide more frequent and dedicated airport bus services using better suited vehicles to meet airport passengers’ needs, separate to existing regular and Rapid bus routes;
  • Plan for a new Orbital Rapid route linking City, Russell, Barton, Manuka, Fyshwick, Monaro Highway, Hume, Chisholm, Tuggeranong, Weston to City; and
  • Trial a limited stop bus route from Gungahlin to City and continuing to Russell and Barton.

Bus fleet

Five hundred buses in the next decade

The policy states that in order to modernise the bus fleet, 500 new electric buses will be procured over the next decade. It further states that over 400 CNG and diesel buses currently in the fleet will need to be transitioned to electric buses with 20 additional buses being purchased each year to meet population growth. There are no timeframes given for the period in which the 400 internal combustion buses are to be replaced, however 20 additional buses over 10 years means that only 300 replacement buses would be acquired in this period.

The bus fleet policy also includes investigating the use of high capacity electric buses (such as double decker buses).

Build buses locally

Another aspect of the bus acquisition policy involves establishing a bus manufacturing hub in Canberra. This would involve inviting existing bus builders to set up a factory in Canberra to supply and maintain electric buses and potentially to also supply buses to other cities.

Infrastructure improvements

In addition to the City to Woden busway, other infrastructure improvements have been included in the policy.

  • Build a new City Interchange
  • Plan and construct a new northside bus depot
  • New Park & Ride carpark at Phillip Oval
  • Park & Ride carpark reestablished near Woden Interchange
  • Improvements to most existing Park & Ride carparks
  • Additional Park & Ride facilities at as yet undefined locations
  • Completing the Belconnen to City “busway”
  • Busway priority on Athllon Drive between Woden and Tuggeranong
  • Bus priority measures on Tharwa Drive and Isabella Drive
  • Bus priority measures on John Gorton Drive and Cotter Road
  • Bus priority measures on Gundaroo Drive
  • Bus priority measures on Southern Cross Drive
  • Bus priority measures on Constituition Avenue
  • Bus priority measures on Canberra Avenue
  • Upgraded bus stop furniture along Rapid routes
  • Mobile phone charging ports at bus stops
  • More bicycle storage at busy bus stops
  • Emergency help points at bus interchanges and major stops

Fare caps and Free City Travel Zone

In an effort to increase public transport patronage – including during off-peak times – the policy proposes introducing am adult weekly fare cap set at $25 in 2025 (no value was included for student or concession fares).

In addition, a Free Travel Zone would be implemented in the City and extending to Girrahween St in Braddon, the National Museum and the Regatta Point stops on Commonwealth Avenue.

This would apply to both buses and Light Rail, and would operate in the same way as the Perth Free Transit Zone.

Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee is quoted as saying the total cost of this package is estimated at $450 million, with the City to Woden busway works estimated at $70 million.

There has been no indication what the $450 million is comprised of, or over what period, and there is also no mention of the recurrent costs involved in providing additional bus routes and the reduction in revenue due to the fare cap and free travel zone.

This page was last updated on 16 April 2024