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Mr Humphries: We do not make a profit on any services.

MR WHITECROSS: You said it, Mr Humphries; but we do not make a profit on that one, because we cancelled it.

Mr Speaker, environmental issues are also important for public transport. ACTION buses carry about 24 million passengers a year over 21 million kilometres. If those people were all on our road system and commuting in conventional ways, that would be a very significant impact on our road system - an impact, I would suggest, we could not sustain. Similarly, it was estimated that a light rail system, which the Labor Party was supporting as an issue that should be investigated further and kept under control, had the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the ACT by 12,900 tonnes a year, which is a very significant reduction. These are significant issues that ought to be considered when we are looking at our public transport system.

Finally, Mr Speaker, I want to mention economic benefits. We have talked about the efficient use of infrastructure. The infrastructure is much more efficiently used by public transport than it is by private vehicles. It also provides opportunities for a dynamic and healthy economy in the ACT. Interestingly, public transport provides for greater efficiency in meeting the community's transport needs. By proper coordination and avoidance of duplication, a public transport system delivers a better result for the dollar than attempting to have the private sector providing these services. I commend the terms of the matter of public importance and look forward to working with other members of the Assembly on this matter.

MS HORODNY (4.11): Mr Speaker, as was so clearly argued by my colleague Kerrie Tucker, it is essential that Canberra have an effective public transport system. If people are to use public transport more - and at 5 per cent we have one of the lowest user rates in the country - we must ensure that the community is confident that the system is convenient, affordable, reliable and safe. The Belconnen bus interchange is a clear example of where this is not the case. It is, as Mr Hird has pointed out, both an eyesore and a concrete jungle. It is surrounded by a large area that has no people at night. Few people would feel safe and comfortable waiting for a bus there. While the Civic bus interchange is a better model, safety is a problem there too, particularly late at night. Safety and comfort are an important part of a well-functioning public transport system.

One option that has been flagged for the ACT is light rail, and the Greens look forward to a firm commitment from the Government to look at this option. Light rail provides a good and popular alternative. There has been much talk about Canberra's population being too small for a viable light rail system. However, a number of cities with fewer people, such as Berne in Switzerland, do have light rail. The environmental advantages of light rail compared to buses are clear cut. Local pollution is greater from diesel. Greenhouse gas emissions are about the same as from using buses; but, as more renewable energy sources are used to supply the electricity grid over the next decade, light rail will have the advantage in this case as well.

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