Canberra will get a single ticketing system and a new transport agency – Transport Canberra – to run its light rail and bus network from July next year.
The new transport agency, which will be formed by merging ACTION and Capital Metro, is part of a major push to co-ordinate the city’s many buses with its proposed new Light Rail Network.
The Light Rail Network is currently in the planning stages and will begin by linking the northern suburb of Gungahlin to the City corridor, possibly extending to the nearby suburb of Russell. The government is currently consulting on which stages of the Light Rail Network should be built first.
Light Rail Network plans promise to free up to 1.2 million kilometres a year from the existing ACTION bus network and the government wants Transport Canberra to redistribute buses to other parts of the network to improve bus frequency and reliability. It has also pledged to modernise the ACTION fleet.
But Transport Canberra might be left without half of its work to do. The Liberal party has pledged to cancel the light rail if they win the October 2016 ACT elections.
Greens Transport Minister Shane Rattenbury said a new single agency would better integrate light rail, buses and other transport modes and deliver more convenient, reliable and affordable public transport.
Mr Rattenbury said the aim was to create “a Canberra-wide public transport system that is a genuine alternative to driving.”
“The Plan also promises substantial new investments in public transport services and innovations. This means more convenient public transport services for all Canberrans,” he said. “It is also a smart and proactive response to Canberra’s future challenges, such as population growth, pollution, congestion and energy security.”
Meanwhile, the ACT Government’s Public Transport Improvement Plan delivers some other choice goodies for Canberra’s public transport users too.
Free Wi-Fi on buses begins this year and in 2016 and bike racks will be added to more buses in the first half of 2016. The government has also said it will explore and potentially trial electric buses over 2016.
Next year, there will be a trial of an on-demand taxi service that picks people up from suburban stops and ferries them to a major bus route to complement weekend bus services.
Crucially, Transport Canberra will be responsible for a single ticketing system, as well as co-ordinating timetables and smoothly integrating buses and trams and other modes of transport such as taxis, cycling and walking. It will also provide a central information point for commuters.
The ACT government has also promised to make use of next generation ticketing technology and systems, including payment with e-wallets on smart phones, as well as committing to making it easier to recharge MyWay cards, for example using platform vending machines. MyWay cards, which are used on ACTION buses, can currently only be topped up using BPAY or direct debit.
It is not just public transport that the agency will be looking at. The government has also tasked it with coming up with innovative approaches to driving, parking and traffic management.
Find out more about the ACT Government’s transport improvements at www.transport.act.gov.au
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