Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Greens policy to encourage public transport use - subsidised ACTION tickets and bicycles

Today the media report that the ACT Greens have announced that they would like to see ACTION bus tickets and bicycles included in public servant salary packages. These comments seem to have support from the ACT Government, and the Liberals think that it is an idea worth investigating.

However,  as I have learnt from listening to ACT ALP politicians - its not what they say - it is what is delivered. They say all sorts of warm hug me sounding words. Rarely do they follow through.

My advice to the Greens is to not get too excited until they see actual legislative changes to make the proposed policy a reality. It is a good policy - and would lead to a percentage point or two of extra public transport usage. As parking in Civic decreases or shifts to paid parking, and becomes more expensive, this idea could gain some traction. I encourage the ACT public servants union, the CPSU, to get behind this idea in the next round of certified agreement negotiations.

The difficulties for delivery of the policy are twofold:

  • The ACT ALP have no real incentive to actually do anything.
  • There may be federal fringe benefits tax complications.

So a little bit of work from the legal department is in order to ensure aspiration meets reality.

The policy conforms with my general belief that to move people from their private cars to public transport for commuting, you must make public transport comfortable, reliable and frequent. You cannot punish people into using it.

Transport policy for the ACT Greens can be found here. For all their rhetoric on sustainable and green transport, disturbingly the ACT Greens remain welded to the ACTION bus model for public transport in the ACT. Their policy is bus focussed. I understand that they are working with the tools at hand (the existing ACTION bus network) but it is disturbing that they do not have a policy of exploring better mass transit options - such as light rail. This is something that I have gained from talking to Green MLA's as well, not just from looking at their policy.

To achieve the goal that they are asking for, public transport patronage to increase by at least 5% per year between 2008 - 2012 (their policy), they must abandon the idea that ACTION buses can deliver that result. While the bus ticket proposal may eventuate and increase public transport by a percentage point, it will not offer the large scale increase in public transport patronage that a light rail system can deliver.

No comments:

Post a Comment