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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (16 April) . . Page.. 922 ..

ACTION Services

MR HIRD: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr De Domenico. Can the Minister inform the parliament of the decision by members of the Transport Workers Union, the TWU, last week to accept the new, revised ACTION Network 96 timetable?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Mr Hird for the question. Mr Speaker, after months of consultation with the Canberra community, ACTION has drawn up the new timetable for this year, designed to maximise bus services for commuters and eliminate wasted services on which few, if any, people travel. At a meeting of the members of the Transport Workers Union last Friday, drivers were very positive about the Network 96 timetable, agreeing to work to include the timetable as quickly as possible and to negotiate one or two issues of concern to them. We hope to see the Network 96 timetable in place within three or four weeks.

Mr Speaker, it is clear from Mr Whitecross's very negative comments in the media last week about the new timetable that he is totally out of touch with what bus drivers and commuters want from their public transport system. The Government will not stand by and see buses run with too few people on board while the community loses money. We will increase the efficiency of the ACTION network and at the same time we will improve the service to commuters. The Network 96 timetable is a clear indication of this.

Mr Speaker, it was interesting to see in the Chronicle a great big photograph of Mr Whitecross. Once again, he was misquoting statistics and figures. He made some outrageous comments about route 120 in Tuggeranong, which he picked out and which is in his electorate as well as in mine. Tuggeranong interchange to Woden interchange through West Kambah was the route he was commenting on. Mr Speaker, for Mr Whitecross's edification, ACTION currently offers 15 departures from Tuggeranong before 10.00 am on weekdays. These services are used by about 88 people per day, or 17.6 passengers per bus. The most heavily loaded service operates with an average of 38.2 passengers. Six of the departures are carrying fewer than 10 passengers, and one carries only 3.6 passengers. The capacity of an ACTION bus is currently 65 passengers, including 40 to 42 seated. Mr Speaker, Network 96 offers 10 departures - yes, Mr Whitecross, it is down from 15 to 10 - per weekday before 10.00 am. The average passenger loading should increase to 26 passengers per bus from 3.6. That is still low for peak services, Mr Whitecross. The most disadvantaged of all passengers would have to either advance their departure time by 14 minutes or delay it by 16 minutes, and travel with 14 other people on the bus, rather than eight.

Mr Speaker, the bottom line is that this Government will continue to rationalise those services. This Government will continue to make sure that there will be fewer buses running around Canberra with no-one in them. At about $37 or $38 per passenger, if there is anyone on there, it is cheaper to send out a cab. This Government and this community expect value for money, as well as a cost-efficient, clean and efficient public transport system. Under this Government, that is what they will get.

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