Production of Documents: Department of Transport Network Revenue Protection Plan (06.03.2013)

Written on the 12 March 2013

Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan) -- I move:

 

 

That this house requires the Leader of the Government to table in the Legislative Council on Tuesday, 19 March 2013, a copy of the Department of Transport's Network Revenue Protection Plan for the 2012-13 financial year.

 

 

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am sure Mr Barber will get his right of reply in a moment -- --

 

 

An honourable member interjected.

 

 

Ms CROZIER -- I have some comments I would like to make in relation to the motion Mr Barber has moved this afternoon. It is important that we address, as Mr O'Donohue has pointed out, some issues about the Public Transport Victoria's Network Revenue Protection Plan in relation to what is occurring on the public transport system. Commuters who travel on our public transport system, whether that be train, tram or bus, will be very pleased to know that the government is focused on delivering those services, and as one would expect it wants those services to run efficiently with the avoidance of fare evasion wherever possible.

 

 

 

I note that the Metlink services agreement requires that Metlink submit an annual network revenue protection plan to the director of public transport for approval. As I have highlighted, there are four main providers, Metro Trains Melbourne, Yarra Trams, BusVic and V/Line, and we need to understand what our commuters are doing in Victoria and how services can be improved.

 

 

The principles of the Network Revenue Protection Plan state:

 

  • Everyone (except children aged three years and under) who travels on public transport has a legal obligation to have a valid ticket.
  • When an authorised officer (AO) detects a customer without a valid ticket, the AO has a responsibility and the legal power to issue a report of non-compliance (RONC).
  • Customer education and information will be provided to ensure that people are aware of the obligations and the means by which they can comply including the availability of tickets.
  • AOs will conduct themselves according to the legal requirements of the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 ...

 

 

As Mr O'Donohue has pointed out, there is a particular concern about the number of fare evaders, and it is pleasing to note that that trend is declining. As Mr O'Donohue also highlighted, the Victorian Auditor-General's report, Fare Evasion on Public Transport, in August 2012 looked at this issue and made a number of recommendations. The government has accepted all of those recommendations. In that report the Auditor-General recognised the complexity of managing revenue compliance and the need for improved data gathering as well as improved planning and a review of the cost effectiveness of ticketing enforcement across Victoria.

 

 

As anyone who travels on our trams, trains and buses would know, there are occasions when you witness fare evasion; it is fairly blatant, I would have to say. I have seen it myself and been pretty astounded at the numbers. I recall an occasion last year when after leaving a football game at the MCG it appeared that a number of people on our train system did not have a valid ticket. I could not say for sure, but it did not seem that they were validating their tickets. It is a huge issue if commuters travel on our public transport system and do not pay accordingly. The figures on lost revenue are in the tens of millions of dollars -- approximately $62 million per annum. That is significant revenue that public transport operators are missing out on and which does not go back into those services.

 

 

We do have to do more and I am pleased there has been some education on fare evasion. We have seen those ads -- very effective ads, I might add -- that Public Transport Victoria is running, hoping to educate commuters about their responsibility, the importance of having a valid ticket and avoiding fare evasion.

 

 

As Mr O'Donohue has stated, the government is very pleased with the downward trend in fare evasion. I note that the survey undertaken by Public Transport Victoria in October 2012 showed that evasion rates have continued to fall across the metropolitan network from 11.5 per cent in May 2012 to 9.4 per cent in October 2012.


 

Despite the fact that that is only a couple of percentage points of improvement, it is still a fall, and, as Mr O'Donohue highlighted, the figures are trending down, which is very good. However, we still have much to do in in relation to addressing the problem of passengers who are not paying their way. We need to do much more to ensure that a significant proportion of fares collected in the future can be put back into public transport services.

 

 

We have very good processes in place in relation to gating and staffing of stations. Obviously we can look at what we have on our train stations in relation to safety with our protective services officers (PSOs) who have been a great comfort to commuters. I was at the Oakleigh train station last Wednesday night and spoke to the PSOs who were getting a very positive response from commuters. We need to do more in relation to fare evasion and in relation to education and marketing campaigns. However, as Mr O'Donohue said, the government will not be opposing Mr Barber's motion.


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