Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 188..
MR HARGREAVES: I don't care who you were talking to; I will continue when you stop.
It is a service that reaches into most, but not all, corners of the city and it moves people efficiently between suburbs and town centres. ACTION does that task very well, as shown in the following patronage figures. In February 2005, 399,000 passengers used ACTION. In February 2006, the month when the services were under attack by the Liberal Party and the media, 463,000 passengers used the service. That is a 16 per cent increase in usage in the same month two years apart. That is not an indicator of an inefficient service; that is the mark of a very successful service. Sixteen per cent more people used it.
If we take the eight-month period from July 2004 to February 2005 we find that ACTION carried 3,047,000 passengers. In the eight-month period from July 2004 to February 2005 ACTION carried 3,647,000 passengers. That is a 19.7 per cent increase in patronage at a time when ACTION was installing a new timetable and making $2 million in savings in administrative overheads and $2.3 million savings in services provided.
The target for the sustainable transport plan for 2006-07 is an eight per cent increase in passengers, which represents 4,972,965 boardings. The year-to-date outcome is up 328,000 against target. All these figures are not a sign of a failing service or an inefficient service. A 20 per cent increase in patronage on the new network shows that we have achieved what we set out to do; that is, to better match supply with demand. The buses now run full, not empty, meeting the sustainable transport plan.
I am not saying that we are satisfying everybody. There have been complaints from people affected by the new timetables, and I have taken note of those complaints. In relation to stories about schoolchildren left by the side of the road, I am advised that of the complaints made to my office those stories were unfounded in all except one case. In that one case the bus had broken down and the child was left waiting at her stop, and I am sorry about that.
Mrs Dunne said on radio that she had received hundreds and hundreds of complaints. Guess what. She has not referred hundreds and hundreds of complaints to me or to ACTION because they do not exist. She referred some complaints, including one that we do not run the same service as we did six years ago, to ACTION which is investigating those complaints.
Mrs Dunne, like Mr Stefaniak and their federal leader, the Prime Minister, has taken to distorting the truth and exaggerating to make political points. They cannot stand the fact that this government is reining in expenditure and providing targeted services so that it lives within its means. They have to have a beat-up to make themselves relevant. Passengers are paying cash to support ACTION. The opposition cannot even find a word of praise to support our mass transport system.
MR GENTLEMAN: I have a supplementary question. Is the management of ACTION simply accepting that increased patronage level as enough or is the management taking further measures in response to customer demand?