Yesterday I spoke in support of Elizabeth Lee’s Motion concerning public transport in Canberra.
I thank Miss Lee for bringing this important motion concerning public transport, specifically the lack of adequate bus services in Canberra. In yet another display of arrogance and total disregard for the needs of the Canberra community - the ACT Government has dramatically changed the bus services available to numerous areas of our community without consultation or consideration of users.
Not only has Moncrieff been excluded from the current network but there is a lack of planning to accommodate current residents in Casey and Jacka. This does not bode well for future residents in Taylor and Throsby. Add to this an inadequate network in neighbouring suburbs. This means that public transport in Yerrabi is failing on all fronts.
I have been contacted by numerous constituents who have raised concerns about the timetable changes and the real impact it has had on people trying to use public transport. Simply put - the Labor-Greens Government has made the system much worse through this latest round of changes.
Rather than working on single direct bus services, the new network forces more transfers and has extended travel time for many Canberra residents. It seems unlikely that these issues will be addressed by the ACT Government until network changes surrounding Light Rail become operational – and even here - I have little confidence in their abilities to deliver timely and convenient services.
I believe that residents of newly developed areas and suburbs in the ACT deserve adequate services and amenities with appropriate infrastructure provided at an early stage. Given the rates and taxes Canberrans pay, shouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that adequate transport and urban planning mechanisms are put in place?
It is our view on this side of the Chamber that Canberra residents deserve better.
Madam Deputy Speaker, Gungahlin is the fastest growing district of Canberra and the second fastest growing region in Australia. It is clear that based on current performance, the residents of Yerrabi will continue to receive sub-standard transport services and planning from this Government.
I have spoken with numerous residents of Gungahlin who live in suburbs without an adequate bus network. These residents have explained how difficult it is to do normal everyday things. School aged children are being forced to walk unfair distances, across major roads and through over grown reserves - but once they arrive at the few bus stops available to them, the packed buses can make travel very uncomfortable.
I also feel the need to point out to the Government, just in case they had overlooked it, that Gungahlin residents are also some of the hardest working members of our community. 66.4 per cent of residents work full time and 24.2 per cent currently work part time. In addition, a further 18.9 per cent undertake voluntary work in our community. These residents deserve access to adequate public transport to partake in these activities and should have convenient and timely access to bus routes that support this endeavour.
One mother in Moncrieff pointed out to me the difficulty she faces navigating the bus network to travel to work. This is also the case for her teenage son who attends school and works part time at the local pizzeria. Again he finds the timetable and lack of adequate bus services challenging.
Another resident of Forde highlighted that the new timetable had caused their commute has gone from 45 minutes door to door - to 1 hour and 10 minutes. That is an extra 50 minutes a day spent travelling because of the Governments lack of consultation and poor urban planning. How is it that the Government can so blatantly disregard the needs of our community?
Madam Deputy Speaker, I believe that if you want to attract people to use public transport you need to make it attractive by having direct travel routes which use one mode of transport whilst remaining cost effective. The Government has already raised the cost of parking - one would think to force more people onto public transport.
The latest timetable which has, in effect, increased the need for commuters to transfer bus services and extend their daily commute – again one would think to force people onto a future system by training them now without providing any alternative.
However if you want a successful public transport system you need people to make that choice for themselves - of their own free will and not due to punitive measures such as rising parking costs. The new timetable does not encourage people to use public transport, instead it deters them. You need to deliver on a truly integrated systems approach to public transport that ensures commuters actually get a better service.
You should deliver adequate parking, properly planned routes and stops as well as real community consultation and communication. Sadly these are things the Government just cannot do. It is clear that this Government does not understand the needs of local families.
Perhaps they should walk a mile in the shoes of everyday people who need to drop the kids off at school and then travel to work. What about people who may want to stop at the shops on the way home or participate in community activities such as sport and recreation.
We believe it is vital that the Government takes on board the concerns of residents and the needs of our community when prioritising transport planning in the future.
I can promise the residents of Yerrabi that I will continue to hold the Government to account on this matter and push to ensure your views are heard by your representatives in this Chamber.