Page 3724 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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The master plan itself is nothing new, apart from a new route from Russell to the airport and a route taking in the Molonglo Valley and Weston Creek. The light rail master plan simply copies the red and blue rapid bus networks. Of course these are the parts of the bus network which run the best. These are the parts of the bus network that repeatedly get high levels of satisfaction from the travelling public. It is actually the suburban links which are the problematic ones, the very links which are not addressed by light rail. Spending billions and billions to replace the two best bus routes in Canberra is ludicrous.

Any project looks good when it is not costed and there is no time frame for the construction and you do not provide any details on how much it will cost to upgrade. Indeed, with this master plan we could be forgiven for thinking that we are actually watching an episode of Utopia. However, sadly there is no-one of the ilk of Tony providing a voice of reason and trying to stop dodgy infrastructure proposals reaching the public domain.

I now turn to the important MRCagney review into ACTION expenditure which the government released yesterday. I support this review being undertaken and I hope the review can lead to a better ACTION bus network in the future. Of course, this review is really nothing new. Madam Deputy Speaker, as you would well know, about every year or two there is a substantial review into ACTION buses and every year or two there is a minister for transport that bangs the table and says, “I am going to change this.” It has happened for 30 or 40 years in Canberra, and we all know it.

This is just the latest iteration, just like the claim that the network is going to solve all our problems. They are already talking about network 16 as the silver bullet. There was network 14 and there were stuff-ups. Then there was network 15 and there were stuff-ups with that. Now it is network 16. Last year Mr Rattenbury told this place that network 15 would be it and there would need to be only minor tweaks from then on. Now they are talking about the next big reform coming in 2016 with the next network. It is always another network away. It is always another EBA away. This government has no resolve to actually make travelling on public transport easier for people in Canberra.

The latest review shows that over the past 15 years the general performance of ACTION has declined. Not only is ACTION costing more but it is carrying fewer passengers. Indeed, for the 2014-15 financial year ACTION recorded just 45 trips per capita, one of the lowest trips per capita figures ever recorded. Remember that at the start of the l990s ACTION’s number of trips per capita was more than double what it is today. All this is under a Greens transport minister.

What is most stark in the figures released yesterday, though, is the decline in ACTION once the government decided to pursue light rail. Since 2011 public transport usage to get to work has dropped from 7.8 per cent to 7.1 per cent. This figure is set to drop even further to 6.9 per cent this year. In its transport for Canberra plan released in 2012 the ACT government aimed to have 10.5 per cent of Canberrans using public transport to get to work by 2016.

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