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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 October 2015) . . Page.. 3720 ..

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (11.26): I thank Dr Bourke for bringing the motion forward this morning. There is no doubt that a strong public transport network must be at the heart of a vibrant and growing city like Canberra—the world’s most livable city. Public transport is an essential service to our community and the driver of economic growth and productivity.

People need to be able to connect with each other. The time that we spend in traffic is time that we are not relaxing, we are not enjoying ourselves, and we are not spending productively. Time we spend in traffic leads to pollution and emissions that damage our environment. Simply building more roads in the city to deal with population growth is not the answer. Only building roads while neglecting public transport inevitably leads to urban sprawl, to even longer commuting times, longer distances travelled and increased social isolation. This is why the government is committed to a well-designed city serviced by strong and accessible public transport.

We have heard the message from our community that people want a convenient, efficient, affordable, reliable and integrated public transport system. The government is seeking to manage our city’s growth in the coming decades to reduce congestion but, most importantly, to protect that precious livability that our city has. To do this we need to improve our public transport system and the government has released a clear and comprehensive plan to do just that.

In any growing city, the ease of mobility plays a key role in creating an environment that is attractive for residents and for businesses. Good public transport means more realistic, genuine, convenient travel options for all Canberrans. With a strong and reliable transport network, walking or riding to a local bus or light rail stop does become a real choice for so many. Park and ride facilities must conveniently link to public transport. The government has released its public transport improvement plan to show how we will go about improving public transport and making it a genuine alternative to driving for more Canberrans.

The new agency, transport Canberra, will be solely dedicated to public transport operations. The agency will be responsible for ensuring that buses integrate seamlessly with light rail and, importantly, there is one ticket, one fare system and one network for our city. The agency’s focus will be on the traveller’s experience, making it easier to move around our city, to plan journeys and to get where you want to go when you need to be there. The new agency will also take forward the government’s 20-year foundation plan for transport, transport for Canberra 2012-2031.

I acknowledge that there are many Canberrans who think that public transport simply cannot work for them because they are a two-car family and that Canberra is the car capital. But this can and will be a city where it will be just as easy to walk or ride to get your kids to school and then jump on a bus to a light rail station and continue your journey direct to your workplace. As we travel we can relax or plan our day, go online using free wi-fi services or, if you are really keen, Madam Deputy Speaker, even begin checking those work emails. The government intends to make this vision a reality.

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