Monday, November 3, 2008

Debate About Free School Travel

In late 2008 it was suggested that the free travel passes provided to students through the School Travel Subsidy Scheme (STSS) be reduced. The SSTS has been operating for over 40 years and over 700,000 school children use this scheme to get to school and at an average cost of $700 per student per year. (SBS) .

It may be that Treasury were looking at ways of stemming the growth in the cost of the STSS which currently costs the state over $400m. They were thinking about introducing a fee for parents as a contribution to the cost of the scheme.

In January 2009 it was decided against the co-payment idea and the NSW Government made a commitment to fully fund the SSTS.

This is a complex issue and is not easy to debate because it gets tangled up in the debates around education policy, the merits of private versus public education and who should pay for that.

A reasonable principle should be that, from a social justice perspective, the goals of the Education policies should take priority over the development of the Transport policies - transport should be thought of as an 'enabler' of social policy.

We say this because some people argue against specialist high schools or the idea of 'choice' in education (the dezoning policy) or against the idea that the state should support private schools and one of the ways in which this argument manifests is arguing against providing free travel for students to access these things - people say "if people want to go to a specialist high school then they should pay for the travel".

The problem with this argument is that it doesn't allow for instances such as kids from low income families trying to improve their situation by going to a specialist high school or a private school (like Kevin Rudd). It also doesn't factor in things like kids who want to keep going to the same school even though their families have moved, or kids with special needs who need to travel to get to school, or kids with special cultural needs from various ethnic or religious populations, or overseas students, or kids avoiding bullying, rural and semi-rural kids. And some families are not very organised because they are effected by mental health, addictions or some other trauma or disability and this would make it very difficult for a kid from this type of family to get a parent co-payment organised. The point is, the debate is more nuanced than first appears and the temptation is to try and control education policy through transport policy and this is the wrong way around.

And this discussion is not even considering the cost shifts between the State and Commonwealth as more, or less, kids go to private schools or public schools.

If the cost of transporting kids to school is effected by a change in education policy then this is a negotiation that has to be done between these departments - after all they are in the same Government using the same State budget. For a thorough discussion of the issues look at the report from the Public Accounts Committee of the NSW Parliament here:

One of the most important things we learn from this enquiry (and from the subsequent Unsworth Enquiry) is that the State would save money simply from properly counting the number of times kids actually use their travel passes rather than the number of travel passes issued. But that's another story ...

Please leave us a comment below.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Is Sony Providing our new Ticketing?

Up to 15 Expressions of Interest have been submitted to the Public transport Ticketing Authority for the Integrated Ticketing system Sydney sorely needs. The group are:

Groups who submitted a tender are:

ACS Transport Solutions Inc - United States
Scheidt & Bachmann GmbH - Germany
Citigroup Consortium - Australia
Shanghai Huateng Software Systems
Consortium - China
D & R Technology Consortium – Australia
Snapper Consortium - New Zealand
e-Pay Australia – Australia
Sony Corporation - Japan
Glide Consortium - Australia
Telvent Australia - Australia
Hampstead Consulting – Australia
Wave Team - Australia
Indra Sistemas, S.A. Consortium - Spain
Zheng Guang Australia Consortium -
Pearl Consortium - Australia

So what will be the future of public transport ticketing? IPART has said in its Review of Cityrail fares 2009-12:

The new electronic fares will be structured to provide:

- consistent, mode-specific, distance-based fares
- automatic discounting to reward frequent public transport users
fare concessions
- differential pricing for peak/off-peak services.

IPART’s draft decision transitions CityRail’s fare structure towards a structure that is consistent with electronic ticketing. For example, the electronic ticketing single fare will be structured around a flag-fall ($2.50) and (9c)per kilometre charge.

IPART considers that there may be further opportunity to simplify the fare structure once electronic ticketing is introduced. Further reform, such as off-peak tickets for contra-peak journeys or services with significant excess capacity, as well as shoulder-period fares (for the periods adjacent to peak periods) may also be explored under electronic ticketing technology.

So will we have a integrated public transport system that is easy to use, and goes to where people want to go. Your guess, is as good as mine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bus Changes in Penrith & Blacktown

Ministry of Transport are reviewing bus services in Blacktown / Penrith (Busways / Westbus). It is critical that your communities fill in the survey. Most likely the new recommendations will take 6-12 months to implement. Some services will be increased, some reduced and some taken removed. The general aim is to provide a better level of service for the majority of people in the community, better frequency of service, (the reasons are on the link below), but this could mean some people most likely will have to walk a bit further to get to their bus stop.

It’s really important that people know about the review, even if they don’t use buses at present, because they or a family member may need to access buses at some stage in their life. The link to the review is located at . Click on the region 1 Link.

There are three ways you can participate – via paper leaflet (which should be in your letter box), or answering the survey on the website above. You have until December 8 2008, to get your feedback into the Ministry. Ministry will be consulting with groups interested in the review. You can contact Jessica Lines for more information. It is more difficult to make changes to the proposed routes after this period.

Please let as many people as possible in Blacktown and Penrith, you should be getting these flyers in your letter box this week - so dont throw them out, send them back to the bus companies or the ministry of transport.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Private Buses get Weekly Bus Tickets

"From today (Wednesday, 1 October 2008) weekly bus tickets will start to become available on Sydney's private bus services in areas including Hurstville, Sutherland, Miranda, Liverpool, Bankstown, Parramatta, Penrith, Richmond, Blacktown, Bonnyrigg, Riverwood and Punchbowl.

Initially, those companies selling the tickets will be Veolia, Westbus, Hillsbus, Busways, Forest Coaches and Punchbowl Buses, with others to follow progressively.

Passengers will be able to purchase a seven day ticket from the bus driver that costs the equivalent of eight single tickets, similar to CityRail weekly tickets" (MOT media release).

What is your experience of using the weekly bus ticket? Let us know by posting a comment on the blog. Does your bus company sell weeklies? Or would you prefer a travel ten style ticket, which means you would get a discount of 20%, and be able to use the trips over a longer time period. In any event, its just a stop gap before integrated ticketing is introduced.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Public Hearing - Metro Buses,Rural & Regional Buses & Ferries

IPART will hold a public hearing on Thursday 6 November for its 2008 bus and ferry reviews (see above). The hearing will run from 2pm to 5.30pm and will be held at:

Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal
Level 8, 1 Market Street
(cnr Market and Kent Streets)
Sydney NSW 2000

The hearing will be divided into three sessions:
1. Metropolitan and outer metropolitan buses (including Newcastle)
2. Rural and regional buses
3. Private ferry services and Newcastle (Stockton) ferry

If you would like to attend the hearing you will still have the opportunity to make a short comment at the end of each session.

Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal

PO Box Q290, QVB Post Office NSW 1230
Level 8, 1 Market St Sydney NSW 2000
T (02) 9290 8442 F (02) 9290 2061

Ride to Work Day - A Huge Success

Local workers talking best bike routes in Parramatta

Mayor Tony Issa said "We support more people cycling more often, as we encourage more people to get on a bike and support the environment."

Mayor Tony Issa promoting Parramatta Cycleways

Local Member for Macquarie Fields, Andrew McDonald, stated "that whilst we have a Premier that doesn't own a car, we need to improve public transport and he is committed to promoting more people biking more often. Every car trip is a nail in the coffin for cycle ways."

Member for Macquarie Andrew McDonald "Every car trip is a nail in the coffin for cycle ways." (Would be nice to have alternatives - which was discussed at length by the riders)

Over 80 riders attend the Parramatta Ride to Work Event. The Event was a resounding success as workers from over 15 workplaces cycled to work to enjoy a breakfast together, supported by Bike NSW, Parramatta Council, Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Who was there?
  • Bicycle NSW (Event Organiser)
  • Western Sydney Community Forum, Parramatta (Event Organiser)
  • Parramatta Council (Event Organiser)
  • Department of Environment and Climate Change, Parramatta (Event Organiser)
  • Children's Court Clinic,Parramatta
  • AB Mauri, Granville
  • Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children, Parramatta
  • Merck saherp & Dohme, Granville
  • Dept Environment and Climate Change, Parramatta
  • Sydney Metro CMA, Parramatta
  • CRS Australia, Parramatta
  • James Hardie, Parramatta
  • RTA, Granville NSW
  • Deloitte, Parramatta
  • Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Parramatta
  • Road and Traffic Authority, Parramatta
  • Telstra, Parramatta
  • Department of Commerce, Parramatta
  • Children's Hospital, Westmead

People rode in from locations around Sydney including Blacktown, Penrith, Roslands, Liverpool, Auburn and CBD. We look forward to a bigger and better Ride to Work Event next year. For more details contact paul f at dot au or Parramatta Council for future events in Parramatta.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Useful Sites
131500 is the main transport telephone infoline but they also have a very good "trip planner" which can tell you all the train and bus timetables and routes as well as making all the links for you for a trip.

We urge you to leave a comment here if you want to tell the transport services what you need.

Action For Public Transport


Department of Transport NSW

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

North Western Sydney Public Transport Needs

Welcome to the first of our online initiatives at Western Sydney Community Forum, to support better public transport in Western Sydney and supporting those who are transport disadvantaged.

Western Sydney Community Forum is a peak regional organsiation respresenting and supporting the community sector in Western Sydney. For more information about Western Sydney Community Forum, visit us on the web.

We are particuraly interested in learning about the public transport needs of North Western Sydney. We are in the process of putting together a submission into the recent NSW government inquiry into the the needs of the North Western Sydney's transport.

Please take our survey here or leave your comments on our blog..

or you can make a submission directly to the inquiry (Closes 5pm today).


Paul & Hugh