Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 195 ..
mean that many older and disabled people become significantly socially isolated. One very positive thing of free off-peak travel for seniors is that I know a number of people for whom this has made a significant difference to what they do with their lives: they go out of the house and hop on the bus because it is free and they can now afford to do it.
Ultimately, as Ms Lee’s motion points out, in trying to improve services across Canberra with a limited budget, somebody misses out. My office was also contacted by residents affected by the change in Narrabundah. While some of them have been able to make changes in their lifestyles and schedules to get to the new, now more frequent bus, some have not. One older Canberran told me that the bus changes made it very difficult for him to catch the bus. He knew about the flexibus, but he did not identify as someone who needs the service or could justify the cost of using it. He told me he thought he would be ripping off the ratepayer.
It is really disappointing that because of the scarcity of these public services people feel they are not entitled to use them. He was quite aware that the flexibus was not an abundant service. It is really disappointing to him and to us that it is not obvious to people that providing more flexibuses or the on-demand services would have to be a lot cheaper than operating a regular bus with very low patronage.
Ms Lee’s motion also talked about consultation. As everyone here knows, the ACT Greens are big fans of consultation. The idea of grassroots democracy and community decision-making is so fundamental to our ideology that it is one of our four pillars as a party. So of course we are disappointed that consultation was poor on this network change. Although this was considered a minor change, it had a major impact on a number of people, and in an ideal world these people would have been better consulted.
That consultation would have included information for them about, “Okay, if this change happens which is not going to impact you positively, what are your alternatives? How can you connect to the things that you want to connect to as you used to be able to do in the past? How can you make this change work for you?” To the best of my knowledge that did not happen.
I sincerely hope that the next lot of consultation is better and that Transport Canberra goes out of their way to ensure that all those who are to be affected by the next major network change feel they have had their say in the upcoming consultation, which I believe is scheduled for early this year. While it may not make up for the experiences of these particular individuals, hopefully we have all learned from this and in the future it will be better.
I have received assurances from the minister, which have been included in her amendments, that explicit consideration will be given to meeting the needs of and promoting inclusion for older Canberrans, people with limited mobility, and other transport vulnerable people, in network changes moving forward. In this major network update I am looking forward to the government learning from our recent experiences with deliberative democracy and improvements with community consultation. I note that the government announced more changes today on