IPART proposes cheaper fares to get more people on buses

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is proposing substantial reductions in rural and regional bus fares to encourage greater use of public transport.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is proposing substantial reductions in rural and regional bus fares to encourage greater use of public transport.

More affordable bus fares are proposed in rural and regional areas to encourage greater use of public transport.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has released draft recommendations for public comment.

The draft recommendations propose a cut to adult fares by an average of about 25 per cent and the introduction of daily fare caps.

Port Macquarie’s Sylvia Badenoch supports a reduction in bus fares in the hope it would attract more people to public transport.

“I’m a pensioner, so I get the $2.50 fare the same as they do in Sydney, which I’m really grateful for,” she said.

Another bus passenger said even the full bus fare was cheaper than a taxi.

“I’m working, so whatever the full fare is, I will gladly pay it,” he said.

No passenger would pay more than they currently do.

Maximum fares for journeys up to three kilometres would remain the same as 2017.

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Maximum fares for the most common bus journeys (between two and 10km), would fall by up to $3.50, while maximum fares for longer distance journeys (up to 60km) would decrease by up to $7.90.

Fares for frequent travel would fall with proposed new daily fare caps.

All fares (including the RED ticket) increase by the change in the Consumer Price Index in 2019 and 2020.

IPART chair Dr Peter Boxall said most current fares discouraged the use of bus services in regional and rural areas.

“We have found that the government’s costs in providing rural and regional bus services are high, and the utilisation of these services is low,” Dr Boxall said.

If adopted, the proposed new fare structure would apply to about 95 operators and include the Port Macquarie area.

A Busways spokesperson said Busways welcomed IPART’s recent proposal.

“The IPART determines the maximum fares that we can charge for our North Coast services,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ll be working with Transport for NSW to review the draft recommendations made for fare changes in 2018, and will apply the appropriate changes where needed.”

IPART is also proposing flexible, on demand services in place of some high-cost, low patronage fixed route bus services.

Go to the IPART website for the draft report and recommendations.

A final report is expected in December.