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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1708 ..

As a result of this, not only is ACTION able to provide a more efficient and timely service but it is also able to do so in a way that does not involve the running of empty buses on fixed routes late in the evenings, both during the week and on weekends. Passengers can now be dropped off closer to their homes. For travel, departing from any point, passengers will be able to book their pickup at the closest bus stop by phoning ACTION’s customer service centre.

Travel from bus interchanges will still depart to a public timetable. Passengers can now prebook a bus. If they have a regular pickup from their suburb, they can make a regular booking. The bus will take that into account and collect them. They can also arrange to prebook a bus from a public interchange. So it is a very flexible level of public transport service that has not previously been available in the ACT.

We are monitoring closely the introduction of flexibus because it is a new service for consumers, but it flows on from the very successful trial of a similar evening bus service in Weston Creek during the past six months.

As part of the introduction of the new flexibus service there is a trial of minibuses in the Kambah and Gungahlin areas in the evening. We are not using standard buses in those areas but instead small minibuses, still wheelchair accessible. That means we can provide a door-to-door service in Gungahlin and in areas of Kambah where the roads are not wide enough to accommodate a regular bus service.

This particular service also sees greater frequency. Previously there was about a 90-minute service for an area bus or route bus in our suburbs. We have now reduced this to 60 minutes. Customers from suburbs of both north and south Canberra have commented very favourably that they no longer have to sit at the bus stop and wait for the bus to come around on its regular route. The bus now comes direct to them, collects them and other passengers along the way on a specified and personalised route designed to pick up those people who have phoned in and said they need a bus service.

This is another example of the government’s commitment to improve public transport services in Canberra. It is one that will be closely followed by other parts of the public transport community around the country because flexibus, for the cost of a local call and the cost of a local service, is providing the equivalent, in many respects, of a taxi service after hours. So it is a very new and innovative way of providing public transport services.

In closing, it is worth making the point that this is only possible because of the government’s commitment to completely revamp, upgrade and modernise ACTION’s bus radio network. That bus radio network now allows effective communication between ACTION’s call centre and individual buses. Bus drivers who operate on flexibus routes are now able to plan their routes, collect their passengers and get them to the interchange or to their homes quicker, more efficiently and certainly more responsively for the Canberra community. I think that is a service that many Canberrans will embrace in the weeks and months ahead.

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