ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Transport: right issue, wrong debate

28 September 2016

The ACT Council of Social Service have released an election ask and position paper which shows Canberra’s current transport debate is missing the mark which should be how to help people facing most hardship and the least capacity to move around get where they need to go. 

ACTCOSS Director Susan Helyar said, “In this election we’ve heard a lot about public transport and Labor, Liberal and the Greens have all been advocating significant investment. That’s great.

“We welcome new investments, yet our debate is off kilter. We need to stop talking about modes and how we can make people shift between them and ask how we might help people who are grounded or isolated actually get where they need to go. 

“We need transport that’s fit for everyone who lives and works in Canberra. Our days as a city of office workers clocking into 9.00am - 5.00pm jobs have long gone. Transport investments need to deliver for shift workers, casuals, people in precarious jobs and many people on low and fixed incomes who need to travel outside regular hours. For instance, the personal care and hospitality industries are both growing in Canberra – and neither of these have 9-5 hours.

“While light rail and rapid buses are being talked about at length, we are not hearing enough about how these investments will deliver for people who just can’t get where they need to go because of where they live, the barriers they face, the incomes they have or the jobs they have.

“We’ve also got people growing older, people in poverty, lower cost housing far away from the trunk routes, people who have lost or are losing their licences and people who can’t use public transport. We’ve got people with disability with no transport options aside from taxis. There are young people who cannot afford the costs of a learner’s permit or keeping a car on the road. 

“In 2016 ACTCOSS released research which highlighted that on average Canberra households transport costs are the third most significant weekly expenditure behind only housing and food. In fact, Canberra households spend almost as much on transport ($232) as they do on food ($235). 

“ACTCOSS is calling for clear commitments from parties and candidates to prioritise the transport needs of people on low incomes. This means fairness in access to concessions and subsidised services; accelerating disability access to public transport and further research on how transport services could better meet the needs of people on low and fixed incomes.  

“The people experiencing transport disadvantage can help get the debate on track and public investment correctly targeted. The next ACT Government should work with these people and the organisations that represent them to ensure public transport, community transport and city services all deliver better for people who experience transport disadvantage”, Ms Helyar said.

For more information or comment please contact:
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200
Youth spokesperson available via Emma Robertson, Director, Youth Coalition, 0422 665 469.


Related documents:

2016 ACT Election Statement - Transport

Position paper: Transport: A ‘wicked problem’ we have the strengths and assets to solve