ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Transport costs blowing out low income budgets

5 April 2016

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has released its 2016 Cost of Living Report, which this year focuses on the costs of transport in Canberra. The research finds that Canberra has the second highest expenditure on transport amongst capital cities in the country. Darwin, the city with the highest transport expenditure is $233.78, with Canberra only marginally behind on $232.23. These two cities are considerably higher than the others with the average weekly figure of all capital cities being $194.44.  

In terms of the proportion of household income expended on transport, Canberra sits at third highest, spending 15.1% of weekly expenditure, behind Darwin and Melbourne. Only housing (19.6% of expenditure) and food (15.4%) constitute greater expenditure areas for Canberra households. In fact, Canberra households spend almost as much on transport ($232) as they do on food ($235).

“The research shows that increasing transport costs are blowing out the budgets of low income households in Canberra,” ACTCOSS Director Susan Helyar said. “Because even though some transport costs have decreased – primarily lower fuel prices and lower prices for new cars – there have been increases in the Consumer Price Index for car maintenance, spare parts and accessories.

“Our research also shows that registration and insurance costs, MyWay fares, and taxi fares have also all increased over the longer term.

“This pattern of price changes means low income households are more likely to experience cost increases and we know they are less likely to be able to absorb these costs in an already stretched household budget.” 

Ms Helyar concluded, “The ACT Government can help reduce the unfair impact of increasing costs of transport through:

  • Public transport redesign and increased supply, especially for services for people needing services outside of the 9-5 peak commuting hours on Monday to Friday
  • Infrastructure renewal – prioritising supply and renewal of low cost housing, and employment opportunities, in well serviced public transport areas
  • Adequate and properly targeted concessions
  • Progressive fee structures for fines, fees and charges.”

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200.

Related reading:

ACT Cost of Living Report: Transport, 2016