Free school bus scheme biased: report

The ACT Government’s free bus travel scheme discriminates against some students and will destabilise government schools, leading to some closures, according to an Australia Institute report. Given to The Canberra Times two days before the scheme swings into action, the report slams the pre-election policy as money-wasting and biased towards richer families. Commissioned by the ACT branch of the Australian Education Union, it said the Government had likely underestimated the yearly costs of $4.5 million. Read more…

Debate still raging on free student travel

In just six days as many as 17,000 Canberra schoolchildren will walk through the morning chill to the bus stop and catch a free ride to school, courtesy of the ACT taxpayer and a Liberal Government very keen on winning another term. Public servants and staff at ACTION buses have been working overtime to get the $27 million plan ready in time for the September 3 start date. Urban Services Minister Brendan Smyth made it Read more…

Bus drivers boycott Manuka stops

Some commuters have backed a ban which means bus drivers will not pick up or drop off passengers at Manuka bus stops when cars are illegally parked in the bus zones. Transport Workers’ Union ACT secretary Andrew Whale said bus drivers, who were concerned about passenger safety, endorsed the boycott and called on Police Minister Brendan Smyth to empower officers to impound offenders’ vehicles. Bus stops outside the Manuka Post Office and Coles supermarket were Read more…

The real cost of free school buses

The Liberals promised they’d do it six years ago, but no-one dreamed they would. Non Government school lobbyists had occasionally raised the free school bus plan (promised by the Liberals in 1995, but not delivered) but it had long been dismissed by unions and government-school lobby groups. The thinking was that it was so expensive that a politician wouldn’t go for it and frankly, there were better ways to spend the money. But then, to Read more…

We still ignore the pluses of buses

THE HYSTERICAL cries over Australia’s petrol prices are not being reflected in a rush to forsake the private car for public transport. The Federal Government is being warned daily that the ‘anger and outrage’ over petrol prices will see it replaced at this year’s election. But it seems all this huff and puff is over less than 3c a litre, or the price of a cappuccino when buying 100 litres of petrol. While that $3 Read more…

Horror day for ACTION Buses

One man has died and five school children were injured in a horror day for ACTION buses on Canberra roads yesterday. Ambulance paramedics and police were called to three separate accidents after 3pm, two involving ACTION buses. A man believed to be in his 40s was killed instantly after being hit by a bus outside the Hellenic Club in Phillip. Police said the accident occurred about 5.30pm in Launceston Street between Furzer and Callam Streets. Read more…

Labor’s plan to boost bus use

An ACT Labor government would seriously consider limiting car-parking spaces to encourage greater use of public transport, Opposition transport spokesman John Hargreaves says. Commenting on a survey which showed increased satisfaction with ACTION, Mr Hargreaves said something had to be done to attract people who had a choice to use buses. It seemed increasing the cost of parking was not the answer. He cited the parking places outside the ACT Legislative Assembly. Though they cost Read more…

The bus hubbub we had to have

This week’s decision by the ACT Government to call tenders for the operation of Canberra’s buses was as opportunistic as it was predictable. A full-on industrial dispute at election time, albeit a federal election, never did the liberal party any harm. But to take on “the bullies” of the Transport Workers Union must also be seen as a sound political strategy by the ACT Liberals, who have their own immediate pressures. So much for the Read more…