2023 Policy Initiative - Public Transport for the Regions

The Greens understand that frequent high-quality transport is essential for the health of local economies and the people in them. Our plan will ensure that all major regional areas have frequent, reliable and accessible bus services, taking people to where they need to go, when they need to go.

The Greens believe that everyone in New South Wales deserves world class public transport. Run for the public, by the public. No private profits, no outrageous fares – just services that get you anywhere you want to go, whenever you want to get there. 

Public transport should be fast, affordable, accessible and reliable. Every train should be a first class train, every bus should be an electric bus, every trip should be on-time and stress free. That’s our vision for public transport in our State.

THE GREENS WILL: 

  • Ensure that people in regional town centres are able to get where they need to go, when they need to get there
  • Introduce free public transport options for all regional centres
  • Increase the number of daily services, including weekends
  • Fast-track planned accessibility upgrades and improve current disability accessibility standards
  • Reverse the privatisation of the NSW bus network by re-introducing a state-owned bus operator to take over failing privatised services 
  • Fast-track the transition of our bus fleet to electric and invest in local manufacturing of zero-emissions buses 
  • Welcome pets onto public transport

Fare-free Shuttle Buses for the Regions

Building on the success of models like the Wollongong Free Shuttle Bus - the Greens will introduce dedicated free, reliable and accessible shuttle services for regional hubs. Whether it’s for a trip to the shops, down to work or to visit a friend - you shouldn’t need a car to get around your own town. Free, frequent and reliable public transport will transform how we move around in our regions.

A hop-on hop-off shuttle service to get you where you need to go will provide much needed social mobility for many, generate business for the main streets and reduce the fuel burden on households at a time when cost-of-living pressures are soaring.

Connecting the Northern Rivers

Free Lismore Shuttle

Following the positive results of the Flood Shuttles, the Greens will make this arrangement permanent. We will also increase its service delivery area, encompassing Goonellabah and Lismore to create a larger circuit.

BConX service to be made free.

The Greens will also establish dedicated university bus circuits, incorporating current routes. Stopping directly at the university, buses will run clockwise and anti-clockwise 7 days a week.

Free Ballina Shuttle

We will also establish a free public town shuttle bus circuit for Ballina, stopping at the airport, hospital and main shopping centre, running a full circuit each hour. With 3-4 buses running, you will never wait more than 15-20 mins for the shuttle.

Bus route from Ballina airport to Lennox Head

Interconnected travel: Lismore and Ballina

  • Services to run every two hours during non peak periods
  • Services between peak times to run every 45 minutes 
  • Limited stops services to run within 20% of normal car travel time 
  • 50% of services to run as limited stops services

Free transport

It’s time for free public transport. The Greens will scrap all public transport fares in New South Wales, introducing free public transport on all buses, trains and ferries. Free, frequent and reliable public transport would take pressure off families, cut congestion and transform how we move around in our state.

Free public transport would provide a massive economic stimulus at a time when our economy desperately needs it by putting more money in people’s pockets, increasing travel around cities and making our neighbourhoods and communities accessible, thriving places to live. 

Introducing free public transport will save us money by scrapping our expensive ticketing system, reducing spending on roads and cutting costs associated with fare evasion like court costs.

The State government already subsidises around 80% of every single trip on buses, trains and ferries across – given the massive social and economic benefits of free public transport, we will make it 100% instead.

For so long as our public transport system is not free, we will act to:

  • Extend regional seniors travel card to students and all concession card holders
  • Make Opal and contactless payment options available on all regional public transport services

Public transport in public hands

Essential services like public transport should not be run by private corporations. 

Over the last two decades, our public transport and even our road network has been progressively sold off by Liberal-National and Labor governments, often under contracts that prevent the government from building competing transport projects.

The result has been a transport system in NSW that is no longer about getting people from A to B, it is about how much profit the private sector can extract from what should be an essential public service, to the detriment of the people of NSW already doing it tough in the cost-of-living crisis.

The Greens have a plan to reverse the privatisation of Sydney and Newcastle’s bus services, to bring our rail assets back under direct government ownership and control, and work to unpick restrictive tolling contracts with private operators.

Bringing bus manufacturing back to NSW

We have the skills and capability to manufacture our own transport infrastructure in NSW, including electric buses. The Greens will back our State to build the transport infrastructure of the future.

In July 2018, the Liberal-National Government’s decision to build buses offshore and interstate led to the closure of NSW’’s last bus manufacturer, costing 161 workers their jobs. Since then, most of our buses have been imported, but recently, Custom Denning has commenced manufacture of some electric buses in Western Sydney.

Not only does NSW still have the skills and capability to manufacture zero-emissions buses, boosting local manufacture will also be vital if we are going to transition to 100% electric buses by 2030.

The Greens will commit to providing local bus manufacturers with the support they need to commence or scale-up production, and to implement a local-first strategy of procurement in relation to transitioning our buses as quickly as possible to 100% electric. We will ensure that ownership of these buses and related infrastructure are kept in public hands, and work with smaller operators to ensure a quick and fair rollout across the State. 

Accessible transport

Public transport should be for everyone. But for people with disability, people with mobility limitations and parents with prams, getting around on public transport is often much harder than it should be. 

In 2002 NSW committed to a thirty year public transport infrastructure upgrade under the national Disability Discrimination Act that would see all states and territories in Australia ensure all train stations are disability accessible by the end of 2022, but at the start of 2023 a third of NSW stations remain inaccessible to people with disability. 

The Greens understand that ensuring our public transport is accessible is vitally important. We have a plan to fast-track planned accessibility upgrades, and improve upon current standards. For more information, see our plan to ensure society is accessible.

Welcoming pets onto public transport

More Australians share their lives with companion animals than almost anywhere else in the world, but with pets not allowed on most public transport many of us can’t reliably or affordably get where we need to go while including our companion animals in our lives.

Whether it’s taking your dog to a great park further than is a comfortable walk, or including your cat in your weekend away, being able to get where you and your pet want to go is important. 

It’s not just a matter of recreation though — people without a car are more likely to be prevented from taking their companion animal to the vet. No animal should have to go without medical care, no matter their guardian’s finances or transit options. 

Currently in NSW there is a blanket ban on companion animals on trains and metro services, and companion animals are only able to travel on buses, ferries, light rail and taxis if confined to a carrier or container and with driver or crew permission. In practice it can be difficult to know whether a particular service will allow companion animals, and larger dogs are entirely excluded from public transport. While there are exemptions for assistance animals, this does not include therapy and emotional support animals. By contrast, in Victoria, the ACT, and all of Europe companion animals riding on public transport is commonplace. 

The Greens will welcome pets onto public transport in NSW with the following restrictions: 

  • All companion animals must be either contained to a carrier or on a lead and muzzled.
  • Companion animals will be welcome on public transport outside of peak travel times. 
  • On trains, companion animals will be welcome in the first and last non-quiet carriage. 
  • Drivers, staff and crew will be able to ask passengers to remove their companion animal if it is causing a disturbance or poses a safety risk.

References:

FIND ALL OUR POLICIES:  GREENS.ORG.AU/NSW/PLATFORM



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