LNP public transport proposals 'costly, flawed and erratic: Mickel

By: Chris Smith

The Liberal National Party’s public transport proposals are costly, flawed and erratic, Transport Minister John Mickel says. Mickel says the proposals

The Liberal National Party’s public transport proposals are costly, flawed and erratic, Transport Minister John Mickel says.

Mickel says the proposals would be funded though massive fare increases, huge borrowings or cutbacks in other vital public transport services – and quite possibly all three.

He says passengers and taxpayers should be gravely concerned that the Liberal National Party had seriously under-estimated the cost of their policy initiatives, and had failed altogether to explain how they were going to pay for them.

"For example, initial estimates indicate the cost of introducing the automated train management and safety system to the Brisbane rail network could cost at least double their estimate of $250 million," he claims.

"This would mean that fares would need to go up by 100 percent, as well as an extra $250 million needing to be borrowed, just to fund this initiative alone.

"That’s all fares that would go up by 100 per cent – not just rail fares – but all fares across the entire TransLink network, buses and ferries included."

Mickel says the Opposition continued to take a confused and erratic approach to the new go card ticketing system.

"Only at the weekend, they were wanting to rip up the go card contract, claiming that the contract holder is failing to perform satisfactorily," he says.

"Today they are supporting the go card – basing the centre piece of their public transport policy announcement on it. They are all over the shop.

"The Opposition doesn’t appear to grasp that if you terminated the go card contract, this would not only result in contract cancellation fees running into millions of dollars, but we would not own the operating system.

"In other words, we would be left high and dry with no one to run the system – a system that the Liberal National Party now sees as central and integral to their free pre and post peak hour rail travel proposal."

Mickel says the proposal to add an extra carriage to city trains was flawed in two major ways. It was not only impractical from an operational point of view, but for many trains it was not technically feasible.

"This would mean removing a carriage from the new trains that are coming off the production line, leaving them a carriage short, and the seven-carriage trains would be too long for some platforms," he suggests.

"The Opposition’s plan to lock the doors of the first and last carriages is a recipe for chaos and confusion, not to mention the serious safety implications of such a move.

"As well, for at least half the QR fleet, the trains simply are not configured to just add an extra carriage. As much as you might like to, you simply cannot do it."

Mickel says Queensland Transport was aware of a trial of free pre and post peak hour fares in Melbourne earlier this year, and would closely examine its value as a cost effective way of reducing overcrowding.

"The indications are that while it may have shifted some passengers from the peak hour crush, the cost involved is clearly a key issue, bearing in mind the forgone fare revenue from those who would use these services regardless. So we will continue to monitor the cost effectiveness of a measure such as this," he says.

"It comes down to an assessment of how to best spend available funds to address overcrowding – and whether this is through going down the route of free travel, or through using the funding instead to put on more services. The government’s focus is on introducing extra services."

Another area where the Opposition’s policy was confused and contradictory was the issue of security on trains and at train stations.

"Last week in the Parliament, they voted against providing TransLink transit officers with powers to effectively address security situations," he says.

"According to the Liberal National Party’s spokesperson Fiona Simpson: ‘These new powers are over the top for transit officers'.

"So, when provided with the opportunity to do something tangible about security on train stations, they refuse to support the government. But three days later they want us to believe they are serious about improved security on trains."

Mickel says QR currently had 3500 closed circuit television surveillance security at train stations and car parks, and 2500 CCTVs on trains. All QR train stations and car parks would have CCTV coverage my mid next year.

Shadow Transport Minister Fiona Simpson says the policy announced by the LNP aimed to provide better integration of public transport services.

"No matter who you are, someone on a crowded bus, a congested road or a sardine like train, the LNP will make it easier to get to and from work with this policy because it means more room, and more reliable rail services, which means more seats on buses and fewer cars on the road,"
she says.

Simpson says the LNP had discussed the policy extensively with the Brisbane City Council who were pleased the initiative would take the pressure off buses.

"This is just the first of our transport policies with more to be progressively rolled out prior to the next State Election," she tells ABC.

"The LNP will invest heavily in improving public transport infrastructure, including busways, and we will also be ensuring regions receive their fair share of road funding."

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