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Woden residents concerned at lack of planning for buses, travel times under light rail proposal

Woden residents have voiced their concerns about the lack of ACT government plans for bus routes, after two options for the proposed Stage Two light rail route were released earlier this week.

Residents also raised concerns about the key difference in proposals for whether the rail terminal should be built near the Canberra Hospital, or only run as far south as Woden Town centre.

A Transport Canberra official updated about 50 people at the Woden Valley Community Council meeting on the proposals for Stage Two of the light rail project, which will run south from Civic to Woden.

He told the crowd it was still early days for the light rail proposal, and the government was seeking community feedback, but the project was "not just about transport".

The official said it was also about trying to bring more "vibrancy" to Woden town centre, as well as create incentives for private developers to "renew" properties along the tram line, similar to what is underway along the line that is under construction from Civic to Gungahlin.

The two options being proposed at present differ only in whether the tram line will extend to the Garran hospital, and whether it should run through Barton and near Manuka Oval, or only via Capital Hill.

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But several residents raised concerns about whether bus routes would remain in place, particularly from Woden and the southern suburbs to northern areas including the University of Canberra campus.

Others also said they were worried that no information had been released about the travel time on the light rail from Woden to Civic, questioning whether it would be any faster than buses or car travel.

But the government official said the travel times had not yet been determined, given the route had not been settled.

He did not detail any specific plans for the future of bus services in southern Canberra, saying that they would need to be considering later in the planning process.

Other residents raised concerns about the future plans for development along the proposed rail corridor and wider issues about the future of Woden town centre, the local nightlife and changes to height restrictions were also discussed.

In an unusual development, one of the meeting attendees also proposed an "option three" route, which could travel from Civic, past Campbell and Russell and over Lake Burley-Griffin via the Kings Avenue bridge, a plan presented on a hand-drawn map circulated at the meeting.

But The Canberra Times understands a route over the Kings Avenue bridge was rejected earlier in the process, partly due to the extra travel time it would add to a tram trip, as well as additional cost to taxpayers.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the government was "very pleased at the already high level of engagement" from the community about the Stage Two proposal.

"Of course all these issues will be considered by the government over the course of the project and there will continue to be plenty of opportunity for people to provide input and ideas," she said.

Ms Fitzharris said the project was still in the early design phased and the government would keep providing "opportunities for engagement".

"As the government indicated on Monday the outcomes of this engagement will be combined with technical and expert advice to inform future decisions on the project," she said.

To comment on the Stage Two light rail proposal, go to: www.transport.act.gov.au/light-rail-project