Labor fears Opal fare price hike by Andrew Constance

Unfair fares: Granville MP Julia Finn, opposition spokeswoman Jodi McKay and Prospect MP Hugh McDermott are concerned about proposed Opal fare price hikes.

Unfair fares: Granville MP Julia Finn, opposition spokeswoman Jodi McKay and Prospect MP Hugh McDermott are concerned about proposed Opal fare price hikes.

Commuters may be forced to pay an extra $500 a year in train fares from Parramatta to Town Hall, local Labor MPs have warned.

Granville MP Julia Finn and Prospect MP Hugh McDermott were at Parramatta station on Monday, where they urged Transport Minister Andrew Constance to come clean about an increased price hike in Opal fares that could be implemented as early as July this year.

Last May, the minister announced a “fare freeze” until July this year.

During recent budget estimates hearings, Mr Constance refused to shed light on when commuters would be told details of a possible Opal fare hike.

The maximum bus fare would increase from $4.50 to $5.60 while the maximum train fare will increase from $8.30 to $11.70 by July 2018 under IPART recommendations, according to opposition transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay.

Daily return train trips from Parramatta to Town Hall would cost an extra $505 per year – a 22 per cent increase. The same price hike would apply for full-time workers travelling from Granville to Penrith.

These proposed increases will be on top of the September 2016 changes, which saw regular commuters pay 12 per cent more when the free journeys after eight trips was replaced with a 50 per cent discount after eight trips.

Western Sydney commuters are clear on this – they don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars more in fares for the same crowded trains they rely on to get to work each day,” Ms Finn said.

“This hike will only add to enormous cost of living pressures that families in our region face. Such a massive hike in public transport costs is just another added cost that will make it harder for many people in Granville to balance the family budget. Higher fares are coming for the people of Granville; this is the government simply stalling on telling us when.”

Dr McDermott added:

“The cost of living pressure is real. Such a massive hike in public transport costs is just another added cost that will make it harder for many people in to make ends meet. Hiking up fares for train, buses and ferries doesn’t make sense at a time when we should be getting more people onto public transport. Prospect commuters are clear on this – they don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars more in fares for the same congested services.”

The minister has since described the opposition’s claims as “an appalling recycled scare campaign”.

But Mr Constance refused to deny or confirm a price hike is on the cards.

“Labor lied last time about Opal, and they are lying again. We’ve proven time and time again that we put commuters first,” he said

“It’s a bit rich for Labor to talk about public transport fares. In the 16 years they were in government, fares went up 87 per cent, while trains were falling apart and couldn’t turn up on time. Since the introduction of Opal in 2012, fares have on average not risen above CPI.”

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