Letters / Jon Stanhope, where are you?

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I THINK it appropriate to firstly congratulate Minister Fitzharris on her new additional portfolio of Minister of Happiness, it is in Bhutan is it not?

Regarding the newly introduced bus service system, let me quote from a conversation I had with an individual who at the time, indicated they held a senior position in Transport Canberra: “The introduction of the new northern bus network is simply viewed as collateral damage in the interest of the new light rail system.”

As a Florey resident, I can say that before the introduction of what the Minister refers to as her “hub-and-spoke system, which requires a bit of walking”, we enjoyed a top class Blue Rapid bus service between the northern suburbs, transiting Kippax to Woden and Tuggeranong, via Belconnen and Civic. Now we have been given a second-rate system with one of the services terminating at a Fyshwick discount shopping centre, just what we all wanted!  

The new services in this area are now prefixed with an “R”. However, it would seem much more appropriate to change it to “RS”. The light rail system is not of interest to anyone in this area and the removal of our efficient services is completely unacceptable.

In the interest of equity, why does the Minister not ensure that all light rail services from Gungahlin terminate at the rail terminal in Mitchell in accord with the “hub-and-spoke system” forcing all passengers to transfer to another service that should, of course, terminate inconveniently, well before Civic centre.

The introduction of any new service is surely predicated on an improved service not an inferior one. The basis of any transport system should be an efficient and comfortable service for members of the community to go about their daily business with ease and minimum travel time also, with the advantage of removing vehicle congestion from our roads as well as a reduction in pollution.   

What these changes have done for so many people in this area is a complete and utter failure on all these objectives and a seething anger is rising within the community.

Recently, I went to our local bus stop intending to take a bus to Woden. When I arrived there I found an elderly gentleman wanting to travel to Tuggeranong and a young mother with a baby in a stroller who wanted to travel to Woden. After consulting the new “RS” schedule, we each became quite angry at the inconvenience and loss of time in transiting services to get to our destination.

In the case of the lady with the stroller, she had until now been able to catch a direct service to Woden, collect a prescription for her mother and then take a bus to Woden hospital. Now, in order to travel to her destination and return home, the “hub-and-spoke” system requires her to catch six buses! Due to our anger at the time, we all returned to our respective homes and drove to our destinations in our own vehicles.

The Minister’s executive officer, Ms Sturman, may well say that “we have moved on” from the bus issue and she may well have done so as no doubt she, like many others in Transport Canberra, most likely enjoy (at taxpayers’ expense) the use of a departmental vehicle or attractive car allowances.

Everyone is entitled to make a mistake, so I hope the minister is going to be courageous and takes steps to remedy this unacceptable bus service that has been forced on us before she leaves for Bhutan, hopefully with her departmental “think tank personnel”.

Jon Stanhope where are you?  

Name withheld, Florey

Greens fail city ‘vandalism’

PAUL Costigan’s column “Greens fail to protect the local environment” (CN, May 9) is absolutely spot on.

The Greens have been absolutely hopeless in protecting Canberra’s environment by supporting the proliferation of high-density apartments and destruction of trees, etcetera.

With the proposed tram to Woden we will lose the magnificent poplars and other beautiful trees along that route.

Indeed, how do the Greens reconcile the gross development and destruction of beauty in Canberra with their supposed environmental principles?

Most Canberrans I have spoken to abhor the way this once beautiful city is being vandalised.

Mary Barker Ainslie

Unhappy at bus changes

I’M unhappy with the Action bus changes. It was better the way it was before. I live in St Andrews at Hughes and the home has been bypassed. It’s now a long walk, with a bad knee, to catch the bus to Woden.

Carol Shore, Hughes

Guide dog handlers have rights

GUIDE Dogs’ new Access All Areas campaign aims to remind businesses and the community that a person with their guide dog in harness is legally allowed to enter all public places.

Public places include, shops and supermarkets, cafes and restaurants, pubs and clubs, hotels and motels, hospitals, medical practices and dental surgeries. Guide dogs can also travel on all forms of public transport, as well as taxis and rideshares, and planes.

It is an offence to deny or charge a fee for the entry of a person with their guide dog.

While the public generally does the right thing, guide dog handlers continue to face many barriers when going about their daily lives.

On a personal level, it leaves them feeling frustrated, angry, upset and humiliated, especially when in groups of friends.

Guide dogs are not pets. They are highly trained to open up the world for people who have sight loss, not close it down, which is effectively what denying access does.

More information on guide dog access at guidedogs.com.au

Dale Cleaver, CEO, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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