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Metro faces new delays, fears 50c fares will break Brisbane bus network

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Brisbane City Council warns its bus network is “on life support” and the State Government’s 50c fares scheme could break it, as it admits the new $1.4bn Metro service could be delayed until 2025.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles is recommending people take advantage of his cheaper public transport fares plan.

Costs are set to be reduced to a flat rate of 50 cents from August 5.

The six-month trial is designed to increase public transport usage and ease road congestion.

The warning has been issued by Brisbane City Council, which says the bus network is “on life support” and that the Miles government is “bludging” off Brisbane bus users by failing to fund adequate services.

It also says the new $1.4bn Brisbane Metro electric bus service, due to start running at the end of the year, could be delayed until 2025.

A campaign calling on the government to “Back our Buses”, including full page ads in The Sunday Mail, is being launched today.

The council is warning that the viability of Brisbane’s bus network is under threat “from years of state government chronic underinvestment”, with fears it will be unable to cope when the government’s six-month trial of 50c public transport fares starts on August 5.

It says Brisbane already has 82,000 fewer bus services than a decade ago “because the state government has failed to provide growth funding while continuing to pocket 100 per cent of fare revenue”.

Brisbane City Council says the bus network is “on life support”. Picture David Clark Photography

Council transport chair Ryan Murphy said Brisbane buses moved two-thirds of the city’s public transport users but received only a third of state funding. Mr Murphy said commuters would be faced with fewer services, longer waits and worsening congestion unless the state government “ends the funding gridlock and invests in better buses”.

“The state government’s decade-long obsession with Cross River Rail means the bus network has become so badly neglected that it’s now on life support,” he said.

“Without additional funding for more capacity, there is a real risk that 50c fares will bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.”

Mr Murphy said Brisbane was growing quickly but government underinvestment in buses was making congestion even worse.

“The state pockets every cent commuters pay for their bus trip, yet state funding has failed to keep pace with the cost of delivering these services,” he said.

“The state government is bludging off Brisbane residents and it’s earned us the shameful title of the only capital city in the country where public transport has gone backwards.”

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner at Brisbane Metro’s high-tech electric charging facilities, in Spring Hill. Photo Steve Pohlner

Mr Murphy said BCC was the only local authority in Queensland to subsidise public transport, spending more than 17 per cent of its annual $4b annual budget on the service.

He said while the government fully funded bus services in Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Gold Coast and Moreton Bay, it provided just over 70 per cent of funding to Brisbane.

“The State Government recently announced an initial $70 million plus an additional $24 million annually to grow Logan and Ipswich bus networks, however, it has been more than 10 years since the State Government provided growth funding for the State’s capital,” he said.

“State Government funding has increased in other parts of south east Queensland by an average 4.51 per cent per annum since 2017, however, funding for Brisbane’s bus services has only increased 2.77 per cent.

“Meanwhile, the cost of delivering Brisbane’s bus services has increased by an average 5.69 per cent per annum since 2017.”

Cr Murphy said the funding arrangement meant Brisbane ratepayers could end up footing the bill for building and operating the $1.4b Brisbane Metro electric bus project while the government pocketed $25m in anticipated fare revenue each year.

Transport Minister Bart Mellish. pic: Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

He said the launch of Metro services was also at risk of being delayed until next year without a new funding deal.

“Council’s investment in public transport services has more than doubled over the past decade, however, the State’s underinvestment could cause bus services to be further reduced and turn-up-and-go Brisbane Metro services to be delayed,” he said.

“For years, Council has propped up funding for Brisbane buses, plus we’re delivering the Brisbane Metro to add more frequent services and more capacity.

“But without State Government funding, Brisbane’s bus network is going nowhere.

“We’ve put a transformative proposal for Brisbane’s public transport network on the table to deliver more services to more places more often.

“We’re simply asking the State Government for a better deal to keep Brisbane moving.”

The government last month announced it was slashing public transport fares to 50c during a six-month, $150m trial to help ease cost-of-living pressures.

Read More: Metro faces new delays, fears 50c fares will break Brisbane bus network

2024-06-22 14:01:20

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