Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 194 ..
need to balance the sprawling coverage that lets everyone access their bus routes very closely but not very frequently with more efficient and high-capacity routes.
In designing the public transport network the ACT government needs to balance a number of different needs within a limited budget. Some routes, such as the 300 I came to work on today, are fast and frequent and connect major points of interest such as town centres and the universities. These are rapid routes, and they work really well in terms of moving Canberrans around efficiently.
There are also the suburban routes which implement the commitment that was made years ago to ensure that 90 per cent of Canberrans are within 400 metres of a bus stop, and these tend to be slow and winding. In practice, they are not frequent and not that extensively used. Minister Fitzharris talked about some of the stops on the routes that have gone to Narrabundah as having only 92 boardings a day. That is not many, but the reality is that there are some people for whom that was pretty essential, and that is why they have been writing to Ms Lee and I am sure the other Kurrajong members, and some of them to me as well.
If we want to get a lot of people out of their cars and onto public transport then we clearly need rapid routes, and that has been one of the problems for Canberra’s public transport for many years. The old routes were great if you wanted a scenic tour of half of Canberra, but if you actually wanted to get somewhere they were lacking. But if we want to ensure that everybody has reasonable access to public transport, as well as the rapid routes we need the coverage routes and we need better transport infrastructure so that people can walk or ride their bikes or their scooters to the bus stop. We need special transport provision for the less able members of our community, and I am glad that Minister Fitzharris talked about those. Canberra needs both of these. As Minister Fitzharris said, what we need is connectivity between the different things.
I am also very glad that she mentioned some of the non-physical part of the infrastructure. One of the things I personally find very helpful is the new smartphone app which enables you when you get to the bus stop, instead of standing there and thinking, “Where is it? Where is it,” to look it up and find out that either you have just missed the bus or it is going to be there in two minutes or whatever. Those are the sorts of things which make our public transport system a lot more accessible. Canberra needs the coverage routes and the rapid routes we need both of them. The issue behind this motion is balancing both of those needs within a limited budget.
Of course everyone here knows the Greens are big fans of public transport and the active transport that goes with it. Of course we would be happy to increase the budget for them. In fact, one item of the parliamentary agreement is an extra $30 million for active transport. Of course if we increase the budget then these trade-offs can be done differently.
I have recently read research that social inclusion is the most important positive factor for long and healthy lives. It is absolutely vital that we make it easy for everyone to get out into their local community and the wider community. From a public health point of view it is abundantly clear that we have to make sure that all of us have an opportunity to talk to other people often. It is tragic that poor public transport options