The Queensland Government has announced a major public transport overhaul that could save some commuters over $1,000 a year.
The overhaul will see the number of zones reduced from 23 to eight next year.
Zones to be merged include zones one and two (the new zone one), three to five (the new zone two), six to eight (the new zone three), nine to 11 (the new zone four), 12 to 15 (the new zone five), 16 to 18 (the new zone six), 19 to 21 (the new zone seven) and 22 to 23 (the new zone eight).
Not only will the zones cover larger areas, but the cost of a single zone of travel in peak time will drop by 4.47 per cent, from $3.35 to $3.20.
The off-peak period is also being extended, to between 7pm and 6am and 8:30am and 3:30pm.
The current ‘nine paid trips, then free travel’ plan has been declared a failure, as 85 per cent of commuters do not even qualify for the offer.
Instead, a new plan will see a 50 per cent discount applied to fares after eight paid journeys through the week.
Children under the age of 15 using Go Cards will travel for free on weekends.
The Government estimates that the changes — the result of a long-awaited review into public transport — will lead to more than 93 per cent of public transport users saving money.
“It is about putting families first and it’s about putting commuters first,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“And it’s about making sure we can get more people utilising our public transport network across south-east Queensland.”
The changes won’t come without a cost — Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe admitted the reduced fares could cost the Government as much as $210 million in lost revenue over the next four years, although that figure is based on a conservative patronage uptake.
“We’ve not seen a reduction in fares like this before, so it’s difficult to model what those impacts will be,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“That’s why I chose to take the most conservative of figures to ensure we were ready for what the broader impacts could be, but I’m very hopeful we will see a much greater uptake from this fantastic policy that provides greater access to public transport for everyone across south-east Queensland.”
The changes will take effect from January 1 2017.
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