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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 98..


MR PRATT (continuing):

Instead, the government is committed to projects like Gungahlin Drive extension-sacrificing nature parks to encourage car use. If the government were committed to sustainable transport, it would have built light rail from Gungahlin to the city at the time of building most of Gungahlin. I remember the debates from those days. This would have allowed many new homeowners to decide not to purchase a car from the outset.

The test of the success of the sustainable transport plan is how many Assembly members and their staff actually use alternative means of transport to get to work. If people like us who work in Civic do not find our cycle lanes and public bus system convenient, then I do not know why we expect other workers in Civic and town centres to do so.

Again we join Ms Porter in congratulating ACTION and its drivers on their fantastic work and the increase in patronage. Any fault with the bus service is not the fault of the drivers and ACTION staff. They are working within resource constraints and policy constraints set by the government.

The peak bus service for commuters still ends too early in the evening as, unfortunately, many workers work until 7 o'clock, yet by that time buses to many suburbs have already been reduced to one an hour. Sadly, this is enough of an inconvenience to many commuters, tired from work and dying to get home, to make them want to drive their cars instead.

I note that students who have to travel out of Gungahlin to go to college do not have dedicated school bus services, and that is something that I believe the government should remedy. We look forward to the outcomes of the bike racks on buses trial. We note that it has had a couple of hitches, which are being overcome. We expect that as people get used to this we will see an increase in the use of combined cycle and bus use.

If we were really serious, though, about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there are a number of options that have not been mentioned in the government's sustainable plan. One is encouraging the use of scooters and motorbikes as an alternative to cars. This is very popular in Europe and Asia, but I do believe there is some confusion about the rules that apply, especially to scooters. Another tool is the control the government has over vehicle registration fees, stamp duty, driver licence fees and fuel franchise tax. We could reduce these costs for scooters and motorbikes and increase them for high petrol consuming cars and so on. We should be offering incentives for car pooling and sharing and, as happens in some cities, the group ownership of cars.

Reactive sensor-based traffic lights would be one simple step to help car fuel usage become more efficient. In Europe there are real-time systems that show drivers how long the wait will be at traffic lights and signs that ask drivers to turn off their engines. In the meantime, of course, energy efficient cars turn themselves off. With the rise in petrol prices, it must be getting cheaper to take an ACTION bus to get to work. We need to point out to consumers the indirect costs they pay through their car ownership.

The practical reality is that Canberra is planned to be a car city at present. We need to ensure that all planning is done with public transport accessibility in mind. There are still suburbs, like East O'Malley, being built with very poor public transport access, or none, and no local shops or facilities. Therefore, people will drive their cars to the shops. We


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