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Free Public Transport

Thank you, Madam Speaker, and I thank Mr Parton for bringing this motion before the Assembly.

Last month in Tasmania, Transport Minister Michael Ferguson declared that public transport would be free for six weeks. He stated that there were two reasons for this initiative.

One, they wanted to help families with the cost of living of high fuel prices. And two, they wanted to use this opportunity to encourage people to give buses a try and hopefully, many of these people would fall in love with public transport.

Mr Parton’s motion should achieve both these aims as well.

Free travel and more frequent buses should attract new users to increase the overall base usage of our public transport, but it will hopefully bring back long-time bus users that have fallen into the habit of driving after giving up on the chaos that has been our public transport system for some time.

A constituent of mine who has been a public transport enthusiast for 20 years related to me that the interim bus timetable and reliability of the buses have combined to make these last months the worst public transport experience he can remember. He has largely stopped using it for the first time in his life since he started. He now drives to and from work every day.

For him, he feels like he has been trapped between a rock and a hard place. The interim timetable has meant it takes him longer to get to his destination than if he took a car. But with fuel prices so high, the car is more expensive.

Combining a period of free buses and a restoration of the regular timetable is the perfect solution to get him out of his car and back into public transport.

The restoration of the regular bus timetable is the least this government could do for bus users after their successive cuts to well loved bus routes in the last four years. Residents in Ginninderra alone have had to endure the cuts of over 10 well loved bus routes including all the Xpresso buses.

Madam Speaker, the Coalition government has made a move to decrease cost-of-fuel pressures for everyday Canberrans. It is now time for the Labor-Greens government to do the same.

On behalf of our past, present and future public transport enthusiasts, I commend this motion to the Assembly. Thank you.


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