The ACT Government is exploring satellite bus depot sites in a bid to increase the efficiency of ACTION buses and further reduce so-called ‘dead-running’ kilometres – bus movements that occur without paying passengers, Chief Minister and Minister for Transport, Jon Stanhope, said today.

Mr Stanhope said the old depot site at Phillip and sites at Mitchell were being considered.

“The ACT Government continually seeks ways to improve the efficiency of our bus system and get the most value for the dollars that are spent on it,” Mr Stanhope said. “We are currently exploring satellite bus depot sites in a bid to increase the efficiency of our buses and reduce ‘dead-running’ kilometres.

“ACTION has almost halved its percentage of ‘dead-running’ kilometres over the past few years and the Government is determined to see that trend continue.”

Mr Stanhope said last financial year ‘dead-running’ accounted for 16.7 per cent of the kilometres travelled by ACTION buses.

“This is a significant improvement on 2004-05, when ‘dead-running’ accounted for 30.4 per cent of scheduled kilometres travelled by our buses, and an improvement on 2007-08, when ‘dead-running’ represented 20.1 per cent of scheduled kilometres.”

However Mr Stanhope said despite the improvements, Canberra’s historic low-density approach to urban development had made it difficult to operate a genuinely efficient public transport network.

“As long at the ACT remains primarily a low-density city it will be difficult for any public transport service to be genuinely efficient,” Mr Stanhope said. “The Government is attempting to address this issue by ensuring all new developments are designed around public transport routes. This is the case for Flemington Road on the northside and the Molonglo Valley on the southside.”

He said the Government was also encouraging greater density in and around Canberra’s town centres.

The Government’s recently-released draft Action Plan for Civic offers possible strategies for dealing with a doubling in the number of city residents by 2016.