2023 Policy Initiative -Transport 2.0

Transport 2.0 - Rebooting our public transport system.

The trains are overcrowded, the buses are slow and the ferries are too expensive. The current government has sold off our public transport to corporations more interested in their bottom line than making sure you get home on time.

The Greens believe that 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: 

  • Introduce free public transport in NSW, re-enlivening town centres, helping people get to jobs and saving money on ticketing infrastructure and costs associated with fare evasion
  • Prevent any further privatisation of our essential public assets and services
  • Fast-track planned accessibility upgrades and improve current disability accessibility standards
  • Reverse the privatisation of the bus network by re-introducing a state-owned bus operator to take over privatised services 
  • Scrap the Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) and bring our rail assets back under direct government ownership and control
  • Introduce regulations to prevent private toll road operators charging punitive administration fees and work to reverse the restrictive tolling contracts previous governments have locked us into
  • Fast-track the transition of our bus fleet to electric and invest in local manufacturing of zero-emissions buses 
  • Bring train manufacturing back to the Newcastle and Hunter region
  • Ensure that people in regional town centres are able to get where they need to go, when they need to get there
  • Welcome pets onto public transport

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 more information, see our full initiative for free public transport.

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.

For more information, see our full initiative to keep public transport in public hands.

Regional bus services

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 understand that frequent high-quality transport is essential for the health of local economies and the people in them.

Local manufacturing

The outsourcing of train, tram, bus and ferry manufacturing by the Liberal-National government has been disastrous. Seemingly every week there is another media story about the breakdown or inadequacy of these imported vehicles, with lengthy delays in repair and modifications caused by the inability to service or modify them locally.  

Our plan will see local manufacturing brought back to our state. We have the talent and resources in New South Wales to not only manufacture our own buses, trams, trains and ferries, but to export them to the rest of the world.

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.

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



BACKGROUND AND COSTINGS - FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Many countries and cities around the world have successfully abolished public transport fares. Luxembourg has scrapped public transport fares, and Germany is considering introducing free public transport in order to reduce air pollution. Some cities in Belgium, France and Estonia have had free public transport for years. 

Wollongong and Parramatta operate a free bus service, and Sydney has had periods of free public transport over the past 2 years. Newcastle had a free bus scheme in place between 2006 and 2019.

A 2020 IPART report, written before the impacts of Covid-19 were taken into account, found that the likely impact of free public transport in Sydney would be an increase in patronage of around 40%, with a particular increase in use by low income earners. 

The same IPART report found that fare revenue in 2019 was around $1.6bn (approximately one-quarter of the cost of providing transport services), and highlights that this is offset by administrative costs from ticketing and associated staffing. The IPART report does not, however, mention that there is a cost to government of policing fare invasion, including court costs.

The original contract for the Opal card system in NSW with Cubic Transportation Systems was worth $1.2bn over its 15 year life from 2010. At least $600m has been spent in additional infrastructure and upgrades since then.

Transport for NSW states that there are over 800 authorised officers and police checking tickets across the public transport network. In 2021-22, there were 95,026 transport-related fines issued in NSW, including 24,068 fines issued to young people under 25 for travelling or attempting to travel without a valid ticket.

If a young person can’t afford to pay a fine, they will be subjected to additional fines and enforcement costs and potentially a debt collection process. If they want to dispute the fine, they will need to go to court. In addition to the stress and cost this places on a young person, the process of issuing and enforcing fines, including within the court system, is costing government authorities a significant amount of money every year, and only a small percentage of that is recovered once fines are collected.

With the cost of ticketing and enforcement offset against the lost fare revenue from making public transport free, and with consideration given to the societal and economic benefits that public transport will create, the hit to our budget bottom line in the long-term will be more than tolerable. In the meantime, the Greens’ proposed taxes and levies on property developers, coal and gas companies and the big banks will more than adequately cover the short-term costs of making our public transport free.

The fact is that 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, it seems like common sense to just make it 100% instead.

 

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