Page 5177 - Week 12 - Thursday, 27 October 2011

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Light rail or rapid bus transit designed for later conversion to light rail will be at the centre of planning for this corridor. Whatever type of mass transit we choose for the city’s main transport corridors, there will always be a place for a bus network which provides frequent, reliable and accessible services. The government will continue to purchase the most fuel efficient bus fleet that meets operational needs, noting that a single bus can displace up to 40 or 50 cars, and is already a more energy efficient and lower emitting form of transport than private motor vehicles for this reason. The current fleet purchasing program includes Euro 5 clean diesel buses, which give significant reductions in emissions and will have lower running costs than the older diesel buses they replace.

The ACT government will continue to look at the potential for alternative technologies for its bus fleet to reduce running costs, provide greater emissions reductions and, importantly, provide a high standard of amenity and comfort for users.

The new MyWay smart card ticketing system is also designed to make public transport easier and cheaper for commuters as well as providing valuable usage data to plan a better bus network. The data which MyWay will eventually provide will form a valuable planning tool for the improvements we must have to meet the needs of the community for world-class mass transport services.

It is with this view to a future mass rapid transit network and a more sustainable Canberra that the government has committed more than $120 million to public transport projects, promotion, systems, infrastructure and services in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 budgets. These projects have benefits right now for creating a more sustainable and accessible transport system for Canberra and are justified on their own merits regardless of our choice of transport technology.

Major investments include $21.4 million over four years to improve ACTION bus services, including a Blue Rapid trial extension to Kippax and service improvements in Fyshwick, Gungahlin, the inner North and the Canberra Hospital; $2.8 million over three years for a corridor study for the Gungahlin to city corridor, including Northbourne Avenue and Dickson station; $12.5 million over three years for a real-time passenger information system, which will begin the design phase this year and be rolled out by mid-2013; $4.1 million for a network of park and ride and bike and ride facilities at locations including Exhibition Park, Erindale shopping centre, Phillip pool, Cohen Street in Belconnen, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong. New park and ride facilities will open at Purdue Street in Belconnen, Exhibition Park in Canberra and the expanded Mawson site by the end of 2011.

The park and ride construction program in 2011-12 will include new facilities near College Street at the University of Canberra; new facilities near Cotter Road for the new Molonglo suburbs; an expansion of park and ride options at Kippax to support the extension of the Blue Rapid service; and an expansion of the commuter park and ride at Calwell.

Over $1 million, including $0.255 million in support from the commonwealth, has been allocated to construct a network of bike and ride cages, with the first now open

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