THE ACT Government last week said that it will deliver its election commitment to expand the 'rapid' bus network two years ahead of schedule, with nine routes to begin operating in 2018 – the same year that the first stage of light rail is due to be completed.
Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said the upgraded network will revolutionise the way people use public transport in Canberra, taking cars off the road and increasing patronage across the city.
"The first stage of light rail will free up a million bus kilometres and we are putting those to work to deliver a faster and easier public transport network that will reduce congestion and protect our liveability as our city grows," Ms Fitzharris said.
The new integrated transport network will operate seven days a week across nine 'rapid' bus routes. The rapid routes will be operational from mid-2018 ahead of the light rail launch in late 2018.
Rapid buses will connect town centres, suburbs and the city, and form a key component of Canberra's future integrated transport network. Rapids will run at least every 15 minutes along core transport corridors from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday.
In 2018, all rapid bus routes will also operate over the weekends, with a general frequency of every 15 to 30 minutes or better, building over time.
Some of the key features of the expanded rapid network include:
- All nine Rapid services will be up and running in 2018;
- Tuggeranong and Belconnen commuters will receive rapid services two years ahead of schedule;
- For Tuggeranong, in addition to the recent extension of the blue rapid to Lanyon, a new rapid will operate from Lanyon to the City via Erindale and the inner south of Canberra;
- For Belconnen, in addition to the new black Rapid, there will now be a Rapid to Watson via the new Dickson Interchange; and
- The existing Airport service will also be incorporated into a new Rapid, providing for more frequent connections for locals and visitors.
A two-phase consultation on the broader network will start this week, with the first phase to investigate how passengers want to connect to the new Rapid network. This will include looking at how local buses, park and rides, active travel routes and more to connect to the Rapid network.
A second phase of consultation in early 2018 will invite residents to provide feedback on the details of connections, routes and timetables for local services.