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Coronavirus restrictions have drastically changed patronage on the network, with an almost 90 per cent drop in overall public transport use across Canberra.
But the downturn in light rail use since COVID-19 has been spruiked as good news by the ACT Government, which has been actively discouraging anything but essential commuting in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
"I think we'll see patronage on public transport, including light rail, bounce back once the restrictions are lifted after the pandemic is over," Minister for Transport Chris Steel said.
"It's a frequent, reliable and comfortable service, and those things combined have led people to … consider it as a genuine option for them."
Indeed, prior to COVID-19, the ACT Government saw the light rail as a major success.
It accounts for 20 per cent of overall public transport usage, and has clocked up more than four million rides.
But with changed bus timetables and some networks disappearing altogether, not all commuters feel similarly.
Helen Buckley took public transport to and from work up until a few months ago, when her frustrations led her to avoid the system for reasons other than COVID-19.
She described light rail as a heavy burden on her commute when it forced changes to Canberra's bus network, increasing her travel time exponentially.
Ms Buckley had no option but to take the tram and two buses from her northern suburb of Ngunnawal.
"The buses and the light rail just cannot seem to get themselves together," she said.
"They've actually added additional stress and additional waiting times just to get to and from work.
"Unless you work in the city, this monstrosity, in all honesty, is a waste of time."
By her own estimate, her commute time increased by over 90 minutes in both morning and evening.
She said her complaints and feedback weren't listened to when the government reviewed changes to the transport network.
Ms Buckley has since bought a new car and said her daily drive is only 20 minutes.
Same suburb, different story
Bobby Graham has also been taking the tram less, since physical distancing forced her into working from her home in Gungahlin.
But she was there one year ago when the light rail opened to the public, and continued to catch it while she worked in the city.
"It's so much easier than having to drive in and I save money," she explained.
"It's very, very reliable. It's lovely and clean. It does the job really well, even in peak times."
In contrast to those who have had nothing but trouble with their commute, Ms Graham's 20-minute journeys have become creative joyrides.
"I surreptitiously took out my sketchbook and started sketching people on the tram," she said.
"When I showed the sketches to people they absolutely, absolutely love them."
In fact, Ms Graham has spent so much time on the tram, that she's turned her sketches into a book.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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