Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 November 2022) . . Page.. 4071 ..
So, when light rail comes on the southside, I will keep cruising—can’t stop; won’t stop moving! It is like I’ve got this music in my headphones saying it’s going to be all right!
So I will not be supporting Mr Parton’s motion today.
MR PARTON (Brindabella) (3.37), in reply: In closing, I am a bit disappointed that I did not get support, but never mind. Let us talk about patronage numbers. The data from the Bureau of Stats and other places suggests that, as of now, our public transport patronage is lower today than it was before light rail commenced. That is a fact. Irrespective of whatever external factors you want to refer to, that is a fact. And, certainly the needle has not moved, based on the figures as of today.
Mr Steel continues to say that they are committed and they are getting on with the job of building light rail. He was asked about this in question time today. What he is saying is: “It does not matter what it costs. It is of no consequence. We are going to do the business case, but I do not know what we will use it for. We might just use it for toilet paper or something. We are building this thing, irrespective of what the cost is. It does not matter what it costs; we are just doing it.”
Mr Steel was asked about this in the chamber today. He would not answer the question in question time on whether there was a threshold cost for the government when it comes to stage 2. From memory, he said that the government was in the design and eventually procurement process and that those things would be considered. Apologies if I have got that wrong, but I think that is what he said. I do not have access to Hansard yet, but that is my recollection of what he said. So, again, what he is saying is, “It does not matter. Whatever it costs, we are doing it.”
My understanding of how the light rail will improve public transport benefits, based on what has been said in this chamber, is that light rail frees up more buses to get you out to the suburbs, among other things. We talked about the reliability and the fact that it is there, but we are talking, according to Mr Steel, about freeing up more buses to get out into the suburbs. That is certainly the line that the PTCBR group is taking. Again, the minister said that the big improvements to service came from freeing up more buses.
I would say to the minister: here is the deal. You do not have to spend $3 billion on a tram. You do not have to create traffic chaos for a decade to free up more buses. I will tell you how to do it. The best way to get more buses is to just get more buses. That is the best way to do it. You do not have to build something else to get more buses.
Also, let me tell you this: for the money that you are spending on stage 2 of light rail, you could actually double the size of your bus fleet and they would be all electric. Of course, you would not need that many buses. We could have buses going directly to our door on that. But you could have more than 800 on the road, 400 of which would be fully electric.
So, if you are genuinely concerned about public transport outcomes and if you are genuinely concerned about emissions reductions—I do not know if you guys have