Fare rises find support

Although set on the back foot over Victoria’s January fare increases, Transport Minister Terry Mulder has an ally

Fare rises find support
Fare rises find support

By David Goeldner | December 8, 2011

While Victoria’s Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder was placed on the back foot over heavy January fare increases announced this month, Australia’s peak travel and tourism lobby group – Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) – appears to be in support of the rises.

TTF Chief Executive John Lee says no-one looks forward to paying more for a train, bus or tram ticket.

"However, if governments are to deliver improved public transport services the reality is that the money has to come from somewhere," he says.

The average price of public transport fares across Melbourne’s three modes rise by 8.6 percent from January 1, which Mulder is blaming on John Brumby’s Labor Government well after it left office in November 2010.

Mulder says the fare increases can be sheeted back to the previous Labor Government's 'buy now, pay later' transport projects and associated cost blowouts.

"The previous Labor Government's Regional Rail Link, Digital Train Radio System, Myki, M1 Melbourne freeway upgrade and West Gate Bridge strengthening blew out under Labor by more than $1.3 billion, and Labor failed to fund the vast majority of its $38 billion transport plan," he says.

But Lee suggests Melbourne’s commuters should support the fare increases as a way of supporting public transport projects in the state.

"The Victorian Government has an ambitious program to improve the reliability and coverage of public transport in Melbourne and commuters can take comfort from the fact that this fare increase will go directly towards funding that plan," Lee says.

"Every state government is grappling with how to fund improved services and more realistic cost recovery will be part of that mix," he says.

According to Lee, the cost of running public transport and building new infrastructure were not well understood by most people.

"Australia has one of the lowest rates of fare recovery in the world ranging from 25 to 45 percent, compared to an international average of around 60 percent," he says.

"Many commuters are unaware of just how much their trip is being subsidised."

He says the travelling public expects governments to improve services without wanting those improvements to hit hip pockets.

Lee says a recent National Transport Commission report found that there ‘is a disparity between what people want from the transport system – improvements, reliable services, less congestion – and what they are prepared to pay to achieve such improvements.

"There is no magic pudding to fund public transport improvements and we all will ultimately have to contribute if we want a better system," Lee says.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook