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Victorian opposition pledges to halve V/Line fares

Key points

  • The Coalition has promised to reduce V/Line fares by 50 per cent if elected.
  • Train replacement bus services will also be free under the proposal.
  • A Bendigo to Melbourne commuter could save $2,408 a year, the opposition claimed.

The Victorian opposition has pledged to halve V/Line fares for regional public transport trips for four years, if elected at the state election in November.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and shadow public transport minister Danny O’Brien’s announcement on Tuesday morning follows the Coalition’s promise on Sunday to set $2-a-day public transport price caps in metropolitan areas.

Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy.Credit:Eddie Jim

Planning and transport experts warned on Sunday that the Coalition’s promise to limit myki fares to $2 a day would disproportionately benefit wealthier areas and starve the government of funds needed to improve outer suburban services.

Professor Jago Dodson, director of urban research at RMIT University, said on Sunday free public transport was an “economically regressive policy” and risked worsening social inequalities by benefiting wealthier households.

The opposition has also pledged to make V/Line train replacement bus services free.

Halving V/Line fares would reduce the cost for an adult ticket for a daily on-peak return trip from Ballarat to Melbourne from $45.60 to $22.80, while a Bendigo to Melbourne return trip would drop from $68.80 to $34.40. A Geelong to Melbourne return trip would fall from $27.60 to $13.80.

The fare for a Geelong to Melbourne return trip would fall from $27.60 to $13.80, if the Coalition is elected.Credit:The Age

The opposition claimed that under the plan, a daily, on-peak return commuter travelling from Geelong to Melbourne would save $1762 a year, Ballarat to Melbourne $2074 a year and Bendigo to Melbourne $2408 a year.

“For regional Victorians, public transport costs can run into thousands a year. Our plan will cut this in half and allows households to put those savings into what really matters,” Guy said in a statement.

Guy said the halving of V/Line fares – the estimated cost of which was not disclosed in the party’s announcement – would be possible as a Coalition government, if elected, would reduce the state’s debt.

O’Brien said the plan would ease the burden of the rising cost of living and help promote regional tourism.

The Age’s Victoria’s Agenda project launched on Monday and asked thousands of Victorians what they want political parties and candidates to be talking about as they compete for their vote. It found that transport was a key issue for many voters.

One of the six key questions The Age will ask politicians after surveying the community will be: “What are your plans to deal with population pressures in Melbourne and the regions?”

With Sumeyya Ilanbey

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