ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

ACTCOSS renews its call for cost-benefit analysis on free public transport in the ACT

5 April 2022

ACTCOSS’s call follows a motion introduced in the Legislative Assembly today by Mark Parton MLA calling for bus travel to be made free in the ACT for six weeks. A similar scheme has been implemented in Tasmania until the end of April to help with rising fuel prices and to ease congestion.

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell: “ACTCOSS has for some time advocated for a cost-benefit analysis for free public transport in Canberra.

“Cost of living pressures have been growing in Canberra and are being compounded by rising fuel prices. Making public transport free permanently would have a significant impact for people on low incomes and those experiencing disadvantage.

“Free public transport could take cars off the road in peak times, reduce our carbon footprint, encourage social participation, volunteering and employment by people on low incomes and alleviate some of the transport challenges set to face our city over the next couple of years.

“It could provide a win-win to people on low incomes, services and business in the city facing disruption due to COVID-19 and infrastructure renewal and expansion.

“It could encourage more people to use public transport, which in turn would encourage a more comprehensive public transport network.

“People with transport disadvantage have the greatest need to travel and face the greatest isolation when they can’t, but they have the least flexibility about where and how they move across the city.

“Travel is an essential cost of living and falls hardest on those with the least ability to pay.

“Canberra is spread out over a large geographical area, and travel costs should not stop people doing the things they have to do or the things they want to do.

“Access to transport is also a social determinant of health,” said Dr Campbell

ACTCOSS has proposed that a cost benefit analysis could consider the impact of lost ticket revenue against significant savings and benefits including:

  • Savings made by not having to collect fares
  • Savings made from not having to administer concessions
  • Gains to revenue and savings from unlocking social and economic participation by people on low incomes
  • Economic gains, including reductions to congestion at peak periods; and
  • Accelerated climate abatement from more use of public transport and mode shifting.

Dr Campbell concluded: “Free transport would have some highly liberating personal benefits for those with the least in our society including the ability for people to meet Centrelink requirements without facing exorbitant costs and not having to factor in transport costs when seeking minor medical attention or leaving a domestic or family violence situation.”

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations. Follow us @ACTCOSS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617.