Fare cuts, flexible pick-ups part of public consultation on bus services

RECOMMENDATIONS: IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall. Photo: EDWINA PICKLES
RECOMMENDATIONS: IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall. Photo: EDWINA PICKLES

BUS travellers are set to save substantial amounts of money on fares, following a review by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

IPART released draft recommendations on Tuesday for public comment to cut adult fares by an average of 25 per cent and introduce daily fare caps to make bus travel more attractive and affordable.

As part of the recommendations no passenger would pay more in 2018 than they currently do and maximum fares for journeys up to three kilometres would remain the same.

Maximum fares for journeys between two and 10 kilometres would fall by up to $3.50, while maximum fares for journeys up to 60 kilometres would drop by up to $7.90.

Fares for frequent travel would also fall with proposed daily fare caps, rather than paying fares individually. 

There would be no change to school student subsidised travel.

IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall said most current fares discourages 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. 

“Half of all regular passenger services in regional and rural communities are operating at less than 10 per cent full.”

Dr Boxall said the lack of passengers using the services meant each journey cost taxpayers about $20 in subsidies and greater usage would improve the value for taxpayers. 

IPART has also proposed flexible, on demand services in place of some high-cost, low patronage fixed route bus services

Bus operators would be able to charge a surcharge of up to $5 for services with more flexible departure times, pick-up and drop-off points and routes.

Orange Buslines manager Tim Smith said the company needed more information on the proposed changes before it could respond, however there was limited scope for flexible services while buses conducted their school runs.

“It would cause a bit more drama say if someone wanted a bus at 8.30am from Glenroi,” he said.

Mr Smith said the company covered most areas of the city, apart from the newest housing estates, and responded to requests to have areas included on routes. 

A full copy of the draft report is available at ipart.nsw.gov.au.