ACT News

Could BusPlus be the answer to Canberra's transport woes?

A new public transport solution combining taxis and buses could provide quicker and cheaper off-peak transport options for Canberrans.

The proposal, known as BusPlus, was created by ICT research organisation NICTA and would use a series of hubs across Canberra's city centres, connected by buses, with taxis to ferry passengers to their nearest bus stop.

NICTA researcher Philip Kilby has put forward a proposal for new off-peak public transport in Canberra.
NICTA researcher Philip Kilby has put forward a proposal for new off-peak public transport in Canberra.  Photo: Jamila Toderas

NICTA researcher Philip Kilby said he had lived in the ACT for a long time and believed there must be a better way to do public transport during off-peak times on weekends and nights.

"The typical scenario would be I use a web page or phone app or call centre up to 10 minutes before I want to leave. I call the call centre and say I want to go from this bus stop to that bus stop," he said. "From that moment your entire journey is planned by the system. The operator or web page will tell you a 10-minute window to be at your bus stop and you'll be picked up by a taxi. You're taken to your local hub, where if you need to catch a bus, the operator will tell you which bus to take."

Dr Kilby estimated half of all commuters would just need a taxi to a hub, another 35 per cent would take a taxi and then a bus, while just 15 per cent would need two taxis and a bus to reach their location. "So [for those customers] when they get off at the transport hub, you hop off the bus and there's a taxi waiting," he said.

Dr Kilby said his study showed BusPlus would almost halve Canberrans' travel time from 28 minutes to 18 minutes on average, and would cost about the same as the current system.


His estimates are based on four weekends of MyWay data collected by NICTA.

He said the government had been encouraging about the new system's potential and he was in discussions with the authorities concerning a trial.

A spokeswoman for ACTION buses said it had been working with NICTA to better understand the BusPlus proposal and how it would work in the ACT.

"Funding and public transport data has been provided to NICTA to assist them in completing their modelling. We understand that NICTA will brief the taxi industry on their proposal and solicit their in-principle support," she said. "We look forward to seeing the final BusPlus model with a presentation of all the options."

She said ACTION was always interested in ways to improve customer service.