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'Cricket express' deal up in the air


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The State Government is yet to strike a deal with the Stadium Management Authority to fund special buses to carry patrons to international cricket matches at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval.

Extra buses to carry fans to and from the venue are planned, according to a strategy document released earlier this year.

A senior public transport bureaucrat has revealed that the Government wants to introduce a “footy express” style service for the cricket, where fans get their travel free with their match-day entry ticket.

The cost of footy express buses, which have carried crowds to AAMI Stadium for many years, are incorporated into the football ticket price, and the Government wants a similar deal with the cricket.

However, Bill Fragoulis, executive director of Public Transport Services at the Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure, said an agreement on funding the services was yet to be struck.

“At the moment, we’re looking at footy games with 50,000 people and catering to 50 per cent of that crowd,” Fragoulis said yesterday at the SA Transport Infrastructure Summit.

“At AAMI Stadium we’ve catered [to] up to 18 per cent of the crowd, we know it’s going to be much bigger at Adelaide Oval.

“The cricket, we’re trying to get them on board to fund some of it, that’s what we’re trying to do.

“That is the sticking point. It’s all about funding at the end of the day, because these are pass-through costs to the bus operators at the end of the day, someone has to fund these things.”

Clarifying his comments this morning Fragoulis said the service details hadn’t been finalised yet so his department was yet to put a funding figure to the Stadium Management Authority.

The SMA is a joint venture made up of the SANFL and the South Australian Cricket Association.

Fragoulis dismissed the possibility that commuters would be impacted if the SMA didn’t come to the table to fund the service.

If that did occur extra buses would be run anyway but patrons would be expected to pay for them – just as with a regular bus service.

That footy express model uses a slice of revenue from the cost of a ticket to the game – under an agreement struck with SANFL – plus additional sponsorship from SA Lotteries to pay for the extra buses.

The deal allows commuters with a match ticket to ride free. Before the deal was struck, the extra buses still ran but commuters were required to buy a bus ticket to ride them.

The Transport Department is required by legislation to have a strategy for a 70 per cent public transport mode share to the Oval on match days.

That strategy is still being developed and has not yet been released. The department this morning declined to say when that might be.

The first game played at Adelaide Oval, an Ashes test on December 5, is not likely to be supported with additional public transport services.

A spokesperson for the SMA said because the stadium would be only partially finished with a capacity of 35,000 by the time of the Test there was no need for additional services.

“Adelaide Oval will not be its at full capacity for the Ashes Test so there will be no change to the services that have been offered in the past, when previous Test matches have been successfully hosted,” the spokesperson said.

“The SMA is continuing discussions with all relevant parties to establish an Adelaide Oval Football Express, based on the same model as has been successfully used at AAMI Stadium.”

The first three days of Adelaide Oval’s Ashes test are sold out.

Late last year the State Government released its Report on Public Transport Strategies for Adelaide Oval Events.

The document suggests extra services for major events may be paid for by increasing the event ticket price.

“Based on experiences in South Australia and interstate, key factors which are critical to successful public transport for major events include: public transport fares are included in the event ticket price.”

Under current arrangements extra buses are run to the first two days of test matches. The strategy suggests this arrangement would be maintained.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Transport Services Chloe Fox said the Government was continuing to work on a public transport strategy for the Oval.

“To ensure we have a smooth transition to the new stadium facilities, DPTI is working through the details of a comprehensive transport strategy with SMA and Adelaide City Council.  Once the details of that strategy have been finalised, the Government will share them with the South Australian public.”

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