Page 1468 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2006

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MR STANHOPE: I will take the question on notice, Mr Stefaniak. Certainly there have been costs incurred as a result of the engagement of staff to cover issues in relation to the commissioning of CHRIS21. I do not know what those issues are, but I am more than happy to pursue those costs for you.

In relation to anything that is contained within the report of Mr Costello and Mr Smith, I have previously indicated the government’s position. It is that at this stage the document remains cabinet-in-confidence and it will be treated with that respect.

ACTION bus service

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services. Can the minister please advise the Assembly of the progress the government is making towards meeting ACTION’s patronage targets under the government’s sustainable transport plan?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. I also thank my colleague Mr Corbell for driving the changes and the initiatives within ACTION over the last four years. We are, I think, starting to see consistently the fruits of his labour.

The Stanhope government’s sustainable transport plan sets out a target of 19,300 adult passenger boardings per working day for 2005-06. ACTION has been consistently exceeding this target. I am pleased to announce that ACTION has, in fact, just broken another adult patronage record, with over 24,000 adult passenger boardings in one day.

It was only in February that ACTION was celebrating the achievement of having over 23,000 adult passenger boardings in one day. A new record was set last Thursday, with 24,003 boardings, a huge increase of 15 per cent over the same day last year. Indeed, since February 2006, adult weekday boardings have averaged about 13 per cent more than for the same period last year. That is further evidence that more and more people are turning to public transport in the wake of petrol prices hitting $1.40 a litre. It also demonstrates that the government’s sustainable transport plan strategies are working.

The Stanhope government’s sustainable transport plan sets out a number of initiatives to encourage alternative forms of transport to work to the private motor vehicle. One of these initiatives was the ACT government’s commitment of $1.1 million in 2004-05 for the introduction of the new express services. The Xpresso services account for over 60 per cent of the growth in patronage. In fact, within a month of their introduction, ACTION saw an increase of four per cent in adult passenger boardings. The Xpresso services bypass interchanges and go direct to the city, Russell, Parkes and Barton, in addition to the Xpresso services between Tuggeranong and Belconnen.

Another initiative was the Stanhope government’s commitment of $28 million for the introduction of 74 new airconditioned, low floor, accessible buses, with 54 of them being powered by compressed natural gas. The commissioning of a CNG refuelling station in December 2004 at the Tuggeranong bus depot was another. The station was built at a cost of $1.7 million and is capable of filling up to 30 buses an hour continuously. The facility is designed to be expandable to meet ACTION’s current and future requirements as the fleet of CNG buses increases.

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