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New free 'city loop' bus service every 15 minutes in Canberra

The ACT government is introducing a free "city loop" bus service, starting July 4, and connecting the city with New Acton, the Australian National University and Braddon.

The loop travels up Northbourne Avenue as far as Haig Park and down Mort Street, around the city, through London Circuit to Marcus Clarke Street, and up to Barry Drive.

The free buses will run every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm, and will connect with buses into the Parliamentary Triangle.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris announced the bus loop as part of $17 million in bus funding in Tuesday's budget.

A trial of electric buses will be run over the next 12 months, costing $900,000, and involve up to three buses on regular routes.

A new "Weston Line", connecting Woden, Cooleman Court and the city, is also funded in the budget for a one-year trial at a cost of $1.9 million.

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About $500,000 a year will be spent on extra bus services to Wright and extending the Route 83 and Xpresso 783 services to Coombs.

A new park-and-ride area will be designed and built over two years in Wanniassa, costing $1.5 million. Commuters can park free and then catch the bus.

The Woden bus interchange will be improved, costing $300,000, and $775,000 will be spent designing a new bus depot in Woden.

The government aimed to make the public transport system "more convenient, efficient, affordable and reliable - a genuine alternative to driving", Ms Fitzharris said.

A single ticketing system would be used for buses and the new tram, with the same ticket price for both.

Labor has made a series of road and bus announcements in recent weeks, determined not to let the Liberals steal the agenda, given the Liberals are relying on a vastly expanded bus network as their alternative to Labor's love-it-or-hate-it tram.

In March, Liberal transport spokesman Alistair Coe announced six new "rapid" routes, running every 10 to 20 minutes and linking town centres, going direct from Belconnen to Woden, from Tuggeranong up Parkes Way to the city and down the Monaro Highway. The Liberals also announced a trial of electric buses. Their policy will allow people to ride free for the rest of the week after clocking up eight journeys, and will include buses running later, until 1am Thursday to Saturday.

Ms Fitzharris said this week Labor would have more bus announcements in the lead-up to the election and was looking to extend its own plan for rapid routes.

The Liberals are expected to announce a dedicated bus lane or other bus changes for Northbourne Avenue.

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