Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Campaign launch: 'Make all public transport frequent and free’


Thursday February 24, 2011 - Paola Harvey, Socialist Alliance candidate for Keira, will launch her campaign this Monday February 28, 10am at the University of Wollongong's main bus interchange on Northfields Avenue, Gwynneville. She will be joined by local Socialist Alliance candidates for the Legislative Council, Jess Moore and Patrick Harrison.

The theme of the launch, ‘make all public transport frequent and free’, is a key campaign priority for Harvey. It reflects Socialist Alliance’s commitment to job creation, social justice and immediate action to combat climate change.

‘Public transport in NSW has been seriously neglected, but the free shuttle in Wollongong shows the benefits of an efficient, frequent and free service. Nearly five million passengers have now used the shuttle, an astounding success. Why not learn the lesson and dramatically expand the idea to encourage more people to leave the car at home?’ said Harvey.

‘Making public transport frequent and free will require a large increase in funding. But the benefits, including significant job creation and reduced pollution, would far outweigh the drawbacks.

‘The Begian city of Hasselt introduced free public transport and patronage increased by 870% within a year. The government found they saved money overall, given the subsequent savings on health, road maintenance and construction, and also on ticketing.

‘It's a socially just response to the chronic problems of traffic congestion, lack of parking and lack of mobility faced by poorer sections of the community. Having limited transport options is a major barrier to job seekers finding work, something that our proposal would help overcome.

‘Free public transport would see a dramatic improvement in people’s health. Not only would respiratory diseases and other illnesses associated with pollution decrease, but patient access to care would improve. The Cancer Council estimates that currently 90,000 people per year are refused health related trips on community transport due to lack of capacity. This is simply unacceptable.

‘We stand for putting people and the planet before profit. Making all public transport frequent and free is a common sense response to many of the problems faced by the people of NSW. The free shuttle service proves it’s viable, so let’s get on with the job’, Harvey concluded.

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