The TransLink survey on whether carbon tax savings of $30 million should be used to reduce fares or provide more services (see below) is missing an important option: keep fares and services the same, and reduce the massive subsidy to public transport. Regarding TransLink, which coordinates and funds public transport in South-East Queensland, the Commission of Audit observed last year (p. 2-105):
Services are heavily subsidised to encourage commuter trips on public transport rather than by private vehicle. Passenger revenues account for approximately 24% of Translink’s
contract costs across all its contracted services.
According to the Service Delivery Statement for Transport and Main Roads, the average subsidy per public transport trip was $6.58 in SEQ in 2013-14 (see p. 15). I’ll try to work out what the aggregate subsidy amount to public transport is later, but it’s obviously huge. The Service Delivery Statement reports total State Government spending on passenger transport services of $2.3 billion (see p. 16), but I’ll need to determine exactly what this comprises.
I’m not denying there are economic and social justifications for subsidising public transport. I just think that the current level of subsidy, in SEQ especially, is very likely too high and we need to seriously examine the delivery of public transport (see my post SEQ’s extensive but costly public transport system requires thorough review).