WA Labor and Liberals squabble over transport pledge

Labor says it election promise to cap public transport fares will save some northern suburbs residents thousands of dollars each year but the Opposition says it is a one-year promise to get more people to use public transport. File picture

IF the McGowan Government is re-elected in March it has promised that from January next year northern suburbs residents will be able to access cheaper public transport fares.

In its election pledge WA Labor said under the proposed policy regular passengers to the Perth CBD from Yanchep could save up to $2350 a year for a cash fare or $1880 for a Smartrider.

But the Opposition said Labor’s election pledge was a one-year promise to get more people to use public transport.

Liberal Transport spokeswoman Libby Mettam said Labor was trumpeting a so-called reduction in fares, but said Labor had admitted what they announced on Sunday would only be in place for a year.

Today a WA Labor spokesman said the two-zone cap would cost Transperth $60.6 million over three years due to the loss in revenue that would normally be gained through the multiple zone fare system.

“The effect of this initiative has been costed across the forward estimates on the basis that it is an indefinite change,’’ he said.

“The Liberal Party is being deliberately misleading, they do not like rail and have never supported our plan to build Metronet.

“This change is all about making it more affordable for people in the outer suburbs to use public transport.

“We want people to take public transport – that is why we are building Metronet and why we are investing in this fare subsidy.’’

Ms Mettam, who is also Opposition deputy leader, said public transport users should get set for another Labor hit to their hip pocket.

“Labor has been slugging public transport commuters with fare increases ever since they were elected,’’ she said.

“Labor’s first Budget alone saw the highest increase in fees and charges on record, which included hikes in fares on public transport.

“This saw public transport effectively flatline under this government pre-Covid.’’

“This announcement does little to help out families struggling to pay the extra $850 a year in household bills Labor has hit us with since coming to office.

“If they managed Metronet properly and didn’t blow the Budget by $2 billion, they could have made public transport more affordable across the board – but Western Australians have been paying higher bills and taxes to pay for Labor’s mismanagement.’’

Butler MLA John Quigley said when the trains started running to Yanchep as part of the Metronet project in early 2022 residents would be able to choose between catching a train or a bus to the city at the flat rate of $4.90 cash or $3.92 with a Smartrider.

“This is a significant saving that will really go a long way towards helping alleviate cost of living pressures for people living in Yanchep,’’ he said.”

Eglinton, Alkimos and Butler residents could save up to $3.60 on a cash price per trip under the policy, or $2.88 for a Smartrider fare.

Under the proposal concession fares to the city, which are currently $4.10 would be capped at $2.10, saving up to $2 a trip under the policy.

Concession fares will save up to $1000 a year for a cash fare or $800 for a Smartrider.

The WA Labor spokesman said the $24m upgrade to the Smartrider ticketing system would allow people to choose whether to tag on with a Smartrider, or to use a phone, credit card or debit card to pay for the standard fare.

“This is based on the world class contactless fare system in London, UK and is all about making it more convenient, safer and easier for people to use public transport,’’ he said.