The wheels are in motion for Riverina residents to pay less when they step on public transport as the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal seeks feedback about rural and regional bus services.
A public hearing will be held at 10:30am on Tuesday, November 6 at the International Hotel as the organisation investigates how fares should best be set for the services provided.
The draft report – to be implemented from January 1, 2018 if successful – proposes reducing overall fares by an average of 25 per cent, substantially reducing single fares for 80 per cent of adult journeys, and imposing a new daily cap to make travel more affordable.
Although people could save more money, Wagga councillor Dan Hayes said more needed to be done about the length of travel in the city.
“When it comes to transport, we’re looking at a couple of issues. Cost is one, but the length of the journey is another and how we promote people choosing public transport over their own vehicles,” he said.
“Public transport won’t be fixed solely on the base of price. For example, a fare may be $5 to get from Lake Albert into town, but the trip could take longer than someone who drives because of the amount of stops in the process.
“We need to think about how we can accommodate those regular passengers. Instead of going door to door, there could be potential for a hub to hub service without having a stop at every block.”
IPART’s review will also consider ways to address using bus services across borders including concession fares and different eligibility criteria between each state.
There are about 116 operators providing bus services in the Murray-Murrumbidgee region of the state including Wagga, according to IPART chair Peter Boxall.
“Most trips in regional and rural NSW are made by private vehicles, but buses and other forms of public transport provide a valuable service for those unable to drive or without access to a vehicle,” he said.
“Just 2.4 per cent of bus trips are undertaken by full-fare paying adult passengers, which means that rural and regional bus services are almost entirely funded by taxpayers.”
IPART will also look at whether on demand services that have more flexible departure times, pick-up and drop points and routes, could be used to better meet community needs.
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