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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3817 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

the forum a bit more often-because it is the truth. It is about the schoolyard level of politics that you have.

In terms of convention facilities, the Liberal government did nothing. Nothing. Now it is happening, the big problem is that it is not happening damn quick enough, of course, because there has got to be something wrong and that is the best you can do. Hopeless.

ACTION buses

MS GALLAGHER: My question is to the Minister for Planning and it relates to the implementation of the government's policy to introduce a flat fare structure for Canberra, which abolishes the zone fare structure for regular bus route services across the bus zones. Could the minister inform the Assembly of the impact this policy has had on the patronage of ACTION bus services?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Gallagher for the question. One of the first steps the government took when it was elected in November last year was to abolish the Liberal government's unfair and discriminatory zonal bus fare policy-the policy that meant it was cheaper to drive your car from Tuggeranong or Gungahlin and pay for parking in Civic than it was to catch a bus. That was how they were going to encourage people out of their cars onto public transport: make it more expensive to catch public transport than it was to catch a bus.

The one fare anywhere scheme commenced on 1 July this year, and it has meant a number of things. First of all, it has meant that fares for bus travellers who previously had to travel across zones are between 35 and 46 per cent cheaper. Instead of paying $136 for an all-zone monthly ticket, you now pay $80 for the same amount of travel. What a significant discount that is. A very significant discount: from $136 down to $80. That is the first clear signal we are sending to the community that we think bus travel should be cheaper and more attractive.

Secondly, we have seen an increase in boardings. The Liberal Party worked very hard to get their boardings up-so hard that they decided, "If we make it free, we will get all these people to catch the bus." I remember that when we were proposing to abolish the free school bus scheme-free school bus bribe, I should say-the claim was: this will drive people off public transport. I remember Mr Humphries saying it, and I remember Mr Smyth saying it.

In fact, we have seen, overall, since July, a sustained increase in the total number of boardings for ACTION buses-up an extra 271,000 boardings this financial year compared to the same period last financial year. Far from driving people away from the bus, we have actually got more people catching the bus than the Liberals did last year-even when they were giving people a free ride.

The number of adult boardings has increased by 4 per cent. The number of concessions has risen only slightly, by around 1 per cent. But the interesting thing is the 5 per cent increase in boardings for school students. These trends are now starting to become a sustained pattern.

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