Election Policy: ACT Pirate Party
A public transport system that includes night time services and runs frequently and predictably is an important enabler of participation in the community. Such services allow residents to safely reach and participate in cultural and musical events in all parts of Canberra, and encourage the arts sector to thrive. Public transport is also particularly important to low income and disadvantaged people.
Bus routes in the ACT have been cut back under successive governments over the past 20 years. The resulting ‘savings’ have been offset by a collapse in patronage resulting from a deterioration in the service quality. Subsidies have more than doubled in real terms over the past 20 years to total $5.80 per passenger boarding in 2010-11. At the same time the number of trips made per capita dropped to around 47 per capita in 2011—less than half the level of the mid-1980s.
The Pirate Party proposes a significant one-off investment and upgrade to the bus network. The Pirate Party will:
- Restore specialised high-frequency, high-speed, high capacity inter-town services operating between the main urban centres of Belconnen, Woden, Tuggeranong, and Gungahlin, and Civic.
- Improve service levels on local routes connecting to inter-town services, with a 15 minute minimum peak frequency during peak hours, and additional services to be added during low-volume periods. Local service timetables will include timetables for connecting inter-town services.
- Synchronise interchange timetables to ensure a wait time of no more than five minutes for users boarding inter-town services. Hire additional interchange staff to supervise connections and improve cleanliness, maintenance and passenger safety.
- Simplify network structure to remove the need for park-and-ride services (which entrench car dependence), weekend networks, and ad-hoc ‘special’ or ‘espresso’ services. Remove long and hard-to-schedule “patchwork” routes which blend inter-town services with local services.
A well directed investment will rebuild the far more successful network structure which operated in Canberra during the 1970s and 1980s and bring Canberra into the forefront of best practice among cities of equivalent size and density. Cities such as Ottawa have seen massive rises in patronage among public transport systems following the adoption of similar practices, and one-off investment costs will be offset through a reduction in subsidies and a reduction in car volumes which will reduce parking ressure and damage to roads. Improvement to the bus network will also reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants, bolster community participation among low income earners, and provide short- and long-term employment to Canberra residents.