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Private car users in Government sights as transport emissions continue to rise

Ian Bushnell 15 February 2019 207
Canberra Traffic

The Government wants more Canberrans to swap cars for the bus, light rail, or bike. File photo.

The ACT Government will target private car owners in a bid to reverse rising greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector, with private car use the biggest contributor.

Overall the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to fall, as more of the Territory’s electricity comes from renewable sources. But the transport sector stands apart as the next big challenge for the Government.

The ACT’s 2017-18 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report found that the ACT’s emissions fell 14 per cent over the year, but transport emissions rose 2.3 per cent on 2016-17 levels and now accounts for 34 per cent of all emissions.

By 2020, when the ACT will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity, transport will be Canberra’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, at more than 60 per cent.

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said the Government would be encouraging car users to consider other ways of getting around the city.

“The Government will focus on helping people to take sustainable modes of transport, like light rail, buses and active transport. We’re also looking to the community to work with us, to being open to trying new ways of moving around the city,” he said.

The Government is also encouraging the take-up of electric vehicles, with new charge points, and the transition of the Government fleet to ‘clean’ cars.

Mr Rattenbury said the other challenge was reducing reliance on natural gas, and eventually phasing out its use altogether. Natural gas emissions decreased by 4 per cent on 2016-17 levels, but it is still a major source of heating for many Canberrans.

“Natural gas emissions are already reducing, partly due to people switching to new highly efficient electric appliances for their home heating and cooking,” he said.

The report found a big drop in waste emissions, down 31 per cent from 2016-17, mainly due to an increase in the volume of landfill gas captured and burnt.

Electricity emissions fell 27 per cent on 2016-17 levels.

“The report shows the ACT continues to make great progress in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable electricity generation grew from 30 per cent to 49 per cent in 2017-18 as more of our wind farms came online,” Minister Rattenbury said.

He said the report showed that, with strong community support, the ACT can meet its emission goals.

The 2017-18 Greenhouse Gas Inventory is available at

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207 Responses to Private car users in Government sights as transport emissions continue to rise
Malcolm Kerec Malcolm Kerec 11:10 am 18 Feb 19

The bus system is already terrible in Weston Creek & the new proposed timetable makes it even worse. If they want people on buses then they need to provide a better service.

    Matt Druhan Matt Druhan 11:19 am 18 Feb 19

    Don't worry they are almost finished the tram between Gungahlin and Civc. That should sort the problem out!

Brad Miller Brad Miller 11:06 am 18 Feb 19

Public transport from Gungahlin to Fyshwick would need to operate 24hrs a day 7 days a week for me to use as shift worker & either my start time there is none or my finish time there is none

Ben Foley Ben Foley 11:02 am 18 Feb 19

As someone that drives a V8, we should totally be charged taxes based on how much our cars contribute to pollution (this includes the environmental impact of making your electric car). We should also, however be charged based on how much we (cars and driving style) contribute to road congestion.

Buses are slow but make up for it by carrying lots of people.

A V8 pollutes but doesn't hold up traffic.

A smart car doesn't pollute, but slows down everyone behind them.

    Ella Factor Ella Factor 11:19 am 18 Feb 19

    Ben Foley wait are you saying Tesla sports cars are slow? Last I heard they’re pretty fast!

    Actually I test drive a PHEV recently and it took off faster than ordinary ICE car because it kicks both the electric and petrol engines in.

    I guess the really early models of EVs weren’t so powerful and people just assume there’s been no R&D since then?

    Ben Foley Ben Foley 11:35 am 18 Feb 19

    Yeah a tesla is no slouch. If they figure out how to make batteries that don't require lithium, they'll be the natural choice.

Glen Fuller Glen Fuller 10:57 am 18 Feb 19

Interesting. Many commentators treat transport and residence location as separate issues in situations where it is a simple case of commuting to work (ie an office) everyday. The assumption being: I should be able to live where I like, and the government provide public transport for me. It is not clear why decisions about where to live are not made with transport in mind. If you have lived in the same place for 20 years, sure be grumpy. A decade, yeah I'm not sure, there has been plenty of talk about transport issues in that time. Last 5 years, well, that is your problem for not doing any research about the key challenges about transport and energy for the next 20 years. These are big social issues, for which there has been plenty of discussion at all levels of society.

    Robert Knight Robert Knight 11:52 am 18 Feb 19

    Hey man, stop thinking with your brain. You're making the rest of us look bad...

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 12:07 pm 18 Feb 19

    I for one live where I can afford. The public transportation is second. I don't want to be stuck on an over crowded bus for an hour

    Penny Gordon Penny Gordon 12:10 pm 18 Feb 19

    I have lived in my house for 25 years. In that time I have worked in a variety of locations. For the last 13 years my workplace is 8kms from my home.

    If I use public transport it takes 40 minutes each way. If I drive it takes 10 minutes each way. If and when the Government improves public transport, I will consider using the bus, but until then I will use my car.

    Glen Fuller Glen Fuller 12:17 pm 18 Feb 19

    Daniel Duncan right, but what does 'afford' mean? It seems like you are excluding transport costs. Transport is part of the calculation in deciding where to live.

    Glen Fuller Glen Fuller 12:19 pm 18 Feb 19

    Penny Gordon yeah, I'd be a bit grumpy if I were you. The world has changed since you decided where to live 25 years ago. Perhaps it is time to move to minimise your transport costs?

    Eloura Taralga Eloura Taralga 12:48 pm 18 Feb 19

    Penny Gordon get a bike!

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 1:03 pm 18 Feb 19

    Glen Fuller wrote, "I should be able to live where I like, and the government provide public transport for me. It is not clear why decisions about where to live are not made with transport in mind." Transport was right at the top of my list of where I should live, as it should be for everyone. I downgraded (quite a bit) what sort of house I wanted so I could be near transport and be able to ride my bike to work. I have never applied for a job that was not cycling, walking, or on a convenient bus route from my home.

    Penny Gordon Penny Gordon 1:15 pm 18 Feb 19

    Glen Fuller whe I moved to my house, the public transport system was decent. It has gradually eroded away each time the bus network has changed. When I changed jobs 13 years ago, it was to get something CLOSER to home. Previously I had a 30 minute drive each way or bus 1 hour each way. So I did make changes to reduce travel.

    Penny Gordon Penny Gordon 1:16 pm 18 Feb 19

    Eloura Taralga ignoring you 😆

    Will Gardner Will Gardner 10:54 pm 18 Feb 19

    We got our place with this in mind... still seems like the right decision

    Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 7:16 am 20 Feb 19

    Well yes I knew that when I moved to my house in Belconnen, off the main route, that PT commute to anywhere but Civic or Belconnen would require a second car. But it's poor public policy for the government to then suggest we should use PT more when that would mean five to eight hours of my life gone each week, nearly a whole working day, gone.

    So of course I will just wear the costs of reclaiming my life.

    Time is the one thing that is truly priceless when the gap is that big.

    That and the fact the routes have actually degraded since moving here.

Jody Maree Harrison Jody Maree Harrison 10:55 am 18 Feb 19

They better be catching a bus or light rail

Ken Quilty Ken Quilty 10:50 am 18 Feb 19

Get rid of all the Government vehicles here and let them use the bus network, then see how that works for them 🤔😂😂

    Jessica Hitchens Jessica Hitchens 12:06 pm 18 Feb 19

    Nothing will fix the network faster than doing that

Travissi Gilbert Travissi Gilbert 10:48 am 18 Feb 19

Where I live, the ACT doesn't provide a bus service and given I have to attend meetings during the day from a suburban office, they would need to significantly upgrade services outside town centres to make it a viable option

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:23 am 19 Feb 19

    Why did you choose to live here, without considering public transport?

    Travissi Gilbert Travissi Gilbert 10:00 pm 19 Feb 19

    Julie Macklin I am lucky. I have a car. I rent. 'Choice' is an interesting concept for tenants. I applied for properties in Belconnen, the Inner North and South & Woden area but was unsuccessful.

    My tenancy was ending in 9 days when the Property Manager called and said I had been offered my current place. I like living where I live but unless public transport frequency is increased - particularly east to west, it is not possible to do my current job without a motor vehicle.

    On days where I don't have meetings and appointments I'd happily catch a bus.

Tony Kevin Tony Kevin 10:47 am 18 Feb 19

We need home plugin solar powered electric cars. Tony Kevin

Donna Westcott Donna Westcott 10:39 am 18 Feb 19

Public transport is not really an option for many, me included. I need my car for work as well as the school and daycare run. I shouldn’t be penalised for that.

Andrew Wadey Andrew Wadey 10:35 am 18 Feb 19

The key issue is time. It is 10+mins faster for me to ride from Florey to Civic than bus the same trip - and I can leave whenever I'm ready. When public transport can compete time wise and is on time, people will be more likely to use it.

Lesley Jane Lesley Jane 10:35 am 18 Feb 19

I’d rather not walk, then bus, then walk, then tram, then walk, then bus and then repeat to come home.

Hugh Mungus McLauchlan Hugh Mungus McLauchlan 10:34 am 18 Feb 19

Are they daft? Southside is getting absolutely boned as far as public transport.. Just because it may work within the CBD doesn't mean it works all across Canberra..

Rodney Broughton Rodney Broughton 10:31 am 18 Feb 19

No way im taking an hour or more and half a dozen busses one way from Evatt to queanbeyan and the same again in the afternoon home. Lived with that for the first 10 years of my working life in sydney.

Roberta Lynne Anning Roberta Lynne Anning 10:27 am 18 Feb 19

If our public transportation system wasn't so expensive and deplorable I would use it.

    Megan Baker-Goldsmith Megan Baker-Goldsmith 12:50 pm 18 Feb 19

    Roberta Lynne Anning with a myway card a single bus trip is around $2.00. That’s less than an hours worth of parking.

    I agree public transport can lose some of the convenience factor compared to cars, but it’s definitely cheaper.

    Helen Mchugh Helen Mchugh 5:24 pm 18 Feb 19

    Megan Baker-Goldsmith I think it’s been a while since you caught a bus - it’s currently $3.14 that’s $6.28 for a return trip with a myway card.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 6:01 pm 18 Feb 19

    How much cheaper does it need to be? Very reasonable prices. Try catching public transport in London if you want to know what expensive is. Making such an ignorant comment, I don't think you catch buses.

    Jeremy Coghlan Jeremy Coghlan 9:14 pm 18 Feb 19

    Helen Mchugh me too and that $3 price is for a (blessedly short) 15 minute journey.

    Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 6:46 am 20 Feb 19

    Only an idiot pays in cash. Use their card, it's cheaper, and faster.

Harper Pirsig Harper Pirsig 10:26 am 18 Feb 19

Our city is designed for private car use and the public transport system just isn’t good enough yet. The light rail will help but will need to be extended. And we likely need a lot more buses and cycle paths. But as our population grows markedly in Canberra and the rest of the country, can this public infrastructure catch up, and then keep up? Until these questions are answered, and fixed, let’s not get over-zealous with the anti-car agenda please.

Bill Metherell Bill Metherell 10:26 am 18 Feb 19

Maybe they should look at their speed camera vans they leave idling all day long...

Kyle Sharpe Kyle Sharpe 10:25 am 18 Feb 19

Will the bus tow my work trailer to each job for me and carry materials?🤔

    Soo Jay Soo Jay 10:34 am 18 Feb 19

    Kyle Sharpe, I don't think professional use of motor vehicles are what they are talking about. But just take a look at the one car-one occupant commuters to and from the work place each morning and evening. (I am just as guilty as the next person in this; public transport is just too slow!). One thing Canberra could be looking at with regards to lowering the number of cars on the road is enabling more "work from home" options for office workers.

    Brian McKenzie Brian McKenzie 10:45 am 18 Feb 19

    Soo Jay or you could just leave home earlier like everyone else who catches public transport

    Deanne Jodie Deanne Jodie 11:11 am 18 Feb 19

    Brian McKenzie so you’re suggesting, in our already time poor, demanding lives where we struggle for work life balance, that instead of improving the public transport system to accommodate this push, everyone just used an extra hour or two of their day to get to and from work? Nope. The public transport system here is horrendous and needs improving. Then you’ll find that people will naturally move towards it as a cheaper and better option.

    Brian McKenzie Brian McKenzie 11:22 am 18 Feb 19

    Deanne Jodie I am saying plenty of people catch the bus daily. Your life is no more important than others. So stop pretending to be the busiest most important person in the world. Get organised and leave home earlier. It really isn’t difficult.

    Deanne Jodie Deanne Jodie 11:44 am 18 Feb 19

    Brian McKenzie oh we are playing this game. Ok. I never said I was more important. I said “everyone” is busy and time poor so I’m actually thinking of people other than myself. And assuming everyone is just plain disorganised and getting organised will make it all ok is plain ignorant. People make choices based on their life needs and to state they’re wrong in doing that is ignorant. There are people who are plenty organised, but have life demands that perhaps don’t allow all this travel time. Some of the bus trips and connections are just plain absurd and its unreasonable to expect them to take buses when they have a car and maybe other commitments. Maybe people don’t have ability or time to be on a bus for 3hrs a day due to actual life... people with kids, shiftwork, chronic illness, study and other commitments it might be a bit much... I realise people do it. But just because some people have no choice or make that choice, what makes others who don’t do it less than you? Why do we live in a world where making sacrifice and being a martyr to the system is considered better? How about instead of saying “suck it up, we aren’t important, just be a sheep” we band together and demand better?

    Vic Franklin Vic Franklin 11:56 am 18 Feb 19

    Thanks Deanne. Having a chronic illness means having to organise trips out very carefully. Being out just a fraction longer than needed can be a very bad thing. Bad organisation isn't my problem!

    Deanne Jodie Deanne Jodie 12:45 pm 18 Feb 19

    Vic Franklin I get it. I have a chronic illness also that makes me tired a lot. I manage to live a quite normal life mostly, but if I had to spend an hour or more in transit each day to and from work it would definitely mean changing my entire life, affect my income etc... the flow on effect would be enormous. But of course many would think I’m just lazy and disorganised 🙄 if I was so lazy I wouldn’t bother myself with trying to work at all would I?

    Soo Jay Soo Jay 2:02 pm 18 Feb 19

    Can't drop the kids off at school early enough to get to work on time. 😄

Alby James Alby James 10:19 am 18 Feb 19

And where is this working light rail system?

Hans Dimpel Hans Dimpel 10:12 am 18 Feb 19

I think it would be helpful if our local politicians set an example and used sustainable forms of transport.

    Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 9:21 pm 18 Feb 19

    From inner suburbs with the best public transport options. I'll bet not one spend two hours a day on public transport.

    Jennifer Jones Jennifer Jones 1:52 pm 19 Feb 19

    How about this. ACT govt purchases (not leases) electric / hybrid vehicles for their car pools then eventually sells them off as second hand cars, thus getting more of these vehicles into circulation

    Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 9:30 pm 19 Feb 19

    Jennifer - that's a sensational idea.

    Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 6:46 am 20 Feb 19

    Many do...

    Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 6:47 am 20 Feb 19

    Jennifer Jones because second hand electric cars are worthless due to battery replacement costs

Harley Barber Harley Barber 10:04 am 18 Feb 19

Maybe they should improve their bus network

    Maria Greene Maria Greene 10:12 am 18 Feb 19

    Harley Barber improve rather than destroy which they are about to do to the bits they haven't already destroyed

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