NSW to roll out half-price off-peak travel

Public transport fares are being halved on off-peak services in a bid to spread out commuters.
Public transport fares are being halved on off-peak services in a bid to spread out commuters.

Public transport fares in NSW will be temporarily cut in half during off-peak hours in an attempt to encourage social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance on Friday said the discount on Opal fares would apply for three months on services taken outside the hours of 6.30am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm.

It will kick in for NSW commuters on July 6.

A permanent 30 per cent discount for off-peak travel would later be introduced on bus and light rail services in line with off-peak fares for train and metro services.

Mr Constance said the discount aimed to stagger essential travel on the public transport network as patronage increases following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

"We want our commuters to be safe, but we also want public transport to be affordable ... and as we're in recession we're very mindful of that," he told reporters on Friday.

The transport minister said 85 per cent of commuters would be "the same or better off" under the new measures, while a third of public transport users would save an average of $3.60 a week based on current travel patterns.

Mr Constance said the NSW government had waived the usual consumer price index increase and rejected recommendations by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to increase Opal fares by 20 per cent over four years.

A new $8.05 all-day travel cap will also be introduced on Saturday and Sunday and fares for short-distance journeys will increase to encourage walking or cycling.

Mr Constance said all other fares - including the daily and weekly caps, as well as the $2.50 unlimited travel for Gold Opal card-holders - would either remain the same or fall.

Australian Associated Press