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Modern light rail vehicles have floors that are close to the track, making them more accessible by less able passengers and people with strollers and prams. Decisions by the Human Rights Commission have already been responsible for the cancellation of orders for standard high-floor buses in New South Wales and Queensland. Specially manufactured low-floor buses are very expensive, as is the modification of existing buses, and this has not been taken into account in existing estimates comparing the cost of light rail and bus services. The overseas experience is that clean, quiet, comfortable light rail vehicles attract more passengers than buses and more small-scale commercial development at stations and other stops. These and other considerations must be taken into account when we plan for the public transport needs of our city.

MR HIRD (4.14): I would like to thank Ms Tucker for bringing this matter forward. It is of some concern within our community. Mr Speaker, I do not believe that there has been a positive enough attempt in the past to understand or address the nexus between land use and transport. This is hardly surprising when currently available travel data for Canberra is some 20 years old. However, one thing is very clear; that is, that too many people are travelling as single occupants of private cars. A fundamental objective must be to decrease private vehicle dependency by offering better alternatives. This would then allow us to break the shopping trolley-car link and reduce the demand for car travel. Unless this is done, there will be considerable difficulties in maintaining Canberra's viability as a prosperous growth-oriented city.

In future, the infrastructure put in place in areas such as Gungahlin must fully support higher-density land use, increases in public transport use and, consequently, lower ongoing infrastructure costs. Longer-term travel patterns and the costs of those patterns must be an imperative in the planning and development of Canberra. The existing travel patterns to the city and town centres by high car use are unacceptable. What can we do in new developments such as Gungahlin? Stage 2 and stage 3 of the public transport options for Canberra study clearly identify that the development of Gungahlin represents an opportunity to increase public transport usage and reduce reliance on the private car. A potential public transport mode split of between 30 and 40 per cent will not be achieved without an employment strategy aimed at substantially increasing the proportion of Gungahlin residents employed in their town centre. It also needs a town centre infrastructure that vigorously supports public transport use and minimises the need for road construction and maintenance. Policies that exploit the telecommunication facilities that are being installed in Gungahlin offer other new opportunities such as home-based work via telecommuting.

Mr Speaker, in particular, the provision of parking facilities needs to be critically reviewed in terms of the impact on public transport and the development and maintenance costs of other non-transport infrastructure requirements. While there is a commitment to develop Gungahlin Town Centre and the surrounding region, the form of that development should send a clear message that Canberra will not and cannot continue to support the high costs of low-density land use. Parking strategies are a major part of delivering efficient public transport. We would all be aware that parking spaces generally in the ACT are a major and obtrusive part of the urban infrastructure, occupying a substantial proportion of land

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