Queanbeyan bus services for disadvantaged and vulnerable residents in Oaks Estate will be boosted, but the ACT suburb will remain without a direct ACTION bus line to Canberra.
Oaks Estate residents have been calling for an ACTION bus service for decades, saying it's crucial for a community where 43 per cent of homes are public housing, residents earn far less than other areas of the ACT, and where drug rehabilitation, mental health support services, and post-release corrections programs operate.
The Oaks Estate Progress Association has previously argued the lack of a bus service directly to Canberra is isolating residents, and have described the suburb as a "government-created ghetto" that has been ignored by successive ministers.
Currently, QCity Transit, the Queanbeyan bus line, only operates three scheduled services on Mondays to Fridays, two in the morning, and one in the afternoon.
Those services travel to Queanbeyan, where passengers must catch another bus to get back to other areas of Canberra.
Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris has now announced the government has agreed with QCity Transit to provide three additional services.
Those buses will run under the 840 route, an on-demand service, and will take passengers to Queanbeyan.
Passengers will also be able to use their Queanbeyan tickets on ACTION buses within 90 minutes of purchase, as long as they show proof of their Oaks Estate address.
"They can also transfer their tickets from ACTION to QCity by purchasing a single fare or validating their MyWay card on an ACTION bus and then presenting this to the QCity driver along with proof of address," Ms Fitzharris said.
The government has also announced a new $70,000 public toilet for Oaks Estate, and $230,000 for improvements to the Oaks Estate river corridor heritage walk. Both projects are expected to be completed by November.
The frustrations of the community over the lack of a bus were reflected in an exchange on 2CC Radio in May, in which Oaks Estate Progress Association secretary Kate Gauthier spoke with host Rod Henshaw of the failed attempts to get buses to Oaks Estate.
"Earlier this year we celebrated our 90th anniversary, and that was also celebrating, or commiserating, 90 years of lobbying the ACT government for a bus," Ms Gauthier said.
Mr Henshaw replied:
"Ninety, nine-zero, years we have been lobbying for a bus."