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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (20 May) . . Page.. 383 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

The Minister also promised - and I quote from his press release again:

... we expect the review to result in shorter bus routes, less travelling time, increased patronage and a more attractive, comfortable and efficient service.

The Minister also knows that his Government has asked ACTION to shave another $10m from its budget. It is not the right environment in which to attempt to review a system to enhance its service when the clouds of further cuts hang low over the review. I call on the Government to forgo its cut of $10m, have a moratorium on further cuts to the service, provide a good-quality, total service and leave it alone for a couple of years to let it settle down and enable us all to properly evaluate the system.

Mr Speaker, I am asking that the review include in its terms of reference considerations other than route changes. As is generally the case whenever we review a bus route, we rejig the bus route, stick bandaids all over the place and call it a bus route. That was not the case in the trunk review, and I suggest that that should not be the case here. Certainly, route changes are necessary; but they need to be considered in conjunction with other issues.

Another issue is the traffic configurations around collection points at schools. The Minister is no doubt aware of the congestion in McMillan Crescent at Griffith. This road between St Clare's and St Edmund's colleges is a small road and it has about 20 buses in the street at drop-off and collection times each day. The Minister is also aware of the Holy Family School's configuration. It is not that crash hot, either. That is an all-too-common occurrence. These things are accidents waiting to happen, Mr Speaker. The many students who leave the schools are escorted across the road in some cases. However, I have seen for myself that the students often dart between the buses when they cross the road. Perhaps we should consider in some cases, such as McMillan Crescent, closing the road at peak times when the kids are actually boarding and coming off the buses.

Mr Speaker, I am seeking the involvement in the review of the traffic and roads people and the planning experts to address this serious part of the school bus system, not just leaving it to the experts within the ACTION group, who, with the best will in the world, do reviews within the level of their competence. We get significant product out of those people. But they do not have that expertise; nor do they have an influence over the roads budget in the ACT. Further, I am asking that the methodology of the interagency committee which advises ACTION on student loadings be checked out. The information given to ACTION over the past 20 years or so has not been sufficiently accurate for ACTION to provide a proper service. Indeed, for the past 20 years or so this interagency committee has not got it right. I suggest that it is not the people on the committee but the methodology they employ which is at fault.

It has been said that there are peaks around the commencement of the school year, which peter out. Also, the numbers advised to ACTION have not been accurate to within 20 per cent. As I have just said, I do not for a moment question the integrity of the members of that committee; but I do question the quality of information emanating

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