QUEENSLAND REGIONAL BUSES IN $54.5 MILLION SUPPORT PACKAGE

By: Fabian Cotter


TO ‘KEEP QUEENSLAND MOVING’ during Covid-19, the State Government has allotted $54.5m to help transport operators’ support their customers during the coronavirus-induced downturn, it’s been announced.

QUEENSLAND REGIONAL BUSES IN $54.5 MILLION SUPPORT PACKAGE
“It will be a long journey back and will require unity and strong leadership from everyone involved," said Minister Bailey in jointly announcing the $54.5m support package.

The joint statement – issued by Premier and Minister for Trade The Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, The Hon. Mark Bailey – says the state government had approved a $54.5 million package that will allow regional air, bus and ferry services to keep running while social distancing measures remain in place.

"This helps people in regional Queensland stay in jobs … as well as helping communities access essential supplies and services," the Premier said.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says transport was an essential service during the Covid-19 crisis.

"Operators can’t afford to keep running these services when passenger numbers are down as much as 95 per cent," Minister Bailey said.

"Unfortunately, people living in our regional and remote towns rely on these services and would be virtually cut off from the world if they lost access to them.

"With this package operators and the workers they employ can continue running services for up to six months as our economy recovers."

Minister Bailey says the relief package was targeted to keep air, bus and ferry services running in communities where some of these services are the only transport option.

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HOW IT WORKS

The funding package would also allow for the waiver of some fees and extend licence terms for taxi, limousine and rideshare operators.

"Hundreds of drivers have been on the frontline across our state during this pandemic helping people with essential travel, but they’ve seen fares disappear almost overnight," Minister Bailey said.

"Some operators want to de-register their vehicles until Covid-19 is over, so this means they won’t pay to do that, or when they re-register that same vehicle in the future either."

The relief package will extend support to freight, transport and logistics companies, too, continuing the existing freeze on heavy vehicle registration fees until 30 June, 2021, the government explains.

Fees normally charged to drivers to cancel their licence or vehicle registration will be waived, too, apparently.

Learner drivers whose licences are about to expire will have theirs renewed at no cost until such time that they can book a practical driving test, the government confirms.

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LONG JOURNEY BACK

Minister Bailey thanked transport industry heads for their leadership and engagement during the Covid-19 response.

"As is the case for many industries, it will likely be some months before things return to what was previously considered ‘normal’ for the transport industry," he said.

"It will be a long journey back and will require unity and strong leadership from everyone involved.

"I’ve had regular conference meetings with leaders across the sector and I thank them for their preparedness to work together through these challenges with us."

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BUS-RELATED HIGHLIGHTS

Regional Buses

- Support for bus operators to continue running services in Cairns, Innisfail, Townsville and Magnetic Island, Bowen, Whitsundays, Mackay, Yeppoon, Mt Morgan and Gracemere, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Elliott Heads, Maryborough and Hervey Bay, Gympie, Maleny, Kilcoy and Woodford, Minjerribah, Toowoomba and Warwick.

Heavy Vehicles

- Continuing the existing registration freeze by a year

- Removing de-registration and re-registration fees

Regional Aviation

- Support for QantasLink, Regional Express (Rex), Skytrans and Hinterland Aviation to continue running air services on reduced schedules to regional and remote communities, to complement Federal Government grant funding, which will contribute to rebuilding to a more frequent timetable

Regional Ferries

- Support for ferry operators to keep running services on a reduced schedule to Thursday Island, Magnetic Island, Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), Southern Moreton Bay Islands and Coochiemudlo Island.

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