Category Archives: News

Are we actually paying more for transport?

Figures produced for the Australian Automobile Association give the impression that transport costs to households are rising.

But overall they’re actually falling. Official statistics show that household expenditure on transport fell from 13% of household income in the 1990s to 11% in 2009-10:

Average percentage of income spent on transport
(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Household Expenditure Survey 2009-10 Summary of Results)

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Not only are petrol prices down on pre-GFC levels, but cars themselves have been getting cheaper in real terms for decades.

Some costs such as tolls and insurance have gone up, but for motorists at least, they’re more than balanced out by savings elsewhere.

What the AAA’s figures don’t convey is how much more we’re paying for public transport. The official figures show that since 1990 public transport fares in Australian capital cities have increased around threefold in absolute terms, and by 60 per cent above inflation.

Transport costs vs CPI, 1990-2013
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (June figures). All other capital cities show similar results – details here

The contrast with car transport costs is stark. In real terms it costs on average between 5 and 10 per cent less to run a car today than it did in 1990, while public transport costs have gone up much faster than CPI.

Cars do cost a lot of money to run in absolute terms – but that’s because they’re an inherently expensive mode of transport, which is why people shouldn’t be forced to drive everywhere. The nation’s transport policy needs to give more weight to providing fair access to multi-modal transport networks.

One way to do this is with budget repair for transport across Federal and State governments. The road lobby has argued for decades that only a quarter of petrol tax revenue comes back in road spending. This is nonsense: in very broad terms, about $35 billion a year Australia-wide is collected in road-related revenue but $38 billion a year is directly spent to support road use, and external costs like pollution account for another $14 billion. (More details)

Petrol tax is just a fraction of what our governments spend on roads every year. And for every dollar the Federal government collects, it actually gives more than 70 cents straight back in the form of motor vehicle tax concessions.

The transition to electric vehicles may accelerate over the next decade, resulting in dwindling petrol tax revenue. With the need to ensure equity of access to both roads and public transport, we really do have to think carefully about how we fund the transport systems Australia needs. There’s no way we can continue to jack up public transport fares and allow generous tax breaks on salary-packaged imported cars.

We need to come up with charging schemes in future that are fair, equitable and simple to understand – and that don’t encourage more people to drive more often – that’s the last thing our cities need.

Bus and cars on Eastern Freeway

It’s time for Fairer fines – Please take our survey

On December 11th 2015, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan announced a review of public transport infringements including the 18 month-old $75 on the spot fines, handed out by the Authorised Officers that frequent our trains, trams and buses.

After hearing stories of people feeling pressured to pay $75 to avoid receiving a full fine of $223, and waive their right to appeal, Melbourne Barrister Julian Burnside has built up a 40-strong group of pro bono Lawyers who are working hard to defend people who seek to appeal their fines.

Myki card

We know there are many glitches in the Myki system and often people who receive a fine are caught up in these glitches, or other failings like being unable to buy a ticket on the tram, or innocent mistakes such as forgetting to bring your concession card with you that day. But instead of having a system that accommodates these issues and allows for people to have their situation reviewed before having to present in court, we presume people are guilty and have to prove otherwise.

Public Transport Users Association and Public Transport Not Traffic will be given the opportunity to submit to this review and we want to hear from PT users about your experiences and issues you have faced when greeted by an Authorised Officer on public transport.

To join the campaign for fairer fines take our short survey and let us know your experience.

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What to do if you are fined?

Check our web page of helpful advice about contesting your fine.

PTV’s new rail map – comment on the draft!

PTV are asking for further comments on their draft rail map. Just to recap – it’s not a proposed network of new lines/extensions, it’s a new map design for the current network, so you won’t see all the lines we’d like to see built on this!

PTV rail map draft 2014
(Click to view larger)

They plan to release when Regional Rail Link opens next year. (Obviously then the RRL line on the map will be made solid.)

We think it shows the rail network much more clearly than the current map, but what do you think? Leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Google Transit includes every state and territory except Victoria

From Gladstone to Kalgoorlie, from Darwin to Hobart, and many other towns and cities across Australia, if you want to take a trip by public transport, you can use Google’s world-class mapping tools to help plan it. In fact Google Transit now covers public transport timetables for every state and territory in the country… except Victoria, including all the other capital cities.


This week Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder wrote in reply to Twitter user Tim Cooke, saying PTV is expecting to be able to provide Google Transit with data from early 2015. We’d love to believe it, but having heard the same promise many times before, we’re not holding our breath.

Census travel data: don’t jump to conclusions – public transport mode share is up

Trafficfrom PTUA President Tony Morton

The rather lightweight* McCrindle presentation of some Census data in the last couple of days seems to have triggered rather a lot of discussion, including a rant from Neil Mitchell on 3AW where he declared that we should forget about public transport, and just build more roads.

It seems rather odd McCrindle’s figures would be presented as news at all given that the same stats were analysed in 2012, and in more detail, by Paul Mees and Lucy Groenhart at RMIT.

What are the real trends?

Continue reading Census travel data: don’t jump to conclusions – public transport mode share is up

Dr Paul Mees OAM, 1961-2013

DR PAUL MEES OAM, 1961-2013
Statement by the Public Transport Users Association
26 January 2014

The Public Transport Users Association is pleased to note today’s awarding of the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia to Dr Paul Mees, who died sadly in June 2013 after a battle with cancer.

Paul Mees had a long involvement with the Association and was its President from 1992 to 2001. Paul deserves much of the credit for inspiring the Association, and the broader sustainable transport advocacy movement in Australia, with a robust strategic vision together with strong intellectual leadership.
Continue reading Dr Paul Mees OAM, 1961-2013

East West Link statement a mountain of PR spin

CIS stands for ‘Clouded In Secrecy’, says PTUA

The Napthine Government’s Comprehensive Impacts Statement (CIS) on the East West tollroad proposal is ‘Comprehensive In Spin’ (CIS) but crucial facts remain ‘Clouded In Secrecy’ (CIS), the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) said today.

“The Napthine Government has just dumped hundreds of pages of modelling and PR spin that claims the project will be good for Victoria, but the massive volume of information distracts from what they’re still not telling us,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton.
Continue reading East West Link statement a mountain of PR spin

Paul Mees

Word has reached us tonight of the passing of Paul Mees, PTUA Secretary from 1987 to 1991, and President from late 1992 to 2001. A big loss.

Here’s Paul’s video from the Trains Not Tollroads public meeting last week.

And here’s a video from the 1995 launch of the PTUA document Wrong Way, Go Back, calling for public transport upgrades instead of motorways.
Continue reading Paul Mees

Axe Myki and use e-Tag instead, says PTUA

Touching-off with an eTagFollowing the Napthine government’s announcement that single-use public transport tickets will no longer be available from this month[1], the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has urged the government to abandon the trouble-plagued Myki card and instead rollout e-Tag on the public transport network.

Most regular users of CityLink and EastLink have an e-Tag, while many less frequent users opt to set up an access account or buy short-term day or weekend passes for travel. Expanding these to public transport would offer public transport users both regular and single-use ticket options.

Continue reading Axe Myki and use e-Tag instead, says PTUA