ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Minister Assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform Shane Rattenbury last week announced that Canberra's light rail and bus network will be run by a single agency from next year.
"To manage Canberra's growth, reduce congestion and protect our liveability, we need to improve our public transport system. Transport Canberra's role will be to ensure smooth integration of bus and light rail into a convenient, efficient, affordable and reliable network," Mr Barr and Mr Rattenbury said.
Transport Canberra will be responsible for redistributing more than a million bus kilometres freed up when the first stage of light rail begins running. It will also be responsible for integrating buses with light rail, ensuring a single ticketing system, a central contact for information and coordinated timetabling.
The establishment of the new agency is part of the ACT Government's Public Transport Improvement Plan, which aims to deliver a convenient public transport network to manage congestion and make Canberra easy to get around as the Territory's population grows.
Under the plan, changes on the bus network will begin right away, with the rollout of free Wi-Fi on buses due to commence soon. In 2016, there will be a trial of a system where weekend bus services are complemented by an on-demand taxi service to pick up commuters from suburban stops and take them to join a major bus route. Bike racks will be added to more buses in the first half of 2016.
"Transport Canberra, as a single transport agency merging both ACTION and Capital Metro, will ensure integration between buses, light rail and other transport modes. It will deliver a seamless and convenient multimodal public transport network," Mr Rattenbury said.
"Transport Canberra's mandate is to deliver the ACT Government's vision of a quality public transport system that is convenient, efficient, affordable, reliable and integrated. The Public Transport Improvement Plan commits to creating 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. It is also a smart and proactive response to Canberra's future challenges, such as population growth, pollution, congestion and energy security," Mr Rattenbury said.