The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has reaffirmed the importance of public transport while calling upon the ACT government to maximises accessibility and connectivity in the next stage of Canberra Light Rail.
In a submission made to the public consultation on the next stage of the project which would extend the line south to Woden, ACTCOSS highlighted the significance of public transport for a wide diversity of groups.
“Residents of any age or circumstances should be able to access affordable transport of a frequency, availability and accessibility that supports social and economic inclusion,” the submission notes.
CEO of ACTCOSS, Emma Campbell, said public transport was essential for Canberrans.
“Good public transport is vital to allowing people to access community amenities, social activities, health and community services, education and employment. Access to transport is one of the social determinants of health,” she said.
“Canberra’s overall transport strategy must ensure that all Canberrans, including older people, people with disability, shift workers, people on low incomes and people with other complex needs can access a flexible, appropriate and safe transport system.”
ACTCOSS advocates for a broad public transport policy that combines modes and meets the needs of a diverse community. With cost a significant barrier for some and prices rising in the ACT above the national average, ACTCOSS recommended that the ACT government assess the possibility of making public transport free.
“The ACT government must ensure that concessions are targeted at those who need them most,” said Campbell.
When designing the future light rail extension, ACTCOSS noted that feeder connections would enable more users to access the network.
“On-demand transport alongside mass transit options must also be included in any transport strategy so that people remain connected with the community – especially older people and people with disabilities,” said Campbell.
The design of the system should also provide opportunities for all to utilise the system and the services it connects to, said Campbell.
“Connectivity and the choice of stops must maximise the ability of people to connect with health services. Furthermore, an appropriate assessment of the physical and sensory access features of the light rail should be undertaken to ensure it exceeds minimum access requirements under the Disability Standards for Accessible Transport.”
The ACT government is seeking community feedback on Stage 2B, City to Woden while it awaits Commonwealth approvals for construction on Stages 2A and 2B.