Member for Morwell Russell Northe has again slammed the unfair pricing structure that Latrobe Valley commuters are confronted with when utilising public transport.
Mr Northe has called upon the State Government and Public Transport Victoria to urgently review the current zoning system that places Latrobe Valley residents at a distinct financial disadvantage when accessing public transport.
Mr Northe has previously raised community concerns in various forums with respect to the unreliability of rail services in the region and the fact that Latrobe Valley commuters are forced to pay more for inferior services in comparison to other major regional centres.
After raising concerns in Parliament and formally writing to the Minister for Public Transport, Mr Northe said whilst he had received an extensive response and explanation from the Minister, the issue at hand remains unresolved.
“The cost of fares for Latrobe Valley commuters whether you are a student, a senior or a member of the general public are quite simply unfair and unjust” Mr Northe said.
Public transport costs and the unreliability of services are definitely some of the biggest issues that are raised to my office and its little wonder why given our services are continually disrupted, delayed and replaced.
“These interruptions cause mayhem to the lives of many people, and added to the fact is that locals are still getting ripped off with unfair fares!”, Mr Northe said.
“The Minister has conceded that Latrobe Valley commuters pay extra for their fares because our region has more public transport zones than other major regional areas, and whilst that might be the case, this creates an unfair pricing structure for Latrobe Valley commuters”.
“It’s my strong view that the public transport zones need an urgent review with an objective to ensure Latrobe Valley residents are not worse off in the hip pocket than our regional counterparts in areas such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo” said Mr Northe.
REGIONAL STUDENT PASS
“One example of inequity is the discounted Regional Student Pass, which is accessible for students from Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Warrnambool, Colac and Portland areas, but not for Latrobe Valley students. At a minimum Latrobe Valley students have to pay $607 for a student pass but in some other regional areas the cost for a pass is as little as $235 per year”.
“It beggars belief that a student lives in the Geelong region and has a population of approximately 250,000 people can access a Regional Student Pass but a Latrobe Valley student cannot” Mr Northe said.
At an annual cost of $333 a Geelong student can travel from Lara to Waurn Ponds (approximately 38kms), whilst a Latrobe Valley student who might wish to travel the same distance from Traralgon to Trafalgar, does not receive a discount and subsequently have to pay at least $607 per year.
The Minister in her response also noted that the Government has reduced the cost of the Regional Student Pass whilst also pointing out at the same time that Latrobe Valley students were not eligible, which is extremely frustrating for local students and their families.
The Minister also states that the Latrobe Valley doesn’t have its own Regional Student Pass due to the size of the region, which is an extraordinary statement given the Geelong region has a population of more than triple that of Latrobe City.
Less than 175 students in the Latrobe Valley had actually accessed Victorian Student Passes in 2018, and therefore the cost to implement a fairer system for Latrobe Valley students would be extremely minimal to the State Government in their overall budget.
“In my view, the current system is grossly unfair and it begs the questions as to why should Latrobe Valley families be forced to cough up more than double for their kids to travel to school when essentially they are travelling the same distances as their regional counterparts?”
“Another particularly frustrating ticketing issue is one which is endured by Latrobe Valley Seniors, who are significantly disadvantaged when travelling on public transport from a cost perspective”, Mr Northe said. Here’s some of the unfair scenario’s they face:
- Whilst a senior residing in Pakenham can catch the train for free to Melbourne as many times as they like on a weekend, Latrobe Valley Seniors are very limited to where they can travel. For example, a Morwell senior could travel to Traralgon return for free via a bus or train on the weekend – that’s a total of 23km; however a Pakenham Senior can travel 128km return into Melbourne for free all day Saturday and Sunday.
- Other regional seniors in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Mildura and Warrnambool enjoy free travel on their local bus networks on a weekend, but in Latrobe City this is not the case. For example if a Latrobe City wished to travel from Moe to Traralgon on a weekend they would not be entitled to free travel.
- Victorian Seniors Myki holders can travel in Zones 1 + 2 within the public transport system and not pay more than $4.30 per day, yet this also does not apply in Latrobe City. This means a senior living in a metropolitan area could travel approximately 160km return from Stoney Point to Thornbury at a total cost of $4.30, yet a senior in Latrobe City who travels from Moe to Traralgon is ineligible for the cap.
“So a senior in Melbourne enjoys free weekend travel, plus discounted rates through the week, and free travel is also available in other major regional centres on a weekend – and yet seniors who reside in the Latrobe Valley don’t have access to the same opportunities”, Mr. Northe said. The disparity is grossly unfair, in my opinion”.
“I’ve previously highlighted these issues multiple times to the Victorian Government and to Public Transport Victoria, but our community’s plight has fallen on deaf ears”, Mr Northe continued. “The issue of unfair ticketing prices due to myki zones in the Latrobe Valley, is an opportunity for the Government to prove to our area that they really care about providing equity across regional areas, and fix the fact that our cost of travel is much higher”.
“I’ll continue to stand up for our community, and I call upon the Government and Public Transport Victoria to do the right thing for commuters – they need to ensure our Latrobe Valley public transport costs are equitable and fair in comparison to other regional areas of the State” Mr Northe said.
VICTORIAN STUDENT PASS ANNUAL FARES
|Regional area||Cost per year||Travel covered|
|Geelong||$333||Unlimited travel on all bus services in the Geelong area. Also includes travel on V/Line trains between Waurn Ponds, Marshall, South Geelong, Geelong, North Geelong, North Shore, Corio and Lara stations|
|Ballarat||$333||Unlimited travel on all bus services in the Ballarat area and on V/Line trains between Ballarat and Wendouree stations|
|Bendigo||$235||Unlimited travel on all bus services in the Bendigo area and on V/Line trains between Bendigo, Epsom, Eaglehawk and Kangaroo Flat stations|
|Warrnambool||$235||Unlimited travel in the Southwest Transit bus system|
|Colac||$235||Unlimited travel in the Colac Transit bus system|
|Portland||$235||Unlimited travel in the Portland Transit bus system|
|Latrobe Valley||$607||Travel between Traralgon and Trafalgar stations – myki zones 8-12|
SENIORS PASS HOLDERS
|Melbourne Senior Traveller||km’s||Weekend rate||Weekday price|
|Stony Point – Thornbury return||160||FREE||$4.30|
|Pakenham to Tottenham return||138||FREE||$4.30|
|Traralgon – Morwell return||22||FREE||$3.40|
|Traralgon – Moe return||60||$3.50||$5.10|
|Regional Senior Traveller||km’s||Weekend rate|
|bus services in the Geelong area
Lara – Torquay return
|bus services in the Ballarat area Buningyong – Creswick return||70||FREE|
|bus services in the Bendigo area
Kangaroo Flat – Huntly return
|Traralgon to Moe return||56||$5.20|
As per PTV’s Journey planner
|Journey from||Journey to||km’s||cost|