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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 197 ..

MISS C BURCH (Kurrajong) (5.02): I support Ms Lee’s motion and thank her for bringing this important motion here today and for all the work she has done with inner south residents on this issue. Public transport is an essential basic service of local government which should be accessible to all Canberrans. Many people in our community depend on public transport. In particular those who rely on our public transport network day after day tend to be some of the more vulnerable members of our society: young people, our elderly and those with impaired mobility.

The 2017 timetable changes to the ACTION network were largely sprung on the public with no consultation and little to no communication. The new timetable has resulted in longer, more convoluted routes and longer total travel time. People must now walk longer distances to bus stops taking multiple buses to get to where they want to go and wait for a longer time between connections. This has left many Canberrans confused, inconvenienced and frustrated. 

The new timetable means elderly Canberrans are expected to walk further on a cold Canberra winter’s morning, to get to their local bus stop. It means those with impaired mobility have fewer transport options and are left feeling more isolated. It means that Canberra mums and dads who utilise public transport to get to and from work now have less time to spend with their families in the evening. 

Residents in the inner south and west Belconnen have been particularly adversely affected by these changes. The cancellation of route 5 means that many elderly residents in the inner south no longer have easy access to health services. Residents at St Aidan’s retirement village in Narrabundah, for example, are expected to walk more than 1.6 kilometres, or more than 20 minutes, to get to and from bus stops if they wish to travel to Canberra Hospital. Other residents in old Narrabundah travelling to and from Woden now have to wait more than 30 minutes for connecting services. If they wish to travel to the city they are now faced with double the travel time and must swap buses or walk much further than under the previous timetable. I do not know about the minister, but I certainly would not expect my grandparents to walk 20 minutes to and from the bus stop on a cold Canberra morning or to wait 30 minutes in the cold for a connecting bus service.

It is not just our elderly who have been negatively affected by these changes; the Narrabundah early childhood centre, the aboriginal health service and the medical practice have all been affected as well. Residents working in Russell have also been affected as the green rapid route does not service Constitution Avenue or Russell, with passengers instead required to travel all the way into the city to change buses.

Our young people are also affected. Changes to the 455 route from Alfred Deakin high to Woden mean that buses now do not arrive until 20 minutes after school finishes and after teachers have already finished for the day. This has left the school with a difficult decision: on the one hand, if teachers leave students unsupervised it threatens student safety; on the other hand, if teachers stay this threatens school budgets.

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