The Belconnen Busway commenced operation in January 1979, providing a direct, dedicated route for buses between the Belconnen Interchange on Benjamin Way, and Coulter Drive. The busway ran parallel to Joynton Smith Drive for the most part, as shown in the map below:
The busway was initially planned to continue further west through Florey to Ginninderra Drive, with early plans for the suburb showing the road extending at least as far as what is now Connah Street, as shown here in an extract from the Commonwealth Gazette (25 February 1982 edition):
It appears early plans envisaged that the Busway would continue further west still, running parallel to Ginninderra Drive on the northern side of the road, as shown in this image from Tomorrow’s Canberra! planning for growth and change, published by the National Capital Development Commission in 1970:
An eastern extension was also flagged, but did not proceed.
The last 100m of busway initially operated under a ‘contra-flow’ arrangement where buses would briefly travel on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. As Belconnen Interchange was designed with a central island platform, all traffic had to travel on the right hand side – the contra-flow on the busway enabled buses to enter and exit Belconnen Interchange on the same traffic light phase, which simplified the signals and therefore prevented unnecessary delays of buses arriving at the interchange. When Belconnen Interchange was later modified to add additional walkways, the traffic signals and road layout were re-configured to remove the need for the contra-flow on the busway. The common belief that the contra-flow was due to an American design is simply an urban myth.
Parts of the Belconnen Busway can still be seen from the removed section of Joynton Smith Drive (now part of Cohen St) on the 2007 version of Google Streetview:
With thanks to YouTube user “JohnT”, you can also take a trip along the Busway:
The busway ceased operation in 2009, after more than thirty years in operation. The closure was part of a redevelopment of the Westfield shopping centre, which required changes to public transport arrangements in the town centre.
The centre expanded across Joynton Smith Drive and the Busway to link at level with Lathlain Street. The southern end of the busway was replaced by an extension of Cohen Street.
The northern end (roughly between Emu Bank and Coulter Drive) was left in place, but fenced off and blocked at Coulter Drive, as it now led to a dead end at the Westfield carpark.
The northern end of the busway sat dormant for a little over a decade, before it was repurposed into a bikeway in 2020.
This page was last updated on 20 January 2024