Page 2352 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 31 July 2018

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The report has 427 pages and 226 recommendations, but you will all be pleased to know that I am only going to go through a few of the report’s recommendations. I am going to start with transport. Recommendation 194 was one I very much support. It says:

The Committee recommends that the ACT Government continue to give priority to, and increase investment in, public transport and active transport.

We looked at costs for the consumer. We recommended that the ACT government convert the current trial of free off-peak travel for concession cardholders into a permanent change in fare policy. As we all know, the fares pay only about 30 per cent of the costs of ACTION; this change would not cost the government much, but for the people who are beneficiaries it can make a big difference.

In quite a few places we looked at safety: women’s safety and safety in general. This is one of the reasons for recommendation 202:

… that the ACT Government release indicative plans for improving community safety around transport stops and interchanges, such as improved and increased lighting of streets …

We know that one of the reasons people take their cars is that they perceive it to be safer. If you looked statistically at road accidents, you might find that perception is not true, but it is a matter of perception and it is one we need to change.

On the day that the estimates committee saw Minister Fitzharris and the associated transport witnesses, the government released a document that advised us that the travel time between Woden and the city by light rail was projected to be between 25 and 30 minutes. This compares with the current blue rapid travel time of 13 to 16 minutes, so it is almost double.

The reason for the longer journey time appears to be that the route the government has chosen goes via Barton. Possibly the ACT government was told to do this by the National Capital Authority. I do not know. The Barton route does have positives. It clearly makes public transport better for people going to Barton, be it from the inner south, the inner north, Woden or Gungahlin. It will also benefit some people in Curtin, Deakin and Yarralumla.

On the other hand, doubling the travel time is clearly problematical for the large number of people, myself included, who go from the city to the Woden town centre, particularly those who start from southern Woden Valley or Tuggeranong. It is also a problem for people on the north side who work in the Woden town centre.

It is my contention, and the recommendation of the estimates committee, that we do not need to have this problem. As Minister Fitzharris and the directorate pointed out to the committee, the light rail service is not a like-for-like comparison with the blue rapid. They are simply not the same service; they do two quite different things. The only trouble will come if the government decides that a 25 to 30 minute light rail service is a like-for-like replacement for the current 13 to 16 minute service.

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