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RAA pushes public transport Budget spend

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The RAA is calling on the State Government to introduce a new tap-and-pay system on buses and trains and to fund councils to install more bus shelters, after public transport patronage plummeted over the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Adelaide trams are already fitted with a pay-as-you-go cashless payment system that allows commuters to pay using their Visa, MasterCard or smart device without needing a MetroCard.

The technology was installed as part of a $950,000 State Government trial that launched in September, with Transport Minister Corey Wingard at the time saying the Government would consider the pilot’s success before expanding the system across the state’s broader public transport fleet.

The RAA says the technology has helped encourage new or infrequent tram users who do not own a MetroCard to catch public transport.

It says one of its key budget asks is for the Government to allocate funding in the 2021-22 financial year for pay-as-you-go technology on buses and trains.

“COVID’s obviously dealt the public transport system quite a severe blow and it’s a problem that’s Australia-wide that people are taking some time to come back to public transport as a preferred means of getting around,” RAA senior manager Charles Mountain said.

“Making it more seamless and convenient for casual users to use public transport as an alternative to driving is a good option and all avenues, such as this, should be explored to make that happen.”

Mountain said the RAA had also asked the State Government to establish a bus shelter fund to help councils install new public transport infrastructure in their respective areas.

He said in most local government areas, bus shelters were only installed at stops servicing travel into the city, meaning people who want to travel to other suburban areas were often left waiting without cover.

“The whole point is to improve the funding mechanism for this so that councils, in conjunction with public transport providers, can install shelters where they can be most effective for patrons,” he said.

“We do know there was a program a few years to fund additional shelters, particularly on new routes, but that funding has stopped.

“That’s why, in discussions with councils, there is a need for additional funding sources to be provided.”

Other RAA budget asks include making the Mount Barker on-demand bus service permanent and expanding the trial to other regional towns such as Victor Harbor to Goolwa.

Mountain said Victor Harbor had an ageing population and there was a “good opportunity to provide a public transport system so that people don’t rely completely on private transport use”.

He said the RAA was unsure how much its budget asks would cost.

InDaily contacted Wingard’s office for comment.

Mountain said the RAA was “about mobility in all forms” and many of its members are public transport users.

“Public transport is something that has a very important part to play, particularly for moving large groups of people during peak periods, so it’s important that both public transport and cycling is well-supported to give people an alternative to driving.”

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