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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3729 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The proposed legislation will allow the Minister to determine fares within the price direction provided by IPARC. Fare concessions will, of course, continue to be provided for people on low incomes.

Mr Speaker, deregulation is one possible means of increasing competition. Indeed, it has been tried in the United Kingdom. The results, however, have been considered unsatisfactory. The United Kingdom experience with a deregulated bus market has been that it has led to a decline in market responsiveness, instability and an overall decline in the efficiency of services. In contrast, bus operators on ACT government contracts will be required to meet minimum service levels, including late night and weekend services. The contract will allow this balance to be maintained in the best interests of the consumer.

The Public Transport Passenger Bill contains the most significant changes to passenger transport services for many years and provides the framework for the continued development of the industry. After presentation in the Assembly, the Bill will be open to public comment for six weeks so that all views can be received and considered in relation to the new scheme.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Report on Restricted Taxi (Multicab) Plates -

Government Response

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (3.51): For the information of members, I present the Government's response to Report No. 28 of the Standing Committee on Urban Services, entitled "The need to increase the number of restricted taxi (multicab) plates". The report was presented to the Assembly on 24 August 1999. I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

I thank the Standing Committee on Urban Services and its chairman, Mr Hird, for the detailed report on its inquiry into the provision of wheelchair-accessible taxis in the ACT. The inquiry has provided people with disabilities, their carers and other members of the taxi industry with the opportunity to express their views on providing suitable taxi services in the ACT for people with disabilities.

The report recommends, amongst other things, that the number of wheelchair-accessible taxis be increased immediately by 10. The last wheelchair-accessible taxi plate was issued in 1994 and, compared with other jurisdictions, the percentage of the ACT taxi fleet that is wheelchair accessible is very low. It is 3 per cent in the ACT compared with around 10 per cent in most jurisdictions. Because there are only six wheelchair-accessible taxis in the ACT, people with disabilities have to wait longer for a cab than those in the general community. This is unacceptable to the Government. We therefore join with the taxi industry, people with disabilities and their carers in supporting the recommendation for the immediate issuing of 10 additional wheelchair-accessible taxi plates.

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