The economy of the ACT is largely dependent on the public sector with 30% of the jobs in the Territory being in the public sector. Decisions by the federal government regarding the public service can have a significant impact on the Territory’s economy.
The ACT’s gross state product in 2017-18 was $39,792,000,000 and the Territory’s economy represents 2.2% of the overall gross domestic product of Australia.
The automobile is by far the dominant form of transport in Canberra and the Territory. The city is laid out so that arterial roads connecting inhabited clusters run through undeveloped areas of open land or forest, which results in a low population density; this also means that idle land is available for the development of future transport corridors if necessary without the need to build tunnels or acquire developed residential land. In contrast, other capital cities in Australia have substantially less green space.
Canberra’s districts are generally connected by parkways—limited access dual carriageway roads with speed limits generally set at a maximum of 62 mph. An example is the Tuggeranong Parkway which links Canberra’s CBD and Tuggeranong, and bypasses Weston Creek. In most districts, discrete residential suburbs are bounded by main arterial roads with only a few residential linking in, to deter non-local traffic from cutting through areas of housing.
ACTION, the government-operated bus service, provides public transport throughout Canberra. Qcity Transit provides bus services between Canberra and nearby areas of New South Wales through their Transborder Express brand (Murrumbateman and Yass) and as Qcity Transit (Queanbeyan). A light rail line is under construction. It will be completed in April 2019 and will link the CBD with the northern district of Gungahlin. At the 2016 census, 7.1% of the journeys to work involved public transport while 4.5% walked to work.
There are two local taxi companies. Aerial Capital Group enjoyed monopoly status until the arrival of Cabxpress in 2007. In October 2015, the ACT Government passed legislation to regulate ride sharing, allowing ride share services including Uber to operate legally in Canberra. The ACT Government was the first jurisdiction in Australia to enact legislation to regulate the service.
An interstate NSW TrainLink railway service connects Canberra to Sydney. Canberra’s railway station is in the inner south suburb of Kingston. Train services to Melbourne are provided by way of a NSW TrainLink bus service which connects with a rail service between Sydney and Melbourne in Yass, about a one-hour drive from Canberra.
Canberra is about three hours by road from Sydney on the Federal Highway (National Highway 23), which connects with the Hume Highway (National Highway 31) near Goulburn, and seven hours by road from Melbourne on the Barton Highway (National Highway 25), which joins the Hume Highway at Yass. It is a two-hour drive on the Monaro Highway (National Highway 23) to the ski fields of the Snowy Mountains and the Kosciuszko National Park. Batemans Bay, a popular holiday spot on the New South Wales coast, is also two hours away via the Kings Highway.