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Canberra's new bus and light rail system increased passenger numbers — or did it?
In its first week light rail from Gungahlin carried over 100,000 passengers and proved to be the success that its supporters knew it would be. It was a long time coming, and although it received overwhelming support from the public at the 2016 election, much political blood was shed, including the toppling of Canberra Liberal Trevor Kaine, former Labor chief minister Rosemary Follet and her transport minister David Lamont.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Megan Fitzharris deserve much credit for the resolve they had to see the benefits of this city-changing project through, and it will be a legacy for generations to come. Former transport minister Simon Corbell may one day be able to catch light rail from Civic to Kingston for a coffee, as he once famously predicted.
Kristina Keneally, Andrew Leigh and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr prepare to board a light rail vehicle. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
On Monday, the ACT received its second major public transport shakeup with Network 19. Integrating light rail, nine rapid bus routes, and more frequent local buses, the aim is to increase local connections to rapid routes, and increase the frequency. Passengers have long complained about the magical mystery local bus tours, and this has been addressed.
Weekend passengers also benefit with rapid buses operating until at least 10pm on Sunday. Over time, it would be good to see local buses offer this same service, but as long as the Transport Workers Union believes working weekends is voluntary and not something that the public expects that may be some time off. Passengers fortunate enough to live adjacent to light rail will be able to travel until 1am on Saturdays and 11.30pm on Sundays. This is the sort of weekend public transport service that Canberra has needed for many years.
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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