The Canberra Liberals have promised a much expanded city loop bus service that goes further than the new government route, including the museum and the Parliamentary Triangle.
The government began its own free city loop bus on July 4, but the Liberals say the route is too narrow, covering only the inner city, an area quite easily traversed on foot.
Liberals transport spokesman Alistair Coe said his plan was for a bus every 20 minutes, seven days a week, rather than the government's five days, and taking in the National Museum, the university and the War Memorial, as well as Parliament House.
"The city loop is not meeting the government's nor community expectations, primarily because of the route that they've chosen," Mr Coe said. "Many people that have seen the service would have noticed that the buses are mostly empty."
Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said 1233 people had boarded the free bus in the first week and still higher patronage was expected with the return of school and university students.
But Mr Coe insisted his was "far superior", accommodating tourists heading to the parliamentary triangle, as well as students and commuters.
The government's loop is free, but the Liberals plan to charge a standard bus fare for theirs, with a single fare lasting all day on the route. Mr Coe estimates his route would cost $900,000, taking into account fare income from 100,000 passengers a year, or roughly 300 people a day.
Transport is a key issue for the October election, with tit-for-tat announcements rolling out on new roads and new bus services, as the Liberals attempt to steal the agenda on buses as a counter to Labor's tram.
Labor began its free city loop on July 4. It runs every 10 minutes, 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday. It makes a tight circle of the city centre, travelling along London Circuit, up Marcus Clarke Street, along Barry Drive, up Northbourne Avenue as far as Haig Park before heading back towards the centre and along Cooyong Street to London Circuit.
The Liberals' "city hopper" service heads through New Acton to the National Museum, then through the university to Barry Drive, and back into the city. It heads along Constitution Avenue and up Anzac Parade to the War Memorial, then over Kings Avenue bridge to Parliament House, towards the lake past the national institutions before heading back to the city over Commonwealth Bridge.
The Liberals have also announced a major reorganisation of the city's wider bus network, introducing six new direct rapid services along major routes, on top of the current two rapid routes. Labor has announced extra services to Molonglo, including a trial of a new "Weston Line".
Labor's big spend is the Gungahlin tram, with an announcement expected before the election on the second stage of the tram into the Russell or Parliamentary Triangle area.
Still to come among Liberal announcements is detail of a dedicated bus lane on Northbourne Avenue.
The two major parties have been matching promises and announcements on roads, each determined the other will not get the upper hand, with Canberrans now set for the duplication of Cotter Road, Gundaroo Drive and Horse Park Drive in Gungahlin, Ashley Drive in Tuggeranong, and Aikman Drive in Belconnen.
The Liberals have also promised a flyover at the roundabout where the Barton Highway intersects Gundaroo Drive, whereas Labor is installing traffic lights.
Mr Coe said his loop service would link in with the new rapid routes. Ms Fitzharris said the current city loop connected with the rapid services to the Parliamentary Triangle.
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