Woman on the train
Sydney harbour
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On 10 May 2016 IPART released our final report and determination on maximum public transport fares to apply in Sydney and surrounding areas between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2019.

These fares apply to Opal card services, including

  • rail services operated by Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink
  • Intercity government and private bus services in Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Hunter regions
  • ferry services operated by Sydney Ferries and the Stockton Ferry in Newcastle, and
  • light rail services in Sydney.

Our determination limits the increase in the average adult fare to 13% over the determination period until June 2019. This means that fares can increase by an average of 4.2% a year (including inflation) over the next three years. Within this overall cap, we also limited the increase in average fares in 2016-17 to 6.6% including inflation.

We also made 22 recommendations on how fares should be set for individual trips, journeys, and across a week, including:

  • The introduction of a $2.00 rebate for customers who switch between trains, buses, ferries or light rail on the same journey.
  • Reducing the discount on journeys after 8 journeys are taken in a week from 100% to 50%.
  • Increasing the off peak discount on trains from 30% to 40%.
  • Increasing the Adult daily cap from $15 (Monday to Saturday) to $18 Monday to Friday in 2016-17, with a lower $7.20 cap on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Setting the Gold card daily cap at 20% of the proposed Adult daily cap ($3.60 for the Gold card daily cap), in place of the current daily cap of $2.50.

The NSW Government can choose whether or not to accept our recommendations on fare structure, but it must comply with the 6.6% limit on the increase in the average adult fare for 2016-17. It may change individual fares by more or less than this amount, provided that the average increase across all fares does not exceed it. IPART checks that the fares proposed by the NSW Government do not exceed the maximums allowed.

When determining the cap on the average fare changes, we consider what the most efficient cost in providing the service would be, and also how much benefit public transport provides for the overall community in terms of reduced congestion and pollution before determining how much passengers who use the services should pay as fares. We also undertake extensive public consultation to understand the range of stakeholder views, and consider these views alongside the findings of our economic modelling and analysis.

As a result of our determination, public transport fares would continue to cover around 25% of efficient costs of providing public transport by 2019, with taxpayers funding the remaining 75% reflecting the benefits public transport provides to the whole community.