ACT public transport policy 'a failure'

A report has described Canberra's public transport policy as a spectacular failure.

The national study by a Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) academic found Canberra was no where near meeting any of its sustainable transport targets.

It says the national capital has experienced a sustained decline in public transport and a steady rise in car driving over most of the past two decades.

Canberra was the only capital city where public transport share actually fell in the five years to 2011.

The report blames poor policies which have focussed on road construction while reversing successful public transport measures in place until the late 1980s.

Study author Paul Mees says very little has been done in the ACT to encourage people away from using cars.

"Most of the investment has gone into building new motorways like the Gungahlin Drive extension and the widening of Parkes Way," Dr Mees said.

"And basically nothing really meaningful has been done to improve public transport.

"There have been a few gimmicks like bikes on buses, and things like that.

"But the bottom line in terms of service frequency, connections, speed and directness of service...

then that's generally got worse in the last few years." The study says Sydney is the nation's sustainable transport capital, with the highest rates of public transport.

The ACT Government has announced a fare increase for ACTION bus services from next month to cover increasing costs and network improvements.

The Minister overseeing public transport services Shane Rattenbury concedes the territory was heading in the wrong direction in its policy.

Mr Rattenbury says the study highlights an over-reliance on road building.

"Certainly we need to get the balance right and put more effort into public transport, Mr Rattenbury said.

"That's why I'm very pleased that as a result of the Greens-Labor parliamentary agreement we are moving towards developing light rail in the ACT.

"I think that can provide the paradigm shift to really shake up public transport and improve it in the ACT."

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