New ACTION buses to be blue, light rail trams to be red
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New ACTION buses to be blue, light rail trams to be red

The first of 20 new, blue ACTION buses will hit Canberra roads next month as the ACT government expands its free off-peak travel service for senior and concession card holders.

The blue buses will contrast with the first trams, which the government revealed will be red.

The first of the new fleet of blue ACTION buses was unveiled outside the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

The first of the new fleet of blue ACTION buses was unveiled outside the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday.Credit:Katie Burgess

The new ACTION fleet will be rolled out in 2017, with the first bus to hit the road in January.

"This is a new model, a much more sustainable model, a much more comfortable bus, much safer for the drivers as well as the passengers," Transport minister Meegan Fitzharris said.

The new ACTION buses will be blue, while trams will be red.

The new ACTION buses will be blue, while trams will be red.Credit:Katie Burgess

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The government will buy 80 new buses over the next four years as it expands the ACT bus network.

"Labor made commitments for new bus services, new rapid services, two of them starting next year one from Belconnen to Gungahlin and the other from Woden to the city and we'll be adding more rapid services over the coming years," Ms Fitzharris said.

"That'll require buying new buses over the course of the next term of government so we can continue to have a fleet that's sustainable."

Passengers along new rapid ACTION bus routes will receive a free two-month trial, she said.

Canberra bus spotter Brock Ginman, 18, turned out to see the first of the new fleet on Thursday.

Canberra bus spotter Brock Ginman, 18, turned out to see the first of the new fleet on Thursday.Credit:Katie Burgess

Seniors and concession card holders will be able to travel for free on ACTION buses between 9am and 4.30pm and after 6pm Monday to Friday, and all weekend, in an expansion of their election commitment.

In the year to July, ACTION had 415 buses in service, including 303 wheelchair accessible buses and 356 buses fitted with bike racks.

Transport Canberra deputy director-general Duncan Edghill​ said the new buses would seat two extra people and complement the three electric buses hitting Canberra roads next year.

"The new buses will seat additional people, make for a smoother ride for our customers, it has additional hand holders, the heating system is improved and the new buses have a disability component," Mr Edghill said.

The existing network of orange buses will be phased out as the new fleet comes on line, he said.

"Some of the orange buses are nearing the end of their useful life. Some of them are between 15 and 20 years old and the average life of a bus is between the 20 and 25 year mark so you'll begin to see the phasing out of those buses. Those buses are typically disposed of or used in other networks in Australia," he said.

The new bus attracted a lot of attention while parked outside Civic Square on Thursday.

Bus enthusiast Brock Ginman​, 18, travelled especially to see it after a tip-off from a mate.

"I'm a bus enthusiast. I've been fascinated by buses since I was three," Mr Ginman said, as he photographed it.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.