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Canberrans urged to ditch their cars once a week to help fight climate change

Lachlan Roberts 16 September 2019 276
Ditch cars

Mr Rattenbury said the Canberra community needs to start re-thinking transport and be willing to leave the car at home. Photo: File.

Canberrans are being encouraged to ditch their cars one day a week and jump on public transport or a bike as the ACT Government aims to reach its zero net emissions target by 2045.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury launched the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025 today, outlining the Government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-60 per cent by 2025.

As part of the strategy, the Government said it will provide “incentives” for Canberrans to consider active travel or public transport to move around our city, with transport accounting for more than 60 per cent of emissions.

The strategy recommends the Government implements car-free days, car-free areas, shared zones and traffic-calmed streets as soon as 2021, as well as options for a reward scheme for locals who increase their use of public transport.

The strategy said car-free days have been implemented in hundreds of cities around the world, noting Paris makes its central areas car-free on the first Sunday of every month.

“Government will work toward holding car-free days at least once per year,” the strategy said. “These could be held to coincide with on-street activities such as markets and festivals.”

The strategy also said the ACT Government should consider reforming car registrations fees based on how often and far the car is driven to “incentivise efficient road use”.

Mr Rattenbury said the Canberra community needs to start re-thinking transport and be willing to leave the car at home and walk or ride a bike, e-bike or use public transport for their daily commutes. He said if one Canberran decided to leave their car at home and walk or cycle once per week, emissions would be reduced by around 400 kilograms each year.

“I think we have an imperative to make these changes because we have to do that for the community,” Mr Rattenbury said. “If we don’t and the impacts of climate change are unmitigated, then people’s lives will change for the worse whether they like it or not.”

“We need to ‘Copenhagenise’ Canberra” – Mr Rattenbury. File Photo.

Mr Rattenbury admitted that the strategy requires Canberrans to make behavioural changes and said there is a “need to ‘Copenhagenise’ Canberra”.

“We want to work with our community to start early and to make the transition as easy as possible,” he said.

“We need to make it better for walking and cycling in this city. That means the Government needs to invest in the infrastructure to make it easier for people but we also need to show them what is possible.”

Mr Rattenbury said reducing emissions from transport is a high priority for the Government and presents one of the biggest challenges in meeting the 2025 target, and achieving net-zero emissions in the longer term.

“Responding to this challenge will require fundamental changes in how we plan and deliver transport networks and how we choose to travel,” Mr Rattenbury said. “It is not possible for the Government to achieve the ACT’s emission reduction targets alone.

“The Government will play its part in supporting and encouraging individual choices and technologies that reduce transport emissions, but will also seek the participation of the community in rising to this challenge.”

The Chief Minister said the next few ACT Budgets will help fight climate change by funding new projects and infrastructure.

“It won’t all happen at once and we are stepping through a process here,” Mr Barr said. “There are parts of Canberra that are arguably quite Copenhagen-like already but there is more work that can be done.

“I think there is an appetite in the broader Canberra community for this sort of partnership approach. There is certainly a lot of distress at a national level, so rightly there is a focus on state, territory and local governments to show some leadership and to work with their local communities.

“That is what we are doing.”

Conservation Council ACT executive director Helen Oakey said the ACT Government’s “bold ideas” for rethinking transport will trigger a fundamental rethink on efficient use of roads.

“Reducing emissions from transport will require specific targets, community engagement and investment over a long period of time to ensure that active travel and public transport options are efficient and reliable, as well as safe and enjoyable for people,” Ms Oakey said.

“While electric vehicles will definitely have a role in our transport future, this transition to zero emissions transport is a wonderful opportunity to reduce the number of private vehicles on our roads, something that will be important as the population grows and our city becomes denser,” she said.


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276 Responses to Canberrans urged to ditch their cars once a week to help fight climate change
Capital Retro 7:27 pm 22 Sep 19

Indeed there were more buses then Peter Mackay and young people in particular used to use them because they couldn’t afford to own a motor car. That has changed with used (and even small new) cars becoming very cheap. Combined with the fact Canberra was correctly designed for cars as the primary mode of personal transport and there is usually somewhere to park them at home and destination means more cars will be acquired so public transport use will drop off even further. The government’s and town planners response to this is to convert car parks into apartments and fantasise how trams and bicycles will attract people away from cars. This is what happens when car-hating idealists have control.

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 1:56 pm 22 Sep 19

There were more buses, more drivers, and way more convenient routes thirty years back. On weekends midi buses would pick you up and drop you off at your house, whether you were on a bus route or not.

Lucy Baker 12:04 pm 22 Sep 19

How many of our MLAs bus/cycle/tram every day to work? Transparency please!

Stewart Power Stewart Power 11:23 am 22 Sep 19

Knowing this shitty government the 'incentives' will probably be you not getting taxed extra for using your car.

Lachlan Vandedonk Lachlan Vandedonk 8:14 am 22 Sep 19

Jordan Darcy or everyone should stop working like u did......

BlowMeDown 9:57 am 21 Sep 19

If I wanted to live in Copenhagen I’d move there and I would suggest that others do just that if that is what they want.

Population growth is unsustainable. It’s the credit card approach to short-term economic growth.

Car-free days are only a possibility for those with other options and will increase the cost of living for the rest. The government may as well reintroduce the ban on shop openings on Sundays, i.e. take us back to the 1960s dead Sundays in Canberra when there was nothing to do but hang out in pool parlours (if you weren’t in church or watching test cricket on tv).

Michelle Bausch Michelle Bausch 8:24 pm 20 Sep 19

Just like cancelling the bus service on Narrabundah lane and forcing public servants to get a second car just to go to work?

Vindalu 5:51 pm 20 Sep 19

Make it odds and evens by number plate. Not compulsory but something to think about and aim for. Traffic cameras could be used for a random free raffle. Weekly prize of $1000.00 provided by a private or corporate sponsor who would get a hell of a lot of publicity and good will. A little bit of effort could make a big difference.

ChrisinTurner 4:42 pm 19 Sep 19

I just received a letter from Minister Steel saying they will not provide traffic signal priority for buses because it might disrupt car travel. Cars carry an average of 1.1 people and buses can carry 100 people. They are obviously not serious about Public Transport.

Lisa Geraghty Lisa Geraghty 9:27 pm 18 Sep 19

Great idea if we all lived in north Gungahlin and work in the city. And if we didn't have kids that don't have school buses. And we all have over an hour each morning and afternoon to catch a number of buses to one destination. Oh... Did you hear the one about the same government who want to get rid of gas in Canberra by 2023. Apparently expensive electricity is the preferred energy option. Barr/Rattenbury, what a joke!

Robert Koch Robert Koch 6:42 am 18 Sep 19

I was a regular user of the old 725 express bus from Holder to the city, which took 15-20 mins. The new timetable requires a diversion to Coleman Court and bus change over, which adds another 15-30 mins to the journey and is for all intents unusable if you are on a tight schedule. I now use a scooter for the journey which is cheaper to run than a car and also cheaper than the bus ($7 petrol per week). It also solves the problem of all the traffic bottlenecks created by poor ACT government planning (as scooters can lane filter).

Roger Mungummary Roger Mungummary 11:56 pm 17 Sep 19

after removing many many bus stops to force people onto the red elephant and dropping the number of buses on weekends through not hiring enough drivers! what a joke

approx 9:35 pm 17 Sep 19

Is this for real? There were more people in my neighbourhood commuting by bus every day before the recent network change.

astro2 8:43 pm 17 Sep 19

Veronica Sain, in response to your claims about Canberra public transport: 1) “It is geared to the young and able bodied.” You did not provide any evidence to support this claim so it goes unsupported. 2) “Buses are inaccessible to people with disabilities. “This claim is simply wrong. Buses are much more accessible to people with disabilities than cars. Most Canberra buses have ramp access operated by the driver for wheelchair passengers. Can’t do that in your average sedan. 3) “Stops are far apart.” In most areas they are not. In some areas they are. however they are certainly no further apart than stops in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide or Melbourne. 4) “added danger due to Canberra’s drug crime problem” Canberra doesn’t have a ‘drug problem’ any more than any other city in Australia. In any case, you’re just as likely to suffer a head-on collision with a driver on drugs when you are driving, 5) Your claim about shorter times using a car applies in most other cities in Australia. However you forgot to mention that time spent driving a car, no matter how short, is time that you must concentrate on driving and the road. If you’re travelling by public transport you can watch a DVD, send emails, do your tax, catch up with friends etc. So it’s a false equivalence to equate car driving and public transport in the terms you have used.

    Kent Street 9:38 am 18 Sep 19

    This strategy doesn’t apply to Sydney, Melbourne or “most other cities”, so why bring them up?

    astro2 3:13 pm 20 Sep 19

    Because the criticisms that were being made about the Canberra situation were criticisms that were general rather than specific to Canberra.

Jordan Bromhead Jordan Bromhead 7:54 pm 17 Sep 19

This overwhelmingly favours those living close to the city centre with those further out penalised. It is established that, for the majority, the distribution of wealth and socioeconomic status decreases the further from the city centres you go.

Also they’ve just salt and peppered the government housing throughout the suburbs. Plus the bus network is atrocious and the reason people don’t use it.

Domestic tradies going from one job to another over the day will have another thing stacked against them compared to their commercial counterparts. A lot of whom are sole traders. I could go on.

Virtue signalling climate action when you can afford it is all well and good but it’ll only make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

This is important enough to get right!

Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 7:26 pm 17 Sep 19

A few problems with the public transport service:

- it is geared to the young and able bodied:

- buses are inaccessible to people with physical disabilities;

- stops are far apart;

- there's added danger involved in taking public transport due to Canberra's drug crime problems; and

- buses don't link well from one part of Canberra to the next so trips can take extra hours instead of a short trip via car.

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 6:49 pm 17 Sep 19

What a lot of twaddle Zero Emissions has as much chance as the no waste by 2010 target ...zero. Not opposed to cutting green house gas but this is poppycock.

Steve Austin Steve Austin 6:07 pm 17 Sep 19

Cracka Barr trying to make this the Socialist Republic of Canberrastan... where those that rule you are the rich ones...

tfx1 6:07 pm 17 Sep 19

Some modest suggestions for improving the public transport system in Canberra. Having lived in Brisbane and regularly used their bus system, I would recommend that the ACT sub contract out the running of the bus system to Brisbane City Council. They have managed to make it highly effective with a lot of little busways to get around traffic hotspots, something that Canberra has not quite managed to do as well.

I am also aware of the study of a few years ago where Deanes bus lines over the border in Queanbeyan managed a ratio of 1.3 workers per bus compared to 4 workers per bus in the ACT. Not directly comparable as they did not do the multiple shifts of bus services comparable to the ACT.

Another anecdote I have is from a former employee of the ACT bus system is that he said every bus had its own mechanic, in the workshop of course. Possibly another example of gross over staffing.

The ACT Shire Council is obviously not up to speed in being able to run an effective public transport system.

    JS9 11:20 am 20 Sep 19

    ” I would recommend that the ACT sub contract out the running of the bus system to Brisbane City Council”

    Nice idea of contracting out, but that would need to break the stranglehold of the unions on the buses, so no hope.

    “Another anecdote I have is from a former employee of the ACT bus system is that he said every bus had its own mechanic, in the workshop of course. Possibly another example of gross over staffing.”

    Adding to this, I’ve heard anecdotes about bus drivers being able to pick a ‘favourite bus’ to drive, and favourite routes etc. The lack of flexibility and massive cost imposts from the system are largely hidden from view but substantial.

Evelyne Georgette Evelyne Georgette 5:55 pm 17 Sep 19

Well they should introduce alternative day , we did it in NZ and did it in USA . or got in car with 4 friends and could need only 1 car park .

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