Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (17 April) . . Page.. 1031..
MR DE DOMENICO (continuing):
We have a responsibility to make sure that we do not spend $100,000 per day to subsidise an ACTION bus service that is being used - let us be generous - by only about 6 per cent of the population. We owe it to the other 94 per cent of the population, as well as to the 6 per cent that do use the buses, to make sure that they get a clean, cost-efficient and effective public transport system. If we were not to do that, Mr Speaker, we would be remiss in carrying out our responsibilities as elected representatives.
Mr Whitecross can continue to bleat as much as he likes from the Opposition benches. He is sure to be the longest-serving Opposition Leader in the history of this Territory, although next week that might change. So, Mr Whitecross, live and learn, old son. What this Government is all about is cost-efficiency, making sure that we deliver an effective public transport system. If that means making tough decisions, those decisions will be made.
MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (4.19): I will be very brief, Mr Speaker. I think we need to read some things into the record, even if it is in the adjournment debate, because this Government is about actually doing things, not just about bleating about them. Just staying with the ACTION bus services, I think it is extremely important for this Assembly to realise that Mr Whitecross seems to believe that the only way you can get any publicity is to whinge about services not being there. What about the fact that Gungahlin services are up 43 per cent as a result of Network 96? What about commuter express services being up by 16 per cent, including three new routes from Tuggeranong? What about a new Tuggeranong to Belconnen direct express route? What about a Tuggeranong to Cooleman Court direct route? What about extra 60- to 90-minute operations on most routes on Sunday? What about increased capacity on the 333 express services - the ones that are mostly used? What about increased daytime frequency in suburbs, such as the 238, which was previously the 352, which operates at 15-minute frequencies from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm?
What about looking at ACTION buses from a perspective of actually looking at what the community wants, not what those opposite want, which is obviously buses running around in Canberra with fewer than five passengers on board? Many of the services that have been discontinued or amalgamated are ones that had fewer than five passengers on board, on average, which cost more than $20 a passenger. What we need to get all those people to do is to get into a cab, because it would be much better. Some services carry only one or two passengers. It is those services that we need to amalgamate and we need to change. In fact, an example of the sort of thing that has been done - not the sort of thing that has been belly-ached about - is a service which has supposedly been discontinued. We had two services - one at 6.50 am and one at 7.05 am - departing on route 123. They were carrying 10 and 14 passengers, respectively, on average. What a good idea to have one service at 6.56 am and actually put them all onto one bus. According to Mr Whitecross and those opposite, that is a decrease in services. What a lot of rubbish!