On Thursday the 21st of March, The ACT Legislative Assembly convened to debate the PARSA petition that aims to save the Number 3 bus route. The route commonly used by students was slated for removal following the release of the finalised 2019 bus routes on Tuesday the 16th of October, 2018.
The petition will now be presented to the Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services.
In response to the route’s removal, PARSA voiced their concerns as to the impact this could have on Postgraduate students. Most notably, PARSA specified that “international students, low SES students and students with disabilities” would be among those most affected. PARSA additionally outlined that for these students, the Number 3 route was the only means of transportation to one of Canberra’s two major hospitals, both of which lie on the number 3 route.
The petition presented to the ACT Legislative Assembly contained 1,128 signatories, collected over five days. This made it the most successful e-petition in the ACT’s history. The petition was supported in the chamber by Opposition leader Alistair Coe, fellow Liberal MLA’s Elizabeth Kikkert and Candice Burch, and Greens MLA for Molonglo Caroline Le Couteur.
MLA for Kurrajong Candice Burch reinforced the concerns issued by PARSA surrounding the route’s removal. Burch voiced her concerns for student security when returning home at night. The member for Kurrajong recalled the experience of a university student living on campus, who finances her studies through night-time hospitality work. As a result of the route’s cancellation the student is reconsidering her ability to work, as she doesn’t feel safe walking the increased distance home.
The Member for Ginninderra cited her concerns that the removal of the number 3 route would leave many students with no “safe, reliable and affordable transport home”.
MLA for Ginninderra, Elizabeth Kikkert highlighted the significant impact the removal of the route would have on the 3,274 students that currently reside on the previous Number 3 route. Kikkert said that “many students at the ANU live with disabilities or have mobility issues” and will struggle to undertake the 30-minute walk to the City bus stop. Finally, the Member for Ginninderra cited her concerns that the removal of the number 3 route would leave many students with no “safe, reliable and affordable transport home”.
Greens MLA for Murrumbidgee, Caroline Le Couteur asserted that the limited parking afforded to students and staff of the ANU places a greater emphasis on quality public transport and that the decision to cancel the concerned bus route undermines this concern.
As the petition collected over 500 signatures, it will now be presented to the Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services. This committee is comprised of three members; the chair Suzanne Orr MLA (Labor), Candice Burch MLA (Liberal) and James Milligan MLA (Liberal). The committee will then review the petition and decide whether to present a statement to the government or launch an inquiry into the matter.