PT in WA budget

WA budget includes $1.6 billion for roads and public transport and free trips for seniors

The WA Government has committed to spend $1.6 billion on public transport and roads over the next year, as part of its state budget that was released last week.

Western Australian seniors, disabled people and carers will have free travel after 7pm every night and before 6am each weekday morning from July next year.

Five-hundred-and-sixty-nine million has also been allocated to the Perth City Link rail and bus works, which will open to the public next year.

Premier Colin Barnett says this investment in roads and public transport will see significant improvements made that will benefit the people of WA.

"Transport is a key focus of this government," he says.

"The $1 billion Gateway WA project will revolutionise key transport routes around the Perth Airport and important industrial areas and will have create 7,000 jobs before it’s complete in 2016.

"The Forrestfield-Airport Link will accelerate the development of the eastern suburbs and give them easy access to the city.

"We are investing in infrastructure to grow the state for the future while providing thousands of jobs now."

Work on major road projects including the Perth Freight Link, NorthLink WA Swan Valley, Great Northern Highway, Mitchell Freeway Extension and North West Coastal Highway will account for $609 million in 2015-16.

$5 million will be spent initially to kick-start an upgrade all existing WA trains and purchase 300 entirely new railcars to double the state’s fleet over the decade, at an estimated total cost of $1.2 billion over the life of the project.

The budget has also seen the free travel for senior’s schemes extended to include free travel after 7pm and before 6am every day of the week.

Transport Minister Dean Nalder says this will make life easier for people in the community and he invites them to use their local bus service as much as possible, now the free fares have been extended.

 "We want to encourage as many people as possible to use our public transport - our buses, trains and ferries," he says.

The scheme was first introduced for pensioners in 2009 and was extended to include free travel for disability and aged support carers in 2013.

The pre-budget entitlement to seniors was free travel on weekdays, but only from 9am to 3.30pm, and all day on weekends.

Free off-peak travel can also be accessed by passengers on regional town bus services including Port Hedland, Broome, Carnarvon, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Geraldton, Bunbury, Busselton and Albany.

Uptake of the service has been huge, with 48.4 million free trips taken since 2009.

The move to include free travel at night will equate to about 145,000 extra free trips a year for eligible passengers.

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