The ACT Government is being urged to boost public transport services and staffing to meet extra demand caused by thousands of hail-damaged vehicles being off the road.
Monday’s short but fierce storm wreaked havoc on vehicles caught in the barrage of hail stones and there is likely to be a long wait for many to get back on the road with repairers and insurers inundated.
The Australian Motor Body Repairers Association says panel beaters could be fixing hail-damaged cars for the rest of the year, and the Insurance Council of Australia declared the ACT a catastrophe zone, with more than 15,000 insurance claims already in train.
The Public Transport Association of Canberra says the Government should provide practical public transport assistance for people whose vehicles can’t be driven.
PTCBR chair Ryan Hemsley said about 10,000 people may be impacted.
“Some will be adequately insured, including having access to a replacement rental car. Many others may need to make greater use of public transport, including buses and light rail,” he said.
Mr Hemsley said the ACT Government should significantly increase weekend services on routes to under-served areas such as the Molonglo Valley to enable affected Canberrans to reliably access employment, shopping, medical and social activities.
He said the people of Molonglo only had access to limited services operating every two hours and with a circuitous route to their closest major supermarkets.
The Government should also require additional Transport Canberra employees to work on weekends and public holidays if necessary, even if this requires changes to the long-standing composite pay and weekend staffing arrangements.
He added that the government should also provide targeted information to new and infrequent public transport users about how to best get to the major commercial and community centres and events.
But Transport Minister Chris Steel said the network was coping with a 3 per cent increase in demand.
“Monday’s hailstorms were devastating for so many Canberrans and I know this is a hard time for people who experienced damage to their homes and vehicles,” he said.
“Since the storm, we have been monitoring public transport patronage, and while there has been a small increase in passengers, the network has been able to manage the additional load with no need for more services.”