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ACT government ditches plans for stand-alone transport agency

The ACT government has ditched plans for a stand-alone transport agency, and will instead merge buses and light rail with a new look Territory and Municipal Services Directorate.

Transport and Municipal Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris said on Thursday the previously announced Transport Canberra agency, due to be established at the end of the 2015-16 financial year, will join with Territory and Municipal Services.

The newly created Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate will be established on July 1.

Capital Metro Agency boss Emma Thomas will be director-general of the new body, after she was named as the head of Transport Canberra in February.

The move was in part prompted by the retirement of Territory and Municipal Services boss Gary Byles, who will stand down on April 29. An acting director‑general will be appointed in coming weeks and will serve until July.

Ms Fitzharris said her appointment in January as Minister for Transport and Municipal Services demonstrated the close alignment of transport and municipal services. She said joining the areas in the new directorate made sense for Canberra. 

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She compared the changes to the government's Land Development Agency and Access Canberra, which are separate agencies but sit under the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate. A new environmental conservation agency is being established under the Environment and Planning Directorate.

"Our TAMS staff play a key role in the development of our city, and transport obviously plays a big part in that too, so it makes sense for Transport Canberra to join with TAMS," she said. 

"Transport and our city's local services are crucial to Canberra's future growth, and this new directorate will have a strong focus on ensuring Canberra remains the world's most liveable city."

The new directorate will oversee light rail, ACTION buses, roads, community paths, traffic management and other municipal services including libraries, recycling and waste, graffiti removal, shop upgrades, playgrounds, animal welfare and grass mowing.

"As Canberra approaches a population of 500,000 our city needs an integrated transport network and city services that are people-focused and innovative," Ms Fitzharris said. 

The Transport Canberra agency was first announced in October by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.