Mr POWELL (Glass House–LNP) (11.01 pm): Mr Speaker, I have to tell you that I am disappointed that I have to stand up again in this House and speak on the plight of north coast rail commuters. I am equally, if not more, disappointed to say to the Minister for Transport, on behalf of the north coast rail commuters, ‘We told you so. Why didn’t you listen?’
Last Monday, 6 June, saw the implementation of the new north coast rail timetable. This is the timetable that commuters from the coast have been begging and pleading with the minister to revise. Their major concern with the reduction in the express service from Caboolture to Petrie was that five more stops were being added to each and every service, adding between 10 and 15 extra minutes to each trip. The services would undoubtedly become more crowded, too, given that passengers joining or departing the services between Petrie and Caboolture would naturally opt for these express services over their usual all-stops or limited-express service.
This is what the commuters were saying to the minister. This is what I have been saying to the minister ever since the draft timetable was released in November last year. What has the minister been saying to the commuters? ‘We are creating more than 150,000 seats.’ Well, not on the north coast line. The minister has not created 150,000 more seats; she has created the Queensland version of the Bombay Express. On the 5.20 pm Central to north coast service it is now not uncommon to have 70-odd passengers seated and more than 70 passengers standing in the aisles in each and every carriage. And they are standing for nearly an hour until the numbers equalise around Morayfield.
Yes, things may have improved slightly since that first horrid Monday but only because my commuters–coast commuters–have made the decision to stay at work longer and wait for the next service. The minister has penalised the longest commuters in the TransLink network, and rather than acknowledge the negative feedback she has received she calls it ‘constructive’ and dismisses it. The timetable needs to be amended. This cannot go on. I hate to say ‘we told you so’ but we did, and the minister ignored what we were saying.
And while we are at it, as the shadow minister for transport has already addressed in this House, the minister has also misled the commuters of Glass House, the coast and across the TransLink network by saying on 17 March that the first task of the newly appointed Public Transport Advisory Group, or PTAG, would be to look at six- and 12-month tickets and that the minister had spoken to the Treasurer and was hoping to make an announcement as part of the budget. Well, the PTAG has been appointed. There has been no discussion on periodical ticketing. The budget has been announced, and there has been no consideration given to TransLink’s most regular, patient and reliable customers. It is slap in the face after slap in the face for coast commuters. And this tired, lazy Bligh Labor government just does not care