Page 2867 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 24 June 2009

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zone right across the city. This initiative was well received by the Canberra community. Let us remember what the multizone system did. It required you to pay twice to get from Belconnen to Tuggeranong. It required you to pay twice to travel from the city to Belconnen. That was the system that we inherited from the previous government and which put a far greater impost on all users, including tertiary students. That is why the government introduced the single zone system.

Another initiative was introduced in 2005, with the extension of ACTION’s transfer ticket period from one hour to 90 minutes. Passengers could travel anywhere on one ticket with transfers within 90 minutes. This initiative assisted Canberrans, including tertiary students, to better utilise public transport in a more cost-effective way on a day-to-day basis. Since 2002, the government has committed approximately $100 million for new wheelchair-accessible buses. One hundred and fifteen new wheelchair-accessible buses have been introduced into the fleet and there are another 100 to be introduced over the next four years. ACTION will meet the government’s commitment to have 55 per cent of the fleet wheelchair accessible by 2012.

It is the government’s priority to ensure that ACTION lives within its means but continues to provide a service to Canberrans that is efficient and effective. As I have already mentioned, the ACT is the only jurisdiction in the country where tertiary students have been eligible for a school fare. Here in the ACT, the scheme is confusing. It leads to conflict between drivers and passengers and it is inconsistent. Tertiary student sometimes have to pay for a concession fare and sometimes have to pay for a school fare. The reason for that, of course, is that school fares are not available during school holidays.

The government has adopted a responsible approach and, as such, does not support the motion today and does not support reinstating student fares for tertiary students.

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (3.21): Mr Coe’s motion today brings forth a number of very important issues that have been conveniently forgotten by this government. In this year’s budget, hidden in the fine print, we see that ACTION bus fares will go up by a headline average of just over 11 per cent. Bus fares will go up by over 26 per cent, faresaver 10 tickets by just over 11 per cent, and school faresaver 10 tickets will go up by under 10 per cent.

Hidden within this announcement was a change of rules for tertiary students, who will now have to pay concession fares instead of student fares, meaning an increase of 49 per cent for these tertiary students. Why is it that the government has chosen this section of the community to bear the burden of the overall impost on bus commuters? Tertiary students are now disproportionately wearing the costs at a time when governments across Australia are talking about increasing the school leaving age and we face the potential of more students. Why would this cost burden be thrust upon this section of our population?

Forty-nine per cent is well above inflation for the period since bus fares last went up. Between the September 2006 quarter and the March 2009 quarter, inflation was 6.7 per cent. All this is at a time when ACTION bus on-time running has been adjusted down to 83 per cent. In essence, one in five buses are budgeted to run late.

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