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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1362 ..

financial year. I doubt these figures will come as a surprise to anyone in this place, as we saw working-from-home arrangements implemented on a mass scale. Patronage was driven down by school children being taught from home and a shift towards car use by the remaining commuters.

During this time, the ACT government encouraged people to use the public transport system for only essential activities, such as going to work or getting food. We continue to encourage people to use off-peak services as much as possible. Canberrans have been exceptional at being safe for themselves and others during this time and there has been no community transmission on our public transport network.

Patronage numbers have since rebounded to 75 per cent of last year’s numbers. This is comfortably ahead of the numbers recorded in most jurisdictions. We are optimistic that patronage numbers will get back to the record numbers we experienced pre-pandemic once the expert health advice says we can strongly welcome people back aboard.

DR PATERSON: Minister, what are the principles that underpin the ACT public transport recovery plan to support the ongoing growth of public transport patronage in the recovery period and beyond?

MR STEEL: I thank Dr Paterson for her supplementary. Traffic volumes in Canberra are currently exceeding pre-pandemic levels overall as people have not yet returned to public transport. Our regular traffic data shows the volumes are up by over three per cent across the city, as much as eight per cent in Woden and higher in other areas on the north side. This is a trend that we need to turn around. I think we can agree that it is in no-one’s interests for Canberrans to be spending more time sitting in cars stuck in traffic. As members would be aware, on 29 April I released the ACT public transport recovery plan. The plan outlines how we will set public transport on a growth path as we move beyond COVID-19.

COVID-19 has presented us with many challenges, but it also provides us with opportunities to drive long-term sustainable shifts towards public transport and active travel. Our approach to achieving sustained patronage increases in a COVID-normal world is based upon four key principles. The health and safety of passengers is paramount and we will continue to be guided by the health advice. We will continue to work to restore community confidence by fostering a gradual return to public transport that is complemented by supporting activities, such as the vaccine rollout. Our actions will be data driven and aimed at improving the passenger experience over time. We will continue to invest in our public transport system network and refine our services going forward so that they are convenient, accessible and reliable for all Canberrans who want to use public transport.

MR PARTON: A supplementary, Madam Speaker. Can the minister update the Assembly on the move to a new ticketing system and why its best-possible-case scenario start time is still so far in the distance, despite being promised years ago?

MR STEEL: I thank the member for his question and note that we are committed to making sure that we transition to a modern, flexible ticketing system for Transport

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