Transport Canberra considered outsourcing all weekend bus services after it failed to deliver thousands of services when the new network launched earlier this year.
The idea was deemed too controversial and was ultimately not pursued, internal documents reveal.
Instead, it was decided many local bus routes would be axed until they were able to staff all the routes - despite this initially being written off as unpalatable.
The new network - launched when light rail opened in late April - significantly expanded weekend services in Canberra.
But the government struggled to deliver the promised services saying not enough drivers were volunteering to work weekend shifts.
The Transport Workers Union disagreed, saying the government had failed to recruit enough drivers to service the network despite years of warnings it would need to.
Canberra bus drivers can't be forced to work weekends under the enterprise agreement, and if they choose to they are not paid penalty rates.
Documents obtained through freedom of information show as of July, the government still did not know how many drivers it needed to recruit to be able to service the whole network.
The briefing notes showed the department was considering a number of options to improve the deteriorating reliability of weekend services.
There has been no change to the frequency of rapid services, which account for around 70 per cent of all boardings on weekends.Transport Minister Chris Steel
It explored outsourcing weekend services, either by getting a private company to run them or to staff services through a labour hire company, but ultimately decided not to pursue the idea.
"This option is extremely controversial from an industrial relations perspective, and it is unlikely to be palatable to government or the public outsource to organisations that are not Canberra-based," the notes said.
It was estimated set up costs for such a scheme would be about $600,000.
The internal briefing notes also showed the department at the same time decided not to pursue reducing weekend services.
They said it would further erode customer trust and would not be palatable to government.
Despite this, the government ultimately moved to reduce weekend services when it launched an interim timetable on September 28.
The documents also revealed the government was trying to reach an arrangement with drivers and the union that would see drivers work up to 12 weekend shifts per year.
Transport Minister Chris Steel said despite the cut services, there were still 214 more bus services each weekend compared to the old network.
He said the decision to move to the reduced interim timetable was made when the reliability further slipped in July and August.
"I heard from Canberrans that their priority was delivering reliable bus services on the weekend," Mr Steel said.
"The interim timetable has delivered reliable services while we continue to recruit drivers.
"In the medium to long term, by recruiting more drivers and taking other actions under our weekend bus plan, we will improve frequency once we can be confident that services can be delivered reliably."
The briefing notes indicated the government was planning to begin to restore some cut weekend services on February 1.
Mr Steel did not confirm whether this was still the plan.
"Weekend reliability has improved dramatically since the introduction of the interim weekend timetable, and once we are confident we have recruited enough drivers, we will increase the frequency of local routes on the weekend," he said.
Mr Steel noted only local bus routes had been cut in the interim timetable.
"There has been no change to the frequency of rapid services, which account for around 70 per cent of all boardings on weekends," he said.
Asked whether outsourcing weekend bus services had been ruled out completely, Mr Steel said the government had no plans now or in the future to contract out services.
Opposition transport spokeswoman Candice Burch said the government could not be trusted to run the public transport network.
"They have made it more difficult more many people who rely on public transport to get around our city, and they have already privatised light rail," she said.