Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2029 ..
Mr Speaker, this Government is committed to providing effective, efficient and accessible public transport for Canberrans. In recognition of the important role of public transport in the community, the Government contributes significants funds to maintain ACTION's current level of service. Currently forty six million dollars in funding is provided in the ACT Budget to maintain ACTION's current level of service, particularly non-commercial services and fare concessions.
The Commission's inquiry and report help to ensure that the Government is accountable and the processes it uses to support and regulate ACTION services are transparent. This accountability comes, in part, from the very nature of the Commission's inquiry process with its important element of broad community consultation into ACTION's services and its subsequent analysis of information.
The Commission's consultation and review period of several months ensured that a large cross section of the community could express their concerns and views about ACTION's services. The Commission's process involved several steps over three months of investigation. The Commission released the draft price direction in February 1999, took submissions, and then conducted a public hearing on 30 March 1999. The Final Price Direction was released in April 1999.
Mr Speaker, the Commission's directions and recommendations provide the Government with a worthwhile assessment of ACTION's current strategies and performance and I am pleased to point out that the Commission's recommendations have been accepted and are being implemented.
The Assembly will be aware that although the Commissioner made provision for a small increase in fares, the Government has decided to not increase bus fares in 1999-2000. Network 99 has only been in place since January this year. Given the recent significant changes to the network and the fares system, it is important that we provide an opportunity for the community to respond to the improved level of service Network 99 provides and the changes it entails, before considering adjustments in bus fares.
My Department has developed minimum service requirements for ACTION and these are monitored and reported on a quarterly basis.
I am also pleased to advise that with the services of an expert consultant, my Department is currently undertaking surveys to assess community satisfaction with ACTION's services and community's response to the new network arrangements. The surveys and analysis of patronage data will allow the Commission to further consider fare levels in its future determinations.