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Public transport use in Australian capital rebounds from pandemic downturn

Canberra, March 19 (IANS) Public transport use in Australia’s capital has rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels.

According to data released by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government on Sunday, there were more than 1.2 million public transport journey taken across Canberra and surrounding suburbs in February.

It represents the highest number of trips in a month since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic despite February being the shortest month of the year, Xinhua news agency reported.

There were an average of 18,177 journeys on public transport per day during weekends last month, a higher number than February 2019, as residents and visitors flocked to the Royal Canberra Show and National Multicultural Festival.

Overall, patronage was at 94.5 per cent of the February 2019 figure.

ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel said that despite a downturn in passenger numbers during the pandemic, the government was committed to public transport.

“It’s great to see more Canberrans returning to public transport after the pandemic saw patronage drop in cities around the world,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

“More than 100,000 passenger journeys were recorded during the National Multicultural Festival alone, which means our public transport recovery is gathering real pace.”

He added the goal is for public transport to make a full recovery from the impacts of the pandemic and keep growing public transport patronage into the future.

The ACT government has committed to having its public transport network of buses and light rail fully powered by renewable energy sources by 2040 or sooner.

Canberra’s first 12 electric buses hit the road in January and February, with another 90 under procurement.

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