Work has started on Canberra's newest dedicated bus lane, part of the Civic to Belconnen run, but the government has had to accept design compromises on a new interchange to service the route.
The $9 million bus lane on Barry Drive was begun last week, but a new interchange at the Australian National University's ANU Xchange complex will be radically different from that first envisaged with the government blaming changes to ''design standards'' for the re-think.
The original plan was for an ''integrated bus station,'' with two platforms next to the university's new student housing blocks on Marcus Clarke Street, Childers Street and Barry Drive.
But according to Territory and Municipal Services, by the time advance planning work for the new bus interchange was underway, ''design requirements'' for bus interchanges had moved on and the space allocated for the station was no longer large enough.
The bus station will now be split with inbound services stopping outside building four of the Xchange and outbound buses will pick up their passengers on Marcus Clarke Street, next to Latin American Park.
A TAMS spokesman said that the revised arrangement would ''provide a better functional outcome with adequate space for passengers and services.'' Despite the splitting-up of the bus interchange, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher was upbeat about the work on the new bus lane, saying it had the potential to make public transport between Civic and Belconnen a more viable alternative for commuters.
''This bus lane is part of the Belconnen to City corridor which is one of the busiest bus commuter routes in Canberra connecting people to Civic as well as the University of Canberra, CIT Bruce Campus, Calvary Hospital and the Australian National University,'' the Chief Minister said. Transport planners hope the bus lane will save minutes for ACTION's passengers and help entice car commuters to make the switch to buses.
Ms Gallagher said research had shown that more than a quarter of commuters using Barry Drive during the morning peak hour were travelling on buses.
''Surveys undertaken during the morning peak period along Barry Drive show that 1800 people were being moved in 31 buses along the corridor between 7.45am and 9.15am,'' she said.
Ms Gallagher said the government was considering other upgrades to roads and bus routes at the northern end of the route, but no funding commitments had been made yet.
''Other stages of work will include bus priority measures along College Street and Haydon Drive in Belconnen and the duplication of College Street,'' she said.