Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 887 ..
MR SMYTH: A fine question, Mr Osborne. The way that it will encourage people to use ACTION is that you have to take it in the context of the new three zones. I have some copies of a brochure here if people want them. In fact, I will table the brochure. The point is that the current system means that if you travel a long distance you pay the same amount as you do if you travel a short distance. What we need to do is encourage people to make more trips. The system is revenue neutral. It is not a money grab. There is no extra money in this. It is based on the work started by the former Minister with the Graham report and carried on by this Government. Graham suggested that a zone system would be more equitable and would encourage a higher usage of the ACTION bus network.
I live at Chisholm. I catch a 126 down to Tuggeranong and then, if I want to go to Kambah, that is two buses. Under the new system, if you make that transfer within the hour, it is one fare. In fact, if you make the trip there and back within one hour, you could have four rides for the single fare. There are many advantages in this, in that we believe that it will encourage more people to use ACTION more regularly, which will go to making ACTION a more viable bus service. If we can get people out of their cars and onto the buses, it will have great effects in helping with greenhouse gases. If members would like a further briefing or a fuller briefing on the new fare structure that will come in in mid-August or late August, I would be happy to oblige.
MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Treasurer. Chief Minister, noting the 1995 election lie of free school buses and the Government's oft-stated commitment to choice, particularly in education, how can the Chief Minister and Treasurer justify the savage increase in bus fares for parents sending their children through two zones to non-government schools such as those in the Catholic education system?
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I will answer that. I am the Minister for ACTION. I think the answer to that is that we parents who have our children in the Catholic system often choose to send them further afield. My kids are in a Catholic school and they use the bus to get home. I try to drop them off in the morning. It is fair and equitable, because currently there are 31,000 students who use buses every day. Of those, 14,000 have designated school routes.
Take the example of a student who lives in Curtin and chooses to go to Melrose High. Students living in Curtin would reasonably go to Alfred Deakin High in Deakin. Both are fine schools; but in this day and age we have specialisation inside our schools, so parents and students make reasonable choices to travel further afield. Right next door to Melrose High is Marist College. There are designated Marist-only bus routes, although they now share runs.