7% fare rise cannot be justified, says PTUA
The Baillieu Government appears to be using its predecessor’s budgeted fare hikes to help bankroll its destructive East West motorway, the Public Transport Users Association said today.
The 7% fare rise takes effect today, three days after the government abolished Metcard, forcing all passengers onto the troubled Myki system and axing the ability to stockpile Metcards to guard against fare increases.
“This fare hike is well above the rate of inflation and comes with no grand transformation of transport services that might justify it,” said PTUA President Tony Morton. “Ten years ago a Transport Minister said he wouldn’t put conductors back on trams because it would raise the price of a Zone 1 daily ticket to $7. Well, now a day’s travel in Zone 1 does cost $7 on Myki money, and we’ve got no tram conductors or anything else to show for it.”
Dr Morton pointed to important improvements in public transport mooted in the 2010 election that had failed to materialise. “The Doncaster and Rowville train lines have feasibility studies in go-slow mode, and it looks increasingly unlikely that Southland will have a railway station in time for the next election as promised. Meanwhile, the only transport project the government seems to want to talk about at all is the East West road link: a project it never spoke about before the election and which Sir Rod Eddington’s report conceded would be a colossal waste of money.”
“This destructive road is set to cost $13 to $15 billion, and it’s fair to say nobody from the Premier down knows where this kind of money is going to come from,” Dr Morton said. “What’s clear is that the government is scrounging for funds wherever it can: whether through cuts to health and education, or hiking fares on public transport users.”
Dr Morton said every public transport user should feel aggrieved at paying through the back door for a road project. “Not only does it boost the government’s coffers to take fares that are among the highest in the world and boost them further,” he said. “It also makes public transport less cost-competitive with car travel, shifting people from public transport into cars.”
“No city in the world has ever reduced traffic congeston by building a road,” Dr Morton concluded. “If our government were being honest when it talks about reducing congestion, it would not be pushing through fare hikes that make the alternatives to car travel less attractive.”