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Fair Move: 11 Where do we go from here?

This paper outlines the significant benefits that come from public transport fare reform for metropolitan Melbourne. In determining the next steps towards fare reform, it is important to reinforce that fares should be set to achieve desired objectives, recognising that multiple outcomes have to be balanced to get the price right.

This is important when devising improvements to the current fare structure and also in assessing proposed reforms that may achieve one aim but fail to achieve other, equally important aims.

We suggest three fare objectives to benefit all Victorians:

Set fares to make the best use of the public transport network, take equity into account and ensure people are provided with informed travel choices.

The reforms and suggested immediate next steps in this paper support achievement of these objectives.

In moving towards fare reform, the Victorian Government will need to set its own objectives. The recommendations in this paper each stand by themselves, and do not rely on each other in order to be effective. This gives government the flexibility to select and sequence fare reforms from our list of recommendations to support its objectives.

However, there are four obvious reforms that we believe the government could proceed with immediately. Indeed, at a time when Victoria needs to support social distancing on public transport, it is important that they proceed swiftly.

The reforms that can proceed immediately are:

  1. Introduce peak and off-peak fares.
  2. Adopt fares that differ by mode.
  3. Appoint an independent advisory body to monitor, review and advise on transport prices. This advisory body would play an important role in monitoring the effects of COVID-19 on travel and how fare reform should proceed in light of significant change.
  4. Abolish the free tram zone to improve safety and access for those who need it most.

These reforms could then be followed over the next two years by a set of reforms to fares and ticketing that, in the first instance, provide stronger incentives for travellers to make better use of the system – such as by encouraging the use of currently underused components of the network. Ticketing reforms, such as removing myki Passes would complement the fare reforms and make them more effective, as well as removing inefficient barriers to the use of the public transport system. The equity of the system could also be improved by developing consistent principles for concessions and reviewing and reforming existing concessions.

Reforms that expand how travellers pay for travel are likely to be more complicated and take longer, although we recommend these reforms should occur within two to five years.

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