Canberra's ACTION bus services and the Capital Metro light rail project will be rolled into a new public transport agency from July 2016, Chief Minister Andrew Barr confirmed on Tuesday.
As part of changes to Canberra's public transport, bus passengers will get access to free on-board internet services from later this year and trials will begin next year of on-demand weekend taxi services to pick up commuters from suburban shops and take them to bus interchanges.
The new Transport Canberra agency will work to combine smart ticketing for trams and buses and also help co-ordinate tram and bus routes around the city. A consistent fare structure will be created for buses and trams which are set to begin operating between the city and Gungahlin from 2019 or 2020.
Other planned planned changes include exploration of new ticketing systems for smartphones and better access to MyWay recharging stations.
A range of behind-the-scenes improvements to ACTION operations will see extended workshop hours and a new public online dashboard for real time reporting of performance data such as on-time running and reliability.
The government has also forecast expanding use of cashless buses to improve reliability through fast and efficient boarding.
The new on-demand taxi system is designed to complement weekend bus services, with passengers able to arrange to be picked up from their nearest bus stop and taken to a local bus interchange in taxis.
All ACTION buses will have bike racks in the first half of 2016, up from the current 80 per cent. A new trial of electric buses is also planned in the ACT.
Assistant Minister for Transport Reform Shane Rattenbury said the government wanted to create new alternatives to driving in Canberra.
"Transport Canberra's mandate is to deliver the ACT government's vision of a quality public transport system that is convenient, efficient, affordable, reliable and integrated," he said.
Tram lobby group ACT Light Rail welcomed the changes. Chairman Damien Haas said ACTION needed to show improvements.
"Light rail will start to do the heavy lifting on the mass transit side and ACTION need to focus on improving its local services and increasing its frequency in the suburbs," he said.
"A bus once an hour just isn't sufficient for people in the suburbs wanting to get to light rail that will run every 10 minutes."