25 Nov 2019

Greens to tempt Brisbane voters with free off-peak public transport

The Greens will take a policy of free off-peak travel on buses, ferries and CityCats to next year's Brisbane City Council election.

Some council roadwork would be cancelled to fund the policy.

The current LNP-majority council provides free public transport on buses, ferries and CityCats in the off-peak hours to seniors.

The Greens' plan would extend this plan to all public transport users.

Paddington candidate Donna Burns said elected Greens councillors would work with the council's public transport committee to re-prioritise some services funded by the $80 million received in revenue.

She said some revenue could be saved from the council's roadwork program, which would require the cancellation of some road improvements.

"Currently, council spends hundreds of million of dollars on road widening and maintenance costs," Ms Burns said.

"We truly believe that this is an initiative that we cannot go forward with. We will have to work with the council on that, but we will have to reshuffle funds."

The $80 million in lost revenue is paid to the state government. It would require a renegotiation of the $1 billion, three-year public transport deal the government signed with the the council in June 2019, Queensland Transport said.

The government's $1 billion over three years provides 75 per cent of the cost to run the 1200 buses on the 420 bus routes in operation around Brisbane.

Ms Burns said the Greens also wanted the council to trial dedicated bus lanes on several of Brisbane's congested roads.

"Getting people off the road and into public transport is economically, socially and environmentally beneficial," Ms Burns said.

The Greens would work with local communities before choosing where the bus lanes idea would take place, she said.

"We want to have community consultation  on the introduction of bus lanes on our most congested roads," she said.

Ms Burns said the move would benefit shift workers and would help reduce congestion.

“Obviously this will be particularly helpful to shift workers, but it will benefit absolutely everyone – even people who don’t catch public transport – by reducing traffic congestion.”

Fares collected from buses and ferries go to the state government's public transport body, TransLink.

Brisbane's first-elected Greens councillor, Jonathan Sri, encouraged commuters to think of the wider benefit of the move.

“School students heading home at 3pm will also be able to catch the bus for free, which will help reduce school-related traffic congestion,” Cr Sri said.

“This will be transformational for our city.”

Cr Sri said the Greens had already shown they were able to influence council policy.

“Before the last election, the LNP claimed it wasn’t feasible to introduce free off-peak travel for seniors, but thanks to pressure from the Greens, that’s now a reality,” he said.

SOURCE ; https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/greens-to-tempt-brisbane-voters-with-free-off-peak-public-transport-20191118-p53blt.html

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