Buses and cars
Image 25: Bus shelter installation, Erindale, 1990.
Canberra's first public bus service was operated by the Department of Works for the benefit of workmen constructing buildings in the new city. Starting in October 1923, the service originated from construction camps and 'tent cities' at Causeway and Pialligo and the railhead at Kingston. Two buses carried people to various building sites in Canberra City and Parkes.385
The first general bus service started in July 1925 when a private operator, Helen Barton, began running buses to Queanbeyan from Ainslie and Eastlake.386 Although a privately owned service linking Canberra with Queanbeyan and Yass survives today, private operations within Canberra were short-lived because the Federal Capital commission started its own service in August 1926. Initially, four buses provided a service between Eastlake and Ainslie, although by 1929 there were 12 buses.387
A transport depot was built at Eastlake (now Kingston) in 1926. The building underwent substantial expansion and refurbishment between 1940 and 1941. The depot closed in 1992, and reopened as the Old Bus Depot Markets in September 1994.
From the beginning, the Federal Capital Commission provided a free bus service for school children, arguing that it was cheaper to provide the service than building more schools closer to Canberra's larger settlements.388
During the early 1950s, bus services were expanded to Narrabundah, Yarralumla and O'Connor. These routes were extended further in the late 1950s with the development of Dickson and Campbell. Most buses served the Kingston and Manuka shopping centres. The first Woden Valley service was introduced in 1963. As other urban centres were completed, services were extended to them. By 1966, there were more than 45 buses in use.
Canberra's first bus interchange at Woden Town Centre opened in December 1972. It was one of the first purpose-built suburban bus terminals in Australia. A second interchange at Belconnen opened in January 1979.
On 14 February 1977, a new system was launched, the ACT Internal Omnibus Network (ACTION), in association with a major program to upgrade the service. This included the purchase of new vehicles, a new range of pre-purchased tickets, passenger facilities such as shelters, and a new bus colour scheme.
In 1981, the Fraser government contemplated selling ACTION. The matter was referred to an interdepartmental committee and, in December 1981, Cabinet approved a recommendation that nothing would be gained from the sale and the service should remain publicly owned.389
In the years prior to self-government, while Cabinet grappled with priority issues such as defence and security, it also dealt with less weighty matters. In June 1973, for example, Cabinet considered a recommendation to increase the cost of Canberra bus fares and finance the upgrade of the service by including a $10 levy on all vehicle registrations. Cabinet decided not to increase fares and not to impose the levy.390 Similarly, in 1985, the Hawke government, while dealing with issues such as the Australia Card and American testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles in the western Pacific Ocean, also grappled with the possibility of air conditioning ACTION buses.391
Today, ACTION is part of the ACT Government's Territory and Municipal Services. It has a fleet of more than 400 buses and provides services throughout Canberra. It currently maintains depots at Woden, Tuggeranong and Belconnen.
In February 2013, the government announced that 77 diesel-powered buses would be added to ACTION's fleet over the next four years.
|SELECTED RECORDS RELATING TO BUS SERVICES|
|Bus stops general, 1942–51||A2942, 438|
|Kingston Bus Depot – extensions||NC–65/00126#1|
|Belconnen Bus Interchange Stage 1 – design and construction||NC–75/01511#1|
|Canberra city omnibus fares||T1974/74|
|Canberra omnibus advertisements (deregistered 3/06/58)||A921-F744|
|Commonwealth motor omnibus fares regulations||A3518/1072|
|Omnibus waiting sheds – general Ainslie omnibus depot drinking water sanitary facilities||A3217/448|
|ACTION (ACT Internal Omnibus Network)||74/1707|
|Murray Valley Coaches – motor omnibus services - licence number 7 – Albury to Canberra||54/547|
|Battery electric vehicles||81/01561|
|Manufacture and erection of shelters at bus stops– design and construction series, 1983–84||NC-83/00189|
|Manufacture and erection of shelters at bus stops – design and construction series VIII, 1984–85||NC-84/00189|
|Bus shelters – review of design||NC-93/01791#1|
|Infrastructure Division – bus shelters review of design||89/2333|
|Provision of concrete bus shelters||90/769|
|City Bus Service general matters, 1925–30||A6266, G1929/3528|
|Helen Barton's motor bus service, 1925–31||A6266, G1928/3789|
|City bus service, 1926||A6090, AG17|
|City bus services, supply of four AEC buses, 1926||A6266, G1926/2305|
|Correspondence regarding the establishment of bus routes in Canberra, and the provision of transport for officers of the Social Service Association, 1926–28||CP698/9, 63/1|
|Helen Barton motor bus service, FCT, 1926–31||A1, 1930/6174|
|Transport, motor bus and motor car service, Canberra, 1926–32||A292, C5426|
|City bus service general matters,1929–52||A1, 1938/28530|
|Motor Traffic Ordinance Bus Service, city area and Canberra–Queanbeyan, 1930||A430, G52|
|Erection of bus shelters, 1931–32||A1, 1931/6489|
|Canberra Bus Services purchase of buses, 1933–41||A659, 1942/1/698|
|Bus shelters Canberra, 1934||A2617, section 104/5289|
|Transport, Canberra bus services, purchase of buses, 1941–44||A659, 1944/1/222|
Registration of motor vehicles
The registration of motor vehicles within the Territory, and the issue of driver's licences, began via the Motor Traffic Ordinance 1926. Previously, vehicles were registered within the NSW registration program. Registration plates were blue and white and consisted of a single number with an FCT (Federal Capital Territory) prefix. The legislation stipulated that in order to be registered, vehicles had to be capable of being driven both forwards and in reverse.
The introduction of three letter-three number licence plates, starting with YAA–001, began in 1968.392
|SELECTED RECORDS RELATING TO THE REGISTRATION OF MOTOR VEHICLES|
|Motor vehicle registration files, private, 1936–||A1283|
|Motor vehicle registration files, 'MO' (motor omnibus), 1936–||A1634|
|Correspondence files, 'MOL' (motor omnibus licence), 1936–||A1635|
|Motor vehicle registration files, 'T' (trailers), 1936–||A1284|
|Motor vehicle registration files, 'CY' (cycles), 1936–||A1287|
|Correspondence files, 'MOSL' (motor omnibus service licence), 1936–||A1636|
|Correspondence files, 'D' (trader's licence), 1936–||A1637|
|Motor vehicle registration files, 'MT' (motor tractors), 1936–64||A1285|
|Motor vehicle registration files, 'DC', (diplomatic corps), 1943–||A1286|
|Motor vehicle files, 'C' (Commonwealth), 1961–||A1947|
|Motor vehicle files, 'Z' (Commonwealth), 1961–||A1948|
|Motor vehicle files, 'C' (Ministerial), 1961–||A1949|
|Daily transactions of licensing and motor vehicle registrations, 1962–||A1402|
385 Historical notes on Canberra's bus service were taken from 'The History of Public Transport in the ACT', action.act.gov.au/doc/aboutus, accessed 3 January 2013.