Fare's Fair

The underlying principle for charging public transport use in Australian cities is that the longer you travel, the more you pay.

One of the ironies in this system is that people who can afford to live closest to the city have to pay the least for public transport.  But people who can’t afford to live to close to the city, and are forced to live out on the city fringe where the cost of housing is cheaper, have to pay the most.

That’s why the RTBU National has examined alternative ways of setting public transport

The model that we developed effectively turns the traditional model on its head, and public transport pricing upside down.

It calculates fares based on the Socio-Economic Status (or the SES rating) of the suburb or the town where you commence travel, not on the distance that you travel.

In other words, if you start your trip in a suburb where the average weekly income is low, you’ll pay less.  And if you start you’re trip in a suburb where the average weekly income in high, you’ll pay more.

The benefits of this model are that:

  • it is inherently fairer from a social equity point of than the traditional distance-based fares structure.
  • more people would catch public transport from the outer suburbs, which would lead to an increase in patronage and a marked decrease in urban traffic congestion; and
  • more people would be encouraged to live further away from our crowded inner city areas; and

Of course, not everyone who lives in a wealthy area is necessarily wealthy, so the proposed model would preserve concession fares and seniors discounts, and includes a cheaper ‘short trip’ fare for people travelling short distances in the city. 

The eligibility criteria for concessions would also need to be reviewed so that people on low incomes who live close to the city aren’t penalised.


Read the RTBU's Fare's Fair report here.


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