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ACTION buses fail to meet customer satisfaction targets despite improvements

Canberra's bus network failed to meet its customer satisfaction targets last financial year despite improving its performance.

Three quarters of surveyed passengers said they were satisfied with the service provided by ACTION buses during 2014-15, which was lower than the network target of 85 percent.

The latest Territory and Municipal Services annual report also revealed the operating cost of the network per kilometre travelled increased by eight percent to $5.52. 

"The above target result is largely due to increased workers' compensation premiums and larger than anticipated depreciation expenses arising from the asset revaluation process," the report said.

The failure to meet the customer service target was blamed on the frequency of bus arrivals across the territory, despite the implementation of a new network in September 2014. The 76 percent approval rating was higher than the 65 percent figure recorded a year earlier. 

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There were 17.6 million passenger boardings on Canberra buses during 2014-15, which was 4.8 percent lower than the target figure of 18.5 million.

The result was a slight improvement on the 17.6 million boardings recorded in 2013-14 thanks in part to the introduction of paid parking.  

"Improved services to the parliamentary triangle coincided with the introduction of paid parking to the area and saw an average increase of 8,600 passengers per week," the report said. 

The network secured $133.5 million of revenue in 2014, which was $1.5 million higher than the budgeted revenue of $132 million.

More than $18 million of revenue claimed by the bus network in 2014-15 came from MyWay fares, although passengers failed to log off when departing a bus on 313,281 occasions.

Another $5 million of revenue came from cash fares while charter hires brought $692,000 to ACTION coffers.

The government claimed $545,000 from advertising revenue, with ads for junk food, fossil fuels, gambling, alcohol and weapons banned earlier this month.

"ACTION's own source income is projected to increase in forward years as a result of projected increases in bus patronage, offset by a decrease in government service payments," the report said.

Improved services to the parliamentary triangle coincided with the introduction of paid parking to the area and saw an average increase of 8,600 passengers per week.

"Depreciation and amortisation expenses for 2015–16 are budgeted at $11.4 million reflecting the acquisition of new buses."

The network oversaw the delivery 30 new Euro 6 Scania buses to replace older stock with six additional buses to be delivered next year.

The government spent $11.8 million driving empty vehicles 12,420 kilometres a day during 2014-15.

Dead runs – or trips from a depot to service routes – cost $32,416 a day and represented 18 per cent of the 25 million kilometres travelled by drivers during 2014-15.

The network is currently advertising for a manager of bus operations who will be tasked with managing daily operations and strategy.

The role, which will pay up to $149,990, will see a new manager control a fleet of 200 vehicles and be tasked with improving efficiency.

The network is also recruiting an operations capability manger to control training, recruitment, accident claims, communications and lead the health and safety committee.