On the move: ACTION buses will continue their early-bird runs. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
About 1500 early-bird Canberra commuters have taken advantage of discounted bus fares each week during a month-long trial.
Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury will announce an extension to the trial on Friday, giving weekday passengers who use a MyWay card before 7.30am $1 fares until June 27.
Commuters who electronically recharge their MyWay card will receive a further discount of 5 per cent – saving the average adult passenger as much as $1.84 on each trip.
The special fares are automatically applied as passengers tag onto the system.
The trial had been slated to end on Friday, as the government moves to coax commuters onto buses before the introduction of paid parking in the Parliamentary Triangle.
Paid parking has been delayed until at least September as authorities deal with technical issues.
“Due to the promising results of the trial, including an immediate change in travel behaviour particularly from adult MyWay passengers, the initial four-week trial period has been doubled to eight weeks,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“The extension will also provide more comprehensive data on passenger behaviour.”
The first round results showed passenger numbers before 7.30am had increased by average of 1500 boardings each week, including new passengers and those changing their travel time.
Mr Rattenbury said the trial was subject to independent research and had shown increases in passengers using the smartcards.
High-frequency commuter services including the Red Rapid, Blue Rapid and Xpresso routes have also seen positive results under the trial.
“The increased use of earlier bus services has also resulted in less congestion in the peak period,” Mr Rattenbury said.
ACTION bus officials and the ACT government will use the results of the research, passenger numbers and data from the early-bird trial to better understand passenger behaviour.
A decision on the introduction of a permanent early-bird fare for ACTION services will also be made after the extended trial.
“The early bird trial is a great time for commuters to try out ACTION buses, to avoid parking hassles and to save money,” Mr Rattenbury said.
Additional bus services are planned for routes inside the Parliamentary Triangle from the middle of the year.
About 600 services will each day travel through the triangle, as well as another 400 on Commonwealth Avenue.
The introduction of paid parking will see workers and visitors to national institutions and government departments contribute to an estimated $74 million in new parking revenue.
Previously free car parking on national land in Parkes, Barton, Russell and Acton will become paid, forcing an estimated 7600 bureaucrats to pay as much as $11 a day, or about $2640 a year for full-time workers.