Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1799..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
We did not hear the Minister say that in his argument. He simply referred to it as a flat fare structure. It is not a flat fare structure. It is a flat fare structure based on time; that is, you pay a single fare for a period of time and you can travel on as many buses as you like or as you possibly can during that period of time for that single fare. That is what we are proposing. That is what the Greens have been proposing also.
That is not an inequitable system. In fact, it is one of the most effective systems for getting people out of their cars and onto public transport. The community and the Government have to make a choice. Do we value a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a lower use of the private motor vehicle for commuting and a higher use of public transport despite any potential marginal increase in costs that may incur? This Government has decided that price and cost, the dollar, are a higher priority than getting people out of their cars and onto buses and reducing the damage that cars do to our environment.
That is the judgment this Government has made. It really gives the lie to some of the statements, only some of the statements, the Government has made in its draft greenhouse strategy that it released yesterday. Over 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from transport use. In Canberra the great bulk are from private motor vehicle use. The decision by the Government that in this case the dollar is more important than the environmental imperatives is misjudged and ill guided.
My colleague Mr Hargreaves has provided me with some figures. Mr Hargreaves has been very diligent in following up this issue and looking at exactly what the new zonal structure means. Mr Hargreaves has worked out on figures provided to him by ACTION that in the financial year 1996-97 there were 17.5 million boardings. That equates to approximately $17.5m in fare revenue, based on ACTION's advice. If this new system comes about, on ACTION's own calculations there will be a reduction in boardings. Only 30 per cent of them will result from the changes in the route structure, that is, free transfers, not counting people as they transfer and the new route services that travel across a series of zones or a series of town centres.
There is still a figure the Government has not accounted for. There will be a drop in revenue of approximately 27 per cent on top of that 30 per cent reduction because of the changes in how you count boardings. That 27 per cent drop can only be put down to a drop in patronage. These are ACTION's own figures. If the zonal system is such an effective way of getting people on the buses, why is ACTION itself calculating a 27 per cent drop in patronage? The facts speak for themselves and give the lie to the Minister's comments that this system will get people out of their cars and onto public transport. Perhaps it has more to do with the Government's intention somewhere down the track to say, "We tried to help ACTION but it did not work, so now we will sell it". Maybe that is the real agenda, but I will leave members to speculate on that.
What all this means is that there will have to be an increase in fare revenue to cover this reduction in patronage of approximately 27 per cent. The Government is driving the whole issue on dollars, not on getting people into public transport and out of their vehicles. There is no doubt that the private motor vehicle will continue to play a very