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THE SA Government has conceded it is unlikely to meet its goal of doubling weekday public transport use by 2018.
The admission is made in the recently released South Australia Strategic Plan annual update, which reads: "Progress has been made, but the target is unlikely to be reached in the time frame."
The number of weekday boardings of public transport increased from 54 million in 2002-03 to 55 million in 2004-05, but that figure is below the 60 million required to be "on track" to reaching 100,000 boardings by 2018, the report states.
Transport Minister Patrick Conlon has played down the progress report, which was discussed at the SA Strategic Plan Community Congress at the Convention Centre on Saturday.
He said while the 2018 goal was "not an easy target", impending bus route changes should have a positive impact. Service changes last August, when about 70 per cent of bus routes were altered, resulted in a 10 per cent increase in patronage.
"If we get the same outcome, it will be a very significant step," Mr Conlon said.
Opposition transport spokesman Martin Hamilton-Smith said the Government was "nowhere near" reaching its target, even although he believed it was achievable.
"By changing services on the less popular bus routes and the 10 per cent increases to ticket prices, the Government is providing disincentives to use public transport."
A major investment in public transport would be required.
"The Government needs to sit down and talk to the private service providers about how they can improve services and get the cost of public transport down."
People for Public Transport spokeswoman Ruth Lenton said she believed recent fare hikes were having a short-term negative effect on patronage. "But if there were good services available figures would improve," she said.
"And the public needs to remember that if they do not use a service it may not run in the future."
Student Helene Sobolewski, of Hove, said she would use public transport more often if fares were cheaper. The 22-year-old, who is a part-time receptionist, said she regularly caught the train, but found it difficult to get a connecting bus to complete her journey to work.
"If I was able to catch a bus to work from a stop near the Adelaide train station I would," she said.
"But I walk half an hour to work because the buses are unreliable."
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