Say No To Public Transport Privitisation: Transport companies suck $2.6 billion from public purse

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Multibillion-dollar bill to taxpayers is expected to grow in coming years. Photo: Craig Abraham

And the multibillion-dollar bill to taxpayers – already more than $10 billion – is forecast to grow in coming years, defying the predictions of those who spearheaded the system’s privatisation 15 years ago.

Victoria’s public transport system was privatised in 1999. Then premier Jeff Kennett predicted at the time that subsidies would steadily fall to the extent that public transport would eventually generate revenue for the state – $18.5 million a year ($28.05 million in 2013 dollars) by 2013-14, he said.

In 2012-13, state government authority Public Transport Victoria made more than $1.2 billion in service payments to private operators Metro Trains and Yarra Trams, $935 million to bus companies and $49 million to Asset Co, which manages Southern Cross Station. It also paid $361 million to regional rail and coach operator V/Line, which is a government-owned corporation.

Just $589.8 million of the total service payments bill – 22.2 per cent – was recovered through paid fares, a level considered well below international best practice…

The full cost to the state of public transport subsidies is revealed in figures contained in Public Transport Victoria’s corporate plan for 2013-14, seen by Fairfax Media. The plan reveals payments to bus operators alone will top $1 billion in 2014-15…

The full cost to the state of public transport subsidies is revealed in figures contained in Public Transport Victoria’s corporate plan for 2013-14, seen by Fairfax Media. The plan reveals payments to bus operators alone will top $1 billion in 2014-15…

After the withdrawal of franchisee National Express from Victoria, the Bracks government increased payments to private operators of trains and trams. Between 1999 and 2007 the annual subsidy rose from $318 million to $569 million…

Adam Carey, Exclusive, The Age, July 12, 2013

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