Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2010) . . Page.. 2457 ..
Infrastructure improvements are what we need now to better service the ACTION network and the service it offers to Canberrans. In this place, I have often cited the success of Brisbane’s busways in improving modal share in Brisbane and bringing new people into the bus system. I have also pointed out that this infrastructure investment was made by a Liberal lord mayor, in the face of quite strident opposition; and, while the work was going on to construct these busways, there was continued opposition over that. Yet, after the fact, it has turned out to be exceptionally popular and has been widely lauded as a success. It has seen a huge increase in public transport patronage in Brisbane; there is also the fact that it connects with park-and-ride facilities.
It is this kind of infrastructure investment to build in bus priority, even to the point of separate bus lanes along entire routes, that can deliver a reliable and fast network. This is the sort of work which has been done in Brisbane. This investment needs to be made not well after an area has been built up, as has occurred in some areas in Canberra—Gungahlin is often used as an example—but, rather, right at the beginning of planning, ensuring that public transport infrastructure is available for everyone right from the beginning of any development.
That is why we have expressed concern that the government intends to build Molonglo by essentially retrofitting main roads for public transport priority at some unspecified point in the future. We have heard from the government that it would take a brave government to do transport differently in Molonglo. We believe that a government always has an opportunity to do better things in greenfields development, and we would like to see this happening with Molonglo.
The Greens have made suggestions, including building medium and high-density developments early in development; and prioritising active transport infrastructure with an emphasis on connectivity to public transport hubs, to make it easier for workers and children to get to the bus that will take them to work and school. We are concerned that, if public transport is not available from when people start moving into Molonglo, it will not encourage people to use public transport or to use services once they are available.
When we talk about giving people choices and allowing families the opportunity to save money by using public transport and not having the cost of running a second car, we often get accused by members in this place, particularly the Liberals, of trying to rip people from their cars. Indeed, we support the right of individuals to own cars. Our objective here in this place with public transport is to provide people with a cost-effective and viable alternative which alleviates the necessity to own a car. Given the challenges we as a community face with housing affordability, we need to consider the financial impact on people who have to borrow to buy a car because inadequate public transport services exist.
The function of a public transport system is not only a transport issue and a sustainability issue, but a cost of living issue. Not long ago, we were seriously considering $2 or $3 a litre petrol prices. There will be a time again when petrol prices increase; people will suffer financially as a result of this and we will be looking for cheaper transport options.