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Dilemma of more parking or buses

Date

Peter Jean

Cabinet Papers: 1984-1985

The government of Bob Hawke, pictured in 1984, wanted more Canberrans to catch the bus to work.

The government of Bob Hawke, pictured in 1984, wanted more Canberrans to catch the bus to work. Photo: Fairfax Archives

 

The Hawke Government wanted more Canberrans to catch the bus to work - but not too many.

As it is even now, in 1985 the availability of parking in town centres was a public concern, so the government decided to introduce long-stay charges to help finance extra parking areas.

Cabinet briefing papers warned against workers being forced to use public transport, presumably because the money collected from fares would be less than the actual cost of the service.

Civic parking had a serious shortage of parking spaces as development increased and by 1987-88 would need an extra 5000 places.

''This trend is beginning to occur in other areas such as Woden, Belconnen and the Parliamentary Zone,'' a cabinet memo said.

''The strategy for Civic aims to provide additional parking. … The cornerstone is the introduction of long-stay pay parking to reduce demand, to ensure equitable allocation and to achieve cost recovery.

''Without this strategy the functioning of Civic will be seriously impaired. Traffic congestion, poor access to commercial/retail facilities, despoliation of the environment, higher deficit-producing public transport usage and increased illegal parking will result.''

The National Capital Development Commission wanted to convert existing long-stay surface car parks to long-stay pay parking in 1984-85. These would be leased to private companies and provide immediate returns to the government. About 4000 long-stay spaces for which drivers would be charged $1 per day to use would yield $500,000 per year from lessees.

Establishing long-stay parking would cost the Government $6 million. The measure would lead to some increase in bus patronage. ''The number of commuters to Civic using ACTION buses could increase from the current 15 per cent to an optimum economic level of 25 per cent.'' The same month, cabinet's Expenditure Review Committee agreed to cut ACTION's public subsidy by $1.2 million to $15.4 million.

The committee also ''noted'' a proposal to retrofit ACTION buses with air conditioning units in driver compartments.

''During the summer of 1982-83, recorded cabin temperatures exceeded 40C for sustained periods,'' a submission said.

 

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