The Greens are pushing for state governments to cut the cost of public transport by making busses, trains, and trams free for passengers to deal with the rising cost of living.
As petrol prices continue to soar, the Victorian Greens have called on the Andrews government to temporarily suspend fares on public transport, as the Premier is reportedly considering ways to cut expenses for the public.
In Tasmania, Transport Minister Michael Ferguson has announced this morning that public transport will be free in the state for the next five weeks. This includes school transport and general access busses for all operators and fare types.
“The Tasmanian Government will foot the bill for this initiative, which has the dual purpose of supporting family budgets and encouraging commuters to switch from private car travel to public transport,” Ferguson said.
“While higher fuel prices are due to global fuel market uncertainty, we understand the impact it is causing on cost of living pressures”.
Other measures that are being considered are the cut to fuel tax, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not ruled out. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to make an announcement about the popular decision during his budget speech next week.
In New Zealand, the Ardern government has already halved the cost of public transport for its citizens in response to the war in Ukraine sending petrol prices skyrocketing.
In support of cost of living measures, a campaign has been launched by Sydney entrepreneur Wendy El Khoury which is currently gaining signatures on change.com.
“The price of petrol as of March 2022 is exorbitant,” she writes. “Many individuals and small business owners are still suffering financially and/or trying to rebuild savings and equity as a result of the pandemic. The petrol prices place a huge flow-on impact on household spending, and an additional financial burden on many.
“Once again those who do not have the luxury in working from home suffer most. These are the people who should receive a subsidy first and foremost.”
The Greens have said that they also want the Victorian Government to introduce a $5,000 ‘clean transport credit’ for people who trade in their internal combustion engine vehicles, which can be spent on public transport or to subsidise the cost of buying an electric vehicle or e-bike.
Victorian Greens spokesperson for transport, Sam Hibbins, said in response to high petrol prices, the Government needed to act now to reduce cost-of-living pressures and seize the opportunity to support a shift away from petrol vehicles to cheaper, cleaner transport.
Public transport fares were frozen in Victoria in response to the pandemic while fares were temporarily reduced during off-peak hours.
Public transport itself has seen its largest uptake in years as people return to work and with more commuters now relying on the service, the Greens have said this policy will help those who need it the most.
However, Chair of public transport at Monash University’s Faculty of Engineering, Professor Graham Currie, has said that the policy would likely “cost a lot of money” and that he did not think it would be worth it as only those with high-income jobs who commute to the city would benefit.