SEQ’s extensive but costly public transport system requires thorough review

I’m pleased the State Government is reviewing public transport fares, as reported earlier today in Quest Newspapers:

The State Government has made a commitment to address public transport fares in order to establish a new fare structure for southeast Queensland.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said the six-month action plan would help deliver “better cost of living for Queensland families and passengers.”

He said a new fare structure would be introduced.

The news comes after a Rail Back on Track petition closed last month.

More than 1,100 commuters signed the petition to lower public transport costs.

Unfortunately, lower fares aren’t feasible, as the public transport system is already heavily subsidised. I blogged last year about the wicked policy problem presented by SEQ’s extensive but costly public transport system (see Increased train frequency unviable), and I continue to believe we need a thorough review of our public transport system and its relationship with our road network. I’m unclear whether the proposed fare review will really analyse the issues to the depth required.

Ultimately we need to charge much more for the high-cost long-distance rail services, such as those between Brisbane and the Sunshine and Gold Coasts. We also need to encourage much higher population densities in areas well served by public transport (e.g. Indooroopilly, Toowong, Milton, West End, Fortitude Valley, New Farm) to limit the need to extend public transport to outer metro areas at high cost.

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