Cheaper NSW services proposed

Off peak bus fares suggested to compensate for light rail construction impact in Sydney

Bus users travelling into Sydney’s CBD in peak hour should only be charged off-peak fares during construction of light rail, the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) announced recently.

All bus services along George Street will be either redirected or stopped short from October 4, as construction of the light rail project gets underway – leaving some commuters with no choice but to alight and catch another service, or walk to their destination in the CBD.

NRMA director for the harbour region Tim Trumper says the only time commuters in Sydney were given a refund for poor performance was when a politician arbitrarily decided they deserved one.

"Earlier this year North Shore bus commuters were delayed by over two hours because of poor transport management and paid full fare for the privilege – yet there are other examples when politicians decided commuters should be given a refund," he says.

"This is a ridiculous process and it must stop.

"The NRMA also wants the NSW Government to announce free travel on the city circle rail line."

Melbourne provides free tram travel around the CBD and Transport for London recently introduced refunds for delays caused that are the fault of the transport operator, so Sydney should follow suit, Trumber says.

"This happens in other cities both in Australia and overseas – it should happen here now."

There will be substantial delays to buses due to the light rail project, and Trumper says it’s only fair to have cheaper bus fares to the city and free train services within the CBD.

NRMA has now submitted these ideas to Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), the organisation that decides, and is in the process of setting, maximum fares the NSW Government can charge for public transport.

Transport for NSW CBD coordinator Marg Prendergast says, although the same peak hour bus fares apply, Opal customers will only pay one fare despite the need to catch two services.

"Where bus routes are changing and perhaps stopping short of where they used to go, there will always be a bus-to-bus interchange available, which ensures Opal customers will only pay one fare," she says.

"With such change occurring, it’s important that people plan their trips in advance as they may find a different route will better suit their needs in the future."

Public transport across the greater Sydney area costs about $5 billion each year to provide.

Fares currently cover approximately 25 per cent of that cost, with the remainder funded by taxpayers.

IPART’s methodology paper, which is now open to public consultation, looks at how to best set fares so they provide the most benefit to passengers.

Submissions on IPART’S technical methodology paper are open until October 9 this year and will be tested with transport economists and other experts before being finalised. 

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