Current bus ‘consultation’ is not enough

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris must be more transparent about the government’s new bus network, and allow more time for Canberrans to have an informed say, Shadow Transport Minister Candice Burch said.
Miss Burch is calling on the government to release bus timetables and MyWay data so that Canberrans will know with certainty how the proposed changes will affect their daily commute. She also wants the government to extend the consultation period to allow Canberrans to express an informed opinion once they have the full timetabling information.

“The Labor-Greens government’s current consultation has been a complete sham,” Miss Burch said.

“This government slaps the label ‘consultation’ on just about everything, but it is clear that this is little more than a box-ticking exercise.

“Frustrated community members are often asked to wait to speak to official after the meeting, as officials are clearly unwilling to publicly address their concerns. Concerns about Xpresso services and school bus services are often dismissed, with the government running the same line over and over again that there will be more rapid services.

“Meanwhile, Minister Fitzharris refuses to release the new bus timetables. Without timetables, commuters can’t tell how long their journey will take, and parents don’t know how long their children will have to wait at interchanges. Bus users cannot fully inform the Minister how the changes will affect them when they don’t really know what the changes are.

“When I asked question on school bus patronage in July, Minister Fitzharris said: ‘based on MyWay ticketing data, it is not possible to readily distinguish between trips made by primary school, high school and college students.’ Yet, we have now seen media reports that about 1,160 primary school students use regular buses, while 840 use dedicated school buses. Both of the Ministers responses can’t be true. Either the Minister was trying to deceive the Opposition then, or she is trying to deceive the public now.

“Whichever one it is, the Minister has not been transparent and has not offered the community a genuine consultation process,” Miss Burch said.