Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1753 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I recognise that my proposal does involve an element of cross-subsidisation between people who travel short distances and those who travel longer distances, but public transport by its nature incorporates a range of cross-subsidies that can never be entirely eliminated. The only way you could have a system where people pay by the distance travelled would be to charge according to the number of bus stops passed, which I think everyone would agree would be very impractical and costly to implement.
The zonal system is meant to be a compromise between a pure "pay by distance travelled" fare system and the need to have an administratively simple system, and it is true that zonal systems have been adopted in some other cities. However, the question must be asked as to whether it is the best system for Canberra. My view is that it is not. Canberra is much smaller and planned differently from other cities with zonal systems, so the complexities of applying a zonal system here far outweigh the economic efficiency of a "pay by distance" structure.
Canberra has been planned specifically to be a decentralised city based around a number of town centres for the purpose of spreading the transport load across Canberra. Transport journeys are, therefore, more diverse in distance and direction. This is quite unlike traditionally planned cities where there tends to be a majority of journeys into and out of the central business districts. Public transport systems in those cities tend to be radially based around the central business district, which makes it relatively easy to work out appropriate zone boundaries based on distance from that CBD. However, the Canberra public transport system, having to deal with the town centres, has a hub and spoke route system with express links between the hubs. The Government has, to its cost, found out that the zone boundaries are not so clear cut here.
Zonal systems in other cities also have gradations in the fare structure based on the number of zones travelled through. In Canberra, however, if you go over the zone boundary your fare immediately doubles in price, regardless of whether you are getting off at the next stop or travelling to the other end of the zone. This certainly is not an equitable system, as the Government claims.
The Government's attempt to apply a zonal system to Canberra has thrown up a range of anomalies which clearly bring into question whether the zonal system will really work in practice and whether it will just discourage more people from using ACTION. For the sake of the future of public transport in Canberra we cannot allow any further decrease in passenger numbers on ACTION.
In my motion I am calling on the Government to rethink its new fare structure. The second part of my motion sets out the principles by which I think the ACTION fare structure should be based. Surely there are sufficient public servants in Urban Services and ACTION who can work out the detail. I would welcome the support of the Assembly in working towards a viable, attractive, popular and dynamic public transport system for Canberra.