PT revenue falls in NSW

Funds generated by public transport use falls by 3 per cent in New South Wales (NSW)

Public transport revenue decreased by 2.7 per cent despite a fare increase and increased patronage, the New South Wales (NSW) acting auditor-general announced this week.

The Opal card system is not providing Sydney Trains and NSW Trains enough information on passenger revenue and trips to them help run efficiently.

Crucially, 24 hours a day, seven days a week boarding data by station is not passed on to operators, which restricts their ability to allocate resources properly, according to NSW acting auditor-general Tony Whitfield.

"Transport for NSW (TfNSW) should ensure that the Opal system directly provides revenue information to meet the needs of all stakeholders," he says.

"It should also require the Opal service provider to independently confirm the effectiveness of its systems."

State Transit Authority (STA) must continue working with TfNSW to improve on-time running performance in all its metropolitan bus contract regions.

Customer satisfaction has improved on all modes of public transport, but TfNSW should consider having target measures on crowding for its bus operators, according to Whitfield.

TfNSW attributes the decrease in public transport revenue to the Opal card pricing strategy, and a reward system that allows users to accumulate free trips.

Twenty-five per cent of all Opal trips were free, including 47 per cent of trips on ferries in the last financial year and Whitfield says the effectiveness of the Opal system should be independently assessed.

Average travel speeds on Sydney roads fell for the morning and afternoon peaks from 39.0 to 37.9 kilometres per hour and from 36.0 to 35.2 kilometres per hour.

The state of NSW roads has improved, giving bus users a smoother ride with $612 million spent on asset maintenance and despite a maintenance backlog of $5.3 billion.

Potential conflicts of interest need to be effectively managed with RailCorp and Sydney Trains having the same chief executive and chief financial officer.

"There is a potential for rail services to favour Sydney Trains, which operates signalling priorities, ahead of other operators," Whitfield says.

The acting auditor general’s report to parliament covers a number of transport agencies including Transport for NSW (TfNSW), RailCorp, Sydney Trains, NSW Trains, Roads and Maritime Services and STA.

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