Sydney public transport use increases during free travel period

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Transport Minister David Elliott said he would consider pleading with the Treasury for a repeat of the free travel period if the business community felt that increased economic activity had made up for lost fares.

Elliott said it was clear that free public transport was a “great economic lever” to help recovery from the pandemic. “Sydney has fallen in love with public transport, again,” he said.

The government will decide over the next few months whether to raise Opal tariffs from July. Last year, it raised fares by 1.5%.

Labor transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen said it would be an “insult to passengers” if the government raised Opal’s fares from July after presiding over the closure of the rail network at the end of February.

Haylen said the government needs to provide “real incentives” to passengers and provide quality service during off-peak times. “If they’re perceived as second-rate, passengers just won’t use them,” she said.

The 12 consecutive days of free travel end at 4 a.m. on April 26. It covers Opal public transport services in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter and Illawarra, and includes trains, buses, light rail and ferries, as well as Manly Fast ferries.

The ferries were packed over the Easter long weekend.Credit:Nick Moire

Transport for NSW chief operating officer Howard Collins said 7.7 million free journeys have been made on the public transport network since the start of the free period, and nearly 250,000 people have traveled on ferries over the Easter long weekend.

Some 87,000 people also traveled on Sydney’s light rail services on Wednesday, which was the highest daily ridership on record for this mode of transport.

Ridership on the transport network is expected to be strong again over the coming long weekend. After two years of disruption due to the pandemic, services and large-scale dawn marches will resume on Monday for Anzac Day.

Masks remain mandatory on public transport despite the government’s recent scrapping of close contact rules and other restrictions.

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