Page 1271 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022
funding injection reflects our commitment to continuously improving maintenance services, to provide great homes that suit the diverse needs of tenants.
Transport Canberra—bus timetables
MR PARTON: My question is to the Minister for Transport and City Services. Minister, despite Canberra no longer being in lockdown and people getting on with their lives, we are still running an interim bus timetable. You have repeatedly said that this is due to bus drivers being required to isolate due to COVID. Minister, in response to a question on notice during annual reports, it was revealed that for the three weeks from 7 February, only 129 days of COVID leave were taken. This equates to only about 26 drivers isolating or taking COVID leave during this time. Minister, why is our bus network so poorly organised that the unexpected absence of less than 30 drivers in a three-week period means it cannot operate to its maximum capacity?
MR STEEL: No, we have had around 30 bus drivers away, on average, over the last few weeks. That means we are not in a position at this point to be able to move back from an interim timetable. Like many industries, workers have been furloughed not just because they have COVID-19 themselves but because they are also caring for others in their family who have COVID-19, and may be required to take leave.
Our focus—and I have been very clear about this to the opposition spokesperson and the broader Canberra community throughout this time—is that we want to deliver a reliable public transport system that people can depend on, based on the timetable that is currently in place, while we do have a period, unfortunately, when there are large numbers of bus drivers who are needing to take leave. Of course, we will continue to monitor this, and bring back the full timetable as it was prior to the pandemic as soon as we can. But we are not in a position at this point to be able to do that. Of course, we will monitor things as the pandemic, which is not over, progresses.
MR PARTON: Minister, can you tell Canberrans when you will restore the full bus timetable, or are there no actual plans to do this?
MR STEEL: When we can deliver the reliable services that the community expects, with the number of bus drivers that we have. Based on the latest health advice and on where the pandemic is up to—noting that we are heading into a winter period, when there may be a level of disease in the community, combined with flu—that may impact on drivers taking leave. We have been very clear that our focus is on reliability. That is why we have in place the interim bus timetable which has delivered that reliability, unlike other bus services around Australia, where we have seen driver leave impacting on the reliability of bus services.
MS CASTLEY: Minister, how do you expect people to get on buses, as you have asked them to do, as a solution to the congestion problem that you have caused, when there will not be enough buses for everyone to get on?
MR STEEL: We have a very frequent, reliable bus service that people can use right now, through the interim timetable. It does provide a good level of frequency,