My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Public Transport. When we compare public transport fares in New South Wales and Victoria it is clear that Victorians are getting the short end of the stick. In New South Wales students get free travel to and from school.
However, in Victoria families are paying $4.60 a day in metropolitan areas to send one kid to school. That means a family with two kids catching the bus to school each day are spending almost $50 a week on school travel. We are in a cost-of-living crisis, and this is putting immense pressure on working families. Rents, fuel, food and education costs are all rising, and lower income families are feeling the brunt.
My fear is that more kids will be forced to fare evade and risk receiving fines as their families simply cannot afford the transport to school. No child should feel such pressure.
We need to act now to reduce the cost-of-living pressures for Victorian families and ensure our young people can access schooling. What could be more important than that?
Minister, the action I seek is: will this government recognise the cost-of-living crisis experienced by Victorian families and, like New South Wales, provide all students with free transport to and from school?
Uploaded by Rod Barton MP on 2022-08-17.
Victoria has generous public transport concession arrangements, including for school students. In addition to a 50 per cent discount on all public transport fares, school students can purchase an annual Victorian Student Pass (VSP) for $631 (or half-yearly for $328), which is approximately a 70% discount on the daily concession myki Money fare if the student travels on all school days. The VSP also entitles the student to unlimited travel on metropolitan trains, trams and buses, on all regional town bus services and all V/Line train and coach services on any day of the week, so can be utilised to get to extracurricular activities outside of school hours, on weekends and school holidays.
In the 2022-23 Budget, the Victorian Government announced the expansion of the existing Travel Pass program to provide all Victorian schools with 30-day Travel Passes at no cost to ensure school students in crisis can continue to get to school by public transport. Schools may issue the Travel Passes to students who are experiencing a crisis, such as family violence or sudden financial hardship. Eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis by school wellbeing officers.
Public transport fare levels are influenced by a range of factors, including capacity of the public transport system, travel behaviours, equity considerations, and the need to ensure sufficient revenue is returned to contribute to the cost of operating, maintaining and upgrading the public transport network. Every public transport trip is heavily subsidised. Metropolitan fares only cover one third of network operating costs, with the rest provided by taxpayers.
The Victorian Government regularly considers whether existing fares and tickets can be improved to better balance equity and simplicity with the need to collect revenue that contributes to the cost of operating the public transport network. This process includes assessing the cost to taxpayers of any reduction in public transport fares for a particular group, such as school students, against other competing budget priorities.
Hon Ben Carroll