PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission

Replaced bike path on Gundaroo Drive between Gungahlin Drive and the Barton Highway.

Active travel is a group effort shared between walking, cycling, and public transport. Public transport is good for Canberra – and will future prove it. The budget submission of the Public Transport Association of Canberra is profiled here.

Why it matters: We cannot build our way out of congestion! Investing in improving roads only encourages more private motor vehicles. Remember, behaviour follows infrastructure! Public transport is a way out of this vicious cycle. One urban planning principle (Downs-Thomson Paradox) is that private motor traffic will increase until the mean time for driving is the same as that for public transport. The best way to get people out of a private motor vehicle is to offer them faster alternate transport options.

Good public transport increases ridership and reduces the use and ownership of private vehicles, with benefits flowing to individuals and households through reduced costs, the community through reduced pollution and congestion, and the government through reduced expenditure on public roads

PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission, Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) 24 June 2021, accessed 29 June 2021.

Despite this, the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has noted the ACT Government is dragging its feet.

Finally, successive budgets have “re-profiled” a number of key transport projects into the future. For example, the 2017-18 budget anticipated the Woden bus depot would be completed by June 2019. However, last year’s budget estimated that Stage 1 of this project would not be completed until 2022-23. PTCBR encourages further investment in project delivery capabilities, as well as the projects themselves, to ensure they are delivered as soon as possible.

PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission, Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) 24 June 2021, page 1.

The same is happening with cycling infrastructure projects such as the Belconnen Bikeway. This Principal Cycling Route between Belconnen and Civic (CBR Cycle Route) has been promised for at least 7 years and is still not close to being finished. It has been “re-profiled” in two successive ACT Elections (2016, 2020) and as many budgets since then. The idea is good, but finishing it would be better.

Top tips for the ACT 2021-22 Budget

What to do: PTCBR has suggested the following in its budget submission (PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission, Public Transport Association of Canberra, 24 June 2021).

Light rail

The most important, first. We have noticed how long it takes to build light rail in the ACT. The ACT Government tends to approach the development sequentially. Learning from history might be a good thing. The PTCBR suggests that planning should start much earlier to shorten the rollout. This also includes adding an experienced change manager early on. Even if the construction is back to back, the planning can be moved a few years ahead. This permits the planning of other aspects of the transport system which could otherwise be held up.

“Undertake feasibility and consultation work for future light rail stages while construction of stage two is underway”

PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission, Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) 24 June 2021, accessed 29 June 2021.

Bus lanes

To stop the buses getting stuck in the traffic, we need a dedicated and prioritised, fast bus lane network.

Construct additional bus lanes to improve the reliability and speed of bus services

PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission, Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) 24 June 2021, accessed 29 June 2021.
Do Your Buses Get Stuck in Traffic? Traffic solutions & the Downs-Thomson Paradox, Not Just Bikes, accessed 29 June 2021.

Make public transport safer and more comfortable

Provide existing bus stops with shelters, footpaths and lighting

PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission, Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) 24 June 2021, accessed 29 June 2021.

Make payment easier

Behavioural insights: This may seem a strange priority, but research from VISA shows that we spend more and notice it less if the payment is faster and easier. Basically, the inconvenience of paying is such that we try to avoid it as much as possible. If payment feels easy, and we do not have to think, we are more likely to use a service. This is true for buses, too.

The new ticket system for public transport in Canberra has been discussed for years – and most tenders failed, which has sent the ACT Government back to the drawing board. The PTCBR says that they really should hurry up.

“Fast track the new ticketing system”

PTCBR’s 2021-22 budget submission, Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) 24 June 2021, accessed 29 June 2021.
Photo by Cleyton Ewerton on Pexels.com
Photo by Cleyton Ewerton on Pexels.com

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