Australian seniors living in Queensland’s capital may soon be able to hop on and off public transport as they please without having to dip into their savings, as the council reveals plans to make travel free for over-60s.
Trips throughout Brisbane on buses, CityCats and ferries could become completely free for seniors from October this year with thanks to a new budget set to be handed down on Wednesday. The only catch is they must be willing to travel in off-peak times.
The Brisbane City Council budget will include a $3.1 million payment to the state government which will allow the council to provide free travel between certain hours for eligible senior Go Card holders.
Speaking out about the decision Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said it is a chance to give back to the senior community and help prevent the growing issue of loneliness among the generation.
“Free travel during off-peak times will not only make better use of available capacity – it will create more opportunities for older residents to move around the city and connect with family and friends,” he explained in a statement.
“It’s also about giving something back to the generations who have worked hard and contributed so much to help build our city and our community.
“Making it possible for seniors to get out and about more, at no cost, has the potential to bring many positive benefits to our community.”
Seniors will be able to access free travel on Brisbane buses, CityCats and ferries from October 1 between the hours of 8.30am and 3.30pm and 6pm to 6am Monday to Friday. They will also have the opportunity to get out and about more on weekends with free buses for seniors on Saturday and Sunday.
Free travel could be implemented on trains as well with Schrinner calling on the Queensland government to match the announcement for rail passengers in the state budget.
“Free off-peak travel for seniors on Council’s public transport will go a long way to encouraging greater use of public transport and I encourage the State Government to adopt the same approach for rail commuters,” he added.
The plan has already sparked interest from Queenslanders who praised the council for its decision to reduce the financial pressure on Aussie seniors.
Taking to twitter to voice their opinion one person wrote: “Such a great idea!” While another added: “About time. They already do this in the UK.”
Transport Matters MP Rod Barton recently put forward a motion to state parliament calling for an inquiry into the public transport system. This includes the idea of reducing the cost of travel for certain members of the community to help ease financial pressures.
It’s suggested the free tram zone be extended to include popular areas of interest in the city including the Shrine of Remembrance, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Arts Centre and Rod Laver Arena.
However, the decision hasn’t been met support with everyone with Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen claiming it will only lead to more problems for commuters including overcrowding.
“Extending the free tram zone would exacerbate those problems further afield,” he told The Age.