Page 146 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2006

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plan, we agreed with its conclusions and we have now moved to implement funding for the plan. We have done that in a whole range of areas, but I want to address the issue of the busway itself.

We committed funding to investigate the feasibility and to look at the design issues associated with the development of such a dedicator corridor. We identified two corridors of particular importance, one from Belconnen to the city and one from Gungahlin to the city. Those two corridors are having work done on them right now. In fact, in relation to the one from Gungahlin to the city, a $1 million project to upgrade bus priority on Flemington Road was recently completed. In relation to Belconnen, the government has set aside funding to look at the planning issues, the environmental issues, the land use considerations and the engineering considerations that are all part of determining the most appropriate route. If we want to improve priority, travel time and the consistency of public transport along that corridor, relying on an on-road reservation where you still have to go through all the other sets of traffic lights, and there are over 16 individual sets of traffic lights that you have to negotiate between the city and Belconnen, you have to look at having a dedicated right of way. That is what this busway project is all about.

That does not mean, and the government has never said that it does, that the project will proceed to construction. I am, of course, advocating such construction. I believe that it is the right policy. I believe that it is a policy that will meet the outcomes we have set ourselves in terms of modal shift. But, as with all projects that are put forward by government ministers, this one must be considered through the budget process, and that is what we will do in relation to this project as well.

Let us look at some of the general benefits of having this sort of dedicated right of way. The first point I would like to focus on relates to the opportunities for patronage gain. Patronage gain grew significantly when projects similar to the proposed Belconnen to city busway were put in places such as Brisbane. In fact, the patronage gain was considerable in those locations. But it is not just patronage gain that comes about from the reliability of the service, knowing that you have a constant journey time, knowing that you are going to be look after in comfortable stations, not bunged into a little concrete shelter in the middle of nowhere. Those sorts of changes are not the only benefits. There are many other benefits.

For example, one that perhaps people in the property industry should give good consideration to is the improvement in property values. Public transport infrastructure actually leads to improved property value. The most obvious experience of that was with the Brisbane south-east busway, where property values grew by 20 per cent, attributed largely to the busway construction in Brisbane. The positive impact of the busway appeared almost immediately. Median property values for suburbs adjacent to the busway increased by between 3.9 and 20.86 per cent within a few months of the opening compared with a decrease of 4.35 to 6.63 per cent for adjacent non-busway suburbs. One to two years after the opening, the same suburbs adjacent to the busway experienced growth in median housing prices of between 12.5 and 63.5 per cent compared with minus one per cent to 33 per cent for suburbs further from the busway. So, in terms of the opportunities that come at an economic level from investing in public transport infrastructure, the experience is quite clear. This type of public transport infrastructure has those sorts of benefits.

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