Page 1197 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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badly in 2006 was that we did not talk to the people who travel on the buses and who suffer that social isolation. For example, we know that where a bus is particularly poorly patronised and is not economically viable—

Mr Pratt: That’s why we tore the whole thing apart in 2006!

MR HARGREAVES: Would you like to answer my question for me, Mr Pratt?

Mr Pratt: I could probably do a better job.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Pratt, cease interjecting.

MR HARGREAVES: We know, and we knew then, that sometimes if you have only one passenger on a bus it is decidedly uneconomical and unviable, so the decision then was to cut the route out. Of course, this had a distinctly adverse effect on the particular person on that bus, and we needed to make sure that we tapped into their circumstances, which we did in the consultation process, and adjusted a lot of our bus routes accordingly.

An example of that is the change to route 33 in Campbell. While the changes to the bus route were okay from a bus perspective and from a passenger perspective, in fact the route that the bus travelled was not appropriate for the type of person who was using it. These people were elderly and would have needed to walk up a hill to catch the bus. Really, that was a disincentive for those people to catch that bus. We were not aware of that until we had a conversation with them. I had a conversation with them myself. As a result of that, we changed the bus route to make sure that these people were not isolated in their homes.

The other thing we did was to partner with the Deputy Chief Minister’s disability and community services portfolios in providing our community bus system, which involves putting buses out into the communities to make sure that we have a door-to-door service for people who are socially isolated, for whom access to the major bus system is a problem and for whom access to the taxi system is beyond their economic means. We needed to address the inclusion of people with disabilities as well; hence our commitment under the Disability Discrimination Act to having 50 per cent of our bus fleet wheelchair-accessible by the year 2012.

In summing up, I advise Dr Foskey that social inclusion has been a very big factor in our thinking in the development of a new network and additional services.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Foskey.

DR FOSKEY: In the new network, will people in wheelchairs and people with prams know when accessible buses can be expected, and will seniors enjoy free bus travel during peak hours, or will they still be excluded during those times?

MR HARGREAVES: I will address the second part of the question first, and implore Dr Foskey to listen when we actually do announce things. She would be aware, I would hope—at least her advisers should be aware—that the government had

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