Page 1669 - Week 06 - Thursday, 3 June 2021

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The ACT government will also shortly be commencing a study to determine future improvements to Canberra’s south-west corridor, which will consider things like capacity upgrades on the Tuggeranong Parkway. We are also examining improvements that can be undertaken further up the road network along Parkes Way, where the majority of traffic heading from the Molonglo Valley to the city will be evident.

Of course, the key to ensuring population does not lead to excess congestion on our roads is to ensure Canberrans are looking to public transport as their first option to get around. The early residents of the Molonglo Valley were doing a great job at this, with patronage on Molonglo’s R10 so strong in 2019 that Transport Canberra increased the frequency of this route in our last network update from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes, seeing an additional 12 services running each weekday.

A lot of things changed in 2020. As members have heard me talk about before, the challenges brought by COVID-19 have had an enormous impact on the way that people choose to move around our city. At the height of the public health restrictions in April 2020, public transport patronage fell to a staggering 14 per cent across the ACT. As most work and education was done from home, traffic volumes also dropped to as low as 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels across the Molonglo Valley.

Whilst we have resumed a lot of our normal habits since then, public transport patronage is still low, which means more Canberrans than ever are using their cars. As of April this year, in some cases traffic volumes in the Molonglo Valley were as much as 60 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels. On the other hand, patronage for Molonglo’s rapid bus, the R10, is still only at around 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. This is despite there being more residents and more buses running than before the pandemic. Unfortunately, this shows that new residents are choosing to use their cars to get around, which is leading to increased congestion on our roads.

The ACT government has been continuously monitoring traffic in the growing Molonglo region and listening to feedback from the Molonglo community. This includes monitoring traffic congestion and the extent of any delays experienced by road users, as well as testing out how traffic movements can be improved as the region continues to grow. For example, we have acknowledged feedback from the community around recent congestion coming out of the Molonglo Valley onto John Gorton Drive and the Cotter Road. As an immediate response, the government has amended the traffic signal timings at the Cotter Road, Dargie Street and Kirkpatrick Street intersection. This has already led to improvements with the traffic flows, particularly in the morning peak. We will continue to monitor and adjust the signal timings to optimise traffic movements from Weston and Molonglo. We are also currently investigating further measures to improve the operation of the signalised intersection.

While the health advice will always remain paramount, the ACT government is conscious of the need to get Canberrans back onto public transport. Public transport needs to play a key role in managing the challenges that any growing city faces and avoiding the congestion and urban sprawl that we are all too familiar with in other places around the world.

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