Melbourne commuters to see public transport fares slashed under Napthine plan

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Herald Sun: Melbourne commuters to see public transport fares slashed under Napthine plan. James Campbell and Matt Johnston. 26 March 2014

The Premier says his changes would deliver significant cost of living relief to many families. Source: HeraldSun

Public transport fares for Melbourne commuters will be cheaper regardless of who wins the state election in November.

Labor has backed the Napthine Government’s move to cap maximum daily fares at the Zone 1 rate across Melbourne’s entire tram, rail and bus network from January 1.

Commuters in Melbourne’s outer suburbs would see the cost of travelling to work by train slashed by up to $1200 a year under sweeping changes proposed by the State Government in the lead-up to the election.

A couple who commute from the suburbs to the CBD each weekday using daily myki passes would save about $50 a week.

The radical changes, being unveiled today ahead of the State Budget, would also see CBD and Docklands trams free under the changes.

The cost of the windfall, to be funded in the May Budget, has been estimated at $100 million a year.

The changes do not apply to V/Line fares.

Napthine has announced sweeping changes to transport costs. Picture: Eugene Hyland Source: News Corp Australia

Premier Denis Napthine said the changes would deliver significant cost of living relief to many families.

“A commuter who pays for a Zone 1 and 2 ticket each day will save around $1200 a year, or, if using an annual myki pass, will save more than $750,” Dr Napthine said.

Dr Napthine said train or bus passengers who travel extensively each year would be the big winners.

Victorians who travel only within Zone 2 would keep their discounted trip fares.

The free tram travel in the CBD and Docklands, long called for by business and the Committee for Melbourne, is a big win for many city workers and for tourists.

Public transport groups have questioned free CBD travel in the past, saying it would mainly benefit people who drive into the city.

The new free zone will take in the CBD grid, including the Queen Victoria Market and Docklands lines.

Ticket inspectors will be shifted out of that area to pursue fare evaders in other suburbs.

Dr Napthine said it was a move that “will enhance Melbourne’s reputation as an international city”.

Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the free tram changes built on the success of the City Circle tram.

Napthine says his proposal is a move that “will enhance Melbourne’s reputation as an international city”. Source: HeraldSun

“Today’s announcement means all commuters, including tourists, will be able to travel anywhere within the CBD free of charge,” he said.

“This is just one of the many ways our Government is fixing Victoria’s transport system and providing services to move more people, more often.”

Mr Mulder defended the decision system in the face of criticism that it would not help reduce overcrowding.

“Overcrowding has come down significantly since we’ve come to government. We’ve added an additional 1078 additional train services to the network,” Mr Mulder said.

“We’ve got new rolling stock coming on, we’ve got seven new X’Trapolis trains out there, there are eight on their way and there are 25 new generation trains that are going to be introduced as a result of our Dandenong, Pakenham, Cranbourne corridor initiative that we’ve announced.

“We’ve got punctuality right up, we’ve got reliability right up.”

Mr Mulder said the announcement was not a reaction to poor opinion polls in the public transport area.

“No, progressively we have been rolling out improvements … and will continue to do so.

“This announcement today is about metropolitan Melbourne, if you’re out in the suburbs in Zone 2 two going to Zone 1 you will get a significant discount.”

Labor has already promised voters it will get rid of 50 level crossings while the Government has pledged to build the East West Link toll road.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews today said that while public transport would be cheaper, Labor’s plan to remove the level crossings and kickstart the Melbourne Metro rail line was the best option for Melbourne’s future.

He said trains and buses were still packed in the morning and evening, and the Coalition’s fares announcement did not solve congestion.

The Property Council’s deputy executive director Asher Judah welcomed the Napthine Government’s plan, saying changes to public transport fares was a “sensible reform that will benefit those who commute into the city for work each day”.

“In addition to easing suburban road congestion, these changes will also boost the tourism sector and help make Melbourne more accessible for visitors.”

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