Page 496 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 8 March 2011

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But there has been, as Ms Bresnan said—it has been brought to my attention too and I am aware—in recent weeks a spike in service failure. It has been averaging somewhere in the order of 20 services a day, I believe it is—I would have to check that—that have not run. It is as the result of two circumstances: non-availability of drivers and non-availability of buses. They are the two reasons in relation to why any particular service does not run on a particular day at a particular time. It is obviously because either there was nobody to drive the bus or a bus had broken down.

To answer your question directly, Ms Bresnan, that is the answer. In relation to those services—the services that did not run—there was not a driver available for whatever reason or the scheduled bus had broken down and a replacement could not be provided in time.

We have had some pressure and stress over recent months in attracting a sufficient number of would-be ACTION bus drivers to induction courses. It is interesting and it is a matter worth reflecting on. An area of employee shortage or skill shortage—however you wish to describe it—that we are currently suffering is bus drivers. ACTION is finding it increasingly difficult to attract sufficient applications to fill vacancies within the ranks of ACTION bus drivers just at the moment. Indeed, in recent inductions the full complement of positions available has not been filled. We continue to have some vacancies. There has been some turnover in staff.

But in relation to buses and the availability of buses, members would be aware that three years ago we committed $50 million to a massive program—the most significant bus replacement program that has been pursued since self-government. We are in a position now where, I think, more than half of those buses—it is a program running over a number of years—or a majority of those brand new state-of-the-art buses are being delivered. We will enhance that and continue to fund additionally to continue to maintain the rollout of new buses.

But that is the answer, Ms Bresnan. It is a matter of enormous frustration to me and to ACTION and most particularly to the travelling public. (Time expired.)

MR SPEAKER: Ms Bresnan, a supplementary question.

MS BRESNAN: Minister, what impact does repeated cancellations have on patronage? Does ACTION have data on which bus services are being cancelled and will you table this data in the Assembly?

MR STANHOPE: All I can do is acknowledge the enormous frustration that anybody would feel in either circumstance, the circumstance where a bus does not appear at all, compounded by the fact that the next bus may be full as a result of people not being picked up as a result of the non-appearance of the bus and the second bus being full or overfull, and the circumstance where a bus does not stop. That would be enormously frustrating and, of course, has the potential to have a very significant impact on people’s willingness or desire to utilise ACTION services.

But as I said, for all buses, including school routes over the last four months, a period when there has been some difficulty, 98.32 per cent of all buses have run. That

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