Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (10:03): I rise today to tell the Parliament of the great interest in the community around the current Economy and Infrastructure Committee inquiry into extending the free tram zone to include hospitals, universities and major attractions in our inner city and into making transport across the network free to students and seniors.
There is a raging debate, because as many of you know there is a problem of overcrowding on our inner-city trams—indeed across the entire network. People complain that the free tram zone contributes to overcrowding, and paying commuters are frustrated when they are unable to board overcrowded trams in the inner city. I would like to point out that the overcrowding is real and it is something that must be addressed and is being addressed, but extending the free tram zone will create a need for more frequent trams.
We already need them, so the quality of the service provided currently is quite a different issue than whether we want to see access to our public transport networks improve. I am actively out in the community seeking submissions from students, seniors, traffic and transport experts and commuters.
Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting a group of students at the Catholic Regional College St Albans, who presented their proposal to make public transport free for students. Augustine, Samantha, Rhanel and Jessica from the student leadership team presented a well-researched and considered argument, and I look forward to reading their submission to the inquiry. Well done, guys. Our future is in great hands.