Out­cry over ris­ing fares

Com­muters say plans un­fair without mak­ing im­prove­ments to ser­vices

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Elisha Pearce and Miles God­frey

ST MARYS and Mt Druitt work­ers could pay hun­dreds of dol­lars more a year to catch the train to the city and lose free travel perks if fare in­crease rec­om­men­da­tions are adopted.

Fares will rocket by a whop­ping 4.2 per cent a year for the next three years un­der plans tabled by the In­de­pen­dent Pric­ing Reg­u­la­tor Tri­bunal (IPART) re­cently.

Com­muters trav­el­ling from St Marys to Cen­tral cur­rently pay $2698.36 a year. Un­der the pro­posal, the same jour­ney would rocket up to $3598.92 – an in­crease of $900.36.

Trips from Mt Druitt to the city would rise al­most $490, from $2687.36 to $3177.72.

Com­muters are an­gry at the fare in­creases, say­ing ser­vices have not im­proved enough to jus­tify them and dif­fi­culty find­ing a park near a sta­tion makes driv­ing more tempt­ing.

Pub­lic trans­port users also face los­ing the Opal card’s pop­u­lar free travel pro­vi­sion – with the cur­rent free travel af­ter eight jour­neys set to be re­placed with a 50 per cent dis­count on the stan­dard fare. Daily caps on max­i­mum week­day fares would also in­crease from $15 to $18, pe­nal­is­ing peo­ple who travel longer dis­tances.

Bianca Ebirim, of St Marys, was ex­cited about get­ting a job in the city but the fares rise put a damp­ener on her ca­reer move. She hoped the ris­ing prices were not slug­ging Western Syd­ney com­muters be­cause of a few fare dodgers.

“That’s un­fair be­cause I’ve been do­ing it prop­erly,’’ Ms Ebirim said.

Pen­sion­ers are also in line to be whacked af­ter IPART rec­om­mended lift­ing daily caps on con­ces­sion Gold Opal cards from $2.50 to $3.60.

The NSW Op­po­si­tion has called for the Govern­ment to re­ject the rec­om­men­da­tions, say­ing wages are not in­creas­ing fast enough to make 4.2 per cent a year in­crease fair.

Mt Druitt state La­bor MP Ed­mond Atalla said he was “ve­he­mently op­posed” to the new prices.

“There’s an in­crease in fares but there’s no ad­di­tional trains or im­prove­ment to the ser­vice level, that hasn’t moved,’’ he said.

Mak­ing pub­lic trans­port un­vi­able would add to the al­ready clogged roads.

When you make pub­lic trans­port un­vi­able for peo­ple it’ll make the sit­u­a­tion worse Ed­mond Atalla Il ike the Opal cards, I missed about 10 trains without it, but now by swip­ing it I get on quicker. But yeah, the price rise is an­noy­ing, that’s re­ally bad. What’s the point of it go­ing up if things aren’t im­prov­ing? The only con­ve­nience is tap­ping in and out and not wait­ing. Kathy Bar­rah This is the first I’ve heard of it but it’s a bit of a hike. Ob­vi­ously it’s not good. I travel to Wyn­yard; so the price is a fair bit higher. It’s in­con­ve­nient, but I prob­a­bly wouldn’t go as far as driv­ing in­stead. Mina Wil­liam I think it’s ex­pen­sive. They want us to catch a train so the prices should be much more rea­son­able. Peo­ple might start driv­ing, and the other prob­lem is there is no park­ing around here. I walked for 10 min­utes from my car park. Tanya When the Opal Card came in, even with the free trips it worked out to be more ex­pen­sive than what a weekly ticket cost us and now it’s go­ing up again. With the car park­ing is­sues it makes you not want to catch the train ... I have to walk from right down the bot­tom of the Carinya Ave carpark. Karen

Un­vi­able claims PRICE ON THE RISE Bianca Ebirim is con­cerned about ris­ing pub­lic trans­port prices af­ter se­cur­ing a job in the city.

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