Baird's OPAL spin still leaves five day a week commuters worse off
May 18, 2016
The Baird Government’s decision to stall a fare hike for Opal users is nothing more than a political fix designed to protect their coalition colleagues in the upcoming federal election.
While the temporary respite from unfair increases for some public transport users is welcomed, the fact that the Government has postponed fare changes from the eve of the Federal election until September is purely a tactical move driven by Liberal-National strategists.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance today fronted the media spinning the concept of a “fare freeze”.
However scratch the surface and regular commuters travelling five or more days a week will still be left significantly out of pocket through changes to the eight trip cap.
For example, from September this year five day a week commuters from Penrith to Central will pay an extra $335.92 a year and those travelling from East Hills to Town Hall will pay $250.64 more a year (see table).
Paying for nine trips per week instead of eight is an increase of 12.5 per cent in September 2016 for five day a week commuters travelling short and medium distances across the network.
Minister Constance has refused to say what will happen in the second and third years or whether he will then implement the massive fare increases contained in IPART’s report to the government.
Today’s announcement is nothing more than a cynical attempt to defuse rising transport costs as a federal election issue.
Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley
“This is a political fix by a Liberal-National Government rushed out before the Federal election.
“There is no fare freeze for five day a week commuters – their fares go up 12.5 per cent in September.
“Those people who are doing the right thing catching the train to and from work every day are still going to be slugged the hardest.
“Minister Constance is refusing to tell commuters what will happen to fares in 2017 and 2018. Why is the government keeping their plans for the rest of the pricing period a secret?”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Transport Jodi McKay
“Fare increases were due to come in the day before the Federal election; this is just another political fix.
“This is a temporary fix to get them through the Federal election but what will happen to fares from next year?
“It’s cruel and unfair that commuters are set to be punished by the government for simply catching a train to and from work.”