IPART proposes cutting adult fares by a quarter to encourage greater use of public transport

Wagga residents could pay less as they step on the bus after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal proposed reductions in rural and regional bus fares to encourage greater use of public transport.

The draft recommendations proposed cutting adult fares by an average of about 25 per cent and introducing daily fare caps to make bus travel more affordable and improve community access for people with limited transport options.

Joanne Crowley from Wagga Care and Support welcomed the change and said “the lower the costs, the better”.

“We provide a lot of bus fares for people because they’re not well,” she said.

“We give them $2.50 to get home because it’s very hard to walk two ways when these people are often going out to get their groceries.

“What I would like to see is a weekly bus pass. When we put people up in emergency housing, they don’t have the $2.50 to get a bus – they’ve got nothing; anything cheaper is much better.”

IPART chair Peter Boxall said the proposal was made because most current fares discourage 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,” he said.

“Reducing maximum fares and introducing a daily ticket for most rural and regional bus journeys is designed to encourage more people to use rural and regional bus services.

“Half of all regular passenger services in regional and rural communities are operating at less than 10% full. The lack of passengers using these services means that each journey is costing taxpayers on average about $20 in subsidies.”

If approved, the new fare structure would apply to the 116 operators providing bus service in the Murray-Murrumbidgee region, including the city of Wagga. It would see 220 different fares condensed down to 10 fare bands

IPART is also recommending ways to improve the efficiency of rural and regional bus services by proposing flexible, on demand services in place of some high-cost, low patronage fixed route bus services.