The new articulated ACTION bus during the launch at Civic Square.  It is the first of 20 new articulated buses with greater accessibility. Generic photo of bendy bus

Bus fares will increase in February. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

ACTION bus passengers will be hit by higher fares from next month, but have been promised better services by the ACT Government. On February 4 most fares will increase by 5 per cent and passengers will have to pay $5 for new or replacement MyWay electronic ticket cards.

The current standard MyWay fare will increase from $2.52 to $2.65; concession MyWay fares will rise from $1.26 to $1.32; and school student fares will rise by 5¢ to $1. On-bus cash fares will move from $4 to $4.20 and from $2 to $2.10 for concessions. Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury said catching a bus daily would remain $41 per week cheaper than driving and parking, not including running costs.

"It is still very cost-competitive compared to driving and parking. So it makes ACTION good value from that perspective, even with the increase,'' he said.

Pay as you go graphic

Mr Rattenbury said that the fare increases were unlikely to lead to a drop in bus usage because frequency and reliability were bigger motivators for people to catch public transport. Fares and charter fees raise about $20 million for ACTION each year but the service costs more than $120 million to operate. ''It's part of the cost of running the service and it's $20 million that does help pay for the improved services, the extra bus shelters, those sorts of things,'' Mr Rattenbury said.

Trials of a ''real time'' passenger information services were due to begin by the middle of the year before a full-scale rollout later in the year. Additional and more frequent Xpresso buses would be introduced, as would services to new suburbs.

Mr Rattenbury believed that more frequent and reliable services could help encourage more people to use public transport. ''Frequency In my mind is one of the keys. The other gap in the service is the weekend service. That's clearly very problematic for people with the low frequency of services, so that's an area where we'll be looking to make improvements.''

The MyWay smartcard bus ticketing system.

The MyWay smartcard bus ticketing system. Photo: Marina Neil

Opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe said Canberrans were not getting good value for money from the ACTION service.

''I don't think the cost of bus tickets is necessarily keeping people off buses, but I do think there is an issue about the actual value that that passengers are getting for their money - and more broadly, the value that taxpayers are getting for the $120 million subsidy,'' Mr Coe said.

''I think inter-town services are pretty reasonable and if you're fortunate enough to live on an express route and you're going into the city in the morning, then ACTION may serve you okay. But I think for the majority of Canberrans living in the suburbs, ACTION's not a genuinely viable alternative.''