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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1873 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I suspect that this Government will require ACTION to achieve the $10m saving in the years 1998-99 to 2000-01 and, Mr Speaker, another $5.1m in the year 2001-02. How can any manager or union agree on a restructure in an atmosphere like this? It is just not fair on either of them.

Mr Speaker, the budget cutting imperatives will be implemented by stealth if overt processes are thwarted. I know, for example, that once we had four people repairing damage to seats in the buses, we now have one. I accept that perhaps four was a bit more than we could afford, but none is really not acceptable. I believe that when this officer retires, and that will not be that far away, the repairs will be outsourced because he has no trainee and there is no multiskilling applied here. I am also convinced that this Government believes we have more than enough mechanics. It does not acknowledge that the down time for bus repair is considerably higher than benchmark best practice; that replacement buses are on the routes within half an hour; and that a reduction in the number of mechanics and apprentices will result in replacement buses not being available for about a half a day.

Mr Speaker, I conclude by saying that Labor members watch with interest the Government's negotiations with the Transport Workers Union and note the Government's fraudulent partnership with Mr Osborne over the zonal fare fiasco.

MS TUCKER (11.42): We had extensive debate on ACTION yesterday in this place but I will, for the record, make a few other comments. Basically, I repeat that public transport is a vital community service for those people who do not have access to their own transport. It does seem the Government is hell-bent on making sure that ACTION is as unattractive as possible to potential customers who may have a choice. Over the last decade, ACTION has been caught in a downward spiral of decreased services, increased fares, and decreased patronage.

The Graham review found that ACTION needed a radical overhaul of all aspects of its operation to make it a more viable and attractive service. Unfortunately, the Government has failed to deliver on effective improvements to ACTION. We are still waiting for details of the new route structure and timetables, but we do know what the new ACTION fare structure will be and it is very worrying. I have very grave doubts that it will increase bus patronage.

There has been a significant increase in student and concession fares, which does not seem to have anything to do with the introduction of the zonal system and which goes against the objective of making the public system more attractive to use. It just seems to be a measure to raise more revenue from those people who have no transport alternative. The promotional material for the new fares states that it makes similar trips in distance equal in cost, regardless of any requirement to change buses. This is obviously not going to be the case for many people, especially those people who live close to zone boundaries. They are particularly disadvantaged.

A particular anomaly is that travel between town centres has been set as a one-zone fare through the use of shared zones, except for Gungahlin. Travel from Gungahlin to Civic is regarded as a two-zone fare, but Gungahlin to Belconnen is a one-zone fare.

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