Page 1584 - Week 05 - Thursday, 2 June 2022

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Transport Canberra—fuel costs

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Parton, do you have a question, not an interjection?

MR PARTON: Yes, I do. Thank you, Madam Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Transport and City Services. Minister, what is the impact of rising fuel prices on Transport Canberra’s bus operations, on two fronts: (a) obviously the increased cost associated with running the timetables and (b) the potential drift back to public transport because of the impact on the individual budgets of would-be public transport users?

MR STEEL: We know that rising fuel prices, particularly due to the war in Europe, are having an impact on many people across our city, including those businesses and organisations like Transport Canberra that use large amounts of fuel, particularly diesel fuel but also compressed natural gas, to run heavy vehicles. That would be having an impact on the price. I do not have any figures in front of me that I can provide on that, but that would certainly be adding to the fuel expenses, the operational expenses of Transport Canberra over this period of time.

We have the long-term Zero-Emission Transition Plan for Transport Canberra in place, to transition away from diesel and CNG buses to zero emissions buses, which have the potential to substantially bring down operating costs for vehicles, particularly through battery electric buses. We will be using the 100 per cent renewable electricity in our grid. These are very efficient forms of public transport. Through the government’s zero emissions action plan for other vehicles as well, we will be supporting the transition of the broader community onto those more affordable forms of transport to operate from a fuel point of view as well.

MR PARTON: Minister, what is the strategy in place to manage the cost increase from the rising fuel price? Can the minister take on notice the actual amount of the cost blowout because of that?

MR STEEL: I can. Obviously, it will change from day to day as fuel prices change, but I can have a look at, for a period in time, what the increase in the cost has been. If the opposition spokesperson is suggesting that we cut bus services if there is an increase in the fuel price, we are simply not going to do that. We know that these are critical bus services that people rely on and we are still going to provide those regardless of what the cost of fuel is on a daily basis.

We do have a long-term transition plan to transition to zero emissions. We have secured 12 electric buses to arrive this year. We are in the market at the moment to purchase a further 90 battery electric buses as well. We will keep on delivering the services that people rely on and that are providing a really great option for people who want to get on to public transport and do not want to use their private vehicle at the moment because it is expensive to operate. We are providing those services for them at the moment, despite the challenges that we have with COVID-19 and the number of people that we have seen furloughed during this period.

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