Page 5545 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 9 December 2009
MR SPEAKER: Order!
Ms Bresnan: Mr Speaker, I have a question.
MR SPEAKER: Members, let’s quieten down and hear Ms Bresnan’s question. I call Ms Bresnan.
Transport—Nightlink taxi service
MS BRESNAN: My question is to the Minister for Transport and it is in regard to the recently cancelled Nightlink service. I note that the minister has cited poor patronage as the reason for cancelling Nightlink. Minister, can you please advise the Assembly as to whether the government examined why Nightlink was experiencing low levels of demand and, if so, what the reasons were?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Bresnan for the question. It was with some genuine hesitation and regret that the government did decide to terminate the Nightlink service and to realign the funding to other transport initiatives within the city. I think I may have some detail in relation to the numbers here, but the take-up was extremely poor. It reached the point where it was essentially barely being used at all.
The government, I think, have shown enormous patience with the service and in addition to that sought to engage, as was always the intention, with those within the hospitality industry in the ACT. At the time of night that Nightlink was first established, we received very strong promises of support, most particularly from the Australian Hotels Association on behalf of its members, that each of their members or their outlets, most particularly within the city, would actively encourage, proselytise, support and advocate for their patrons to use the Nightlink taxi service.
One of our frustrations, in terms of our assessment of the reasons why the service was not supported or taken up to the extent expected, was as a result, we believe, of the existence of the service not being made public or patrons not being informed that there was a service that would provide for them.
Nightlink was aimed at one level: at reducing frictional points of disputation within the city, mainly around taxi rank waiting lines and the length of queues that developed. It has not been successful. Indeed, I think I do have a number here. During the course of the year, patronage dropped by 53 per cent—in other words, by half. In terms of the number of hirings, there was a 51 per cent decline over that period in the number of people using the service and a 30 per cent decline in fares.
The reasons that the government took into account in determining to terminate the service, other than that enormous decline in patronage, included the fact that over that period we have also released an additional 50 taxi licences. It was felt that perhaps the increase in taxi licences—the fact that there are more taxis around—may have even to some extent contributed to the significant reduction in patronage of Nightlink.
The funding that had been associated with Nightlink, however, will now be diverted to seeking to enhance security on the ranks. We are seeking to achieve some of the