The ACT opposition has blasted the territory government's plans to encourage employers to adopt more flexible working hours in order to help ease peak-hour demands on the public transport system.
The ACT government released its transport recovery plan last week, which includes plans to review fares, gradually increase passenger numbers and incentivise more off-peak traffic.
As part of that, the government wants to look at opportunities to spread out peak-hour traffic.
The plan states the government would work "with major employers, including the ACT and Commonwealth public sectors, to encourage uptake of flexible working arrangements outside of the standard nine to five".
However, Canberra Liberals transport spokesman Mark Parton labelled the plans as ludicrous and unrealistic.
"The public transport system is there to support the city, support the community and support workplaces and businesses; not the other way around," he said.
"Workplaces aren't there to prop up the public transport system and it's ridiculous to believe that could ever be the case."
Mr Parton said the plan would also negatively impact small businesses such as cafes, a concern also put forward by the business community.
"The other problem with this plan by the transport minister is that cafes and restaurants in the city centre and other town centres provide services to workers," he said.
"If everyone changes their work times this will place unnecessary pressure on already struggling small businesses."
In a speech to a public transport recovery forum last week, ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel said plans to spread out the peak-hour demand arose due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Mr Steel indicated decreasing peak-hour demand could be a new norm.
"COVID-19 has presented us all with many challenges, but it also provides us with opportunities to drive a long-term and sustainable shift towards public transport," he said.
The plan to spread out peak-hour demands would also help traffic problems around the construction of the second stage of light rail,according to the recovery plan.
"Encouraging more Canberrans to choose public transport and flatten the peak by varying their morning and afternoon commute times is an important action with the ACT government's broader disruption mitigation planning," the plan stated.
Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Graham Catt last week told The Canberra Times larger employers could more easily adapt to allow flexible work in ways small businesses could not readily follow.
"I think there's been a recognition that cities around the world are changing, and I'm sure there's a consciousness here in Canberra and an awareness that people are rethinking the way our cities work, people are rethinking where people work, how they travel to and from work," he said.
"I think there's certainly an awareness and this is an opportunity for the ACT government to engage with business with how they think this might work for Canberra."
A 2013 research paper from the University of Queenslandsaid peak-hour pressures could affect service levels and recommended differential pricing for spreading out peak-hour demand.
Transport use in Canberra plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic. It fell 87 per cent between February to April last year. Patronage has since risen to about 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. Revenue from fares has taken a $9.3 million hit so far this financial year, a fall of about 40 per cent.
The government's transport recovery plan also included providing more dedicated bus lanes, on-demand public transport options and initiatives to drive uptake after restrictions have eased.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: