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Article

Myki Fare War between the Liberals and Greens

With a daily full-fare ticket for metropolitan bus, train, and tram rides climbing to $9.20, struggling students have to allocate more budget to public transport. Vanessa Chan evaluates the public transport policies of Labor's two main rivals, the Liberal/National Coalition, and the Victorian Greens.

With a daily full-fare ticket for metropolitan bus, train, and tram rides climbing to $9.20 in 2022, struggling students have to allocate more budget to public transport. Parties are aware that the increase negatively affects Victorian’s quality of life, and expect to draw voters’ attention through different fare reductions: while the Labor Party have announced they will cap the daily V/Line fares at $9.20, and increase regional services on weekends without mentioning any fare changes in metropolitan public transport, the Greens and Liberal Party are both promising to reduce the price of a metropolitan trip to $1-2 in their campaigns. Farrago will evaluate the policies of these two Labor opponents in the Myki fare war.

Liberal/National Coalition: $2 Flat Fare

  • The cost of travelling by train, tram and bus in Zones 1 and 2 will be capped at $2 for a whole day; students eligible for concession tickets will only need to pay $1 per day. This ticket price freeze will last for at least four years.
  • Half-price V/Line services; free buses replace trains when V/Line Services are disrupted.
  • Alongside existing concessions and discounted fares, more than 260,000 Victorian healthcare workers will be able to access metropolitan and V/Line public transport for free for four years.

Greens: the Climate Ticket

  • Students under 21 can travel on Victorian public transport for free. Daily concession tickets will cost $1, and the adult full-fare tickets will be capped at $3.
  • Introduce monthly, quarterly and yearly ticket options. 
  • The frequency of train and tram services will be increased to run every 5-10 minutes from 7am-7pm every day, to encourage commuters to shift to environmentally-friendly public transport, instead of private cars The late-night and early-morning services will run every 10 minutes.
  • With public transport use expected to grow, infrastructure, such as new tunnels and tracks, and the coverage of the services, will be expanded.

Pros: These parties have both acknowledged that overpriced public transport tickets have become a cost-of-living burden, as Melbourne ranked the second most expensive city for transportation in 2021. Given the skyrocketing petrol prices due to the war in Ukraine, the fare reduction could make short trips on public transport more appealing to students . The $2 daily ticket announced by the Coalition could help students living in the metropolitan area save more than half of their transport expenses in a couple of years compared to the current concession tickets, capped at $4.60 for Zones 1+2. For students working in the healthcare field, there will be zero cost, as recognition of their effort. 

The Greens’ more progressive approach removes all costs for students under 21 taking public transport, so that they can spend the savings on activities improving quality of life. To improve the network’s quality, the Greens have also suggested that increased taxes on big corporations should be invested into infrastructure and an increase in service frequency. The policy outlines a big picture for students, with visible and invisible changes contributing to more convenient commuting. 

Cons: Due to the lack of public transport services in Melbourne's outskirts, students living there are unlikely to immediately benefit from the $2 daily fare policy in the Liberal plan. However, the cheaper fare could result in fewer resources allocated to regular network maintenance and upgrades, as ticket fares make up 30% of the network’s total revenue , meaning that students will suffer from long waiting times, crowded carriages, and more unplanned disruptions.

The Greens did not provide a clear timeline for when students can enjoy the benefits of new public transport facilities. It is uncertain to what extent the party has prioritised this promise. The ‘Climate Ticket’ policy has also mentioned the introduction of periodic tickets without details.

Nonetheless, neither party has attempted to address the root of overpriced fares––public transport privatisation. In Victoria, the government awards tenders to private companies to provide services. For example, Keolis Downer, a joint venture between the largest French private transport group and an Australian railway company, is operating Yarra Trams. Metro Trains Melbourne is also a joint venture consisting of three companies, whilst nine companies run the bus routes across Victoria together. These companies are making excessive profits from the passengers because of their monopolistic nature, like MTR Corporation, which operates the metro services and made $223.8 million in net profit from 2009 to 2015 . If the government were to regain control of public transport operation, it could allocate fare revenue to improve the network. 

More information on both parties’ policies on public transport:

Liberal/National Coalition: https://vic.liberal.org.au/our-plan

The Greens: https://greens.org.au/vic/platform/transport?fbclid=IwAR0mMeVHqmp7H3hxkCbQ7sDfnEZlWtRPdDjqQ93zCXqVgCv0hbeuPrlDWVo

 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Five 2022

EDITION SIX 'RETROFUTURISM' AVAILABLE NOW!

Our last print edition of 2022 is here! This wild, visionary edition is filled with burning nostalgia, glittering hope, and tantalising visions of the future, past, and present.

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