Tight NT budget backs buses

Better bus services have been promised in the Northern Territory's 'belt-tightening' budget

May 15, 2013

Better bus services have been promised in the Northern Territory's 'belt-tightening' $5.7 billion budget for 2013-14, despite a billion-dollar deficit and growing net debt.

Ahead of the Federal Budget release, Northern Territory Treasurer David Tollner yesterday
brought down
his first budget, which predicts a $1.2 billion deficit for the coming financial year and a net debt rise to $4.4 billion in 2013-14 from $3.3 billion.

The budget Tollner describes as ‘belt-tightening’ sets aside $1.2 billion for infrastructure, about $23 million below the six-year average.

But despite the strained budget, Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles says the government has made a ‘huge investment’ in the public transport system, with new routes and fare increases reinvested into service improvements.

As part of the investment, more than $1 million in ongoing funding has been allocated to provide public bus services in new Darwin and Alice Springs suburbs, Lyons, Muirhead, Rosebery, Bellamack, Zuccoli and Kilgariff.

The government will also provide almost $160,000 to enhance special needs student bus services in Alice Springs and an extra $430,000 a year for bus network operational support and new technologies to improve the public bus service.

Giles says a total of $1 million will be invested in a new ticketing and data collection system, giving passengers more information regarding bus timetables and routes.

"The new system will link to Smartphone apps that display the location of a bus, giving passengers comort in knowing where the bus is and when it will arrive," Giles says.

Included in the budget is also $3.3 million worth of public transport infrastructure works, including:

  • $500,000 for upgrading/replacing existing bus stops/bus shelters across Darwin
  • $500,000 for upgrading/replacing existing bus stops/bus shelters across Alice Springs
  • $350,000 for upgrading/replacing existing bus stops/bus shelters across greater Darwin
  • $500,000 for new Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant bus stops across Darwin
  • $300,000 for new DDA compliant bus stops across Alice Springs
  • $500,000 to upgrade the pavement at the Casuarina bus interchange
  • $250,000 to upgrade CCTV at two Darwin bus interchanges to improve security
  • $150,000 install security lighting at bus shelters in Alice Springs
  • $150,000 for a new bus stop at the Rapid Creek shops

The budget also commits $287 million for Territory roads and national highways, including $94.9 million for repairs and maintenance.

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