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Cheaper, fairer public transport to kickstart Melbourne’s economy

Cheaper fares during off-peak times would make travel fairer and safer, encouraging Melburnians back to public transport as restrictions ease, the state’s independent infrastructure advisory body says.

Infrastructure Victoria’s Fair Move: Better Public Transport Fares for Melbourne report finds up to 71% of Melburnians would pay less than they do today if public transport fares included off-peak fares, and much cheaper fares for trams and buses. Low income households would benefit the most, saving up to 26% on public transport costs compared to what they pay today.

Chief Executive Michel Masson said changing the way Melburnians pay for public transport would reduce the cost of living at a time when many people are doing it tough.

“Cheaper fares can also encourage people to return to the city and other shopping centres as restrictions ease, supporting Melbourne’s economic recovery,” Mr Masson said. 

“As an immediate step, we are recommending discounted fares for travel outside of peak times be introduced and travel on trams and buses be much cheaper at all times.”

Modelling finds changing how public transport is priced makes the fares system fairer and can support safer travel in the COVID-19 era.

A new fare structure would see an off-peak discount apply to any train and tram travel outside of the peak times of 7.30am-9.30am and 4.30pm-6.30pm. Trams would be cheaper than trains. Bus trips would be much cheaper as they would be charged at a lower price at all times.

“Cheaper prices for under-used services such as buses and all off-peak travel gives public transport users power to decide how much they want to pay for public transport, based on when and how they travel,” Mr Masson said.

More than half of people making work trips say they can shift their time of travel.

 “Our research finds many commuters would benefit from the option of off-peak fares, especially during the COVID-19 era, as it creates an incentive to choose less crowded services and support social distancing,” he said. “And importantly, this is also good long-term policy as it is cheaper, safer and fairer and makes better use of our transport system.” 

Infrastructure Victoria also recommends the up-front charge on myki cards be reduced or scrapped, making travel simpler and more affordable.

While some reforms should be introduced now, Infrastructure Victoria is recommending others, such as higher train peak fares, should be delayed until travel patterns return to pre-COVID levels.

The report makes 13 recommendations to the Victorian Government to be implemented within the next five years.

For more information on the benefits of reform, see below.

To read the report visit

To access images and video visit:

The benefits of implementing fare reform, compared with what happens if we keep on doing the same thing, include:

  • Up to 71% of public transport users pay less to travel on public transport than they do today.
  • Households on the lowest incomes benefit the most – paying 26% less for fares on average.
  • Over 96,000 car trips are taken off Victorian roads on a typical weekday.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions are cut by over 78,000 tonnes per year due to increased public transport use.
  • Crowding on busy train services will be reduced, with 30,000 fewer boardings during the peak times – equivalent to the capacity of 27 new High Capacity Metro Trains.
  • Over 100,000 new off-peak boardings across trains, trams and buses.
  • Over 56,000 new public transport users on a typical weekday.
  • Fare reform would generate about $520 million in value each year for Victorians through more transport pricing options, reduced crowding and congestion and lower pollution.

Fast facts:

  • The top 20% of income earners make up the largest group of public transport users overall.
  • Nearly half of peak public transport use is by the highest income earners. Only a third is by low income households.
  • Low income earners make up close to half of those travelling off-peak and less than one third of those travelling in peak.
  • Bus services are used disproportionally by those on low incomes: 47% of trips on buses are made by people in the lowest 40% of household incomes, while only 34% of bus use is made up of those in the top 40% of household incomes.
  • Modelling undertaken for Infrastructure Victoria estimates that 70% of bus routes run at below a third of their capacity during the AM peak.
  • On weekends, public transport use is only 41% of its weekday use while roads are congested. At these times, moving any road trips to public transport through cheaper off-peak fares would have significant benefits.


Media contact: Mandy Frostick
Ph: 0419 546 245

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