Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, has joined National Seniors Australia to reveal that Tasmania invests less than a third of the national average on public transport, and call for Hobart to fall in line with other capital cities and introduce free off-peak bus travel for seniors.
“This is a low-cost move that would benefit seniors and help reduce Hobart’s terrible traffic congestion,” Mr Wilkie said. “Other capital cities in Australia offer free or heavily-discounted travel to seniors, so why can’t we?”
“According to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, Tasmania spends less than any other jurisdiction on public transport, investing $196 per capita in 2019/20 compared with an Australian average of $614. It’s time the State Government stopped scrimping on public transport.”
In a report for National Seniors Australia, transport economist Peter Kruup looked around Australia and found that Hobart, unlike many other Australian cities, doesn’t offer free travel for seniors.
“It’s little wonder in 2019/20 the use of public transport in urban areas dropped by 15 per cent,” Mr Kruup said. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that for seniors the fall in public transport use has been even greater.” He has costed the proposal at less than $200,000 a year for the Hobart area.
Mr Wilkie has written to Transport Minister Michael Ferguson urging the State Government to consider free travel and increased discounts for seniors.
“The State Government is obsessed with roads and Hobart is choking on traffic,” he said. “It’s pushing ahead with a fifth lane on the Southern Outlet which will only funnel more vehicles into the city bottleneck and cost $35m.
“Imagine what some of that money could do for alternative modes of transport including buses. Here’s a low-cost solution that the Government should first consider before bulldozing beloved family homes.”