Page 2033 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 28 June 2023

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One of those people is Dimitri, who is here in the gallery. Welcome, Dimitri. Dimitri is a low income worker with multiple jobs. He was forced to quit his job at a pub after you cut his only affordable way home. He doesn’t drive and he cannot afford late-night taxi fares, which can be as high as $88. Minister, what replacement income or taxi fare supplement can you offer people like Dimitri after your actions caused them to lose their jobs?

MR STEEL: I thank the member for her question. As she as aware, because I have provided her with the data on a couple of occasions, there are a small number of people who use those bus services, particularly on weekdays. There are very few people who use them during a particular time in the night. We have to balance a range of different competing factors—the Chief Minister spoke to this in answer to questions that you asked in the last sitting week—around the coverage, schedule and frequency of bus services.

We try to do our best to accommodate as many people as we can on the public transport system. We have made changes to the timetable in recent times which reflect the period that we are in, in terms of disruption on the road transport network, which has meant that we have had to adjust the schedule of bus services, operating times and also frequency to make sure that we are providing good, reliable services, particularly at peak times, when most people are using the public transport system.

I certainly acknowledge that a small number of people have been affected. You would have seen in the budget yesterday that there has been extra funding for recruiting more bus operators, as we look towards a new timetable, which is currently being worked on by Transport Canberra, where we will look to address, based on community feedback on the current bus timetable, some of the issues that you have raised, as well as many others that we try to address on an annual basis.

MRS KIKKERT: Minister, should people who rely on late-night bus services for transport to and from work be worried about their job security, given that you can just cancel their bus services whenever you want, without providing an alternative?

MR STEEL: I thank the member for her question. We do adjust timetables every year. We do so based on community feedback. We look at the data, through our ticketing system, on when people are using services. We try and accommodate as many of those needs as possible. We certainly acknowledge that some people may not be able to access public transport systems because some of them are working late at night, for example. They will have to seek out other types of transport that are available.

We will continue to look at how we can accommodate as many people as possible, whilst also making sure that we provide frequent and reliable services to encourage even more people to use public transport. We have seen people coming back onto public transport since the impacts of the pandemic. We are looking at further improving that with the budget funding that we announced yesterday.

MR PARTON: Minister, why isn’t your government able to retain enough bus drivers to operate these late-night services?

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