Action bus. Photo: Graham Tidy
The ACT government says the removal of regular bus services from the Causeway has nothing to do with the planned East Lake development as residents fear they are being starved of services.
ACTION Buses director James Roncon said the changes were simply to do with poor patronage, with an average of 10 passengers a day using the Route 80 buses through the Causeway.
School buses will still travel to the Causeway and residents would be made aware of the door-to-door Southside Community Services on-call bus which asks for a gold coin donation from passengers. That community bus operates on weekdays for passengers such as the elderly or wheelchair-bound and people must first be assessed to be registered for its use.
Mr Roncon said the government had also organised for the Southside Community Services bus to visit the Causeway every Tuesday.
Residents would also still have access to other ACTION buses, albeit further away on Wentworth Avenue.
The Causeway has been left off Route 80 under ACTION's new bus network, Network 12, which takes effect from May 28.
Mr Roncon said the changes for the Causeway would be subject to a three-month trial.
''If it doesn't work or creates a great deal of angst then we do have the option to put some off-peak services back through the Causeway,'' he said. ''It's a bit of a work in progress. We certainly don't want to disenfranchise anyone.''
Route 80 runs from the city to Woden via stops including Kingston, Russell, the Causeway and Fyshwick.
Mr Roncon said there had been complaints over the years that it took too much of circuitous route - ''people had to go around the world to go a short distance'' - with anecdotal evidence few people were using the service in the Causeway.
He said with the advent of the MyWay ticketing system, ACTION had been able to gain better data on passenger loads. The data showed an average of 10 passengers used the bus service in the Causeway each day but removing it from the new network gave passengers a quicker, more direct trip to Fyshwick.
He said under the new network, Red Rapid services would operate along Wentworth Avenue every 10 minutes during the weekday morning peak period and Route 80 buses will go every half-hour after that.
One meeting had already been held at the Causeway to explain the changes and another would be held on Wednesday.
Some residents remained dissatisfied, with one, who did not want to be named, suggesting it was a case of the Causeway being left without services ahead of redevelopment.
The government has for years been planning the East Lake project, covering 471ha and ultimately containing housing for up to 9000 people as well as commercial development.
But a spokeswoman for Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said yesterday the bus changes had nothing to do with the East Lake project. ''The changes to the operation of Route 80 through the Causeway are a result of network changes based on patronage and usage,'' she said.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate said planning for East Lake was continuing.
''With a range of studies still to be completed, a comprehensive consultation process to be undertaken and a variation to the statutory planning controls required, it is expected that it will be some time before East Lake is ready to be released to the market,'' she said.
The spokeswoman said the government did not want to adversely affect Causeway residents.
''The ACT government is progressing the planning of East Lake and is mindful of the existing Causeway community and would not act in any way to negatively impact on the range of services and amenity of the area,'' she said.