Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 May 2018) . . Page.. 1669 ..
services simply are not available. However, the high cost of taxi services also has an impact on low income people, making them unaffordable for those who need them most.
The lack of adequate transport presents barriers to participation for people who are transport disadvantaged. In some cases, this is reported as limited opportunities to engage in everyday activities in local communities. In others, it takes the form of limited opportunities to travel further afield to participate in work or recreation.
Access to affordable transportation for low income Canberrans, students, mobility impaired and the elderly fosters self-sustainability, promotes independence and permits spending on other household essentials. Thus having adequate evening and night bus services, especially on weekends, is indispensable to these Canberrans.
The lack of weekend services also has economic implications for our small businesses. It has been noted in other places where public transport has been increased that there are significant efficiency gains for businesses such as restaurants, bars, theatres and cafes, which all employ shiftworkers. Recruitment is enhanced because of the increased accessibility, a major reduction in time lost in home to work journeys and improvement in employees’ overall health and wellbeing as a result of lower absenteeism. Workers benefit from safe and convenient public transport because they can get home safely after long shifts.
These businesses also rely on their customers being able to get home safely, quickly and conveniently. Customers who walk, cycle or use public transport to get to recreational activities in the city contribute significantly more trade than many realise. We want to make sure that we give local businesses every chance to prosper.
Canberra is often the butt of jokes when it comes to our nightlife. We have seen in other states such as Victoria, where there are more evening and night-time services available, more people are likely to travel into the city. As a result nightlife in those cities has flourished. If Canberra is serious about growing its night-time economy it desperately needs to provide more public transport options.
Increased public transport also has a positive impact on public safety. The absence of evening and night-time services means that, for people who wish to have a couple of drinks out with friends, plan B does not exist. Without alternative transport options, people are more likely to be tempted to risk drink-driving instead of paying for a costly taxi or Uber. In 2017 we saw the number of motorists apprehended for roadside drink-driving rise for the first time since 2013. Of course there are also those who may be somewhat closer to home who will opt to walk rather than pay for a cab or Uber. Many Canberrans have expressed concern about encountering crime and antisocial behaviour on the way home after dark. This is, of course, an additional personal safety risk, especially for young women.
Where other Australian cities have been steadily improving their after-dark public transport options, they recognise the important economic, social and cultural benefits that these services provide. Meanwhile Canberra’s have been steadily declining.