Record numbers of bus, train and ferry passengers are taking advantage of the Queensland Government’s free travel after nine weekly journeys.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said since the policy was introduced almost two years ago about 78,500 people a week were benefiting.
“As part of our strong plan for a brighter future we are delivering real savings for passengers with more than 7.1 million free journeys taken since June 2012,” Mr Emerson said.
“Many of these trips would not have been taken without the incentive of free travel with the policy encouraging passengers to choose to get out of their cars and on to public transport.
“Under our policy a passenger using their go card travelling to and from work five days a week can travel home for free on Friday and then enjoy free travel all weekend.
“This is on top our efforts to end Labor’s annual 15 per cent fare hikes by capping fares rises for the next three years to be below the inflation rate.
“Under our policy a regular passenger travelling two zones to and from work will save around $750 per year, and anyone travelling from the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast will save up to $2500 each year, compared to go card prices under Labor.”
Mr Emerson said while the LNP has a plan to improve affordability, passengers should be concerned about Labor’s plans to hit public transport users with higher fares.
“Despite the current Opposition Leader supporting the free travel initiative, the Member for South Brisbane and Shadow Transport Minister wants it scrapped,” he said.
“That would be another 10 per cent hike for regular passengers, showing Labor has no plan and no policies for public transport except 15 per cent fare hikes.
“Our strong plan is working with patronage ahead of its target. There were 176.7 million trips taken in 2013-14, more than 1 million additional trips than in the previous year.”
Mr Emerson said while more passengers were receiving free travel, the percentage of people reaching the benefit mid-week had only increased by 0.1 per cent, showing there was no evidence of rorting.
“Latest figures show 0.6 per cent of go cards reach a free trip on a Wednesday compared with 0.5 per cent before the policy was introduced negating claims there is wide-spread rorting of the policy,” he said.
The nine and free policy is budgeted to cost $38 million over four years.