Analysis of the state’s public transport patronage figures has revealed the Andrews Government’s limited free public transport for the holiday period would have lasted less than four hours, pre-pandemic.
The Government has today announced a mere 250,000 vouchers for free travel in December and January – more than a month since the Liberals and Nationals first called for unlimited free travel to the Melbourne CBD through summer.
Shadow Minister for Public Transport Steph Ryan said Labor’s playing Scrooge with its limited voucher offering.
“With 1.6 million trips a day pre-pandemic, the government’s own data shows Labor’s travel vouchers would offer free fares for a mere three hours and 36 minutes,” Ms Ryan said.
“Free public transport is one measure the Liberals and Nationals believe will help the Melbourne CBD to recover and rebuild, but by applying such restrictive eligibility criteria Labor’s plan is more Grinch than generous.
“Free travel should have been offered weeks ago and applied to all travel into the Melbourne CBD from anywhere in Victoria to encourage people to return to the CBD – for work, for dining or Christmas shopping.
“It’s the early Christmas present that families, our small businesses and the local economy desperately needs.”
On November 7, the Liberals and Nationals announced a plan for free travel for anyone travelling via tram, train or bus into the Melbourne CBD.
It would be valid for travel from regional Victoria or across the metropolitan Melbourne network from 1 December 2021 to 30 January 2022.
Shadow Minister for CBD Recovery David Southwick said Labor’s lockdowns had stripped the CBD of office workers and visitors with a bold, positive plan needed for its revival.
“We’ve got to bring Melbourne back to life, particularly the inner suburbs which used to be the beating heart of our vibrant city,” Mr Southwick said.
“To do that, we’ve got to get people back to the office, both private and public sector, and entice people back to our CBD cafes, pubs, hotels and retail stores.
“Instead of a restrictive and limited voucher program, the Government should be offering unlimited free travel into the Melbourne CBD in December and January to ensure it’s a Christmas present that all Victorians can enjoy.”