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Report from the Public and Active Transport Committee

8 February 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That the report of the select committee be noted.

I want to speak briefly on this report and firstly begin by thanking the members of the committee for the valuable role that they have played. The members of this select committee were the Hon. Justin Hanson; the Hon. Dennis Hood, who was later replaced by the Hon. Nicola Centofanti; the Hon. Frank Pangallo; and the Hon. Tung Ngo. I also want to thank the secretariat for the committee, Ms Emma Johnston and Dr Merry Brown, for all of their work in ensuring the committee ran smoothly.

We had over 100 submissions from a broad cross-section of the community and we heard from 50 witnesses. One of the things that struck me, as Chair of the committee, was the consistency in the themes that came through, not only in the submissions that were received but also in the verbal evidence—and we had a number of groups that came to speak to us.

One of the things that was really clear is that there has not been an appropriate investment in public transport infrastructure over many years, particularly in the regions. There was a broad consensus from community groups that that needed to be remedied but also that there has not been enough of a focus on active transport.

We have seen successive governments focus almost exclusively on the car and that has been a big part of government messaging from both sides of politics, but there has not been enough of a focus on trying to encourage people to cycle, to walk and the like. In that regard, the committee made a number of recommendations. I will not obviously go through them all—there were 13 recommendations—but I will in speaking to the report just highlight a few of the key recommendations.

Not surprisingly to anybody who has taken a bus in South Australia, one of the key recommendations from the committee was that we need to increase the frequency of buses in metropolitan Adelaide and in regional centres. We also need to look at better bus connectivity between metropolitan suburbs, looking at integrating different forms of transport and also ensure that there is some fairness and equity in fares and, in particular, we need to review concessions to streamline the process.

The committee also recommended that the state government as a high priority conduct a trial of passenger train services from Mount Barker to Adelaide. It is clear that there is significant community support for getting rail moving to the Adelaide Hills, but also the committee suggested the government should consider similar trials looking at areas like Roseworthy to Gawler, Aldinga to Seaford and Adelaide to Port Augusta.

In terms of rail, the committee also has advocated for the reactivation of regional rail for freight and for passenger services and looking at wanting to get the rail service moving between Adelaide and Melbourne, also servicing regional towns like the Barossa. The committee has also advocated for targets around increasing the patronage of active travel, looking at things like trials of separated bike infrastructure and traffic calming measures like speed limit reductions. A number of other states are doing that at the moment and the committee was of the view that that should be done here in South Australia as well as, of course, finally developing a statewide integrated separating cycling network.

Of particular interest to members of this place may be the committee's recommendations relating to e-scooters. We heard significant evidence around e-scooters. The committee was of the view that we should allow for privately owned e-scooters and other personal mobility devices in public spaces in line with other jurisdictions. Members may be aware that at the moment you can purchase an e-scooter or a private mobility device, but you are not able to use it on public space and that is an inconsistency.

We are advocating for the government to address that but there are, of course, some important issues that need to be considered in that regard. The committee heard significant evidence around concerns for the safety of pedestrians on footpaths but also some of the issues—and this was a matter of particular concern to the Hon. Tung Ngo—relating to insurance and the protections that are afforded to the users of these devices. These are issues the committee has advocated that the government should consider.

I understand that there is a bill that has been introduced into the other place and so I am sure the committee's findings will be useful in that regard. The committee also advocated for a removal of messaging that promotes cars over other forms of travel and also for there to be better transparency in consultation when the government is dealing with major road projects.

Finally, one of the key themes that came through from a number of the groups that gave evidence to the committee was the need for an overarching plan for transport in South Australia that looked at active travel, that looked at public transport and tied all of these things together. It would seem that that has been a long-term gap.

In closing, my thanks to everybody who was involved with the committee: all the members of the committee, the secretariat and members of the community who engaged with us. I hope that the government considers the recommendations, and I look forward to their response.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.