Saturday, September 25, 2010

Leftists whine about public transport report

The Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) is Australia's "peak industry group for the Australian tourism, transport, aviation and investment sectors." The TTF is a respected advisory group endorsed by Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government:

I have had a long association with TTF and they have always been fearless advocates for the transport, aviation and tourism sectors. They understand the need to balance commercial issues with public policy imperatives and have an innate knowledge of the business/political intersection in Australia.

The TTF report Innovation Needed In Public Transport Funding has not been well received by the Left, however, The Age reporting:

The report proposes launching a review to reduce concession fares by:

- Slashing the types of concession discounts available.

- Cutting the amount of money saved by concession fares.

- Tightening the eligibility criteria.

- Making concession fares valid only during off-peak times, to encourage people using concession tickets to travel when trains, trams and buses are less crowded.

Victorian Council of Social Services chief executive Cath Smith said trains and trams in Melbourne were already so crowded that people on low incomes or pensioners already travelled at off-peak times if they could.

Removing concession fares at peak times would disadvantage those that couldn't afford it, she said.

A prominent Greens supporter is somewhat more passionate in rejecting TFF recommendations:

First, we ignore everything you ever say for the rest of your nasty organisation’s pointless and unfortunate existence. We leave concession fares intact, and apologise to these struggling people for your unnecessarily mean-spirited suggestion. (I suppose we’re partly to blame for giving you the impression that we’re the sort of community that would respond positively to such utter bastardry.)

Then we remove “zones” from the public transport system, since they only punish the poorer inhabitants of outer Melbourne for not being able to afford to live in the much-better-served inner city. We expand the rail network to the many suburbs that don’t have any access despite growing populations and the fact that we simply can’t manage any more cars commuting to the city. We rebuild the railway lines to the regional centres that no longer have them, and we run decent reliable services to each. (By making it possible to commute from regional centres, we slightly lessen the demand on housing in Melbourne, and slightly address the housing affordability problem.)

It is doubtful that either Age reporter Clay Lucas or Crikey blogger Jeremy Sear has read the TTF report, however, which suggests means testing as the most equitable way to allocate transport concessions – thus insuring that wealthy pensioners do not receive unneeded concessions whereas the working poor do.

Also, the report's first two paragraphs recognise the importance of public transport systems:

An effective and efficient transport system, incorporating both public transport and the road network, is an important building block for Australia’s continued economic growth, environmental health and social well-being.

A well-utilised public transport system brings economic benefits such as cost savings associated with reduced congestion and improved job creation, competitiveness and liveability. Public transport also underpins Australia’s environmental goals, by helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and lessen our dependence on oil. In addition, a well-designed public transport system encourages greater social inclusion and results in numerous health and safety benefits.

The report also emphasises that only approximately 1/3 of Australia's annual $5 billion (US$ 4.8 billion) transport systems operating cost is recouped through fares, this differential sure to rise as the country's ageing population becomes eligible for concession fares. The Left apparently expects to fund this by tapping the "bottomless" pool of tax dollars.

In future it would be nice if Leftists did their research before spouting off.


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