Canberra's light rail system will start taking passengers on April 20, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris has confirmed, ending months of speculation about the commencement date.
Ms Fitzharris said there would be free travel on Canberra's public transport system on the Easter weekend to mark the launch of the system.
"We want to have a huge celebration to mark light rail starting in Canberra and we need to start planning for that now that Canberra Metro have provided us a date," Ms Fitzharris said.
However the start date is still subject to Canberra Metro obtaining approvals for the project from the third-party rail regulator.
Ms Fitzharris said "we’ll need to be a little bit flexible about what that process entails but the advice to me is that Canberra Metro will be starting operations in the middle of April and therefore we can have a community open day on Saturday, the 20th of April".
"Yes it’s certainly a tight schedule and there are a number of components to complete but as you can see the progress is huge and with the light rail vehicles running up and down the route now we are working through those final arrangements so Canberra Metro can get full accreditation," Ms Fitzharris said.
Ms Fitzharris said there would be "contingencies in place" if the April 20 date could not be met.
Canberra Metro is in the final testing and approvals phase on the Gungahlin to Civic stage of the project.
It was originally due to be finished in late December 2018, but the operational date was pushed back until early 2019 after construction delays.
But while the tram is yet to begin officially operating, a driver has already been suspended after running a red light and almost hitting a car on March 9.
In an unrelated incident 40 minutes earlier, a pedestrian was struck after walking out in front of a tram with headphones on.
Ms Fitzharris said the rail regulators were aware of the incidents but had not expressed concern to her knowledge. There had been no more incidents, she also said.
However she said the regulator would look at driver training and the signalling system after the driver ran the red light.
She also said the pedestrian strike had heightened awareness about light rail safety, although Canberra Metro Operations had since deployed customer service staff at key intersections since to help guide pedestrians.
"We will be rolling out further campaigns around safety, we have a campaign ready to go with the ACT Brumbies and we have further messaging right along the corridor," Ms Fitzharris said.
"Certainly we have tested Canberra Metro's effectiveness with their communications and safety awareness and it has been high.
"I guess as unfortunate as the incident was many people in the Canberra community have been talking about that and I hope continue to do that."
The new integrated public transport timetable will begin on April 29, with a month of free travel on Canberra's light rail and bus network.
Asked why the start of the new timetable would not be brought forward to April 20, Ms Fitzharris said to have both light rail and the new bus network starting on the same day was "perhaps not optimal".