Member for Morwell, Russell Northe has called upon the Minister for Public Transport and the Victorian Government to give Latrobe Valley seniors a fair go when it comes to the costs of using trains and buses in our region.
“Currently, there are discriminatory pricing rates that favour city commuters and disadvantage some regional communities – particularly senior commuters in the Latrobe Valley”, Mr Northe said. “Public Transport Victoria (PTV) state that Victorian Seniors myki holders are all eligible for free travel on Saturdays and Sundays; however the criteria states that this free travel is over two consecutive zones, and this creates a massive disadvantage for Senior commuters in my electorate”.
“The current criteria means that a senior residing in Pakenham can travel for free to Melbourne and return on a weekend to watch an event, attend an appointment, or visit a friend”, Mr Northe said. “But a senior living in the Latrobe Valley can’t even get from Traralgon to Moe, due to the current zoning structure” said Mr Northe.
Victorian Seniors myki holders have their weekday travel charges capped at $4.30 if they are travelling within Zones 1+2. However, this only applies in metropolitan Melbourne and therefore whilst a senior in Melbourne is able to travel vast distances for $4.30, a senior in the Latrobe Valley can pay more than $30 just to travel to Melbourne.
And the pricing discrimination doesn’t end there, as seniors residing in regional areas such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Mildura and Warrnambool all enjoy free travel on their bus network on the weekend, because these centres have a smaller number of travel zones, yet Seniors in the Latrobe Valley don’t have the same privilege.
“In summary, a Senior in Melbourne enjoys free weekend travel, plus discounted rates through the week, but Seniors in the Latrobe Valley don’t have access to these same opportunities and are forced to pay much more than their city counterparts”, Mr. Northe said.
Mr. Northe has created a three point policy initiative, so that Latrobe Valley seniors receive fair and equitable access to free and reduced travel costs on our Public Transport network. Mr Northe also recently raised in Parliament these issues to the attention of the Minister for Public Transport.
Mr Northe’s three point plan includes:
1. Free travel for eligible seniors on weekends, when utilising train and bus services within the Latrobe City Municipality.
2. Cap weekday daily public transport costs for Latrobe Valley Seniors at $4.30, similar to metropolitan Seniors Myki cardholders. For example, if a senior from Pakenham is able to travel 80 kms on weekdays at a capped cost of $4.30, Latrobe City Seniors should also be allowed to travel a similar distance for this same cost.
3. Doubling the number of annual free travel vouchers for Latrobe City Senior Myki card holders from four, to eight.
Mr Northe has challenged the State Government to provide a fairer system for Latrobe Valley Seniors, and stated that, “It is simply unacceptable that regional commuters would be disadvantaged, by excuses like a poor pricing system or an inequitable zoning structure,” Mr Northe said.